• FAQ: How To Safely Store Your Valuables

    19 August 2014 by
    Photo Credit: ♔ Georgie R via Compfight cc

    Photo Credit: ♔ Georgie R via Compfight cc

    Your great uncle Hubert just bequeathed a long-lost Picasso masterpiece to you. Sure, you’d love to hang it on the wall of your bachelor apartment–it goes so well with the IKEA sofabed, after all–but Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and private collectors from Shanghai have been calling you non-stop since the reading of the will. It was the text message from the Russian Mafia, however, that really got you worried. You know this painting isn’t the sort of thing you can just stash in the hall closet behind the snowboard, but hiding it in an ordinary self storage unit seems so inadequate. So how do you store your valuables safely?

    What options do I have for storing my valuables?

    It depends on what your valuables are. For example, some antiques and works of art not only require security, but stringent climate and contamination controls as well, or you may suddenly find yourself with a big pile of abstract art. So no, you shouldn’t throw them into your garage or even in a regular self storage unit. Not only are these locations subject to wide-ranging temperature and humidity fluctuations (not to mention rodents that treat your Ming Dynasty vase like their own private Porta-Potty), but if word got out that you put anything valuable in a standard storage facility, the Mafia would be there faster than you could say “Buongiorno.” This leaves you with four options:

    • A high-security, climate-controlled storage facility
    • A fire- and water-proof safe in climate-controlled location in your home
    • A safe-deposit box (for small items only)
    • Other sneaky hiding spots and containers that thieves would never suspect (and no, not your sock drawer)

    So where should I store valuable art, photography, books, china, etc.?

    An art vault or high-security, strictly climate-controlled storage facility is probably your best bet. The National Archives outlines some very specific guidelines for storing these kinds of items to prevent them from deteriorating:

    • 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit (or a bit cooler)
    • Humidity should hover between 35-50%
    • Acid- and lignin-free paper enclosures, book covers, polyester film encasement or a Solander or other kind of archival box
    • Glass, china and breakables should be wrapped carefully in paper, cushioned with bubble wrap, and stored in boxes

    Rather than setting these items directly on the floor, lay them on top of pallets to enable air circulation and prevent moisture from getting trapped.

    If you’d prefer to store your original Shakespeare manuscripts at home because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to hear you read aloud at your so-called parties, then at least avoid stashing them in the basement. Not only do basements tend to be damp, but one hard rainstorm or an overtaxed plumbing system and you can flush your valuables down the toilet. Opt for an upstairs room with a water- and fireproof safe that stays at the same cool temperature all year long.

    Where should I store important documents that I might need in case of a zombie apocalypse?

    Documents are probably the last thing you’re going to be worried about when the undead are screaming “Braaaaaaaains!!!!” at your front door. But since you asked, Ray Martin of CBS MoneyWatch recommends that you not store important documents that you need fast access to in a bank safe deposit box. These boxes are not insured by the FDIC, can be vulnerable to “inside jobs,” might be subject to government confiscation, and you can only get to them during banking hours. (And everyone knows that zombie apocalypses never happen during banking hours.) Martin recommends getting a water- and fireproof safe to keep things like passports, deeds, insurance policies, titles, legal documents, birth certificates, hard drives with family photos, emergency cash, valuable jewelry, etc. safe and handy in an emergency.

    What kind of safe should I get for my stuff?

    You have several options, and again, it depends on what you want to store and where you think you can viably hide the safe. Home Depot has a collection of safe options, some of which can be bolted to the floor or installed in a wall. Others look like everyday objects, such as dictionaries, wall lights or—and we’re not even making this up—an incredibly realistic-looking head of lettuce.

    But where should I store my safe? Isn’t that burglar bait?

    It can be. But according to the folks at Apartment Therapy, thieves only spend an average of 8-12 minutes ransacking your pad. Ah, so many houses to burgle, so little time…. So if you can hide the safe or receptacle containing your valuables in an unlikely spot, you can force them to waste enough time searching that they’ll leave empty-handed. The master bedroom, living room and home office are going to be the first places they look, so cross those off the list as suitable hiding spots. Hallways, the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry rooms are better. Fake air vents, safes hidden behind bathroom mirrors, and even stashing cash and small items in used food tins or dental floss boxes are just a few of the clever ideas you’ll find on Pinterest.

    Let’s face it. Your great grandmother’s black pearl necklace deserves a little more security than a shoebox under the bed, and your photos are worthy of more than an envelope in an unlocked drawer (except maybe your awkward Sears Family Portraits–those you can “accidentally” leave out). And let’s just hope the Russian Mafia never finds out where you stashed the Picasso….

    Sources:

    http://lifehacker.com/5960300/the-best-places-to-hide-valuables-in-your-house

    http://www.bluevaultsecure.com/safest-place-for-valuables-vault-storage.php

    http://www.selfstorage.com/tips/5-tips-for-storing-antiques-and-collectibles/

    http://www.thesafesupermarket.com/faqs/a-guide-to-storing-valuables

    http://www.bimbambanana.com/index.php?p=iceberg&side=visProd&prod_id=328

    http://www.amazon.com/Archival-Methods-Museum-Buckram-Lining/dp/B0030NXO0C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407032038&sr=8-1&keywords=Solander+box

    http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/8-secret-spots-to-hide-valuables-at-home-190982

    http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=creative%20hide%20valuables

    http://www.homedepot.com/b/Tools-Hardware-Safety-Security-Safes/N-5yc1vZc2b1

    http://www.archives.gov/preservation/family-archives/storing-photos.html

    http://www.customsurvivalsolutions.com/rules-for-storing-valuables-in-safe-deposit-boxes-with-banks/

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390444025204577544822463145302

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/12-things-to-keep-in-a-safe-at-home-not-at-a-bank/

     

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  • How Do I Store My Vehicle?

    14 August 2014 by

    You finally booked that year-long world tour as a dishwasher on a cargo ship, but as you toss mosquito netting and a voltage converter into your backpack, you suddenly realize, “What am I gonna do with my sweet ride for that whole year?!” No way are your parents going to let you park it in their garage after that science experiment mishap in high school. And as much as you love your best friend, she got her license revoked for a reason. So now what do you do?

    Your wheels need to go into self storage, and storing it properly will save you possibly thousands of dollars in repairs when you finally get back to civilization. Here are some common questions about how to store your vehicle:

    Where can I store my rad ‘77 Pinto while I’m away for several months or a year?

    (more…)

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  • The Psychology Behind Clutter

    12 August 2014 by

    That Barbie collection from childhood that you can’t seem to part with, a mile-high stack of old magazines, and the acid-washed jeans that haven’t fit you for two decades all contribute to an ongoing problem: clutter. Whether you hide it in the garage or it has slowly taken over your home like The Blob, clutter can be a big problem.

    The best way to solve this problem is to understand the psychology behind clutter in the first place.

    Common Reasons for Clutter

    The basic reasons behind chronic messiness include:

    •      Lack of storage space
    •      Too many collections
    •      Cramped living situation
    •      Inability to say no
    •      Poor organizational skills
    •      Lack of time
    •      Depression-era mentality (never mind that you weren’t even alive in the ‘30s)

    (more…)

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  • FAQ: How To Choose the Right Size Storage Unit

    7 August 2014 by
    Ferrari

    Photo Credit: Bart Willemstein via Compfight cc

    People need self storage units for many reasons. You may need to store things while you transition to a new home or city, you may need a place to stash bulky seasonal items, or you may need the space to archive office documents. Regardless of the reason, it is important to rent the right-sized unit for your possessions. Too small and you won’t be able to fit everything; too big and you’ll be paying for extra space you don’t need.

    Here are some important questions to consider when choosing the right-sized storage unit: (more…)

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  • College Relocation Checklist! Infographic!

    In August of ::cough::cough::, I packed up my mom’s minivan and off I went to Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri (Go Bulldogs!). I had no idea what I was doing. And, really, how could I have had a clue? I am the oldest child in my family, and I was a freshman. It was all new to me. Remembering what it was like for us back in the ::cough::cough::’s, we decided that we would do some research and create a guide to going off to school that you can really use.

    Here’s a sample…

    section of infographic

     

    Click below to see the whole thing!  (more…)

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  • FAQ: What can NOT be stored?

    31 July 2014 by
    FAQ
    dead body with toe tag: can't store it

    Photo Credit: Jackaroid via Compfight cc

    It may surprise you to know all the unusual things that potential storage facility renters attempt to load into their unit. Or it won’t surprise you. What do I know? Regardless, just because you turn out the light, close the door, and place a lock on it doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want in it. There are still rules in place to protect you, the owner, and the other renters. (more…)

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  • Cirque du Storage Unit

    circus tent trailer

    Photo Credit: def110 via Compfight cc

    What’s not to love about the circus? From the colorful tents and adventurous performers to the exotic animals and the smell of popcorn and cotton candy, just the thought of attending the event brings a smile to your face. But what happens when the lights dim, the applause stops and the animals go back in their cages? Well, the skilled entertainers pack up all their props and costumes and return to their regular lives, leaving their secret identities locked up in a self-storage facility. Ah, to be a fly on the wall in those storage units…. (more…)

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  • Planning Your Lady Lair

    24 July 2014 by
    lovely lady lair

    Photo Credit: jannypie143 via Compfight cc

    These days it’s not uncommon to hear about the man cave, a private sanctuary somewhere in the house where a man can go to be alone and do as he pleases. Home Goods Store suggests that men are not the only ones who need a room of their own. Women need their own space, too, and the idea is the same: it’s a relaxing getaway to escape the daily hassles of life.

