By: Belinda
22 November 2006

Let's face it. Apartment living for survivalists is NOT ideal. You can't make any permanent modifications, management generally has a key, so security is a big issue, the likelihood of you being able to safely stay in the unit over an extended period of time if TSHTF is exceedingly low, and there is usually no ways to expand your living area if needed. And then there is the storage issue.

This series deals with storage and organization of available space. There are a few steps to ensuring you are optimally utilizing your storage area. Purging, prioritizing what needs to be stored, designing a storage layout that you can use and live with and that is esthetically pleasing, and keeping up with your system will give you the most space available as stress free as possible. This particular article deals with purging. While it is geared specifically for apartment dwellers, anyone can pick up tips to make their storage more efficient. If you have a completely empty apartment, very little personal affects, or are starting from scratch, you can skip this article and go to the next one.

The first step, and the hardest, is purging, especially for survivalists. Most of us are of the mindset that if something is still remotely usable, we should keep it because you never know. That might work when you have your own home and land where you can create exactly the storage configuration that you want like outbuildings and sheds housing anything you want. But for apartment dwellers, that mindset is what keeps you from optimizing your space with things like food and water and other things you need to have.

What are you lugging around with you that you don't need, want or use anymore? Go through your closets, your kitchen drawers, boxes that you have carried around move after move. Do you have clothing from your high school 12 years ago that you haven't, and couldn't have, worn since? Have you ever used that old fondue pot that your Aunt Helen gave to you three Christmases ago? When was the last time you used the plastic bowl with the crack down the side? Are you still lugging baby clothes and toys for your six month old who is now 5? Sell it! Give it away! Make room for the things in your life that you need.

It is easy for papers to overrun us. Bills, instructions, warranties, correspondence, even junk, they all pile up. Your first line of defense is to go through the mail as soon as you get it home. Throw out the stuff you don't need, file the stuff you do into action (like pay bill or fill out form) and file pile (correspondence, action not required.) Experts offer the following guidelines as a basis for purging papers:

NEVER PURGE/ INSTEAD SAFEGUARD: Marriage certificates, birth and death records, social security cards, pension or retirement benefits status paperwork, stock certificates and other personal documentation.

SEVEN YEARS: W-2 forms, receipts for medical expenses, charitable donations, proof of investment gains and losses like brokerage statements, trade slips and similar items needed for tax return verification.

ONE YEAR: Pay stubs, cancelled checks, utility bills, credit card statements.

EVENT DRIVEN: Mortgage and loan documents until the debt is repaid, then just proof of repayment indefinitely. Receipts connected to warranties until warranties expire. Instruction manuals/assembly instructions for as long as you own the item.

Keep the things that have deep sentimental value, things you use all the time and things that you would need to have in an emergency (survival equipment, etc.). You should purge as you go, in general, with one shirt in, one shirt out (again not including survival equipment). You should also plan on doing a thorough purge every year, going through everything you own, every box, drawer, closet, file, everything, and if you don't need it, want it or use it, let it go. Start by choosing a room, then choose a section of the room. Break it up into manageable chunks and spread it out over time to keep from getting overwhelmed. If you do this, the items you own will become easily manageable and can be organized in such a way that you will know exactly what you have. Not only will this purge save you space for storage and money by keeping you from purchasing things you don't need, but also if you sell the items, it even may make you some money.

The next article in this series is realistic planning for what you need to store.

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