How To Keep an Inventory of Your Storage Unit

Jon Fesmire | November 14, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

A self storage unit allows you to pack away those belongings you need, but don’t use much. However, when you do need something, be it a reference book, toys for visiting grandchildren, or tools for a specific job, you’ll want to retrieve it quickly.

For that, you need an inventory of all your stored items.

Why Keep a Storage Inventory List

An inventory of your self storage items doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be thorough. There are several reasons for this.

First, when you need to find an item, you’ll be able to go straight to the correct box to retrieve it. Without an inventory, you’ll have to go through many boxes, one after the other, until you find what you need. So, it will save you time and effort. Second, it can save you money. Often people need a specific item right away. If they have trouble finding it, they may simply buy a replacement, even for an expensive item. Third, it can give you peace of mind. You may wonder if you even stored a certain item. You can simply check your inventory to see that you did.

How to Keep the List

Now that you know why you’ll need a list, you need a plan.

Create inventory sheets. We recommend that the title of each sheet match that of the related box. Of course, the sheet may end up being more than one page. For example, you might have a box labeled “Bedroom 1.” You would write “Bedroom 1” at the top of the related sheet, and then list everything in the box.

For each item, write the name, quantity, and value. The last bit is so that you can figure out how much insurance you’ll need to cover all your items. Also, if a box gets stolen—a rarity, but still a possibility—you can show the insurance company exactly what was in the box along with its value.

Written or Typed

Though it will take a little extra time, typing each box’s inventory into a spreadsheet will make it easy to store on a computer, removable media, or in the cloud. It will also make it easy to search for any given item. A program like Microsoft Excel allows you to have any number of sheets in one file. Essentially, it’s like having one page for each box. You can do a global search for an item that will go through everything you put in storage, and tell you exactly which box to check.

Alternately, you could scan the pages and save the resulting files, or simply photocopy them and save them somewhere safe. You may even consider keeping one copy of the inventory in the storage unit itself in case you need to reference it there.

Most people don’t like to be told to do extra work, and creating an inventory is exactly that. However, it’s meant to protect your things, and to help you quickly find a specific stored item when you need it. The next time you need a storage unit, seriously consider taking this extra step.

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