Cash Smarter

January 20, 2015  by: Aaron Crowe

Being a Pack Rat is Expensive

Being a Pack Rat is Expensive

If you’ve got a few closets, chances are they’re overfilled with things you rarely, if ever, use. You may not consider yourself a pack rat, but those full closets and garage, bulging cupboards and piles of things in every room are costing you money.

Here are a few ways that being a pack rat is more expensive than you might think:

Paying for storage

Even if your home is relatively cleared of excess belongings, if you’re paying a storage company to keep it, you’re paying for stuff that you probably won’t use again so you can keep your house clean.

A non-climate controlled self storage unit costs $1.12 per square foot, according to the Self Storage Association.  A 10-foot by 10-foot unit in the U.S. costs $115 per month for non-climate controlled, and $146 per month if climate controlled.

One final stat: 8.96 percent of American households rent a self storage unit, the association reports. If each of those are spending at least $1,380 per month to store their belongings, that’s a lot of cash that could be put elsewhere for a better use.

Time and money costs as a pack rat

Throwing things in closets and other places not only clutters up your home, but takes up a lot of time when you decide you do need something that you’ve “stored” somewhere.

Having so much stuff can make finding one thing almost impossible. The hour or so spent trying to find a lost item among piles of stuff is one hour where you could be working or, better yet, relaxing and enjoying life.

As you accumulate more things, it can end up costing you money to pay someone else to haul it away. Businesses are built around helping pack rats organize their things or take them away.

Some services are free, such as recycling services or charities that send out fliers regularly to ask for used items such as clothes and old electronics. But once you get to a level where your home is consumed by too much stuff, you may be better off hiring someone to remove it all.

Damaging your home

Mounds of things or old furniture in a garage can make nice homes for mice, rats and other creatures. They could chew their way into your home’s walls or find a way into the attic and breed or chew through wiring.

Having expired condiments or spices, for example, can create a bad smell. If you last used a spice 20 years ago that has expired many times over, it may not make you look like a pack rat, but getting rid of it will save you space and eliminate the chance of cooking a bad meal with it.

Clothes can be some of the biggest space users in a house. Follow the rule that if you haven’t used it within a year, it’s not worth having, and you’ll find yourself with a lot more space when your unused clothes are gone. Still have a bridesmaid dress from years ago? Junk it.

For family keepsakes that are stored all around your home, pick one and display it somewhere prominent in your home. Get rid of the rest of them if you’re just keeping them for the sake of it. Don’t be a sentimental pack rat.

The simplest rule to avoid becoming a pack rat: For every one thing that comes into the house, one thing must go out. It’s a difficult thing to do, but one that will save you money and time in the long run.

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4 thoughts on “Being a Pack Rat is Expensive

  1. My father is a total pack rat and I’ve always been a ‘when in doubt, throw it out’ kinda girl. It’s totally a reaction to the storage sheds and garages full of crap and piles of newspaper that I had to deal with growing up. It’s a little morbid, but I’ve told him on a few occasions that if something happened to him, I’d have no idea what was in that storage shed and I wouldn’t have time to go through every single box and bin. It would be a shame to get rid of stuff that really mattered to him and that he’d like for me and my family to have, but it might be impossible to figure it out!

    On another note, I absolutely hate when people keep spices for 10 years. I’m merciless in my cabinets and fridge.

    1. Aaron Crowe says:

      I agree, Lyn. If there’s so much stuff that you don’t even know what’s in all of the boxes, then how can you expect your family to deal with it when you pass? Best to keep, or at least label, the most important documents and belongings that have special meaning to your family so they don’t throw it out by accident.

  2. I have a couple pack rat tendencies, but overall I’m very organized. What I find myself pondering is if I’ll use an item again. Possibly not, but I hate the idea of needing to buy something in the future that I once threw out.

    1. Aaron Crowe says:

      I also don’t like spending money again on something I’ve tossed. But I try to follow the one-year rule for most things and junk them if I haven’t used them in a year. It’s a hard plan to follow — I have closets full of stuff that I’m sure I’m hanging on to for sentimental reasons. And I’ve learned that keeping something takes up a lot less time in the short run than going through things and deciding what to throw out.

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