Save on Storage: How to Maximize Your Storage Space and Save Money

There are about 300,000 items in the average US home. And while we don't have the NZ data for that, it can't be that much different. We all have too much stuff or at least feel like we do. 

If you want to declutter and make your house liveable again but still want to save on storage, we're giving you various options below. 

Getting Organized: Deciding What to Keep, Store, and Give Away 

Before you think about buying storage bins, renting storage space, or displaying things on shelves, you need to assess what you have. 

Marie Kondo, of the Kon Mari Method, suggests taking all types of a specific item (like clothes) out and going through them one by one. This seems counterintuitive, as it makes your space an even bigger mess than it already is. 

So is it worth it? Should you make things worse to help them get better? Absolutely. 

Think of it this way: if a company is trying to cut costs, they're not going to just look at one part of their budget to make their decisions. They're going to look at the big picture and get everything out on the table to decide where to reduce. 
The same is true for your home. The section of your budget could be your dresser or your closet, as compared to all the spaces you store clothes. 

Are you overwhelmed by the idea of seeing all this stuff at once? Follow our Kondo-esque tips for getting started, below. 

Organizing Without Getting Overwhelmed

We're not following the Kon Mari method exactly in the tips below, but we are taking inspiration from it. 
Like the Kon Mari method suggests, we encourage you to work in sections, starting with clothes. 
The official Marie Kondo order is: 






Organizing Clothes 

Kondo encourages this idea of seeing if items "spark joy." If that's to "woo woo" for you, no worries, there are other ways to decide what to keep and get rid of. 

However, we do recommend creating a giant mountain of clothes, as it's easier to get started when everything is in the same place. 
If you're not into the "spark joy" idea, here are a few questions to ask yourself when you're holding up an individual item of clothing

    Does it fit me? Right this very minute? 

    Are there stains or holes?

    Am I willing to repair/pay to fix those stains or holes?

    Can I think of at least three places I can wear this in the next year? 

    Is this versatile, ie, are there more than two things (pants, shirts, pairs of shoes) I can wear it with?

    Do I still like it?

That's a lot of questions to ask yourself about each piece of clothing, but don't worry, you don't have to think about each one every time. 

Some of the questions on the list, like stains, will matter more to you than others, like where you can wear it. Pick a few items that make sense to you and go with those. 

If you really can't decide, then work through more questions to get your answer. 

Donate Everything 

Clothes are the second-highest source of waste in the world, and you don't want to contribute to landfills. Throw away items you wouldn't give someone, donate things that are in okay (not great) condition, and send like-new or nicely-used items to a resale store or service. 

Have a lot of old t-shirts from playing sports, being in a club, or going to concerts? You don't have to throw away or donate those memories. 

Keep them around by paying a quilter (look on Etsy to support small businesses) to turn them into a t-shirt quilt. That way, you can snuggle up with your memories when you want, but you've taken 20+ shirts and turned them into only one thing to put away. 

Organizing Non-Clothes Items 

When it comes to books and papers, you can't ask yourself the same questions as you did with clothes. Instead, ask yourself:

    Do I want to bring this into the next phase of my life?

    Can I scan this?

    Would I save this item in a house fire?

    Am I keeping this out of guilt?

    Do I dust this more often than I look at it?

Don't throw away books! If they're in terrible condition, recycle them or use them for fire starters. But otherwise, find a bookstore that takes trade-ins for credit. That way you have money to get new books - just make sure you don't buy the same amount you just got rid of! 

Papers wise, most things are scannable these days. If you have kids, they can help scan items and make a little pocket money for helping you declutter. 

Everyone can get involved in organizing, no matter how old they are! Marie Kondo's toddler likes to fold clothes. While your children will probably never be that angelic (we wish ours were), they can learn about donating things they no longer use and how it benefits others. 

Decluttering the Kitchen 

Do you have what seems like cabinets and cabinets full of small, one-use appliances? Like that Star Wars waffle maker, you got talked into buying and maybe something even more specific, like a cake pop maker? 

Us too. While those small appliances are cool, how often do you use them? Take an inventory of what you have, then keep the ones that have the most features. A panini grill that has a waffle iron, a flat press, and a ribbed press is more useful than a Star Wars waffle maker, as cool as that may be. 

Utensils and Place Settings 

You don't need three soup ladles, four spatulas, three pairs of tongs, or multiples of pretty much any other kitchen utensil. One of each type should do the trick, and it'll declutter your utensil drawer or the vase you keep them all on in the counter. 

