1. Make a budget – and routinely re-evaluate it
This is the most boring, but the most necessary of undertakings. Moves are full of surprises, so try to anticipate them. Other than the rent/down payment on your new place, what else do you need to lay out money for? Can you get enough boxes and wrapping papers free? Will you have to buy supplies (boxes, stuffing, tape)? Will you need any new furniture when you get there?
For bonus points, go a trifle further: do you have any bills or services that need paying off or closing? When you get to the new address, what services need updated info and will it cost anything (in time or money!)
Finally, build in as much flexibility as you are able to with your budget. Few of us have limitless resources, so we have to be creative with our shoestrings. The expense you anticipate and build into your budget is always less then that one you are surprised by.
- 2. Price boxes and supplies – plan on a little extra
Yes, I know, technically non-frugal. But what do you do when you need a good, sturdy cardboard box for your glasses or plates and you can’t find one! If at all possible, scrounge what you can from Costco and BJ’s, friends and family. (Note: Mr. Liz tells me liquor stores are rather good free-box candidates, with sturdy boxes meant to ship glass bottles in.) But when I move, I try to prepare for the “oh shit” moment and acquire a few new supplies.
My rationale on buying boxes and other fixings is the same as that in the budget section above…the expense you anticipate, you know! Getting caught short sucks, and I have been there. Short on time, with no safe way to transport delicates, and low on cash from other moving expenses….I’ve learned to cautiously over-prepare with these undertakings.
- 3. Eat up your pantry and fridge
I can’t stress this enough: If you have food on hand, eat it. I’m not saying that you should have a King Henry VIII style feast each night, but eating at home will mean less to move later. Also, if you cook large batches of stuff to use up early in the relatively quiet beginning stages of moving, you’ll have convenient meals right there for you. There’ll be less ordering takeout, less hitting the diner, less spending, and less gastric distress during an already stressful time. (Good digestion is a quiet miracle, friends).
- 4. Recruit people to help
My family has never been into hiring movers. I’m sure there’s really nice ones out there, but I consider that an unnecessary expense. Luckily for me, I’m young and healthy, and I have friends who are in the same boat. If you have able-bodied friends and family, don’t be shy about asking for help! Whether it’s packing boxes or moving furniture, many hands make light work. Just remember to give people plenty of notice, water, and yummy food after.
- 5. Wheat and chaff – separate what you want from what you just tug around
This is the one of the more involved tips, but I can’t stress its importance enough. When you’ve been in a spot for a few years or more, possessions “magically” multiply. Moving is a perfect opportunity to take stock of what you own and make decisions about what you really need in your life. If something is not useful, beautiful, or loved, why keep it? If you have duplicates, triplicates, or more, do you need all of them? If it’s broken or outdated, are you going to repair or upgrade it? Are you holding onto something for the memory – and would the memory still be there without the object?
Asking these kinds of questions really helped me sort through the sheer amount of objects left behind by deceased family members, and the second houseful of stuff that came into my life with my lovely husband. Simplifying our possessions as much as possible is one of the most frugal things we have done. The savings in money are helpful, and the savings in time are invaluable.
With a little common sense and a lot of patience, moves can be accomplished without breaking the piggy bank, or your sanity!
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