Thanks to cable television, when many of us think of storage units, we think of people who accumulate too many possessions and consequently don't have a place to store all of their belongings. That's probably not fair. Self-storage units can also be a great place to store useful items that you don't need everyday or even work as an off-site warehouse or studio.

Good ways to use self-storage

1. For paperwork. The IRS requires that you keep your old tax refunds and related paperwork (such as receipts, pay stubs and bills) for up to seven years so you can prove your deductions and income in the event of an audit. These records and receipts can get cumbersome in your home filing cabinets. A self-storage unit makes an ideal off-site filing room. It's accessible, yet will keep those records from getting in your way.

2. For your small business inventory. Nearly 16 million Americans work in direct sales, showcasing and selling products from make-up to candles to cleaning products to jewelry at home parties around the country. To work these types of businesses most efficiently, you need to have a decent amount of inventory. However, such inventory can clutter up your dining room or home office pretty quickly. A self-storage unit can make a convenient and organized warehouse for these products.

3. For your seasonal vehicles. Owning a RV, a boat or a camper is fun, but in most parts of the country, you can only use these vehicles for a portion of the year. This can present a storage problem, particularly in neighborhoods where zoning and association regulations prohibit homeowners from parking such vehicles on their property. A self-storage unit can work as a secure, seasonal garage. Many are even heated during the winter.

4. As an artist's studio. If you've always craved a private place to work on your paintings, sculpture or next novel, maybe you should look at a self-storage unit. What it might lack in glamour, such a unit easily makes up for in privacy and affordability. Plus, when you've finished working, all you have to do is pull down the door and lock up. Depending on how you've set up your art business, you might even be able to write off the cost of this storage/studio on your tax return.

While renting a self-storage unit isn't right for everyone, these units can be a great place to store your tax returns and other required paperwork, house your direct sales inventory and garage your recreational vehicles during the off season.

For professional storage options, contact a company such as Carolina Self Storage