Having to move is often unexpected and beyond our control. Housing and rental markets, employment changes, and other of life's curveballs can necessitate a move when we least expect it. While most of us have been schooled over the years to have a rainy day fund for unexpected events just like this one, it's not always practical or even possible. So knowing how to move on a shoestring budget can make a stressful situation a little easier to get through.
Here are our top tips for moving on a budget.
Downsize. Now is the time to get rid of all the belongings you don't either need or love. Be ruthless and sell as much of it as you can, and everything else give away to charity. The two top ways to make money before you move are to have a garage sale and employ consignment stores. If you plan far enough in advance, you'll sell what you don't need in time to pocket some cash to offset your moving costs.
Creative Packing. Downsizing will of course help with packing light, but packing creatively means finding free packing materials and packing them well to keep the numbers of boxes down. Go out into the community and scavenge for free, collapsed boxes. Your best bets are to: ask friends and family who have boxes stored from a previous move, ask at your local liquor or grocery story, or enquire at a large outlet mall. Use free newspaper for wrapping. It just means you need to run your dishes through the dishwasher at your new home, but many of us would do that anyway.
Once you have your boxes plan your packing so that you use every space of the boxes to keep the number of boxes to a minimum. Nest smaller items (well-wrapped) inside larger items. Label boxes well so that if you use movers, time isn't wasted by them not knowing where something goes.
Ask for help. Ask your friends and family for help on moving day. If you offer to return a favor in kind, your offer may be more attractive. Read more this in 5 steps for organizing your moving day with friends and How to ask your friends to help you move. Now hopefully one of them has a truck. In any case all can bring their vehicles and assist in moving smaller items.
Don't sweat about the professionals. Yes, hiring movers may be the biggest expense you incur, but if you need them, use them. They're fast, reliable, professional, unlikely to damage your stuff, and most likely willing to work within your small budget. Explain you'd like to use them for the big, heavy furniture only. This is a common request for moving companies. Consult your community listings, ask a friend for a moving referral, or contact You Move Me.
Your alternative is to shop around for the best deal you can find on an inexpensive moving van or truck rental and heft the items yourself.
Be prepared. Adequate preparation may be your biggest ally when it comes to saving money on your move. Being prepared means you won’t be in a panic on moving day when you have no time left to clean up your old home and must hire cleaners. Being prepared means your boxes are properly labelled so less time is spent transporting your belongings from one home to another. Being prepared means you have enough people on moving day to actually get it done in one day! (Take note: preparing food is a requirement!) And being prepared means you’ve notified all of your utility and credit card companies of your change of address so your receive timely invoices and aren’t dinged for late payment.
A bonus! If you’re very good with budgeting and this move is truly unexpected and will dent the pocketbook badly, consider tightening up your budget for the month or two following your move in the hopes of offsetting some costs.