In the last column, I promised to look into storage units. It all started when I was talking with a friend about needs vs. wants. He said, "Storage units — they are brick and mortar monuments to our 'wants.'”

It got me thinking. I realized that, although I see them everywhere in all my travels to different schools, I don’t actually know anyone who has rented a storage unit, but that may just be because the subject never came up in conversation.

Next, it occurred to me that there could be a number of reasons that Americans might rent a storage unit. Transitioning after a divorce; downsizing, before the college student children can choose and use some of the excess personal property after graduation; or having an overseas assignment for work, study, or the military, are just a few. Determining what to do with personal property after a passing or a move to an assisted living facility, storing during a major renovation or remodeling project, or a place for excess hobby items, and for cars or boats during the off-season, are a few more that came to mind.

Then, I had a conversation with a millennial about the subject. He pointed out that more young people are renting, not buying, so there is not enough storage space for their things — not that big basement or attic. Then it started to occur to me that some people in our hyper consumer society might just have too much “stuff,” as my friend indicated by his monument comment. I started to do some research. It turns out that the storage industry markets its services by setting out, in very convincing language, all of those reasons that I had thought of, and many more.

However, here are a few “just stuff” quotes that I found from owners of storage units. “Americans have a lot of stuff and not a lot of room for it, and many people are willing to pay good money to solve that problem.” Also, “Americans are pack rats. Nobody wants to get rid of anything.” Another owner said, “Human laziness has always been a big friend of self-storage operators.” Finally, “… the whole game is making people feel that they have some semblance of control over their lives and belongings.” Now, I have never seen the show “Storage Wars,” but I have a feeling that it might support some of those quotes.

By the way, notwithstanding all of those “good reasons" for having a storage unit, according to theoutline.com and scambusters.com, there are 60,000 storage facilities in the U.S., one in 11 households rent a storage unit at an average cost of $87.15 per month, it is a $38 billion a year industry, and THE U.S. HAS MORE SELF STORAGE FACILITIES THAT ALL OTHER COUNTRIES COMBINED, BY A CONSIDERABLE MARGIN. Don’t the citizens in those other countries have all those “good reasons” to have a storage unit? Or, is it possible that they have just learned to live within their space, and don’t acquire as much?

If you are interested in a self-storage unit, according to scambusters.org, here are eight things you can do to ensure a more positive experience. Research the facilities in your area. Visually inspect your narrowed-down prospective list of facilities, and always get a written contract that you have read in detail for provisions like late payments, defaults, rent increases, and notices of termination. Also, see if the facility is a member of the Better Business Bureau or the industry’s trade group, fully insure your contents, and make a detailed written and photo inventory. Last, use your own padlock if possible, and regularly inspect your unit.

On a different subject, let’s return to the need to save and become a life-long saver, something that I always do and will continue to push, including in this column and in my CARE presentations in the schools.

I talk about three things in their “real world” future to make them understand that they need to start saving now, and to save more than prior generations. They are, first, the reduction in the number of defined benefit pensions out there, and that Social Security, which I believe will be politically saved, will not be as generous as it is currently, unless you are indigent, which is not what you aspired to. That means you have to save more and pay more taxes to save Social Security.

Second, health care, which will continue to cost more, with increasing premiums and deductibles, and the need for some taxpayers, who are working and successful — which you DO aspire to — to pay more taxes, in order to subsidize the increasing number of Americans who cannot afford meaningful health care.

Third, the national debt, which some taxpayers are going to have to finally get under control, which most likely means once again paying more taxes.

That being said, it is interesting that in the last few weeks we have been bombarded with reports that health insurance costs could increase by over 20 percent in New York this coming year, and that Social Security will run out of money earlier than previously projected. It made me realize that there are many “importance of saving” teaching moments out there for parents and grandparents almost every week in the news. When things like cable prices, Starbucks coffee, newspaper subscriptions and gas prices increase, why not point that out to young people, and explain to them that it is why they need to learn to save, starting now. By the way, the recently announced approximately 20 cents a cup increase by Starbucks only amounts to about $52 per year for a once-a-day-for-five-days-a-week consumer, according to some numbers reported by CBS News.

In the next column we will revisit student loan debt and thoughts from “Beating the College Debt Trap.”

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo