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Packing up and moving is one of those chores that almost everyone dreads. It can be time consuming and expensive, just when you don't have the extra money. To save money, consider these budget moving tips that can reduce your expenses anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Do as much of the packing as you can yourself. Most movers charge by the hour or by the amount of items; either way, you can save by packing most of your stuff yourself. Leave the heaviest items for the movers so you don't injure yourself.
Skip buying packaging materials. Those boxes that are sold by the movers are often overpriced. You can get sturdy cardboard boxes by visiting local stores a month in advance and asking them what day they get rid of their shipping boxes. Most stores are happy to let you take as many as you need. If you don't find any at local stores, post an ad on CraigsList or a local swap site asking for shipping boxes from someone who has moved recently. Chances are, they'll be so glad to pass them on they'll give them to you for free. Bubble wrap is nice, but expensive. Use crumpled newspapers instead to cushion fragile items when packing.
Many moving companies will rent padded blankets to you for protecting furniture from scratches in transit. Decline the offer and use your own blankets and quilts to wrap furniture. They'll do the same job and all you need to do after the move is toss your blankets and quilts in the washing machine. This also reduces the amount of boxes you'll need, since you won't be packing those bulky items for transit.
Get quotes from at least three moving companies before you choose a moving service. The cost of long distance movers can vary widely, so you want to look for the best rate. Be sure to ask about any hidden fees, etc. so you aren't surprised at the end of the move by unexpected expenses.
Consider letting the moving company consolidate your move with another shipment. Some of the best cheap movers save you money by putting your belongings in short term storage until they have another shipment heading in the same direction. By combining two or more moves, they save on fuel and manpower, passing the savings on to their customers. If you can go a few days without your belongings at your new home, this can save you hundreds of dollars or more.
Hold a moving sale before you start packing. Be brutal and practical as you go through the furniture, personal possessions, and clothing you've accumulated over the years. Unless you absolutely have to take it with you, get rid of it. You'll not only pay to move less stuff, you'll make some money for the trip.
When you hit the road yourself, be sure to have a plan. Driving across country can be expensive; minimize your expenses by staying at small motels rather than luxury hotels, look for hotels offering free breakfasts, and keep in mind that you don't have to have a big, sit-down meal three times a day. Keep a cooler in your car stocked with beverages, fresh fruit, muffins and yogurt for inexpensive and nutritious snacks.
Consider using an auto transport service to move your car and buy discounted plane tickets for your family. Compare the cost of car transport and your airline tickets to what it would cost you for fuel, restaurants, snacks, and motel rooms as well as the time it would take to drive the whole way.
And, of course, recruit your friends to help you! Make a day of packing pleasurable by playing upbeat music and offering lunch or dinner to your friends who are willing to help you pack.
Chris Bennett is always looking for new ways to live on a budget. Also, he is a contributor to a movers and shakers blog about transporting cars, animals and goods. In addition, he loves to fish and spend time at the beach.