When you rent a storage unit and pay for this privilege month after month, it only makes sense that you'd want to get the most out of the experience. Don't be one of those people who messily load all of their unwanted items into storage and doesn't look at it again for five years. Here are four ways to use a storage unit to better your life and make things easier:

If it's junk, get rid of it.

A broken, nonfunctional fan or microwave that barely heats is not going to magically become useful after spending time in storage, so why store it? If something is not truly functional, get rid of it rather than storing it. And if something is in good shape and yet you doubt you will use it again, sell it. You can put the money you earn towards your storage unit rental fees, making the experience more affordable overall.

Take the time to protect your items.

Likewise, it is not wise to bother paying to store your items if they end up unusable by the time you take them out again. A climate-controlled storage unit does not present nearly as many risks to your items as a garage-style unit does, but you'll still want to follow these tips to prevent damage:

  • Stack boxes from heaviest to lightest to keep boxed from falling and breaking the contents.
  • Always clean and dry everything thoroughly before putting it in storage; this keeps mold away.
  • Wrap up cords, tape doors shut, and put any hardware you remove from furniture in a distinct, labeled spot.
  • Never store any food items, including pet food.

Don't rent too large of a unit.

If you want to feel like you got your money's worth, rent a slightly smaller unit. There are always ways to fit a little more in and cut back on your collections. And you won't feel nearly as guilty when you get a $40 bill each month rather than an $80 one, for example.

Make a list of items.

Sometimes, people forget that they have certain items in storage, so they go out and re-purchase them -- which is a waste of money. So, make a list of the things you put in storage -- especially the larger or more valuable things -- and keep it within easy reach in your home so you can check it before you buy anything new.