Moving on a budget
Monday, 13 May 2019
Moving to a new home can be stressful.
And that's even before you calculate the thousands of dollars you may spend on packing and shipping your belongings. Finding ways to significantly cut that moving bill, however, should ease some of the pressure.
More than 15 million U.S. households—nearly 36 million people—move annually, the vast majority relocating within the same state, the American Moving & Storage Association says, citing government data. The average cost per interstate move, including packing and other services, came to $5,630 in 2012, while an in-state move averaged $1,170.
How can you save money on your next move? Here are several ideas to consider.
Do it yourself
Moving costs add up quickly when you hire professionals to pack, load, and transport your belongings. If you have a strong back, willing friends, and the ability to handle a U-Haul or Penske truck, you may be able to save a bundle by moving yourself.
Just do the packing
Self-service movers may help you save by allowing you to pack and load your own goods, which they move from Point A to Point B. Companies like U-Pack and PODS, for instance, will deliver a moving container to your home. You fill the container and the company will haul it to your new home. You can add loading, unloading, or storage services for extra fees.
Do the math
Moving.com, part of the Realtor.com network, provides a moving-cost calculator that helps estimate your expenses, based on household size, location, moving dates, and extent of packing services used. Ultimately, you'll have to decide whether the dollar savings of doing it yourself is worth the time, effort, and risk of packing and loading mistakes.
Seek recommendations from people you know, suggests the U.S. Department of Transportation, which regulates interstate movers. The DOT offers advice on avoiding moving fraud and tips for interstate moves. Among these: use only movers that are registered with the agency and have a USDOT number and adequate insurance. Obtain a written, signed estimate of services the mover will provide.
Know your rights
The government site spells out your mover's liability for loss or damage, provides a searchable database of registered interstate movers and complaints, and offers information on types of insurance coverage available for your belongings. It also provides links to state regulators and moving associations that can provide information on intrastate moves.
Compare the services and prices of at least three movers, obtaining free estimates, the AMSA says. The association says its members have passed a background screening with federal or state agencies.
Time your move for savings
You might pay lower fees by moving during the "off-peak" season of September through April, or by moving mid-week or mid-month during the summer, according to the AMSA. Wheaton World Wide Moving, for example, offers a $150 discount for an interstate off-season move.
Declutter before packing
Moving fees are based on the weight of your stuff, so there's no point in paying to move that old typewriter you haven't used in 20 years, the crib for the kid who's in college now, or the sweaters you haven't worn in a decade.
Sell or donate
Some of your old clothes, toys, books, and furniture may need to go out with the trash, others can be donated, sold, or given to friends. Clean out your closets and donate items to a charitable organization or non-profit thrift store, and you may be able to take a tax deduction. Be sure to get a receipt as proof of your donation. If you have time, consider a moving sale, which could generate hundreds of dollars.
Look for discounts on packing supplies
Check prices for bubble wrap and boxes (as well as cleaning services). Check your neighborhood liquor store, bookshop, or grocer for free boxes. Remember to check for newspaper coupons and online discount codes when buying supplies.
Save receipts, mileage logs, and other records. If you're relocating because of a job change, you may be able to deduct reasonable moving costs, excluding meals, from your taxes. The Internal Revenue Services has published guidance on the subject, noting that the new job location must be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your old job was, among other requirements. IRS publication 521 provides detailed information on deducting moving expenses. A few smart moves could mean real savings for the big move.
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