Movin’ Out.When Colorado resident Richard Houston needed to move his son back to Denver from Chapel Hill, N.C., he thought he could save some money by moving all of his son’s belongings himself.
“I flew to North Carolina and we loaded up the largest U-Haul truck that you can rent,” Houston says. Then he and his son’s family departed on a grueling three-day/two-night trip home that included a 17-hour stretch on the road. Shortly after returning to North Carolina, Houston received a $6,700 Visa bill that totaled up the cost of the trip. The original quotes he had received from moving companies were between $5,000 and $6,000.
“You can see how deceptive the cost of moving is,” Houston says, explaining that while the U-Haul had only cost about $1,700, the airfare to North Carolina, gas, food and lodging had added up in the end.
Fortunately, there are six surefire ways to keep moving costs down.
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Shop around.According to professional moving facilitator Fredericka Saperstein, who helps residents move in and out of New York City, the cost of relocating can vary dramatically, depending on where you are moving from, where you are headed to and the amount of stuff you have.
Professional movers can cost anywhere from $500 to $6,000, and U-Haul rentals range just as much in price. To find the option that best suits your financial and personal needs, you have to be willing to shop around. Those relocating can start by using websites such as Moving.com, Movers.com or Saveology.com, which help you compare quotes from reputable movers, rental companies and storage providers in your area.
“Get as many estimates as you can,” Saperstein says, adding that you shouldn’t be afraid to use lesser known, local vendors when relocating. “There are a lot of people who will want to work for you in this economy.”
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Consolidate.Use your move as an opportunity to organize and get rid of what you don’t need, use or want anymore. Not only will consolidating your clutter cut costs by driving down estimates, it will save you a lot of hassle.
“Our main mistake was not sorting items well before we moved,” says Indiana resident Vicki Smith. “We ended up with boxes of junk when we arrived, and stuff shoved in boxes instead of being evaluated before we left.”
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Sell your stuff.Don’t junk all of your unwanted belongings, Saperstein says. Instead, try to make some money for your move by selling them on sites such as eBay or Craigslist.
Linda’s Stuff, an online consignment shop, will actually do this for you. All you need to do is pack up all your unwanted belongings in a box and arrange for a for free UPS pick-up through the website. The one catch is that the site keeps a portion of the profits: You get 65% of the selling price for all items selling for less than $1,000, and 75% for any items that cost more. The time you save by outsourcing the sales may be worth it.
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Ship the small items.Depending on where you are moving and how much stuff is going with you, you may find it more cost efficient to ship your stuff in boxes via UPS or the Post Office, although be sure to take some precautions. Saperstein suggests shipping small items, such as books, clothing or kitchen appliances to your new front door while leaving big items like furniture to the professionals. This will lower moving estimates, and guarantee that you have help for the hard part.
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Cash in a favor … or two.You can pull off a local move by calling on your closest friends.
“A great way to save on a move is to make a list of everyone that owes you a favor and get them to help you out,” Georgia resident Derrick Hayes suggests, adding that it helps if someone in your debt owns a truck so that you don’t have to rent a moving truck. “A team of movers will save you time and money.“
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Don’t buy boxes.And don’t buy fancy plastic containers or any packaging materials, for that matter. Most of these items you can get for free on sites like Craigslist or Freecycle, which specifically loans cardboard boxes. You can also, however, get these types of items from local stores and businesses.
“Apple and banana boxes available at your local grocer are your best bet since they are sturdy and have separate lids that fit perfectly,” professional organizer Alejandra Costello says. “Liquor store boxes have dividers, and work well for packing drinking glasses.”
Costello says you can also use newspaper in lieu of packing paper or real popcorn (as opposed to Styrofoam peanuts) to fill boxes. Additionally, Saperstein recommends using down jackets and cashmere sweaters to wrap fragile possessions.
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