WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: Frugal moving tips

Posted May 5, 2011

One of our Smart Shopper readers, Jessica, is getting ready to move and she is looking for some frugal tips to keep costs down including any ideas on packing material, truck rental and general frugal moving suggestions. Any ideas to share?

Here is her e-mail: "I'm looking mainly for frugal ways to move - ie boxes v. tubs, truck rental, any other general moving costs - but not opposed to some tips to make it a more smooth transition.  I moved apts when I was in college but didn't have all of the items that I seem to have accumulated since then :)  I will not be moving more than about 30 minutes from where I am currently (near Crabtree Mall)."

My number one tip when moving is to do it yourself. The more you can do with the help of family and friends, the more you will save. If you hire a company to pack and move you, you will pay so much more than handling it yourself. Since you are only moving about 30 minutes from your current location, hopefully you can handle the boxing, truck rental and moving yourself with the help of friends. From your e-mail, it sounds like you are already planning on taking this more frugal route so here are some other suggestions for keeping your moving costs under control.

Our family just moved after living in the same house for 12 years. Whew - talk about accumulating some stuff! Our move was a little bit different though. Because we were moving to another house in the same neighborhood and not selling the old house, we had a good deal of flexibility getting out of the house. We took our time to move our belongings and could unpack a box and then bring it back to the old house to pack it up again. So for boxes, we recycled the same ones over and over again. If you are moving in one weekend, you probably won't have that luxury.  You can ask at area grocery stores, drug stores, Walmart and liquor stores for their empty boxes. If you have any friends who have recently moved or will be moving before you, ask for their boxes. Often, you can even find free boxes posted on Craigslist and Freecycle from folks who have just moved and are willing to give away the boxes.  If you work in an office, use the copy paper boxes.

Start saving newspaper now and ask everyone for their papers when they are done reading them. The more packing material you have the better and you really don't want to pay for those messy foam packing peanuts.

As for truck rental, we did rent a truck for one day for the big stuff. We were able to get a discounted rate through my husband's business.  If you have AAA or another membership you may qualify for a discount. Remember to get the truck back in time or you will be charged for another day. Before you pay for the rental insurance from the truck rental company, verify your coverage with your personal car insurance. You may already be covered and may not need to buy the extra insurance.  Sometimes you can also find discounts for rental companies when you book online or through your credit card companies. If you can get by with renting a cargo trailer vs. a cargo van or full size truck, you will save some money as well.

As for general moving costs - don't forget food.  During a move, it is easy to stop at the drive through for every meal just because it is easy. BUT, it's not frugal. Make sure you have some easy to prepare foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks so you aren't tempted to blow the budget eating out when you are too tired to cook. We ordered Dominoes pizza once (with a coupon, of course!) when our friends came to help us move the big stuff, but the rest of the meals we ate at home (even if it was cereal or a veggie burger cooked in the microwave).

Another suggestion: Take stock of what you really want to bring to your new home and what can be donated, sold or tossed. Don't move items you never use and really don't want to keep. If you can sell them on Craigslist, ebay or through a yard sale, you'll make a little extra money to pay for that moving truck!

Ideas for a smooth move:

Do as much packing as possible before moving day. It is so frustrating to be packing boxes while you are trying to get them moved out.

Have plenty of packing tape on hand so your boxes are adequately sealed.

Label every box so you know exactly what room it needs to go to for the new house. It will save so much time if your friends don't have to keep asking you where something goes.

What other tips do you all have for Jessica?



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  • janneholbro May 6, 2011

    We moved across town back in August and one thing that really helped us was that I labeled boxes for the bedrooms with numbers (#1-4 since we are in a 4 bedroom house). I then put a sign on each bedroom door #1-4as well. That way our friends & family knew exactly which bedroom to take stuff too. It made everything go SO much smoother!

    I also got the end rolls from the newspaper for just a few dollars ($2-$3 each). The end rolls don't have print and won't leave ink marks on your dishes & glasses!

  • Daria May 5, 2011

    I have moved cross country and locally. For DIY, label the boxes with the location the items came from - top drawer bedroom dresser. This helped me put back everything very quickly. Get the room coded tape at U-Haul. It made it easy for everyone to put boxes in the right room and kept searching to a minimum. If you can't move everything at once, rent a storage room and start putting items there. Uncle Bob's will loan you a truck to move in to the storage. This way you can take out items as you need them and not feel so overwhemed. It is worth a month's rent.

