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Tips for Moving Long Distance on a Tight Budget

by Jackie Heath on Nov 7, 2017

Moving is expensive, and it seems like the further you move, the more expensive it open roadgets. If you’re preparing for a cross country move and have a strict budget, here are some tips for making it within your budget.

Get organized. Make to-do lists, supplies lists, and create a master calendar. Not only will you save money by not buying more supplies than you need, you’ll save money by being ready for the movers. You’ll also save time and hassle.

Gather multiple estimates and compare them carefully. That way you can see a range of prices. Be sure to clarify that services you want are included in all estimates. If you have a low bid, ask other agents if they’ll price match or negotiate. You can also ask if there’s a discount for paying with a cashier’s check instead of with a credit card. The worst they can say is no.

Pare down your belongings. The more stuff you move, the more your move will cost, so cut as much as possible from your move. Anything that is broken and you won’t fix, that you don’t know why you have it, or that is outgrown, outdated and will be out of place in your new home should be disposed of, either by selling it or donating it.  Bonus: Sell items in good condition in a moving sale or through an online site to earn some additional cash.

Reduce the weight of your belongings. Moving a lot of heavy stuff will also make your long distance move more expensive. It’s worth considering whether selling heavy items like home gyms, weight sets, large grills, and appliances, then replacing them after you move, is less expensive than moving the items. If you have a high and low weight estimate for your move, add up the weight of your bulkiest items, then subtract it from the high estimate. If it puts you closer to the weight of the low estimate, and the cost of the replacement items is covered, it may be worth it.

Do Your Own Packing and Unpacking. This is a major undertaking, but if you have the time and the ability to do so, it can save you money upfront. Just be sure you do a good job of packing; broken or damaged items that need to be replaced may end up costing you more.

Don’t ship your car if you can avoid it. Shipping a car will add a significant amount to the cost of your move; driving will cost you the cost of gas one way. If you have a car that you’re thinking of replacing, it might make sense to sell before moving and replace it afterwards. And if you’re moving into a city with good transportation, consider whether you’ll need a car at all.

Recoup a Portion of Your Moving Expenses. Keep track of everything you donate, and get receipts from the charities you donate to. You may be able to deduct the value of the donations on your taxes, along with your moving expenses.

With forethought and care, you can cut back on the expense of moving. Remember, though, that sometimes, it’s better to pay someone else in order to save time, or not have to do everything yourself. So as you set about creating and meeting your budget, include your own time and labor as part of the equation, and figure out which items are worth splurging on.

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