7 Ways to Budget for a Big Move


Getting ready to move? Here are 7 Ways to Budget for the Big Expenses

Any move, no matter what the size, can be daunting. There’s tons of prep, including packing boxes, hiring movers, updating personal information, re-registering to vote, and so much more. On top of it all, moving means spending carefully budgeted money.

According to one study, the average cost of moving between states is $5,630, based on a weight of 7,100 pounds, the rough equivalent of a 26-foot moving truck. Even moving within the same state isn’t cheap; the average cost is $1,170.

With such a big task ahead, it can seem impossible to save money. However, there are a lot of money-saving strategies for moving, even when on a budget:


1. Downsize Your Inventory

The more stuff you have to move, the more money you can expect to pay. This is especially true of heavy items like kitchen tables, couches, dressers and appliances. Even if you’re not hiring a moving service, you’ll end up paying extra in gas and supplies to move everything you own.

This is especially true if you’re moving long distance. If there is any item you might like to replace anyway — like a new bed, couch or other heavy piece — consider how much easier it will be to leave your furniture behind. Anything that lacks a place in your new home is going to become an extra burden for you throughout the moving process.

Before you pack, consider which items you can get rid of. Try not to be impulsive and junk items you might regret parting with later. Sell what you can on sites like eBay or Craigslist, or try out Amazon’s trade-in program. You can use the extra cash to pay off moving costs or treat yourself once you arrive at your new destination.

2. Don’t Pay for Boxes

Boxes are a staple of moving, so it’s no surprise retailers and moving companies charge insane prices for them. If you’re looking to save money on your next move, you’ll be happy to know there’s absolutely no reason to pay for boxes. Why? Because they’re everywhere. To anyone not moving, they’re just a pain to have around.

Ask friends and family to save boxes for have lying around. You can also check the free sections of local resale websites like Craigslist and LetGo. Go to your local grocery or liquor store and ask if you can take any empty boxes, or check behind major retailers like Walmart and Target. You’ll likely find that most people have no problem giving them away.

3. Get Moving Insurance

It may seem counter-intuitive to pay for something that’s not required when trying to budget. In this case, moving insurance can save you a lot of money down the road that you can’t afford to lose. The benefit of insurance is if anything gets lost or damaged — something many families experience when moving — insurance will cover the value. Be sure to research policies beforehand to understand what’s included.

There are three insurance options for you to consider:

  • Released value protection: Comes standard in moving packages, but doesn’t cover the full market value of your stuff

  • Full-value protection: Gives full coverage on all your items and will offer a cash settlement equal to the market value

  • Third-party insurance: Supplemental protection for valuables, and even covers damage from natural disasters like floods and tornadoes

Remember, not all insurance policies are equal. The best type of insurance for you depends on you and your needs.

4. Avoid Hidden Fees

Some industries, whether deserved or not, have a reputation for being less than honest with customers. Unfortunately, the moving industry is one of them. (Car dealers are another!) If you want to hire a moving company, be cautious of hidden fees you can easily avoid:

  • Heavy item fees: Many moving companies charge extra for moving heavy items. To avoid unwelcome moving costs, request a heavy item fee sheet if one hasn’t been provided.

  • Credit card fees: Before you make a payment, look for any fees associated with using a credit card. While it may only be a small percentage, the costs can add up for long-distance moves.

  • Off-hours fees: If you have no choice but to move last-minute, beware that many companies will charge more. Take care to ask what those costs will be and be sure to get the fees in writing beforehand.

Additionally, you can reduce moving costs by choosing days and seasons that are traditionally less busy for movers. While this may not be in your control, avoiding the added expenses of hiring professionals over holidays and long weekends can help you save on extra charges.

5. Deal With Your Vehicle

A big move, especially one that’s long distance, can put a lot of wear on your vehicle. Before you leave, take your car to a trusted mechanic to make sure it’s up to the task. Not only will a professional be able to point out and repair any issues, but they can also recommend the best ways to take care of your car during the journey, such as how often you should add more oil.

You should also research how to register your vehicle and update your license before leaving. Whether you’re moving across the state or to the other side of the country, most municipalities only give you a short amount of time — typically within 30 days of your move — to update all pertinent information. If you don’t meet the deadline, you risk owing a heavy fine.

Another consideration is the monthly burden of your auto loan payments. Relocation can mean more expenses, higher rent or mortgage payments and other financial obstacles. If you’re looking for places to cut back, there are many reasons why refinancing your auto loan may make sense for your goals. Whether you’re able to lower your interest rate or extend the loan term to lower your car payments, refinancing can help reduce financial strain while the moving process is underway. Just keep in mind that some lenders require you to have lived at the same residence for a certain amount of time, so you might be better off refinancing before the move, not after. (It’s also one less thing to worry about after you move).

6. Schedule Your Utilities

You’ll have to alert your utility companies — including water, electric and natural gas — of your impending move. Don’t wait until the last minute, as companies usually schedule shut-off appointments ahead of time. If you wait, you could be paying for utilities even after you’ve moved. You should also ask if your provider will prorate your bill. If not, consider cutting off your service at the end of your last billing cycle to avoid paying for an extra month.

Be sure to research which utilities you’ll need once you arrive in your new home. If you already have a place you’re moving into, call companies before you move to see if the services can be switched on before you get there. You can also try to schedule a date that lines up with when you plan to move in. This way you won’t have to wait to use necessities like water or heat.

7. Forget the Books

When planning your next big move, don’t add books to your list of items to transport. Instead, save money and effort by letting the professionals get the job done. USPS allows you to ship flat rate, meaning you won’t have to pay extra for weight. This is great for boxes of books, which can be one of the heaviest items to move.

Flat-rate boxes come in a variety of sizes, with the largest costing only $19.95 to ship. If you prefer to pay by weight, be sure to let the postal clerk know you’re mailing books, as the rate is cheaper for mail containing media. While you may have to wait a little longer for your books to arrive in your new destination, it’ll be worth it when you discover how much you can save.

Planning Your Next Big Move?

Don’t stress out about your big move, even if it’s across the country. While you’ll have to be crafty, there are still plenty of ways you can save. From asking friends and family for used boxes to investing in moving insurance, following the tricks above to budget for your next move will save money.

About the Author

Holly Welles is a real estate and finance writer. Her work can be found published around the web, including The Financial Diet and My Mortgage Insider. For more information, check out her blog, The Estate Update.

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