Updated February 12, 2020

15 Cheap Moving Tips That Will Keep Your Budget In Check

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Moving can be expensive. Especially when we consider the whole experience, and not just transportation and packing. For most of us, it generally begins with finding a new place, either paying a deposit to rent, or a down payment to buy. Either way, we’ve already started spending cash, and the move hasn’t even begun!

So here it is, your 15 cheap moving tips to help you stay in budget, and hopefully make this process a little more fun.

Get Organized

Priority number one, get organized to reduce unnecessary spending. Get yourself a notebook and dedicate dedicate it to learning how much are moving costs. You will need to crunch the number on the costs, schedule time to start the process, and organize the order that things need to be finished.

First thing though is to make that moving costs checklist.

Costs Examples

  • Movers
  • Packing Supplies (tape, boxes, packing papers)
  • Gas and car maintenance
  • In between costs (if you have to spend some time in a hotel etc).

The above are just general common moving expenses.

You will find that once you start the process, things will pop-up.

It is best to write down all the costs as they show up to avoid overspending.

Also, make a folder dedicated to all the receipts you will accumulate over the process.

GetUpside: Save money on gas, groceries, and many things you will need to make your move happen on a budget.

Since you are moving learn about 17 cheap ways to improve home energy efficiency for your new place.

Good to Know

The average cost to move household goods in America is $4,300 (interstate) and $2,300 (intrastate). This cost strictly refers to physically moving and it does not take into consideration other incidentals.  

Bonus

If you are about to move into a rental property learn how to pay as low as $5/month for renters insurance.  Also to help with budgeting, try PocketSmith: The ultimate budgeting app.

Start Early

Starting early makes it second on our cheap moving tips list. The biggest expenses usually come into play because we want to pay for convenience, or because we were late booking a service, or asking for help. If you know ahead of time that you need to move, it is best to begin early.

First you should curve out at least one hour per day to sort a small part of the house. If you do a closet or cabinet per day, it won’t be overwhelming at all.

Planning Examples

  • Pick one week when you will sort through your clothes
  • Dedicate next week to your kitchen
  • Move on to the living room
  • Break down the process even further and do a few drawers a day.

This will give you an opportunity to clean the house without stress, sort things that you might want to donate, sell or give, instead of throwing it all in the trash.

It will also be emotionally easier on you. Depending on what kind of move you are about to make, assuming you are leaving a place you lived in long enough, starting early will allow you to accept the changes better. Moving time is also an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate how many things we can let go off.

Bonus

Read essential downsizing tips that will free up more money to invest.

Pack Essentials Last

Now that you’ve gotten a head start on the organization and you’re ready to begin packing, it’s time to decide what is essential for your survival for the next one or two months and set it aside. This allows you to go ahead and pack the rest without hesitation.

We can help you begin putting together your essentials box.

Essentials Examples

  • All your makeup and / or toiletries
  • Enough outfits (include one dress-up dress, pants etc for possible last minute important events)
  • Computers and other electronics you use daily
  • Books
  • Kitchen stuff (no need to eat out every night just because you are tired from packing, remember you have a moving budget).

To make it much easier on yourself, think of this as going on a two-month trip. What would you take with you? The answer is your essentials list.

Good to Know

If you are thinking of getting your own place learn the essential tips on how to save money for your first apartment.

Change Your Address

Do not forget to change your address. It can take up to two weeks for the post office to process your “forward to new address” request. Therefore, we recommend that you visit the post office on time to forward your address. In the meantime, remember that notebook we mentioned at the beginning?

Take it out and begin writing all the places you need to contact to properly update your address.

Places Examples:

  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Any Insurance Companies
  • Banks
  • Doctors / Dentists
  • Any subscriptions you might have.

To forward your mail while you take time to update all the service providers of your new address visit the official change of address online form from USPS.  

Bonus

If you are selling your house learn about these 9 Tools to Help You Get a Free Home Appraisal.

Sort Through Everything

Depending on your personality type, this can be a lot of fun, or a great reason to get anxiety. Sorting through items can help you reduce your common moving expenses, by allowing you to identify and get rid of unnecessary objects. The best way to do it is to get a few baskets / boxes and make four piles.

  • Keep
  • Trash
  • Give
  • Sell.

Anything that is in the keep pile, you will pack to move with you. The rest will save you a lot of money if you just discard it or give away. The last category can actually make you some much-needed extra cash.

Anything that you can sell, try to do so ahead of time to help yourself balance out those hefty moving expenses. Check out Decluttr where you can sell used clothes, books, games etc.

Pro Tip

We suggest that you do this for every room to help you keep organized, and when it comes time to donate, give, or sell things, you will be able to list them much faster.

Clear the Clutter

This is one of my favorite cheap moving tips. Following our point above, this can either be a hassle or a joy depending on your personality. However, it is an inevitable part of moving.

To make it easier for you to start, keep these point in mind:

  • Acknowledge that It is okay to have an emotional attachment to inanimate items
  • Decide what “clutter” is to you
  • Recognize that more stuff you have the more money you will need to move (do we really need all that stuff?)
  • Do not keep things because of guilt
  • Do keep small momentums (we all need small reminders of our life’s journey)
  • Start easy (throw out the obvious clutter first to get you going)
  • Understand that de-cluttering essentially means making room for new better things.

Depending on if you have a large family or it’s only a single person, this process can take a lot out of you.

If you do have children, give them their “keep” “trash” “give” and “sell” boxes and ask them to do some sorting themselves.

Learn how to sell household items quickly to declutter your home and earn extra cash. 