  • juliemom2 May 5, 2011

    Trash bags are easy to pack, fit in the extra spots on the truck, and you can use them again. Use your linens and teeshirts and socks to wrap breakables. Copy paper boxes are great!! Keep your tolbox handy at all times and basic cleaning items. Start packing asap and have one area for packed things (I used my dining room) so you don't have to trip over boxes for weeks.

  • heremeaj May 5, 2011

    Look for rental deals and coupons for trucks, even competitor coupons may be accepted. See if you can qualify for an "off rate" by moving on a less popular rental day (Thursday rather than saturday) take advantage of so many college students not having jobs that may be willing to work for a lower than usual rate per hour. Check out a local bartering site and see what you can barter for movers,truck,labor,etc. We have found that those huge reusable bags at Marshalls that are 99 cents each will hold an amazing amount and are easily stuffed into pockets of space where stiff boxes will not fit. Pack one for each
    family member w pillow,sheets, blanket,towel, and change of clothes. It will make the first night so much easier and the bright bags can just be hung on the back of each bedroom door so they will not be in the way or lost. If you can board the dog for a night do so, it is so much easier and less stressful for the pets.

  • jdouglas13 May 5, 2011

    I'm almost embarrassed to say how many times I've moved over the years. I think I'm up to 15, both close by & cross country. I don't have any frugal tips, but a few ideas to make it easier. Make a move notebook in which you have all the info and phone numbers for yourself (new add & phone #)info for all of the utility and insurance companies, landlord or real estate agent, mortgage broker, etc. Include instruction manuals for any appliances you're moving so you can hook them up in your new home. Next, make a survival box & label it. In this goes a change of clothes and toiletries you need daily, fresh towels and sheets for each family member, meds, TV remotes, cords for your cell phones, scissors, screwdriver, hammer, and pliers. Also nice is coffee mugs and the fixings for a cup of coffee. If you have pets, include their food, extra leashes, and vet/rabies records. The idea is to be able to survive a couple of days when you first move and can't find what you have packed.

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper May 5, 2011

    Such great advice everyone. Thank you!! Hopefully I NEVER have to move again, but if I do, I'll be referring back to your suggestions. And Jessica already e-mailed me to thank you all!

  • thekeslings May 5, 2011

    in case you can claim moving expenses on your taxes. Keep an overnight bag with essentials in case something happens.

    Good luck with the move and remember when you're feeling overwhelmed, "this too shall pass."

    KLW, that's so funny!!

    On our first move from WV to MS, we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies with two trucks pulling two trailers stuffed with things. We had our dogs and couldn't find a hotel so we stopped somewhere to sleep for a bit. After we "woke up" (my terrier poodle was on my lap barking for the 4 hours we were trying to sleep) my father-in-law spotted a flea market and suggested we stop there. Then chuckled and said, "We don't have any room." My FIL was a drill sergeant in the army so he's great to have along while moving. Gather people that can get things done to help. :)

  • thekeslings May 5, 2011

    3 of the 4 times we've moved, it's been long distances (over 400 miles) so some of this may not apply, but this is what I've learned. Walmart is the best place to get boxes (or someone else that has recently moved). Go to your nearest store at midnight and you'll be able to get as many boxes as your vehicle can hold. Don't be afraid to pack up things you may think you'll use... the more packing you have done, the less stressful it is. Splurge on the wardrobe hanging boxes from U-Haul, it makes life so much easier, and if you store your out-of-season clothes, they are great for storage too!! If anyone offers to help, don't be afraid to delegate tasks. We have been very blessed that my father-in-law has arrived at our new houses before us and cleaned toilets, floor, etc. During the process, making some crockpot dinners is a great way to eat healthier and save money. Besides after packing/unpacking and carrying heavy boxes, you don't want to go anywhere. Keep all of your receipts

  • yourownbag May 5, 2011

    Don't forget to use what you have to pack - towels, blankets etc - make packing materials that you have to pack and move anyways.
    Don't move any empty items that take up lots of room. Use containers you have to pack items in - such as a empty laudry hamper and all that luggage too!
    And depending on where you move- call the local town to see if they pick up broken down boxes. Cary does - just call for a day to place them all flattened by the curb.

  • KLW May 5, 2011

    I have a related story for a chuckle. To cut down on people asking me where boxes were destined (because we had friends/family move us) I had color coded stickers on each box and a diagram of the house with the corresponding colored stickers on it. That way I didn't have to write "kitchen" on a box 100 times, etc. Well...it worked great except I had forgotten that my father-in-law is color blind. I kept wondering why he kept asking me "Where does this go?"