The Ultimate Moving Checklist to Help You Save Money

Making a move across the country or to a new city can be exciting. It can also be stressful, especially when you factor in the costs involved.

Indeed, moving can be expensive. According to Moving.com, a local move costs $1,250 on average, while a long distance move can cost about $4,890. Yikes.

If you’re still working on growing your savings account, moving can set you back financially. Fortunately, there are things you can do to cut down on moving expenses and hang onto more of your cash. And, luckily for you, we’ve put together this handy guide to help you save money on your move. Read on to learn more.

Set a realistic moving budget

The moving costs mentioned above are averages. In reality, a move can cost you more or less than the average costs, depending on how much stuff you have and how far you’re moving.

“Budgeting is definitely an important step when planning for a move and the items to be included in that move can vary greatly depending on individual circumstances,” says Dock David Treece, a personal finance expert at FitSmallBusiness.com.

For example, your moving budget might include:

  • Hiring professional movers (and giving them tips)
  • Renting a moving truck if you’d rather go DIY
  • Boxes, tape and other packing supplies
  • Shipping fees for pets
  • Moving insurance
  • Travel costs to get to your new hometown
  • Storage fees if you need to store your stuff temporarily
  • Utility connection fees and the rental deposit for your new place

One way to save money is to seek out freebies. Liquor stores and supermarkets, for example, are good places to grab boxes. And, if you have to store anything during the move, try negotiating a discount for a short-term storage rate.

Also, factor in ways you can get money back from a move. For example, if you deep clean your apartment, you may get your full security deposit back.

Another option: Your new employer may offer up some savings on moving expenses.

“If you’re moving for work, your new employer may have an allowance to help new employees relocate and that will impact your budget,” Treece says.

Lastly, give yourself a buffer, says Robert Farrington, millennial money expert and founder of The College Investor.

“Any time you’re budgeting it’s a good idea to factor in a contingency. A contingency is a percentage of the estimated costs set aside for unexpected expenses,” Farrington says.

For example, if your original moving day gets rained out, your buffer can help make up for any added costs you have to pay to reschedule, he says.

Weigh the cost and convenience for hiring movers

Paying professional movers can easily be one of the biggest costs involved, since they usually charge by the hour. Depending on where you live, local movers cost anywhere from $30 to $90 an hour or more, which can quickly add up to several hundred dollars.

The alternative? Rent a truck and move yourself. You’ll save money but you’ll be putting in your own sweat equity.

“Moving things yourself will always cost less than hiring movers because you’re not going to have to pay for your own labor,” says T.J. Peterson of OZMoving.com.

“However, there could be hidden costs involved in moving yourself that don’t show up in the moving expenses budget.”

For example, you may break some of your valuables if you’re not packing or handling them correctly. And, if you need to take time off from work to move, that could be money lost if you’re not getting sick pay or vacation pay.

Farrington says a DIY move can also be more expensive if you hurt yourself in the process. Throwing out your back or dropping a heavy box on your foot, for instance, can result in doctor bills and missed time from work.

So, perhaps you can compromise: Get friends and family to pitch in and help you with moving boxes, and then pay moving pros to handle the big stuff. If friends and family are helping for free, consider budgeting a set amount to buy them all lunch as a way to say thanks.

Lighten your moving load and plan ahead

Peterson says a simple but effective way to save money on a move is to offload anything you don’t really need to take along. Less stuff means fewer boxes and less work for you or a moving crew.

Go through your home room by room as you’re packing up. Look for anything you can declutter or throw away.

If you have things that are in good condition but you don’t need, consider having a yard sale or selling them online to make a few bucks. Stash that money in your bank account to cover moving expenses.

Another option? Donate any unwanted items to charity. You’ll clear out the things you don’t need so there’s less to move. And, you may be able to deduct your charitable donations from your taxes. Just be sure to get a detailed receipt for your donations and speak to a tax professional if you need advice.

Finally, do as much as you can ahead of time to avoid last-minute spending on a move.

“Pack your everyday items – shampoo, work clothes, toothpaste, alarm clock, etc. – in a box that’s clearly labeled,” Peterson says.

“If you hire movers, be organized and out of their way so their job can be as simple and quick as possible.”

If you’re moving yourself, have a snack kit and water so you’re not tempted to hit a fast-food or pricey convenience store to fuel up. And, get cash from the ATM the day before just in case. This way you’ve got cash on hand to tip the movers and you’re not stuck paying high bank fees if you need money in a pinch.

Which money-saving moving tips will you use?

Planning a move can be exciting and also a little anxiety-inducing if you’re worried about how much it’s going to cost.

These tips, however, can help you get through the transition as you start a new chapter in your life. After all, we want your first move – or your next one – to be as stress-free and financially-friendly as possible!

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