The same is true for those reusable plastic cups that seem to multiply themselves in your pantry while you're not looking. Find out if they're recyclable and, if not, find different uses for them around the house, like toothbrush holders or even toys you take to the beach. 

Storage Solutions for What's Left 

Now that you've decluttered at least a little, it's time to talk about storage solutions for the things you wanted to keep or couldn't bring yourself to get rid of. 

If you know you're somewhat of a packrat, set a decluttering goal for yourself, like filling two reusable grocery bags with items to donate. It'll help keep you accountable!

To work within the theme we already have going, we'll talk about storage solutions in the same order of object types we talked about decluttering, above. 

Storage Options for Clothes  

Now that you've maximized your storage space by getting rid of some clothes let's talk about the right way to put the ones you're keeping back. 

First, it's helpful to learn the Marie Kondo folding method for items you put in drawers. It helps things from becoming a mess, allows you to see all your choices, and is a useful marker of when you need to declutter again (when your drawer gets overcrowded). 
Next, start collecting soda tabs. Yes, that's right - those little pop tabs on a can of Coke can help you stay organized. With a collection of them, you can double your hanging space in your closet. 

How? Take the pop tab and loop it around the hook part of a hanger that already has an item on it. Put a similar or coordinating item on another hanger and hook the second hanger's hook through the pop tab. 

Now you have two items of clothing, only taking up the space of one hanger on your clothing rack. Genius, right? There's no better way to save on storage than with an almost free hack. 

Invest in Vacuum Bags 

Don't want your winter gear taking up precious drawer or hanging space? There's a solution for that.
Though they're not free (Iike the last hack), they're not cost-prohibitive either. Find or order vacuum-seal bags from your store of choice. 

Fill them with bulky items (watch the fill line on the bag, or it'll won't work as well) and follow the directions for sucking the air out with your vacuum. 

These air-shrunken bags can store 20 items where you only had space for 10. They're pretty cool! 

You can store these bags anywhere, like under your bed, on the top shelf of a closet, in the garage, and just pop them open when needed. 

A word of warning, price does indicate quality with these vacuum storage bags. Buy something that's higher priced (but still reasonable) for the best and longest-lasting results. 

How to Save on Storage for Papers and Books 

Unfortunately, you can't put a bunch of books in a vacuum storage bag and expect them to get smaller. That's not how physics works. 

This means you'll have to get creative about book storage that's bigger than your space allows. 
One option is to use Anyspace to rent out storage space from professional companies or from friends and neighbors that have room in their homes. 

The website gives you more options than renting a standard storage unit, so you can save on storage, depending on your needs. 
The service has terms of use, so you know your items will be safe in their new storage home. 

While there are protections in place, always store delicate or antique items appropriately and keep sensitive things (like passports, keys, wills, deeds) at a bank or safe in your home. 

Go Digital for More Space and Peace of Mind 

Have you heard of Google Drive? It's a free cloud-based file storage offering from Google. It's not the only one of it's kind and it's only free up to a certain amount of GB. 

If you need more storage, you can purchase it through Google or a site that has similar offerings. To find non-Google options, just search "cloud-based storage options" and find a site that's well-reviewed and whose services are the right price for you. 

Your Storage Options: Private or Commercial? 

There are pros and cons to each type of storage space. While storing your items at private locations (like someone's garage or home, through is usually cheaper, it may not be as convenient. 

Benefits of Non-Traditional Storage Spaces 

Wondering why anyone would forgo a traditional storage unit? 
Private storage options may be:


    Closer to home

    Climate controlled (without a price increase)

    In a better neighborhood

    Customisable sizes (and therefore prices)

However, they have some cons too, mostly that you're potentially renting space in someone's home, which won't be accessible 24/7 to you. 

Pros and Cons to Traditional Storage Centers

If access is important to you, it may be worth renting a traditional storage unit. 
They have benefits like: 

    24 hour access

    Insurance policies

    Large units 

    Small units

    Climate control

    Added security 

Their cons are mostly expense related, depending on the business you use. You'll pay more for a bigger space, more for climate control, and sometimes more for gas traveling out to your storage unit. 

So which is better? It all depends on you and your priorities, which should have gotten an idea of from reading the pros and cons, above. 

Making Money with Extra Space

Did you clear out way more than you thought you would? You could not only save on storage but make money by renting out your storage space to people that need it. 

Our site will walk you through the specifics, so click above to list your space or find a listed space to store things in, now!