Save Money on Your Big Move

Moving can be an exciting time with the prospect of starting over in a new home, a new city or new region of the country. But it can be daunting, too—especially if you’re on a tight budget. What’s the best way to tackle this huge project without breaking the bank? Here are a few tips to keep things organized, on schedule, and on budget.

First, Sell Your Stuff.
Decluttering should be the first thing on your list. Do a careful inventory of your home furnishings and belongings, and decide what will go with you and what you can part with. Then, make a plan to donate, sell, or toss. One closet at a time, one room at time, you can weed out the stuff you don’t need and make for a lighter load—no matter who is doing the moving.

Should You Hire a Mover or DIY?
Don’t automatically assume that hiring movers will be more expensive than moving yourself. While a rental truck looks like a real savings, once you add up the time and energy YOU spend moving, along with the rental fee and mileage—you may not be ahead of the game after all. If you decide to hire a mover, be sure to get at least three quotes. Try to negotiate price, especially if you’re moving during off-peak times like fall or winter, midweek or mid-month when there’s less demand; you could potentially save up to 30% on the cost of your move.

When calculating your cost, ask your movers for a fixed price rather than an estimate. Some movers charge by the piece. Unless your furniture/item count is super-accurate, be prepared to pay over the estimated price. Make sure you understand the extent of any additional charges that might be billed to you in additional to the estimate the mover provided. Confirm with your mover that they don’t charge extra fees for stairs, bulky or heavy items, etc. If you are moving long distance, confirm with your mover whether there will be extra charges for fuel.

Find a Good Mover. Open up the yellow pages (what’s that?) or go online and search for local movers. There are likely to be hundreds in your area. Ask friends and family who have moved recommendations. Put social media to work—if you have a Facebook page, ask your friends who they would recommend. You’ll likely get a lot of responses really quickly. Before booking a mover, do a background check by looking at Yelp reviews. Ask for references from previous customers. Check the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System.

There are a lot of risks involved that come with packing and moving. So watch out for these red flags before you risk the security of your belongings (and someone walking away with grandma’s china):

  • Make sure the moving company has a telephone number and physical address listed on their website.
  • Watch out for “too good to be true” pricing.
  • Ensure the moving company has a Federal Motor Carrier Number so you know your mover is legitimate.
  • Beware of moving scams: You get a low-ball estimate over the phone, the movers show up to move you, and hold your furniture and belongings hostage on the truck until you pay them more money.

Consider a “Pod.” Another way to move is kind of a hybrid between bribing your friends with beer and pizza and paying professional movers. Research the feasibility of renting a shipping container—where you load up a portable storage unit, and the company moves it to your new destination.

Insure Your Stuff. Purchase moving insurance coverage, which is a small amount up front, but big savings should anything break. Read the contract carefully to uncover exclusions and other terms and conditions. Keep good records of your move including all moving receipts, home improvement costs, real estate agent fees, etc., which may save you money come tax season.

Start Packing! Packing materials—including boxes, tape and bubble wrap—can add up quickly if you buy them from a moving company. Check local grocery, book or liquor stores who have large, sturdy boxes on hand—FREE! You can also check Craigslist or Freecycle for free boxes in your area. Use your own blankets, linens and rags as packing materials instead of renting from your truck rental company. There are a myriad of packing videos with hacks for packing. Here are a few videos to help get you started:

What about packing fragile items? United Van Lines offers some free tips and checklists, including tips on packing fragile items like china and glassware:

Time Your Utility Shutoff Dates. Deciding when to turn off the power needs to be on your checklist. Some utility companies won’t prorate your bill as of your departure date, so if your billing cycle doesn’t line up with your moving date, consider cutting off your service early so you’re not paying for an extra month. (This might work for cable for a week or two, but not for electricity.)

Other Expenses to Think About. There are moving expenses you might not have counted on, like:

  • Deposits for turning on utilities at the new place or penalty fees for ending a contract before its end date (i.e., cable or phone service).
  • Renting storage space if there is a gap between moving out of the old and in to the new.
  • Repurchasing household items or furniture that you decided not to move.

Finally, whether you decide to hire a professional mover or not, moving day is stressful. Kids and pets are adorable, but having yours underfoot on moving day will add to the stress-o-meter. Not to mention the safety concerns of little ones and furry friends getting in the middle of all that activity. It might be best to line up grandma, another family member or a babysitter to keep things rolling along smoothly so you can get on to the next phase of your move—unpacking and living in your new home!

References: Money Talks News, Updater.com, US News, MovingGuru.