For most Americans, moving is a part of life: 86 percent have moved more than two times in their adult lives, according to a survey carried out in March 2016 by Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Whether this is your first or sixth move, changing homes often means extra expenses that fall outside of the regular budget.
“Estimating moving costs is challenging, especially for out-of-state or cross-country moves,” noted consumer finance expert Andrea Woroch.
Taking steps before you begin packing can help reduce what you’ll spend during the transition. Follow these guidelines to cut as much as possible from your total moving price tag.
1. Weigh Your Options
“Having a budget in mind will help you determine which moving options work for you, whether that’s hiring full-service movers or recruiting friends and family to help you haul your stuff,” said Woroch.
To map out expenses, HireAHelper offers a moving comparison tool that allows you to gauge the cost of a DIY, hybrid, or full service move.
Austin-based uShip has a handy guide for packing your items.
2. Steer Clear of Scams.
Ask friends and neighbors for a recommendation regarding movers, suggested Leslie Tayne, financial attorney and author of Life & Debt. Then look online to see a moving company’s history and reputation. Read reviews online to check on movers as well.
As you compare prices, keep in mind that reputation can sometimes be a stronger indicator of savings than an ultra-cheap option.
“It might cost a little more to use a reliable company, but doing this can buy you peace of mind in knowing your items will be kept in good hands and that they will arrive at your new destination safe and sound,” explained Tayne. “Consider the expense you could incur should your items end up lost, stolen, or broken.”
3. Time it Right.
If you move on the weekend, you won’t have to take time off of work. Also, “movers tend to be busiest Monday through Friday; those weekend spots will naturally be cheaper,” said T.J. Peterson, social media coordinator at Oz Moving & Storage, Inc.
For local moves, you can save on a rental truck or even large cargo van by renting it by the hour.
“The trick here is to have everything packed up and ready to go before you pick up the vehicle,” explained Woroch, “Have friends and family standing by to load everything up and meet at your new place to unload quickly. This ensures you don’t exceed the rental period.”
4. Declutter Before Packing.
“The less stuff you have, the easier and cheaper it will be to move,” noted Peterson.
Start by going through each room, advised Dina Newman, owner and founder of Organizing Concepts & Designs. Look for items in plain sight that you no longer need.
Then give the house a careful review. Look through drawers, cupboards, and shelves in each area of your home to find broken or unused belongings.
5. Sell What You Don’t Need.
After you’ve sorted through your household and collected items you won’t be moving, hold a garage sale or list the goods on Craigslist, Amazon, eBay, or Glyde.
Selling items you won’t be moving creates a dual benefit: you won’t have to pay to move them, and you can even bring in cash to counter the overall cost of moving.
While selling can bring in cash, be sure you’re ready to part with the belongings before putting them up for sale.
“Sometimes the cost of moving a large piece of furniture is costly but replacing it would cost more money,” said Newman.
6. Find Freebies.
“You can get boxes at grocery stores and from neighbors for free, so don’t buy specialty boxes from a moving company,” said Woroch.
To get ready, hang on to boxes, wrapping and other packing materials you receive from online shipments. Ask friends and family for extra supplies or boxes they don’t need.
To save on special packing paper, gather all of your towels and linens, and use them to wrap delicate pieces.
7. Look for Reimbursement and Tax Deductions.
Some employers reimburse job-related transitions.
And if you don’t get reimbursed for the move, some costs may be tax deductible. For instance, if you start a new job or business within a year of the move, and the place you work meets the distance test, some of your expenses could be deducted. Check on tax deduction possibilities to know if you’re eligible.
“It’s important to save all of your receipts so you can track costs and keep your deductions organized for next tax season,” explained Woroch.