    Women are traditionally the ones who take care of everyone else, from family to friends, so it’s especially important for her to have her own special place to escape, unwind and relax. No matter what you call it–a mom cave, a woman’s cave, or a lady’s lair–the first thing you need to do is figure out what you want from your personal refuge.

    What is the Purpose of the Space?

    When picking a room for your lady’s lair and thinking about how you’d like to decorate it, it’s important to ask yourself what you intend to use it for. Understanding its purpose will help you determine how large a space and what items you’ll need to make it function for you.

    • Is it a quiet refuge for napping, reading or crafting?
    • Do you want a place where you can hang out with girlfriends, take those drum lessons you’ve always wanted to, or dance your cares away?
    • Will it be more of a safe space to stash your treasures and personal belongings without worrying that someone might misplace, break or borrow them?

    5 Essential Items for Your Lady’s Lair

    CraftJack’s ImproveNet home improvement website discusses the must-have items for any woman’s space, offering advice from New York City interior designer Elaine Griffin. Griffin suggests that the purpose of a lady’s lair is to give women a place where they can escape from the chaos in their lives to nurture themselves. Though it’s important to make this space unique and personal to you, Griffin offers these five essential elements for any mom cave:

     

    Personal Things

    Because the space is meant to be a haven, the personal touches a woman includes in her space should express the things that interest her, bring her joy, relax her and make her feel good about herself. This area is all about finding an inner sense of peace, so don’t bring anything into your sacred space that creates chaos or anxiety–and that means no to-do lists or laundry to fold!

    Organizing Aids and Storage Areas

     

    One of the best ways to ensure that you enjoy and continue to return to your pleasure palace is by making sure that the room is well-organized and clutter-free. Think of the organizing as part of the design and a way to add ambiance to the space. Get creative about storage solutions, such as bookshelves, fabric-covered boxes or trunks and wicker baskets. Make use of nooks, crannies and the space beneath the sofa.

    A Desk or Workspace

     

    Every woman needs a table or desk where she can do the things she enjoys. You may want to use the table for crafting, writing, spending time on the computer, or playing cards or other games with girlfriends. On the other hand, you may choose to use this quiet time to catch up on bills. The whole point of the lady’s lair is to give you a private area you don’t have to share with others and where you can do whatever you want.

    Lots of Pillows and Comfy Seating Areas

     

    Since the lady’s lair is all about comfort and relaxation, a cozy corner to curl up with a book, haul out the Kindle, or just lounge around doing nothing is a must. Large, brightly colored or patterned pillows add warmth and coziness to a small room and invite people to get comfy, while offering needed seating when bulky furniture might clutter the room. As long as the room has adequate storage solutions, you can stash those pillows neatly away when they aren’t in use.

    Atmosphere

     

    No lady’s lair would be complete without those little touches that give it a special atmosphere that’s so essential to its purpose. Colorful lamps, warm lanterns or candles, fresh flowers, essential oil diffusers, throws, pictures and pleasant music are some of the ways that transform a room into a private, spa-like retreat!

    Places to Look for Inspiration

    Home improvement website Houzz shows women how they can create a dream space of their own, even if short on space. Whether it’s a closet or a guest house, you can have that Lady Lair you’ve always wanted. All you need to get started is a little inspiration.

    If there isn’t enough space inside the house, there is no reason you can’t have a lady’s lair in the backyard. This whimsical idea from Pinterest shows a small enclosed gazebo with just enough room for a woman to enjoy tea, read, listen to music, or enjoy some quiet time alone. If you’re in the market for a newly built home, consider this Pinterest pin of a craftsman style garage with 510 square feet of living space (and a bathroom!) above it.

    Budget is always an important consideration when doing any project involving re-purposing, renovating, or redecorating. Places like Houzz, Pinterest, HGTV, DIY Network and Home Goods are excellent resources because they can give you inspiration and ideas. The way to get that space you’ve dreamed of without breaking the bank is by channeling your creativity, looking for things you have but aren’t using, or hitting second-hand stores, yard sales or flea markets.

