The summer after I graduated High School I, like so many people in that age group, moved out of my parents’ house and started college. This was not my first move, we did plenty of that when I was a child, but it was the first time I had to do the planning, the packing, and the paying for a move. For the next six years I moved a grand total of fourteen times – between four cities, two states, and two countries. Most of this was done on a student budget! An average of 40 million Americans move each year, and the majority relocate in late spring and summer. Since it is moving “season,” here are eight tips to have a budget friendly move:
- Start planning as soon as possible. Decide whether we want to hire a professional moving company or rental truck company or move everything yourself (a DIY move). Moving with a company will most likely be the more expensive option, but sometimes makes the most sense depending on your personal situation or move. There are ways of reducing your costs when being professionally moved.
- Book movers early. Book a soon as possible – do not wait until a couple weeks before your move.
- Price shop. Get at least three quotes before committing to a company. Do not be afraid to negotiate. Do a background check, look at reviews on the BBB, Angie’s List, or Yelp.
- If possible, avoid the peak moving time (June or July) and move during the middle of the month. Be as flexible as possible. This can often lead to a deal.
- Ask questions! Two important ones are whether disassembling furniture is included in the price. If it is not, disassemble everything that can before the movers arrive. Also, there are certain items that can cost extra – hard to move items like pianos and appliances are not often included in an original quote unless you specifically tell the company.
- Donate, have a garage sale, or give away as much stuff as you can. When I moved to Britain, I only had three suitcases (one check bag, two carry ons – I was very limited on space). Everything else was sold, given away, or put in storage. When it comes to moving. Weight = money. This is the rule for both professional and DIY moves. Also, selling unwanted or unused items gives you some extra cash to help with moving costs. Keep things that would be very expensive to replace.
- Be ruthless when you go through stuff like books, DVDs/ CDs, clothes, and games.
- Do not move weight sets. Period. It will cost about the same to move them as it will to buy a new set.
- Never pay for boxes! Use as many storage containers (plastic tubs, etc.) or shipping boxes you already have. When you need more, find out when your local Walmart or liquor/grocery store restocks their merchandise. If you go when they are restocking (this is typically in the evening), ask for their boxes. They will typically help you find the best ones for moving.
- If you are moving DIY, do not move during rush hour. Moving is frustrating enough do not add traffic! Also, do not pack your car all the way to the top. A fully weighed down vehicle (car or truck) will get poor gas mileage. If you drive in rush hour this will compound the issue.
- Get some friends in on your move. If you are moving locally or in an area you already have friends or family ask them to help out. The more hands, the quicker and easier the move. Ordering lunch and/or dinner can be a very good thank you “payment” for their help – as well as a good break from moving.
- Plan your utility shut-down dates. Some companies will not prorate bills. If you can line up your departure date with your moving date. If you cannot, consider shutting off utilities that you can live without for a week or two – like cable and internet.
- Use things you need to move to cushion your fragile valuables. I never bought bubble wrap or packing peanuts when I moved. They are an extra expense and just trash at the end of the move. You can use extra bed linens, towels, or extra clothes. I have used newspaper, plastic bags (from the grocery store), and packs of napkins (unopened). Coffee filters are another good option! Before doing this weigh the pros & cons of these unconventional pack materials. For example, you will most likely end up with multiple loads of laundry if you use linens, cloths, or towels, but you need to move the items anyway, and might already be planning on washing them.
- Do not bury necessities like bed linens and essential kitchen ware. It will most likely take a couple of days to unpack everything and you will need those things. Set up beds first. Moving is hard and tiring, and you will want to make sure you have something to sleep on your first night.
Moving can be frustrating, but it doesn’t need to be financially frustrating. If you take the time to plan and get creative, your saving could be great. Happy moving!