Thrifty Moving Ideas

Moving on a Budget

Moving can be a very expensive proposition, as anyone who’s done it knows all too well. Long moves are the most expensive, but relocating across town can be pricey, too. The good news is that with some planning, creativity, and determination, the costs associated with your move can be significantly reduced. Let’s take a look at the ways you can keep more money in your pocket. Or to blow on goodies for your new place – no, no, that’s the wrong attitude!

The key to lowering expenses is to move less stuff. That’s not rocket science to figure out. What can be tricky is determining how to lighten the load. One way you DO NOT want to reduce the amount moved is to put some of your items into storage, thinking you’ll return later to retrieve, sell, or otherwise get rid of them. It’s amazing how often folks never get around to clearing out that storage unit, and those costs end up eclipsing the cost of the move! If you are going to store stuff, a family member’s basement is the best choice. How long it stays there, and ramifications ensue, would be a good subject for an article on family relational dynamics, but hey, this article’s about cutting moving costs to the bone.

In the long run, the best way to move less stuff is to own less stuff to move. Relocating presents a great opportunity to make the choice to travel lighter through life, which many people find to be very liberating. Stuff often equals stress, and some people get owned by their possessions, rather than the other way around. There’s another article for future consideration! Go through your possessions like a Turn-Around specialist hired to cut corporate fat in a down economy. Set aside everything you don’t absolutely need or want.

Once you’ve weeded out the unwanted treasure from your various collections – household, wardrobe, extras – decide what to do with it. Some simply needs to be tossed or added to your community’s recycling program! That ratty couch is a good candidate. But much of it will have cost-cutting value. Group one stuff is stuff a local charity would be glad to have, furnishing you with a receipt that will put a dent in your next year’s taxes. Group two items are those that would likely sell in a garage sale or on Craigslist.com. Price stuff to move, as a retailer might say. Use the proceeds to offset moving costs, and what doesn’t sell, add to the items to give to charity. Group three stuff is made up of things that would serve as great gifts for birthdays or holidays. Sound tacky? Maybe, maybe not. But again, we’re talking serious ways to cut moving expenses, and this will do it! Giving your musical brother the decent acoustic guitar you never play will save you money on his next birthday present, and gifting that framed art or Jane Austen book set to your cultured sister covers the holidays. You get the point.

you’ve reduced the amount of things to be transported, save on packing supplies the old-fashioned way – visit your local stores and ask them for boxes. Use your own clothing and towels to wrap fragile items and provide packing. Real cheapies will find that tying boxes shut with twine is as effective, and less costly, than using tape.

As for transportation, here’s how that works. Moving companies are the most expensive. Renting a truck and getting help from a few friends is next. The cheapest way is to avoid moving trucks completely by asking more friends to help, especially those with trucks or trailers. Hopefully you’ve been storing up a few favors, or just have really, really nice friends! Pizza and cold beverages for 20 people will still cost much less than a rental truck for even one or two days. This works best on local moves, where you won’t have to reimburse your friends for gas.

Here’s one last way that moving expenses can be reduced – move in the offseason. Like football and Capri pants, moving has a season, which is roughly June to September. That also happens to be the season when travel of any kind is the most expensive. You can’t choose the timing, but those who can may save money on air travel, gas, and hotel stays moving in months where travel in general is reduced. And here’s a clue – especially when moving offseason, negotiate better rates whenever possible. Truck rental companies or moving companies and hotels often are willing to negotiate reduced rates when they are not as busy, in order to get your business. Oh, and lest we forget: if moving for job-related purposes to a location at least 50 miles away, you can deduct your moving expenses by using IRS form 3903.

Moving is never a picnic. Plan ahead, be creative, view the move as an opportunity to streamline your life, and be willing to do as much of the work as possible. You’ll get through it, and save some cash in the process.