    So now when your significant other disappears into his man cave, the dogs or kids are too rambunctious, you’ve had a long day at the office, or you just want to have girls’ night in, you know just where to go.

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  • Special Feature: Military Relocation Guide

    family greeting a soldier coming homeMilitary families tend to move fairly often, as deployment or unit reorganization is common throughout military installations. In the United States Armed Forces, this relocation is called Permanent Change of Station (PCS).

    Not only is moving an inconvenience, but it takes a toll on families, especially the kids. Parents can ease the stress for everyone by preparing for this process and staying sane. One place where you can find helpful and inspiring tips, advice and ideas from others who have gone through a military relocation is Pinterest.

    Preparing Kids For Change

    Change can be difficult for kids and they are keenly aware of everything that goes on around them. Depending on their age, they may not understand the concept of moving, but they’ll pick up on your stress, and that may make them feel uncomfortable. When you talk to your children about what’s happening, be ready to deal with their feelings – which they may be unsure of – and try to involve them in the process when possible. The can help keep the transition from seeming too scary.

    Dealing With Grief About Leaving Your Job

    An unfortunate consequence of moving is the havoc it wreaks on your career. If you have to quit a job, be sure to give notice and leave on good terms. Getting a reference from your current employer will help you once you’re settled and ready to look for a new position. Military communities are used to the transient nature of their population.

    De-cluttering

    For many people, the only incentive to do large-scale de-cluttering is a major move. Think of this as a great opportunity to get rid of toys the kids no longer play with, books you’ve grown tired of, clothes you don’t wear anymore, and anything else you are ready to let go of. As you pack each room, take the time to go through stuff and place it in bags labeled “throw away,” “donate” or “store,” packing, of course, what you plan to keep.

    You can do this with everything, not just clothing and toys. If you have packaged food that won’t keep or isn’t worth packing, donate to a local food bank or soup kitchen. Get rid of any open boxes to prevent pantry bugs from traveling from one place to another.

    If your new home doesn’t have the space for all your belongings, consider renting a storage unit in the area. Not only will this option keep your house clutter-free, but most storage facilities are equipped with security guards, cameras or alarm systems, so you can have peace of mind knowing that your possessions are safe and secure. Many offer a discount for active (and sometimes non-active) military personnel, so be sure to ask.

    Organization

    Organization is the only way to simplify and streamline the moving process. With so much to do, remember and keep track of, a 3-ring binder is the best device for filing lists, paperwork or other important information. If so inclined, you can also make a fancy planner to help visualize the big move.

    The National Military Family Organization has a useful checklist to help you get organized and remind you of things that are easy to forget when you’re in the throes of chaos. This list outlines what you need to do as far as three months in advance and continues to zero in down to one week before the move, the day of the move, etc.

    Do a Google or Pinterest search for military relocation ideas; there are abundant resources available, including templates you can download or print to keep track of the contents of each room, what you have to pack in each room, and checklists to remind you of what you’ve completed or still have to do.

    Packing Supplies

    Make sure you get packing supplies as soon as you find out you’re moving. The last thing you want to worry about is running out of tape, boxes or marking pens at the last minute. When you buy these supplies in bulk, many places offer discounts.

    Uniformly-sized packing boxes will allow movers to use every inch of space in the moving truck. You may want to create a color-coordinated system for your boxes, such as designating red for the master bedroom, blue for the bathroom, yellow for the kitchen, etc., and keep track of these colors in your planning binder.

    Prioritize

    Moving is a part of life when you’re in the military, but it doesn’t have to be only stressful—it can be an exciting adventure, too.Minimize the chaos by prioritizing everything on your to-do list. Make a separate list for those things you’ll need immediately upon arriving at your new place and pack them in the truck last so you can unload them first.

    Don’t forget that your moving checklist should also include the things you need to do to make your new home ready for you. You’ll want to contact the utility company to turn on the electricity, the phone company to install the phone and internet services, and the cable company to set up your cable television before you move in.

    Find out about other important details, such as enrolling kids in school, transferring your medical records and choosing a new doctor. You’ll also need to register and insure your car in your new state or country, as well as possibly get a new driver’s license.

    Military Help

    Anyone who has orders for PCS (Permanent Change of Station), Temporary Additional Duty (TAD), or Temporary Duty (TDY) can take advantage of the Military PPM or Personally Procured Move benefits. Although you are required to handle all moving arrangements yourself, doing a PPM move offers many benefits over a normal military move.

