Wednesday, May 15, 2013

6 Tips for Moving on a Budget

This week’s post isn’t as legally pointed as the others, but the supposed rule of writing is “write what you know,” so my upcoming move inspired this post – moving on a budget.  And, moving affects everyone from the pre-law student moving to their new law school location or the 3L transferring locations for an amazing job.

By the way, I hate moving!  It’s bitter sweet…I enjoy having an exciting, new place to conquer, but the actual process of moving sucks.  I usually wind up looking like a crime scene on CSI.  Bruised, cut, broken nails (a CSI agent would say I put up quite a fight), writhing on the floor in pain until I have slowly died from exhaustion – “cause of death?” the agent will ask - moving.  I miraculously recover about a week later, with a slight symptom of amnesia (obviously as I am moving again).  Anyway…I’ve been preparing for this move for a while and made a few notes on how to cut costs and even earn money during a move!

1.      Plan Ahead.  This is key.  The earlier you begin, the better your opportunities to save money and stick to a budget.  Planning early on will also give you a boost with the rest of the list.  For example, if you are moving across country and need to fly, you can save by knowing your dates in advance and booking early.  This applies to any hotel stay you may need, too.
2.      Create a Budget.  Try to think of any imaginable cost.  Will you have an overlap in your locations?  This could mean double rent/mortgage payments and utility bills.  Application fees, security deposits, realtors, etc. will add up in addition to your regular cost of living expenses before the actual move.  Not to mention, the actual move expenses such as supplies, trucks, traveling/gas, and help.  If you pack your kitchenware up early, you will have to account for food costs.  How much of these expenditures are you able to handle in addition to your current expenses? Can you make extra income or reserve money?  Create your budget and stick to it the best you can.
3.      Show Me the Money.  Start going through your belongings early.  Sell your textbooks back to the school bookstore and other books to Half Price Books (or an equivalent).  Sell furniture, appliances, and electronics to local consignment shops.  Take gently worn clothes to thrift stores (“one man’s trash, that’s another man’s come-up.” – Macklemore).  Try having a yard/garage sale.  Whatever you can’t sell, donate to charity.  Remember to grab a tax write-off form to get a deduction next tax season!  Getting rid of things you no longer use will lessen the amount of moving supplies and minimize the size of the moving truck, all while saving you money.
4.      DIY v. Hired Help.  As I mentioned before, I hate moving, but I always do it myself with the help of very good friends and family.  Have you seen the costs of hired help lately?  Hired help has its benefits – less likely to break things, no aches and pains afterward, and they will stay focused and stay until the job is done (because you’re paying them to).  However, if you have reliable help, it is the more affordable option.  You can usually pay them with food, beer, and/or a gift card for a small percentage of what you would pay a professional mover – even if you include the cost of renting a moving truck.
5.      Stretching Your Dollar.  Earlier, I mentioned the costs of food.  Depending on how far your move is, you will want to avoid two financial losses that food can syphon – money wasted from spoiled food and high fast food/restaurant prices.  Slowly limit your groceries nearing your move-out date.  Cook as much of your perishables as possible.  Tupperware them in advance and you can pack up your cooking supplies and just use paper plates and a microwave!  If you have prepared meals ready, you also will be less likely to purchase restaurant food.  If you are feeding your help, go for food that doesn’t need much prep work in case your kitchen supplies haven’t been unloaded yet.  Try preparing lasagna in a disposable pan in advance.  It feeds a lot of people, is affordable to make, and you only need the oven at the new place to heat it up!  Ordering pizza also has the same effect! Another way to stretch your dollar is by finding packaging materials for cheap or free.  Ask bookstores, bulk stores, and grocery stores for boxes.  Save plastic grocery bags to stuff in boxes for extra padding. 
6.      Get Your Money Back.  Who wants to clean a place they are never going to be in again – especially after a hard day of labor?  However, if you get some dollar store cleaning supplies and use some elbow grease, you may get some or all of your security deposit back.  In about a month, you’ll get a nice little reward for your effort!

It’s time for me to go pack!  If you have any extra tips, comment or send an email, and I can add them to another post.  Good luck on your move!

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