Moving On a Budget: 9 Tips To Save Money

Between hefty deposits, relocation fees, insurance charges, and other costs, saving money and moving don't exactly go hand in hand. But, with the right strategy, you can become an expert at getting through your move without breaking the bank. 

Here are tips to help you navigate the process of packing your belongings safely while sticking to your budget as much as possible.

Tips to moving while on a budget

When you’re moving to a new home, it pays to know how to make your move as efficient as possible. Here are our top tips to help cut your moving costs while making sure everything makes its way safely from Point A to Point B.

1. Keep only what you need

Professional organizers recommend that as you clean, you should identify what you want to keep instead of what you want to throw away.

As you prepare to move into a new home, take a careful look around to decide what brings you happiness – things you could never get rid of – and what you can donate, sell online or at a yard sale, gift, or throw away.

A good rule of thumb: Keep anything you’ve used in the past year and move on from the rest. The less you bring with you to your new home, the lighter (and cheaper) your load.

2. Sell or donate items you don't want

Anything you sell adds a bit of cash to your budget. Look for consignment shops that are accepting new inventory. You can also try hosting a yard sale or posting furniture online in apps or neighborhood groups.

Anything you can’t sell, donate to your local charity. Be sure to ask for a receipt for the donation because the value of your donation can be used as a tax deduction.

3. Time your move right

If you can, time your move for the non-peak times to save on moving costs. The middle of the month, the middle of the week, or the middle of the winter are usually cheaper times to move.

Look for discounts or lower rates during these times, then make sure you’re not losing money by missing days of work. Calculate your total costs minus the wages you may miss and compare it to what your costs would be on a more optimal time, but without the wages lost to decide what’s most cost-efficient.

4. Get quotes from multiple movers

Although professional come with a cost, they can also offer peace of mind. If you're looking to hire movers, a highly-rated professional moving company should:

  • Know where to find free or cheap boxes
  • Provide free quotes with a quick inventory of your apartment or home
  • Have a history of happy customers
  • Provide insurance in case anything is damaged during the move
  • Offer expertise for complex interstate moves

If you can’t afford the pros, the cheapest method for local moves is to ask your friends and family to pitch in — although you should at least set aside money for pizza and drinks once the last box lands.

How to find the best professional mover

Start looking now. The earlier you start your search, the wider range of quotes you will get, letting you find the one that best meets your budget.

Do your research: Ask around. The best way to find a great mover in your area is to use your network of friends and family, but a bit of online research can also offer honest reviews.

Flat rate vs. hourly. Beware of movers that charge by the hour. Obstacles or roadblocks could add to costs beyond your budget. Whenever possible, a flat rate quote from your mover is the safest bet.

5. Create a moving budget

With a moving plan set and a quote in hand, you can begin building out your budget for the move. If your landlord can’t yet guarantee returning your security deposit, consider a short-term loans from a direct lender if you need cash quickly.

Remember to budget for:

  • The cost of closing out your utilities (gas, electric, and cable) and opening accounts at your new address
  • Any repairs that can help you earn your security deposit
  • Tipping your movers for arriving on time and delivering your boxes and furniture in good condition
  • Travel expenses including gas (especially for longer trips)
  • Ordering that first-night meal (you may want to go heavy on the comfort food)

6. Start collecting free boxes

As you research moving companies, you may find that local movers can lend you free boxes. It never hurts to ask as you shop around.

Likewise, tell your coworkers, friends, and family about your upcoming move. Often they can save boxes for you or send you to the businesses — including grocery stores, big box stores, and moving companies — that are happy to share their never-ending supply of cardboard.

7. Pack smart

Once you have your free boxes, smart packing can reduce the number of boxes you need to move (which can save costs with some movers) and can make the move faster, saving you both time and hassle.

