Great Savings Tip #94 – Cut Moving Expenses


Save on the cost of moving.


Today’s tip: Cut Moving Expenses


This tip is number 94 out of 100 in our Great Savings Tip Series—designed to help find ways to spend less and save more. For more ways to save money see our Great Savings Tips page with a complete list of all our tips.


Do you plan to move yourself?

People move more than you might think.

Tip #94) Cut moving expenses. According to the US Census about 1 in 6 people move every year and the average American will move over 11 times in their lifetime.  Yet moving is expensive.  There are costs for moving vans, packing, storage and sometimes extra fees like damage deposits that get in the way of keeping your family budget in line.  What can you do?


To save on moving expenses consider these tips:


(1) Move less not more. There are all kinds of hidden costs so the fewer moves the better.  Also, the less quantity you have to move the cheaper it will be.  If you know a move is coming up, prepare ahead by holding a garage sale to sell unwanted items.  See our Great Savings Tip #83 – Hold a garage sale for great tips on having a successful sale.


Get a truck you can handle.

It's easy to rent a truck.

(2) Consider moving yourself. Depending on your situation, you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself.  It’s a lot of work and so having lots of help is important.  If you have some good friends or a couple strong kids, it’s fairly easy to rent a truck from companies like Budget or Hertz and do it yourself.  Or you can skip driving and have a storage “container” delivered right to your doorstep from companies like Pods. That can eliminate the worry of driving an unfamiliar vehicle.


Here are several things to consider if you’re moving yourself:


a) Prepare in advance of moving day. Moving can be an imposition on friends so do everyone a favor and be ready to go.  It’ll be hard enough to physically move your things without needing to pack it all up on the same day.  That means you should box up as much of your stuff up ahead of time as possible.  Also, have lots of snacks and drinks available and be sure everyone takes breaks throughout the day.  If you’re not the best organizer put someone in charge who isn’t afraid to give directions.  Finally, encourage everyone to take all safety precautions like wearing boots and gloves or bending to pick up items by flexing the knees (not backs). For a short video on proper lifting posture click here.



b) Stock up on free boxes. Check your local grocery store for boxes.  Ask a clerk for help.  When it comes to moving, the best boxes are ones you can still seal up on top.  Unfortunately, most stores will use a box knife and cut a box top off altogether.  These cut boxes can work for some things—especially items you might move in a car.  However, they don’t stack well in moving van.  Other sources for boxes:  Check with all your friends and ask if they have extra boxes around or know someone who just moved.  Or if you do end up buying boxes check local self-storage companies as they sell either individually or in bulk.  Be sure to buy boxes that are of a uniform shape and size as they will be much easier to stack.  That will help during transit or if you need to put your stuff in storage.


Mark your boxes.

Make your box markings clearly readable on top and on the side.

c) Mark all your boxes. There’s nothing worse than getting to your new place and missing some critical item.  Before you know it you’ll be running around opening up random boxes and digging through items you’re not ready to unpack.  To avoid this problem, mark your boxes well and be sure to include information like the room they belong in.  That will also make moving day easier as your friends won’t need to ask where every box goes as you unload them off the truck.


d) Wrap carefully. You can use old clothing, newspaper or plastic grocery bags as stuffing material.  However, old newspaper tends to shed its ink on your hands and clothes.  Instead of old newspapers, you can buy a roll of butcher paper at a craft store or you can buy a box of newsprint (unprinted newspaper) from self-storage companies.  Costco also sells a “moving kit” that includes boxes, bubble wrap and sealing tape.   You might also check stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s for moving supplies.  Whatever you use, wrap your items carefully to prevent breakage in transport.  It’s good to keep items from moving around inside a box so fill them up completely and seal them with box wrapping tape.


A pod container may be a good alternative to a truck.

Loading a storage "pod" like this one is a bit of an art.

e) Load your truck with care. No matter how you load it, some of your things will shift during transit.  That means the way you load the truck is critical in terms of keeping damage to a minimum.  Most trucks come with at least some interior signage to give some clues about loading.  Most important: 1) Don’t stack items too high without securing them.  Many trucks have wood lined sides designed to tie your load down.  Take advantage—rope used for this purpose is cheap insurance.  2) If you plan on using a pick-up or other truck with an open bed, it may be a legal requirement to secure your load.  Don’t take unnecessary chances—there are far too many accidents on the road caused by unsecured loads.  3) As you load your truck try to keep your heaviest items toward the front of the van (i.e. between the wheel wells).  This is best for the trucks suspension and stability.


f) Check with your insurance agent. Your items are at risk either in transit or at a storage unit so check in with your homeowner’s agent to see whether your policy covers you.  That will also tell you whether you need to spend extra on truck or storage insurance.


(3) Get the best deals from moving companies. If you decide to have someone handle the moving for you, be sure to:


a) Get at least 3 quotes. Prices do vary between companies and they have to compete so tell them you’ll be checking around and want the best discount they can offer.  It may pay to be wary if one of your quotes is substantially lower than the others, and it certainly won’t hurt to call the Better Business Bureau to check and see if they have any complaints filed against the company.


b) Get an in-person quote, if possible. Some companies may offer an internet or over the phone quote, but as soon as they show up, they may say the job looks bigger than expected.  If an estimator comes out to look in person there should be no surprises.  Also, be sure to show them everything you want to move including items in the attic or other storage areas.  And while you at it, you should ask how they handle your special items (like a precious antique) or heavy items like pianos.


There's no ink on newprint.

Wrap all valuables with sufficient packing like newprint.

c) Move personal and valuables yourself. Before the movers ever show up, remove all items of value like coins, jewelry, watches, cameras, computers, cell phones, precious art or small antiques, etc.  Unless these items are too big to move yourself, it can prevent a lot of heartache to keep a close watch on them during the moving process.


d) Ask lots of questions. Make sure you know exactly what your rights are and what the movers intend to do for you.  Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions.  It’s your right to know exactly where your stuff will be and how it will be handled, not to mention who is going to handle it.


e) Avoid storage fees. If your new place is ready for the movers you can save on potential storage fees or the hassle of moving items twice.  True, many large moving companies can keep your items in storage for you, but there are usually extra costs associated with this so arrange to move from door to door when possible.


f) Stay in touch. Make sure your mover has your cell phone information and you have theirs.  There can be lots of last minute questions or instructions needed so plan to be accessible.


g) Avoid big down payments. You can expect some kind of deposit may be required, but be wary of movers who want you to put up a large down payment to move on a particular day or “reserve” service.


There are many local truck rental firms offering good deals, too.

You might have professionals move your big stuff and then rent a truck to do the rest yourself.

h) Figure out what works best for you. Movers can and will offer various services including packing.  You might be able to save money by doing the packing yourself, though that may also put the risk of breakage back on you.  Find out the mover’s policy before deciding what services you may want to do on your own.


i) Set aside personal items. Make sure you’ve packed at least a weeks worth of clothing, your personal items (like toothbrushes or cosmetics) and anything you need immediate access to like bills or important documents.  Plan on moving these items yourself.


A Big Deal


Moving is a big and often challenging event for the entire family.  Not only will you make hundreds of decisions about what to keep, what to throw away and where things go, but you’ll inevitably end up dealing with feelings of loss over leaving an old home or moving away from old neighbors and friends.  To make a move easier, be sure to get plenty of support from close friends.  And if you have kids, let them invite an old friend to the new place if it’s possible.  That can help ease some of the anxiety about leaving loved ones behind.


To see a complete list of all our Great Savings Tips click here.

If you know someone who’s moving, don’t forget to share this.

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