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Saving Money While Moving

By Jen McCann, Realtor

During my early moves on my own, I found myself unprepared for the cost of moving and the amount of time moving day takes. I was so excited to go to the new place and so focused on the new home that I did not think about budgeting money or time for the actual move. So, I try to coach my clients on how to better prepare ahead of moving day to realize savings in the middle of probably the most expensive purchase in their lives. Here are tips for saving – money and time – while moving:

Call Moving Companies ASAP!
As soon as the contract is ratified and you are well on your way to settlement date, call moving companies. Depending on the time of year, movers can be very busy, so you want to call early enough to get your preferred date and time scheduled. Another reason to call early is that you can find out if there are cheaper days of the week or times to move. Mid-week moves may be cost-effective, and worth scheduling time off of work to take advantage of the savings.

Start Packing Early
If you have several weeks before you move, start packing one box per room per day. If you are moving sooner, you may have to pack more each day. The goal is to have everything boxed and prepared to move the day before your move. While there may be some items you have to come back for (e.g., vacuum cleaner after you do a final sweep of the house), the more you have prepared and ready to move on the moving day, the more money and time you will save.

Moving as Easy as 1, 2, 3
Assign each room in the house a number. Write the room number, room, person’s name, contents, and box number on each side of each box. Then, at the new house, post a sign near the entry of each room with the coordinating number. This will help the movers quickly identify where boxes and furniture go without having to stop and ask.

Label Boxes
Clearly label the box on all sides. Either handwritten or computer typed labels work. Just be sure the label is legible and descriptive. This will help you prioritize your time when unpacking.

Make a Map
If you have a floor plan of your new home, print out copies and label the rooms with the box color scheme. Give this to the movers, so they have an idea of the layout of the new location. They may also be able to better arrange the loading and unloading of boxes and furniture.

Save on Padding
Bubble wrap and packing popcorn can be expensive, so improvise. Use Styrofoam plates in between your plates to prevent breaking. Use blankets and sheets to cover furniture and other breakable items. Use clothes to add padding to boxes with appliances or other fragile items to prevent shifting during the move.

Save on Boxes
Instead of using valuable boxes to pack clothes, use trash bags. You can fill the bag with clothes, then use as padding on the moving truck. Or, for hanging clothes, simply cut a hole at the bottom of the garage bag, slip a handful of hangers through the hole, and tie up the bag to protect the bottom of the clothes. Also, if you have luggage, use the empty space. If it has rollers, use it to help move heavy items like books or photo albums. Don’t forget about laundry baskets; they have handy handles and can hold heavy items.

Go Vertical
Pack plates vertically to save space and prevent the plates from breaking.

Stage the Boxes and Furniture
Pick a room(s) on the entry-level or use the garage as a staging area for fully-packed and ready-to-go boxes, as well as any furniture you can easily move on your own. This will save an enormous amount of time for the movers!

Contain the Cords
Use empty toilet paper rolls to contain electronic cords. Fold up the cords and stuff in the empty roll. This makes electric cords easier to pack and unpack. Also, if connecting electronics is not your gift, take a picture of how the cords are connected before unplugging and packing. Pull out the picture to reconnect in no time.

Purge & Then Purge Again
Go through all your stuff and donate or sell what you have not used in the last six months or year. Clothes, toys, barely used appliances, books, and more can be reused by someone else. There are a number of places that will take your lightly-used or new items and resell for a good cause (e.g., Salvation Army, Purple Heart, Goodwill, and more). Some will even come to your house to pick up. You can also resell yourself to help cover the cost of moving. Host a yard sale or post items on Craigslist or Facebook groups. Decluttering will help your house sell if you are selling your home, help clear the house of items that have just been accumulating, and help save you money on moving unnecessary items to your new home.

Collect Boxes
Most people only use moving boxes once. If you start your search early, you can usually find usable boxes on Craigslist or other local groups. Check out liquor stores for wine boxes to pack your wine bottles and wine glasses. Wherever you find your boxes, make sure the integrity of the box can hold what you pack, but reusing boxes can save you money. If you need to buy new boxes, ask the box supply store if you can return any unused boxes for a refund. Buy in bulk to get the discount, and then return the unused boxes. Also, most box supply stores have a small selection of boxes that were returned and are free. You just have to ask.

“Day One” Box
Set aside a box for each member of the family to pack essential items to be used for Day One at the new place. Pack a set of clothes, bed sheets and pillowcases, medicines, kids’ security items (pacifiers, blankets, favorite toy), and other bare necessity items (toilet paper, soap, paper plates, and plastic utensils) that you will want to access easily when you first move into your new place. Make a box for cleaning and eating supplies, too. Label these boxes clearly so they are easy to spot in the massive collection of boxes, or move these boxes yourself.

Handle With Care
That wedding vase you don’t want broken, family photo you don’t want lost, or large TV you can’t live without should all be moved by you. The stress or potential replacement value is not worth it for items that are valuable to you.

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