  • Use towels, linens, magazines, and newspapers as packing materials for fragile items.
  • Gather the clothes from your closet with the hangers still on; put them in a garbage bag for easy unpacking instead of investing in a wardrobe box.
  • Use plastic wrap to cover your utensil drawer or desk drawer items, instead of pouring them into an extra box.
  • Put your knives in an oven mitt and fill up your lidded pots with kitchen items and seal with wrap or tape.
  • Label boxes by room so everyone knows exactly where to put them down in your new home.

8. Protect your security deposit

Look online for hacks that can help you leave your apartment or home just as you found it. This may mean filling nail holes with bar soap or using eraser sponges for scuff marks.

If you can’t fix any minor damage yourself, consider hiring a handyman; quick fixes may be cheaper than not getting your entire deposit returned. If you can, take pictures of your new home to document any blemishes before you move in. This way, your next security deposit isn’t in jeopardy.

9. Save money with tax deductions

Any donated items can be written off your taxes. In most cases the value of the items you donate can be subtracted from your income to reduce the amount you will owe to the government.

10. Be flexible with your moving date 

It's important to consider when you want to move to save the most money. Prices increase during peak season (summer) because more people are likely to move in the warmer months. To stick to your budget, try planning for off-peak times, such as winter, when fewer people are relocating. Strategizing your moving date could end up saving you serious money.

Moving expenses to budget for 

Moving to a new home can be exciting, but it’s important to remember that the process comes with many associated costs. The most significant expenses include renting a moving truck or hiring movers and putting down deposits for electricity, internet, and other utilities. 

Make sure to factor in the cost of new furniture and other items you may need to purchase. An often-overlooked expense is changing your address with organizations such as banks and even the DMV.  

Finally, anything you need to do to deep clean your old or new residence should also be considered an essential moving expense. An appropriate budget for all these expenses can help make your transition smooth and stress-free. 

>RELATED: Moving Loans: Get Funds To Relocate

How to create a moving budget 

Whether you’re moving to a new city or across the country, creating a budget for your move is crucial so you don’t spend more than you can afford and go into debt. Here are tips for creating a successful moving budget: 

1. Take inventory 

The first step in creating your moving budget is to take inventory of everything you own and decide what should come with you on your move. Accounting for your things will help you determine how much space and what size vehicle you’ll need to get the job done right. It may also help you decide if you should discard or donate any items instead, which could save you more money. 

2. Calculate moving costs 

Once you know what needs to go with you, it’s time to calculate your moving costs. Start by getting quotes from different moving companies and comparing prices before committing to one. Other costs associated with a move may not seem obvious at first, like new furniture, utility deposits, storage fees, and more. Make sure to factor these into your overall budget as well. 

3. Choose a budgeting method 

Once you have decided when you want to move, it’s time to choose which budgeting method works best for you. You can choose from several methods, such as writing down each expense (no matter how small), setting an estimated cost for each item, or simply creating a flexible budget that allows for unexpected expenses. No matter what method you choose, make sure your budget is realistic and considers all the costs associated with moving. 

>RELATED: 50/30/20 Budget Rule

4. Stick to your budget

Once you have created your moving budget, it’s time to stick to it! Ensure that receipts are accounted for and tracked each month so you can accurately see what you spent and still need before your move is complete. Don’t forget about hidden costs such as tips, storage fees, or extra insurance coverage if necessary. 

How much money should I save before moving? 

Moving is a complex process involving plenty of moving parts, and you don’t want anything catching you off guard when it comes to costs. The amount of money you should save before your move depends on several factors, such as the size of your move and how far away you’re going. 

Do some research into average costs for moves of similar size and distance, including material costs like boxes and fees if you’re hiring movers. You may also want to factor in unexpected expenses like fixing up your old apartment or storage fees. 

Finally, consider saving at least 15% to 20% more than you expect to need so that an emergency doesn’t cause undue stress along the way.

Get an Advance America loan for your next move

If you need help covering expenses for your next move, an Advance America loan can get you the funds quickly. We offer payday loans, installment loans, title loans, and lines of credit that you can apply for from the comfort of your home.

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