How to Save Money Moving

by David Ning · 7 comments

When you finally make the decision to move, the process can seem overwhelming. Packing up an entire household with furniture, clothes, toys and everything that goes with it is daunting, but turning the job over to the professionals is painfully expensive. There are some relatively simple ways to cut costs and still get the job done right, so let me list them out below.

Know where you are going

This sounds simple, right? Yet, not many people take the time to measure out your new floor plan and make sure they know exactly where everything is going. The sofa that fit in this home may not fit in the next, so why move it? Get your floor plan, figure out what fits and what doesn’t, and sell, give away or donate anything you won’t need in the new house.

Once you know where everything is going, put a big numbered sign in each room in the new house. Label all your boxes and furniture with the same number and you won’t have to haul things around the house when the movers leave.

Get Rid of It

I admit I’m a bad wife. Before my family moved cross-country, I started a surreptitious plan to get rid of my pack-rat husband’s collection of “we might need it someday” junk. We got rid of anything we hadn’t touched for more than a year and donated or sold about a third of our stuff. The cash paid for moving the big items we didn’t want to handle.

Books, toys, exercise equipment, planters and clothes all add weight very quickly. If you are paying movers, the less you move, the cheaper it is. Even if you pack yourself and just pay for the shipping, every box adds to your cost.

There are things you need to get rid of because moving them costs more than buying new. Toiletries, swing sets, pianos, rugs, pantry staples and plants are expensive to move and are just as available in your new home. If you are moving locally they may be worth moving, but with a long distance move everything should be considered with an eye to replacement.

The Nitty Gritty
Many moving companies will sell you used boxes for a lot less than new ones, so call around first. Don’t use liquor store boxes and grocery store boxes if you can avoid them. They come in odd sizes that don’t pack well into a truck. Purchase some newssheets from the moving company since regular newspaper is dirty, and some bubble wrap from your local office supply warehouse for fragile items.

Use your linens and towels to wrap fragile items, that way you don’t have to pack them on their own, and you provide additional protection to special things. Pack heavy items like books in small boxes and light items in larger ones. Label every box.

Take out the trash.

Friends of mine moved from New Jersey to California and took 3 weeks to travel during the move. Imagine their surprise when they started opening boxes and found month old trash inside. The moving company was told to move everything and they did.

Trucking Along

If you are renting a truck make sure you reserve it for enough time to pack up, move and unpack. Shop around for deals on one-way fees and mileage, but always check out the company with the Better Business Bureau before you sign a contract.

If you are hiring movers, packing on your own saves a lot of money. Only work with reliable companies and insist upon a weigh in before and after they load your stuff. That way you only pay for what you put on, not an estimate.

Hit the Road

Nothing is left to do once everything is packed up but hit the road. Make sure you arrive first and are there to let the movers in. In a long distance move they will just leave after a certain amount of time and store your stuff, as yours is not the only house packed on that truck and they have a schedule to keep. You don’t want the extra fees anyway. Make sure you have an old phone book with you in case you need those numbers, and drive safely.

Another week, another snippet from the How to Save Money on Everything ebook. Get your free copy by signing up for the free newsletter here.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

basicmoneytips.com January 31, 2010 at 5:22 am

Good article, you are right about moving, it can get expensive.

If you have good friends, tapping into them can really save you money. But be cautious, moving is hard work. I always hated the times when a good friend asked for my help, and had recruited only one other person. When I hit my 30s I told all my friends they get 1 move with my help every 5 years.

Moving is a great way to clean up and get rid of old stuff. I do agree on that point as well.

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Bucksome January 31, 2010 at 7:21 am

Although it’s not a money saving tip, my piece of advice would be to start packing as soon as possible. First pack things you don’t use often — china, out of season clothing, etc. By doing this over several weeks the job won’t seem so big.

Good article.

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Kyle C. January 31, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Last time I moved we hired movers and it was the best investment I ever made. We did save a lot of money on the move by packing our own stuff. They charge you out the wazoo for the time it takes them and the boxes. The time you save from having them move your stuff is worth the money of movers.

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Jenny February 1, 2010 at 1:04 am

In addition to the floorplan at your new place, consider the sizes of doors and the amount of stairs and tight corners (especially in apartments) that you will have to get your furniture through. Even if it will fit in the room, it might not fit through the doorway or be worth hauling up 5 flights of stairs.

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Cd Phi February 1, 2010 at 8:49 am

Agreed. I love hiring movers as they do a great job especially if you find a good, quality one. However, I don’t mind packing up my own stuff… I do a few things here and there like one room a day and soon enough it’ll all be in boxes. Also, instead of having to buy cardboard boxes sometimes certain retailers throw out their boxes that they don’t need and they’re more than happy for you to take them so you don’t have to buy new moving boxes.

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Austin February 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm

This is where paying it forward helps you in the end. Offer to help friends who are moving and they’ll more than jump at the chance to repay you when you need the help. It may not be something you want to do on you Saturday off, but it’ll pay off in the end.

- Austin @ Foreigner’s Finances

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Kate June 6, 2013 at 9:57 am

I am moving from Canada to the USA. Since I am an American, I checked with the consulate and they said there is no paperwork to be done to get back into my own country; however, this may change so be sure to check. There is lots of paperwork to move into Canada. A friend and her husband are doing my move and my family are recruiting young strong bodies to unload the truck. One caveat about “throwing out things you haven’t touched in a year” — do not do this without opening the boxes first. My sister would have thrown out my entire hockey card collection, for one thing, if I’d let her dump unopened boxes.

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