Whether heading across the country or down the street, movers can make the journey to a new house or apartment cheaper than you might think.
“The key to making your move less expensive, less stressful and less hectic is to get organized before you move, stay organized throughout the move and keep a positive attitude,” says Martha Poage, author of “The Moving Survival Guide.”
There are many ways to trim moving costs. Some are pretty straightforward, and others are less obvious. Following are seven tips that may benefit you.
Moving companies base their fees on factors such as cargo weight and the number of vehicles provided, according to John Bisney, former director of public relations for the American Moving & Storage Association.
So, an upcoming move is a great excuse to get rid of unused items. By lightening the load, you may wind up with more money in your pocket.
“You are likely to save some money simply because you have less to move,” Bisney says.
Get a deduction out of it
You can even earn a few dollars by selling used items or donating them to charity and earning a tax deduction.
“Many charitable organizations will come to your house and take away your unwanted belongings for free,” Poage says. “Then you will get a tax deduction for these items if you itemize them on your income tax returns.”
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Find free boxes
Why pay for something when you can get it free? If a move is in your future, start saving large boxes from everyday purchases now.
You can also get boxes from local businesses, especially liquor stores, drugstores, grocery stores and offices. All you have to do is ask.
“Copy-paper boxes are great for moving,” Poage says. “They are generally really strong and the perfect size for packing most of your household items.”
Remember, if you hire movers, you may have to buy boxes from them, especially when packing valuable items.
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Take a DIY approach to packing
Trim moving costs by packing items yourself instead of paying movers to do so.
“You can save a lot of money if you pack your own belongings, but make sure that you pack them well so they do not get damaged in transit,” Poage says.
Wrapping belongings in thick towels, blankets, sheets, comforters and old newspapers can eliminate the need to purchase Bubble Wrap and plastic foam packing peanuts. Just make sure to pack and unpack carefully.
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Move during offseason
Save money by scheduling your move between September and May, when rates tend to be lowest.
“Generally speaking, moving companies are busiest during the summer months because most people with school-age children move when the children are on summer vacation,” Poage says.
Bisney adds that you can net far greater savings by moving offseason than you can by simply moving on a weekday versus a weekend, or during a certain time of the month.
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Let someone else do the driving
Some people dislike the idea of renting and driving a big truck across the country — or even across town — to move their belongings.
If you don’t have the stomach for such driving, yet don’t want to pay the full price of a professional mover, consider looking around for a moving company that will provide a transport-only option.
Some moving companies will drop off a storage container at your residence and let you fill it over several days or weeks. Once you’re ready, the company will pick up the container and drive it to its destination. You then will be responsible for unloading the contents and moving them into your new place.
Although a service like this will put a small dent in your wallet, it shouldn’t cost you as much as hiring professional movers.
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Get several estimates
Prices among movers may vary, so get several estimates.
“I always recommend that consumers get three bids and compare them based on price, services and gut feel,” Poage says.
Weigh the companies’ reputations in the industry, as well as their availability and responsiveness to your needs, Poage says.
“If you are moving an entire household, a moving representative should come to your house to survey your belongings so that he can give you an accurate, written, binding estimate,” she says.
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Ask your employer, or Uncle Sam, for help
If you are moving for business purposes, ask your employer to cover some of the moving costs.
“This is always a good idea,” Bisney says. “We are seeing a trend toward lump-sum payments by the employer that the employee can spend as they like toward their moving expenses.”
If the boss says no, you can still get help from Uncle Sam, Poage says.
“Even if your employer will not pay for any of your relocation expenses, you can still deduct some of these expenses on your income tax return,” Poage says.
She suggests meeting with a tax adviser prior to the move.
“Keep all of your receipts from the move for documentation purposes,” she says.