Any time you have to pack up your entire home and move is a major undertaking. It doesn't matter if you're moving a few blocks away, across town, or across the country, you have to literally pack up your entire life and transport it. Not only is the task stressful, it can be exorbitantly expensive. Unless your employer is picking up the entire tab, you're going to be looking for ways to keep your moving budget as trim as possible. Here are five tips to help you save money on that big move.
1. Research the Real Costs
Believe it or not, there are times when it is cheaper to hire movers than to do it yourself. Start by breaking your move into individual tasks and estimating the cost of each if you do it yourself. Remember to take into account the value of your time as well as incidental expenses.
Now contact several different moving companies and get quotes for the cost. Be sure to get estimates for individual components as well as package deals. You may find that the overall cost is less if you pack everything yourself and have the movers transport it or if you just turn everything over to them. If you have access to deals or discounts, take advantage of them. Also be willing to negotiate with these companies to get an even better deal.
2. Pick the Date Carefully
If you have any discretion in when you move, take advantage of it. A little research will quickly show you which months, weeks, and even days of the weeks are most likely to provide a lower cost for your move.
Some simple guidelines:
- If the weather is good, there will be more people moving
- Don't move at the beginning or end of the school year
- Avoid starting or ending your move on a weekend
- Don't move during a three-day weekend
3. Less Stuff Means Less Cost
If you have fewer belongings to move, it will cost less in packing supplies, time, and truck space needed. Sorting through your possessions before you begin packing -- and being willing to part with some of them -- is a good way to save money.
Be ruthless about anything that is broken, torn, or otherwise unusable. The same goes for outgrown or out of style clothing, toys, books that you planned to read "someday," and anything that was buried at the back of a closet, under the stair, or in the basement, attic, or garage.
The items that are still usable can be donated to a local charity. Another option is to have a moving sale. This option lets you get rid of things AND make money on the process. A definite win-win on the budget.
4. Be Frugal
When it's time to do the actual packing, be as frugal as possible. Start by asking local stores for boxes rather than buying new ones. Check sites like Freecycle and Craigslist to see who is trying to unload their boxes.
Now it's time to get creative. Use blankets, towels, bedding, etc. as padding. Ask your supermarket if you can buy (or have) their day-old newspapers. Look for free weekly newspapers and fliers. Coffee filters are also great packing materials, and if you buy them at a dollar store or similar discount place, you save even more.
5. Write it Off
Take advantage of tax deductions associated with your move. If your or your spouse are moving to a better job or relocating under orders from your company, your move may qualify for deductions. There are formulas for calculating the distance of the move and limitations on what type of expenses can be deducted, but generally you can include the cost of movers or a rental truck, gas, and packing supplies. Do your research or talk to your accountant to find out what receipts you'll need come tax time.
Another way to write off the cost of moving relates to your stuff. Remember when you sorted out your belongings and discarded or sold off what you no longer needed? If you donate the remaining items to a local charity, that's another deduction you can claim, just be sure to get a receipt from them.
Following just a few of these steps can help shave valuable dollars off the overall cost of your move. That will be a relief not just to your bank account, but will help you feel less stressed about the big move, and more relaxed when you reach your new home.