Moving can be such a pain.
I have moved over a dozen times in my lifetime. Once, I rented a moving truck that was too small. On moving day, we had an entire garage full of stuff that I didn’t even want, which we had to leave behind and clean out the next weekend. The worst part? We had moved to a different state. So, cleaning out that garage took us an entire day and wasted a ton of money on another truck rental and lots of gas. Lesson learned.
Don’t get me wrong: I love to plan a move and get all of the moving pieces into place, but I still loathe the process of packing, unpacking, cleaning out the old place and getting used to the new place. It’s even more painful to have to pay for the excruciating process.
The key to saving money and sanity when moving is planning ahead. Once you know you’re moving, do these things things to save some money:
1. Schedule a Yard Sale
Set a date for a yard sale. Even better, pair up with a friend who also wants to have a yard sale, and set the date together. It will keep you accountable not only about having the sale but also donating the unsold items. If you had to take it to your friend’s house for the sale, you aren’t going to want to take them back to your house.
Put a big “Yard Sale” box in each room. Whenever you run into something that isn’t worth the effort to move to your new home, toss it in that Yard Sale box. Items you haven’t used in over a year, and especially items that never seem to have a “home” in your home, belong in that box.
List items on ebay or craigslist before the yard sale. Only list items if you have the time. Don’t put off your yard sale or any packing because you haven’t listed items yet. But if you have a chance to take some photos and upload them to ebay, the money you make could off-set your moving costs. For tips on listing items on ebay, check out this post.
After your yard sale, drop all unsold items off at a charity. Remind yourself that it’s in the yard sale because you saw no use for it in your new home.
2. Snag Free Boxes
If you don’t already hoard moving boxes like I do, you might be considering paying for them — Don’t! Unless it’s a specialty box, like an ultra-padded television box for a long-distance move, you should be able to grab enough free boxes for your entire move.
Shout out to your social media network. Ask someone who recently moved if you can haul away their boxes. If they’re like me, they want their boxes to be re-used. If you can’t think of anyone specific, holler out to your social networks on Facebook, Twitter, listservs, or whatever online medium you use to connect with people. You never know: There may be a friend of a friend’s cousin who would like to get rid of their boxes.
Stop by your local moving truck store. Uhaul has an area for movers to leave their used boxes and you can re-use them for free. It’s also a great place to get rid of your boxes when you’re done with them.
Stop by your local liquor store. My favorite suggestion from the Interwebs: Listotik suggests packing your drinking glasses in empty wine cases.
Sell your boxes when you’re done. If you got your boxes for free from a kind friend of a friend’s cousin, you should pay it forward and give them to another mover in need. But if you shelled out money for a specialty box that you’ll never use in the foreseeable future, sell it on craigslist or at your next yard sale so you can recoup the cost.
3. Empty Your Pantry
Eat Yourself Out of House and Home. As I stood in front of my stockpile with an empty box in my hand, I realized that I could not only save myself a few trips to and from the moving truck, but I could save half of my grocery budget if I made a point to eat everything in our pantry over the next month. Remember last winter when I cleaned out my pantry and slashed my grocery budget in half? I’m going to do it again. The first step is to take inventory of what’s in my stockpile, cabinets, and freezer. Then, I’ll try to cook with those ingredients this month.
Donate what you don’t eat. If, by the end of the month, I couldn’t find a use for the cream of mushroom soup I bought for tuna casserole before I realized that Mr. Stapler hates tuna, then I’ll donate it to the local food pantry. Someone else should eat it before it expires, and I don’t want to move it to the new home if it’s just going to sit on the shelf for another year.
4. Price-match Internet (and Cable) Services
This is the action that has the potential to save you a lot of money over the next two years. Paying an extra $10 a month is going to add up quickly.
Shop around. If you think you have the best price possible for internet (and cable), call up the competitor and see if they will beat that price. You never know if you don’t try!
Give up premium cable for a month. Try an experiment and sign up for the smallest package. See if you miss any of the shows you thought that you just had to have. I remember being skeptical when I downgraded my cable because I thought I would miss a certain reality show. But after a few months, I completely forgot about it! On the flip side, I was really bummed that I couldn’t watch Game of Thrones. So, instead of signing up for HBO, I signed up for Netflix discs and have been watching the series that way. If you try it for a month and then decide that your life isn’t complete without MTV or HBO, the cable company will be more than happy to upgrade your package.
Keep your DVR service. Fast-forwarding through the commercials is guaranteed to save you time and money in the long run. Last Christmas, there were a lot of parents searching the shelves for the Barbie dream house during the week before Christmas because Mattel blitzed the kids’ channels with ads at the last minute. Take the temptation out of TV-watching and just skip those ads.
5. Save Your Receipts
You may be able to deduct up to $2,000 of your moving expenses on your taxes if you move because of a new job. You have to meet three conditions in order to deduct your expenses: (1) you move within one year of beginning your new job, (2) your new home is 50 miles from your current home and 50 miles (or less) closer to your new job, and (3) you work full time for your new job. For more details, visit the IRS website’s explanation of the Moving Expense Deduction.
P.S.: Go To The Post Office! Not only will you save the fee for changing your address online, but you will get some valuable coupons in the change of address packet! I’ll admit that I pick up a change of address packet at the Post Office even when I’m not moving. There is usually a Lowe’s or Best Buy coupon in there — and I haven’t found anywhere else to get them. (although, Lowe’s does honor competitors’ coupons, so you can use a Sears or Ace Hardware coupon there). Last time I picked up a packet, I got a coupon for $200 when I open a new checking account at a local bank. Without the coupon, they would only give you $100.
What’s your best tip for saving money on a move?