February 17, 2022
My Challenge to Clean Up and Clean Out
Some of the best-performing stocks through the pandemic have been companies that run self-storage facilities. They can't build sites fast enough to satisfy Americans' appetite for storing stuff.
I get what is at play for some of you - a bit too much together time with your family amid work-from-home/remote-schooling and generally not going out much, made finding some alone space a matter of survival. Whether it was for a home office, a workout area, or an escape space, you needed to make room. So you moved some of your "stuff" into storage.
But it's nearly two years into the pandemic upending our lives. My question for you is whether you really need all the stuff you put in storage? If you haven't used it for two years, might it be unnecessary?
That's my challenge: can you get rid of your storage unit? And for those of you with multiple units, how about consolidating/downsizing? Because if you aren't missing the stuff, or realize you don't really need all that stuff, why are you so willing to keep throwing money at it?
The average monthly charge is more than $150. That's pushing nearly $2,000 a year. Call me crazy, but do you really want to be that person that fritters away $2,000 a year for no really good reason?
I didn't think so.
Closer to Home
I am not done with you yet. Let's talk about what's in your home. When was the last time you took a careful tour through every closet, looked under every bed, and opened every storage box in the garage or basement? Sure, it might take a weekend to go through everything, but gosh, I think you are going to feel so good if you are able to pare down all your clutter. I am a big believer that when we organize and declutter our physical space, it creates a positive energy that makes us happier and calmer.
If you want to make some money trying to sell stuff, that's fine by me. But this doesn't need to be a financial win. Donating to a local charity, or simply offering something for free to someone who needs it is a wonderful act of generosity that leaves you feeling so good. You no doubt have plenty of local online groups where you can post stuff you are ready to be rid of.
Answer Yes or No to the follow statements.
I pay all my credit card bills in full each month.
I have an eight-month emergency savings fund separate from my checking or other bank accounts.
The car I am driving was paid for with cash, or a loan that was no more than three years, and I sure didn’t lease!
I am contributing at least 10% of my gross salary to a retirement plan at work, or I am saving at least that much in an IRA and/or regular taxable account.
I have a long-term asset allocation plan for my retirement investments, and once a year I check to see if I need to do any rebalancing to stay on target with my allocation goals.
I have term life insurance to provide protection to those who are dependent on my income.
I have a will, a trust, an advance directive (living will), and have appointed someone to be my health care proxy.
So how did you do?
If you answered yes to every item, congratulations. If you are working on improving on a few items, I say congratulations as well.
As long as you are comitted to truly creating financial security, I applaud you. If that means you are paying down your credit card balances, or are building up your emergency fun with automated payments, that’s more than fine. You are on your way!
But if you found yourself saying No to any of those questions, and you’re not working on moving to Yes, then I want you to stand in your truth. No matter how good you feel, you have some work to do before you can honestly know what you are on solid financial ground.