Pack Up Your House: Tips for Saving Money (and Sanity) on a Move


The idea of moving to a new home or even a whole new location can be one of the more exciting times of your life — that is until you look behind you and see all of the furniture, clothing, plates, glasses, and appliances that have to be relocated along with you. Moving is not only a time-intensive process, it can also be an expensive one if you don’t plan ahead. Unpreparedness can lead to rash decisions and impulse buys, making the move cost you way more than you bargained for during the process.

When you are ready to get the job done, consider this a packing guide to keep things sane and less expensive.

Prep Early

Generally most people don’t make a move with just a few days notice. So start planning as soon as you know the move is going to happen. Every time you go to the grocery store, ask the store manager for spare boxes. Take them apart and store them flat to save room while you pack. (Tip: the best boxes for packing silverware, glasses, and other small items come from the liquor store because they have segregated bottle boxes that are extra sturdy.) Also, start picking up other supplies like tape, markers, trash bags, and cleaning supplies in the weeks before the move so you don’t wind up with one big expense closer to moving day.

Reserve Truck ASAP

Chances are you’ll need a large truck to move your belongings. As soon as you have nailed down a date, make a reservation for the truck. Compare prices for national rental companies online but don’t forget to check out local businesses that might be cheaper. If you live in an area with college kids or a larger city, check local advertisements for moving services. Many times a laborer or two (i.e. college students) are looking for some extra cash and they can help you during a do-it-yourself move. If you don’t make a reservation as soon as possible, you risk not finding a truck available on your moving date, resulting in having to pay out extra cash to rent anything you can find. Reserve a truck that will be suitable for your move by estimating how much stuff you’ll have to take in one trip. Most rental places will estimate by the amount of rooms you have. If you go too small, you’ll have to make additional trips that can cost your mileage and gas.

Start Packing Early

Make a plan to start packing items you do not often use. Schedule to hit one room at a time to keep from feeling overwhelmed with the task at hand. Pack items to go with you in a box and label with a different colored maker for different rooms. Since you are not in a rush, you might also want to write the box contents on the outside so you’ll know what is in the box at first glance. Mark the most important boxes with a star. Continue with a new room each day until you pack up what is not necessary.

Toss the Junk

As you pack, toss the stuff you don’t need. You certainly do not want to move junk you don’t need to your new place. It wastes time and effort, not to mention space in the truck. If you have the means and space, contact the local waste management service in your area to inquire about a dumpster. Prices are usually reasonable and you might be more motivated to toss the garbage if there is a nearby receptacle. You might also look in your local paper for small businesses that haul junk. Ask for a quote from 2-3 places before making a decision on a junk hauler. Also make sure the person doing the hauling will take anything you have.

Final Packing

When you are ready to move to your new place, pack the rest of your house in boxes that are marked by room in a different colored marker and mark these boxes with a star so you’ll know exactly which boxes you’ll need to find when you reach your new place. You can place all of the starred boxes on one location for easier access. Otherwise, you are likely to run out to the store and get your essentials rather than sort through tons of boxes, money you don’t need to spend.

Avoid the Newness Overload

When you reach your new place and you begin to unpack, resist the temptation to start wanting new everything. It may not be much fun to unpack a bunch of used things in a new location but just remember that impulsive buys will cost you money and likely not work in your favor. You need time to sort, place, and unpack all of your belongings before rushing out to get new throw rugs and other decorations. Give yourself time to understand what items you really need. During that time, you also have a chance to recover your savings, allowing you to purchase quality items that will last instead of a bunch of cheap things to satisfy your excitement.

Rental Return

Don't forget to gas the truck back up to the same amount that was in it when you rented the vehicle or you'll end up paying way more in fees. Return the truck on time and follow the instructions. Be sure to report any damage you may have caused immediately to avoid further charges.

Revisit Unopened Boxes

After six months time passes, any box you have yet to open in the new house should be quickly sorted and tossed. This will help keep old clutter at bay. Anything that is still worthy, you may consider selling it online or through a yard sale. Proceeds from these sales can be put toward the purchase of new items for the house. Continue this cycle every 6-12 months and keep your house organized while making a little money on the side.

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Guest's picture

Have recently moved, we tried to save as much money as we could. In the event that you need to hire movers, I strongly encourage you to shop around.  We were amazed on the different quotes that we got.  All in all, I'm sure we saved several hundred (possibly a grand) just on the moving expense alone.