Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Saving money moving

Money Saving Mom asked for frugal tips on moving. We've moved from Texas to Michigan, and then to Missouri as well as several smaller moves and always done it all ourselves. Here are some of my tips:

1. If at all possible, start planning about two months before your move. Write down all of the bills you receive as you receive them so you can make sure you get your address changed with everyone. Set up electronic billing if you don't want to worry about missing a bill. Find out how to get utilities set up in your new place and turned off in your old one. Some utility companies require deposits, so see if you will be getting any back and what you will need to pay to set up your new service. Check on any security deposits you may be getting back if you are renting and what you need to do to receive them in full. Make any repairs required to get your deposit back.

2. Find free boxes! For our first move, we scavenged boxes from store dumpsters. For our second move, I talked to receiving at work and was able to take home any boxes they didn't want. I also asked coworkers to save boxes for me. You should NEVER have to pay for boxes!

3. Find free packing material! Newspaper works great as a packing material and you can usually ask friends and family to save some for you. Again, scavenge paper recycling dumpsters or places at work. Even better than newspaper (since you have to dispose of the newspaper when you arrive!) is to use t-shirts. Most people have plenty of clothes and linens to move, so use your clean t-shirts, shorts, socks, towels, etc., to cushion your breakables. If you really plan ahead, you can use all t-shirts to pack the kitchen, all long-sleeved shirts to pack the bedroom/bathroom/Christmas decorations, etc., so that everything is organized when you arrive and have to unpack! (If you're going to do that, make sure you use clothes that you want unpacked first for the things you will be using--i.e., don't use your winter coats to pack your kitchen if you're moving to Alabama in July!)

If you use newspaper, be sure to wrap your dishes in something else to keep the newsprint off. I prefer to use plastic shopping bags--one for each plate--and then cushion in-between the plates with newspaper when you put them in the box. Then everything arrives as clean as when you packed it!

4. Leave your dresser drawers packed. If you've used tip #2 with t-shirts, you will have some extra room in your dressers. Use the drawers to pack your breakables. Wrap them in whatever packing material you are using and put them in the drawers. They will be well-cushioned by your clothes and safe from being crushed by being in your dresser. This also saves you a lot of room in the truck and you won't need as many boxes! You can also pack your hanging clothes in your drawers. It is a waste of truck space to move an empty dresser!!

5. Find a cheap truck rental. I hesitate to say "cheap", because I wouldn't always go with the cheapest rental. Personally, we will never use one specific company because we've had problems with them and known many other people who've had problems with them. That said, decide on two or three companies you would be willing to use. Call each one to get a quote on your move, including mileage and any accessories like a car carrier. Then, bargain. Call each one again and say "Company XYZ will give me the same truck for $xx. Can you beat that price?" If no, see if they will discount the car carrier, or throw in free moving blankets for furniture (careful--these are sometimes already included in the quote!). For our moves, we went back and forth between two companies to get the best price, and it worked great. I wouldn't recommend calling the companies 6 or 7 times--there's only so much they can do. But it never hurts to ask if they can discount or beat another companies price. I was honest with our company and told them I really wanted to use them but the other company had a better price. The company we wanted to use lowered their price so we got the benefit of using the company we wanted as well as a significant discount!

6. Ask for help. Chances are good you know someone who has moved a few times, and they would probably be more than happy to come over to help you pack the truck. It takes a certain amount of finesse to pack a moving truck in such a way that everything fits and nothing will shift too much. Most people are very willing to help you move with a couple of caveats--provide some food and drink if it's going to take a while, and already have things packed!! If you need help packing, have a packing party one day and a truck loading party another day.

7. Be smart when packing your truck. Put things like your headboard or very large pictures in between your mattress and your box spring to protect them. If at all possible, put your couches and chairs on top of a row of boxes. It's usually best to put no more than one stack of boxes (depending on weight, of course) on furniture with springs, so this will help with your truck space. Pack cleaning supplies last, as you will need them to clean your now-empty house and possibly to clean whenever you get where you're going (it's amazing how dirty people leave places!). Pack a small bag with a change of clothes, travel size shampoo and soap, and any medications you may need--even if it's only supposed to be a one-day trip. This way, if your truck breaks down by the side of the road (it happens!) you won't be trying to dig through the back of your truck for things you need.

Leave as little empty space as possible, as those are areas that things can fall. Stuff pillows or furniture cushions into areas that are empty. Plan around your awkward items, and don't forget things outside the house like patio furniture or yard tools!

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