How to cut your monthly expenses by up to $400 – ditch your storage locker

We have a cost of ownership problem in this country.

Agree that the cost of living is a bigger issue, even though the year-over-year inflation rate fell to 7% in August from 7.6% in July. But the cost of owning everything we buy comes with expenses that can easily add up to hundreds of dollars a month for a household. Exhausted by your efforts to cut costs by buying less? Getting rid of some of what you already own might help.

The burden of owning a lot of stuff is evident whenever a vacant lot in your city is filled with storage units. Storage units are a growing business because families have too many things to keep at home.

Include my family in this group. We have a storage locker containing remnants of the downsizing my wife and I did a few years ago when we moved from our family home to a condo. There is a bag of hockey gear belonging to one of our boys, a few bits of camping and fishing gear, various filing folders, and boxes of photos and keepsakes.

I keep planning a family summit meeting to strategize how to get rid of the unit, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m thinking maybe this weekend, unless I find some easier problems to solve.

Our suburban Ottawa storage unit is a small unit that costs just under $100 per month. Some Google searches revealed that medium and large units can cost you up to $300 to $400 or more per month, with units in larger cities costing more than smaller ones. I can say from experience that the cost of a storage unit increases steadily.

Emptying a large storage unit is a big undertaking, so consider a two-step process. Reduce your holdings enough to move to a medium or small unit at first, then set a 12 month time limit to further downsize or get rid of the unit altogether.

Last spring, I set myself the goal of finishing our storage unit by the end of the summer. Hope you have more success with downsizing than me.

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Ask Rob

Q: Do I have to sell mutual funds in my Tax-Free Savings Account to pay off my mortgage?

A: This is the type of question best addressed by a financial planner who can take into account the many variables that need to be addressed here. Some questions to consider: How urgent is it to pay off the mortgage? Are you concerned about higher renewal payments because interest rates have skyrocketed? What rate of return did you get in the TFSA, and how does that compare to the rate on your mortgage? If you are unhappy with your mutual funds, what other investments could you consider to improve returns? Besides the TFSA, what other investments do you have to achieve your financial goals, including a comfortable retirement? All in all, it’s not a decision to make without an analysis of your wider finances.

Do you have a question for me? Send me. Sorry I can’t answer each one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

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