Bonus

Let your kids know that anything they sell from their stuff, equals money in their pockets. If you are moving out of state you need to read these 15 tips on the cheapest way to move out of state.

Don’t Buy Packing Boxes

One thing people don’t plan on when figuring out how much are moving costs, are boxes. At the last minute you can find yourself rushing to buy a pack, which is actually a huge waste of money. Our essential cheap moving tips include the simple fact that there is no need to spend a single penny on boxes, allowing you to remove this from your moving costs checklist. Visit your local supermarket and ask them for any empty boxes from the deliveries they get.

Good to Know

  • This works best with smaller corner stores, than big retailers.
  • If your upcoming move happens to be around the holiday season then you are in luck.
  • The stores will be begging to give their empty boxes to free up space for more deliveries.

Take anything you can get your hands on, small boxes are perfect for accessories, books and frames. Big boxes are perfect for clothes, pillows and office supplies.

Ask Friends to Help Early

If you have friends and family close by, invite them over for a packing day cutting down significantly your moving budget. We suggest you do that when you are ready to begin the serious packing business (and not in the early stages where you will be panicking about throwing away that hat you bought three years ago and never wore).

What you can ask you friends to help with? 

  • Wrapping up all your “keep” kitchen items and placing them in boxes
  • Listing your “sell” items online for sale
  • Sorting through your “give” pile and see if there is anything they want to keep
  • Cleaning parts of the house
  • Organizing your boxes
  • Moving your boxes to the moving truck (helping load and unload items).

If they have a truck or know someone who might have a truck it might be cheaper for you to use that and pay them something less, than a professional company would ask.

Pro Tip

Having friends help move is substantially cheaper than hiring a moving company, as the cost is usually just a pizza.

Find a Removal Team Early

While the majority of friends can help with your standard household items, sometimes you need some muscle. This means finding friends who can do some heavy lifting, or hiring a removals team. To get a team of friends to help you, as mentioned above, make sure you ask early.

Good to Know

If you will need a proper removals team, act early and get various quotes to secure the lowest price. Check out Reallymoving to get various quotes and compare.

You can also see Cheap Moving Tips for more quotes. Even if it is early in the process now, it will be good for you to have a basic idea of what is the price range for these services.

Pro Tip

This is critical for our cheap moving tips. If you hire any type of moving help, keep in mind that those guys get paid per hour (usually) so the more you do before they arrive, the less you will have to pay them in the end.

Pack Carefully

Last thing you want to do is break things in the process and have to spend money to replace it. It happens very often, especially if you and your friends will be doing the process.

Pro Tip

  • Start from the top of the house and move down
  • Pack heavy items in small boxes
  • Use your clothes instead of bubble paper (saves money)
  • Pack big boxes with non-fragile items, that are lighter (not only you won’t break your back moving them, the risk of dropping them is also minimized)
  • Take photos of things that will require you to disassemble and assemble again just in case.
  • Designate a place in your house for all the packed boxes, to avoid any trip and fall incidents
  • Find out how much moving companies charge (per weights or per box for example. This will help you pack in a money saving way)
  • Do not leave empty spaces in boxes where items can shift. If nothing else can go in a box, fill the air pockets with paper.

While you’re negotiating your rates with the moving company, try out Cushion, and learn how to negotiate your other bills and save some serious cash.

Use Time Wisely

Many people will spend way too much time thinking about the process, and dread getting started. Just get started. Once the decision has been made that you will be moving, there are steps you can take to manage your time and the chaos of the process more efficiently.

Pro Tip

  • Designate some time daily to tackle a small part of the house
  • Plan in your notebook the night before what you will do
  • Combine tasks for maximum productivity (for example pack while you wait for food to cook)
  • Use your alarm to remind you that you need to start packing (set timers)
  • Use your “do not disturb” option for your social media etc
  • Make quick decisions on things that don’t really matter.

Bonus

While packing you will come across many items you have not seen in years, it’s good to ask yourself if you truly need to keep them.

Remember you can make money selling things you no longer need with Decluttr.

Label Everything

You will thank us so much for this tip. Although you are not directly saving cash here, you will be saving a lot of time, and time is money right? There are many ways to label.

Examples:

  • Room (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom)
  • Sub-categories (clothes, books, toys, pet stuff, stationery)
  • Numbers (use number 1 for example for the first box you need to start unpacking that has all your essentials etc)
  • Future room (where the box objects will go in your new place for easy access when you unpack).

You can use any category or method you feel is best suited for you. Keep in mind that you will have a couple of random boxes with a lot of things that do not belong anywhere.

Find a Pet Sitter

Ask family or friends if they can take your dog or cat in for a few days while you pack. Animals tend to get very stressed out when they sense something is off.

This will also allow you to save time on their walking and care, so you can get more packing done faster. If you can leave your animal with a familiar person, it is preferred.

Check out Rover as an alternative solution.

Prime the New Place Before Moving

If you have access to your new place before you have to move in, then consider yourself very lucky. This will allow you to check out the placement of doors, windows and overall floor plan, so that you don’t take with you big objects you can’t use. This will save you money on transporting items you won’t be needing or using in the new place.

Bonus

Don’t Miss Work

Do your best to not miss work. You will need all the money you can bring in during a move.

Pro Tip

  • Wake up a little earlier to get some packing done before work
  • Do not plan any nights out or events during your move
  • Use your weekends to do as much as you can (we know you are tired but this is just for now, remember you will be saving a lot of money when you put your own time in).

Final word of advice, make sure to check every single room before you turn in your keys and move on! If you have hidden cash in the house do not forget it behind! (It happens more often than you think).

If you recently moved, and you used clever tips to keep yourself in budget, share below and let us know!

Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in July 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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