We had our last storage shipment delivered today. It had only been in long-term storage for four years, since we moved between overseas locations, and it wasn't much. It was mostly 110 volt household items and tools that should have gone into storage when we initially moved overseas. As we unpacked the boxes, I felt almost nothing but dread and sadness. The whole experience makes me realize, again, how often storing items is a bad idea.
Why do I say that?
DamageFirst, there was the damage from being improperly packed or stored. About five items were damaged to the point where they are no longer usable. There were a handful of other items that were not really damaged, but are kind of gross. For example, the Waterpik that has turned a really unappetizing shade of yellow with a tinge of green. I'm going to try to convince myself to use it, but I probably won't.
ReplacementsWhich brings me to the second point: replacements. One of the reasons that I wasn't completely stoked to see the Waterpik is because it's been replaced. As has the very snazzy coffee pot, which is otherwise one of the few things I'm glad to see.
The risk of replacement increases if you don't have your storage shipment delivered immediately. Unfortunately, this isn't always in our control, especially if you move to a location far away from the location from which the shipment was put into long-term storage.
ValueThe third item is actual usefulness. We have enough tools for three families, and I don't recall missing anything in the four years these items have been gone. I intend to make the two old-school sleds into Christmas decorations some day, but I really won't notice if that doesn't happen.
ObsolescenceThe last issue is obsolescence. In these boxes were two clunky, old-style monitors. I'm not sure anyone wants them even if the plastic wasn't discolored from being stored. We also have a pile of keyboards and corded mice...at least I may be able to find some sort of home for those items.
What's this got to do with finances? There are two aspects to it. First, storing items is often a waste of money. Whether you're footing the bill, or Uncle Sam is paying the tab, wasting money is just unnecessary. Second, some of these items might have had value had I sold them before moving, but now they don't. The cute penguin humidifier that my daughter loves might have netted $5 at a yard sale, but it's not worth anything now that it has a crack in the water vessel.
I'm not trying to say that long-term storage is never a good idea. There are some items, like the handprint plates that my children made at preschool, that were absolutely worth storing. But think long and hard about each items, and the perils I've listed, before you move something to the storage pile. Hopefully, you can avoid the dismay I experienced today.