Take the Heavy Lifting out of Moving

Summer is nearly here! Though the official start of summer doesn’t happen until June 20th this year, the unofficial start of summer starts this Memorial Day weekend.

Everybody loves summer! OK, maybe not ice fishermen but the other 99.99 percent of the world does. Flip-flops…vacations…lush looking gardens…it all adds up to a fantastic time of year.

Typically most of the business world slows down this time of year. Wall Street is known for being quiet in the summer as many traders and brokers head to their shore homes. But not every sector sees a slump in the summer. Moving companies are gearing up for their busy season. About 70 percent of every move happens between June and August.

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Moving residences is one of those things absolutely no one enjoys doing. Not only is packing up your home exhausting, frustrating work, it can be downright expensive. On average a move across state lines ran about $4,300 according to American Moving and Storage Association. An in state move isn’t that much cheaper. The average local move will still run you about $2,300 according to AMSA.

Ouch. No small feat. Especially since families usually fail to save up for this expense in advance. Not to worry though I have had to move countless times in my lifetime (I’ve moved more times than I have fingers) and consider myself a pro.

Obviously the cheapest way to move is to round up a bunch of your friends and ply them with pizza and beer as they load your boxes onto a U-Haul truck. But after you exit your 20’s it gets a bit harder to move this way. Suddenly everyone has time commitments (anyone with kids suddenly has to take them to soccer or dance class on the day of your move) and bad backs. So a lot of us end up hiring a moving company.

There are two ways in which movers charge you. Usually for local moves, a company will give you an estimate based on the amount of time they think it will take them to complete the move. The key factors include the amount of stuff you have to move and if you have the movers pack up your stuff for you.

In this instance anything you can do to speed things up will lower the cost of using a moving company. I find if I pack up the house myself, its better organized and cheaper. The movers do all the heavy lifting while I just direct them. If you can disassemble any furniture (like beds, cribs, entertainment centers) ahead of time, this will cut down on the amount of time the movers spend too.

Long distance moves are based on slightly different criteria: weight and miles. The heavier (read: more stuff) your stuff is, the more a company will charge you. And the farther you’re moving, the more the charges go up.

Scheduling your move on an off day or in the off season will save you some money. Most moves occur on the weekends, so if you can move on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday you might get a lower rate. Same is true with the time of the month. Moving companies do most of their business at the end of each month, so try scheduling them to come mid-month to get a break.  In the high demand summer months, the cost of a move can be about 20 percent higher than if you do it anytime between October thru May.

Perhaps the single biggest way to cut the cost of moving residences is to hire the right company. Costs can vary wildly from company to company. Get at least three quotes before picking a winner. Don’t get an over the phone quote either. That is a surefire way to getting charged more the day of the move. Always get a representative to conduct an in-home inspection and provide a written estimate. This type of quote is always more accurate and leaves less room for the employees to demand more money from you the day of your move.

The cheapest mover often doesn’t turn out to be the best choice. Always check references. Look for reviews on Yelp or Angie’s List. Sometimes it pays to go with a brand name moving company.

A moving company won’t be your only expense. Boxes, tape and packaging material can easily run you a couple hundred dollars in addition. NEVER use a moving company’s materials to move. They will charge you an arm and a leg for their boxes and bubble wrap, it’s another stream of revenue for them. Instead use your towels, bed sheets and comforters to wrap your dishes, glasses and antiques.

When possible I don’t buy boxes at all. Every town or city has a recycling center. It’s a great place to get cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes. Other great sources for cardboard boxes are hospitals and restaurants. Hospitals and laboratories get their medical supplies delivered in double-walled boxes because of the delicate nature of the cargo. Restaurants get weekly food deliveries, most of the boxes are of the small to medium size variety.

If you are moving for a job keep track of all your moving related costs. The IRS will allow you to deduct the costs of moving if you meet the requirements. Check out Publication 521 for full details. I’ll give you the gist though. One, you must move within a year of starting your new job. Two, your new place of residence must be closer to your job than your former home was. And three, your new job must be at least 50 miles farther than the distance you drove from your old residence to your old job.

I always move my most prized possessions myself. My jewelry, my husband’s LED TV, the antique plate collection passed down to me from my grandmother, etc. Movers sometimes break or lose things; doing it this way ensures that the things I hold most dear to me aren’t damaged or stolen.

Hopefully any future moves will go smoothly for you, now that I’ve down the heavy lifting for you.

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Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson

One Response

  1. W. T. Save

    If you need some extra muscle, but all your friends are busy I’m sure you can find some help on craigslist.


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