    For example, if you use the PPM program, the government gives you a stipend of 95% of what it would pay for your moving expenses, along with the standard moving allowance. The best part is—you get to keep any of this money that you don’t spend on the move. You also get extra time off for taking care of moving arrangements—something you don’t get if the military moves you.

    Remember, making a big move doesn’t have to be chaotic, as long as you are organized, prepared and know where to go for help. The military offers many resources and tips to make your move as stress-free as possible, and sites like Pinterest offer many inspiring visuals. Before you know it, you’ll be sending your friends postcards saying, “Wish you were here!”

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  • 5 Reasons to Rent a Self-Storage Unit

    17 July 2014 by
    woman looking mighty unhappy and frustrated at her desk

    Photo Credit: shine_dorydevlin via Compfight cc

    Perhaps it’s that leaning tower of books you keep stubbing your toe on. Maybe it’s the hall closet that takes two people to close (and the panic that ensues every time you need to get something from it). Or it could be all that time you waste wading through the piles of junk in the attic to get what you want. Whatever it is, you know you need more space. So if you’ve had enough bruises, cuts and headaches, then it’s time to call up a storage facility.

    Here are five great reasons to rent a storage unit:

    1. The population is growing but your space isn’t.

    When you bought your adorable little starter-home (read: microscopic apartment) years ago, it was the perfect size for you and your dreams. But now you’ve got a husband, two kids, maybe a dog or a couple of hamsters, and there’s only so much a small space can take before something blows.

    Or now that you’ve recovered from empty nest syndrome, you find yourself among the 30% of American families whose adult kids have had to move back home during the economic downturn.[1] This time they come with piles of books, clothes, stereo equipment, bikes, and a trunk full of emotional baggage.

    On the other hand, maybe your great aunt is coming for an extended stay, or you’ve volunteered to host a foreign exchange student. No matter the reason, the bottom line is: you need to clear out the “catch-all” room and don’t know what to do with all that stuff. For everyone’s safety, sanity and comfort, getting a self storage unit is just the thing to make room for more company and to keep you from being anti-social.

    2. That awkward moving transition.

    Many scenarios can make moving to a new space inconvenient. You have to be out of your old house by the end of the month, but the repairs are far from being completed in your new house. You’re relocating offices, but the old tenants of your new office space haven’t even begun packing. You’ve just moved to a new city and need somewhere to put your belongings while you couch-surf for a few months.

    You have two choices: have an Oscar-worthy breakdown on your front lawn, or…well, honestly, that option sounds like the most fun. But if you’re not the crying, screaming, or fainting sort, a storage unit can save the day! The best part is everything you own is already packed—you just need a place to safely stow it until you’re ready to move into your new digs. Check out local storage units on a site like Self Storage Finders to compare prices and other details.

    3. You’re remodeling.

    This is a messy business, which is ironic, considering that you are trying to expand or improve your space. One day you’ll be comparing before and after pictures of your beautiful new home or office, but until that day, your stuff is in the way and dangerously close to being stepped on, lost or heaved out the window in a fit of frustration. To help you get through this transition, check out some nifty storage ideas from Pinterest, like these drool-inducing under-the-stairs and in-the-wall storage ideas. In the meantime, your possessions can be safely stowed in a storage unit far from the drills, hammers and paint rollers.

    4. Business is booming!

    Hooray for you and your entrepreneurial spirit! But now that you’re so successful, your home office or small rented office is overflowing with records, paperwork, samples, and inventory. You don’t want to apologize every time a client comes over secretly fearing a lawsuit for personal injury. It’s time to add a new budget line for an off-site storage unit where you can safely store inventory you don’t need right away or archive records.

    5. ‘Tis the Season.

    Where are you going to put the snow plow and Christmas decorations over the summer? You’re probably tripping over them in the garage to get to the camping gear and lawn mower. Clutter is a hassle, especially when the seasons change and you want to stash these things out of sight until next year. A self storage unit is your ticket to decluttering your home and garage every spring and fall. Everything you don’t currently have use for can stay out of sight in a secure storage facility.

    In a perfect world, we would all have the time to organize our space to accommodate everything we need and want under one roof. But we live in the real world, and that means getting some help. With so many secure self storage units for rent at reasonable prices around the country, there’s no need to keep tripping over clutter. So look around for one that fits your needs before you get beaned on the head by another falling box.

    Sources:

    1. “The Boomerang Generation,” Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends

    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/03/15/the-boomerang-generation/, http://www.economist.com/node/21560602, http://www.selfstoragefinders.com/states.aspx, http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=under%20stairs%20storage%20space%20ideas, http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=pull-out%20wall%20storage%20ideas

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