7 Tips to Make Moving on a Budget Quick and Easy

Whether it’s across the street or across the country, moving is a huge pain. Most of my time and energy lately has been overtaken by my plans to relocate to a bigger apartment.

I was lucky enough, however, to find a fantastic new apartment complex that’s perfectly located near my full-time job. The whole process has been pretty smooth, and while many expenses are unavoidable, there are plenty of ways to keep costs down – by planning ahead – that will make your move quick and easy.

My new apartment complex

My new apartment complex

Change your address asap. As soon as you find out your new address, head over to USPS.com and update your mailing address. You can even specify what day you want the mail forwarding to take effect. Getting your address changed asap, is very important because:

  • The longer you wait, the more likely you are to forget
  • You could miss important letters and packages
  • It’s one less thing you have to worry about on moving day
  • You get special discounts and coupons when using the USPS moving kit

Clean, organize and pack in advance. The more you can get done before moving day arrives, the better prepared and less stressed you will be. Hiring professional movers can save you a lot of time and headache, but that’s only if you have the money to pay them. Whether you do everything yourself or hire professionals, you will save a lot of money and effort, by getting everything cleaned, organized and packed away in advance.

Make extra cash and donate items to charity. As I was going through the stuff in my apartment, I noticed some of it was actually pretty valuable – at least to make a little money by reselling it. Once you’ve sorted through all your belongings, you can decide whether you want to sell or donate anything you don’t need anymore. This is a great way to make some extra cash or donate to a worthy cause while getting rid of non-essentials.

When in doubt, throw it out. That’s my motto in life. Once you’ve cleaned, organized and sold/donated your stuff, it’s time to trash anything else. Because the less you own, the less you will have to haul on moving day. This makes it easier on both you and your budget, since you won’t have to spend as much money paying professionals (or your friends) to help move all your belongings.

Use colored labels for each box. Moving can get chaotic very quickly, so you want to make it as easy as possible on yourself. I like to use color coded labels, for each box based on the location in my house. For example; kitchen items/boxes get a red label, bathroom boxes get a blue, and etc. You could also use colored packing tape, or colored markers. It doesn’t really matter what system you use, just as long as you clearly mark the boxes so they will be easily identified.

Quick Tip: When disassembling your electronics, appliances and gadgets, try using bread clip tabs, binder clips or twist ties (all tips from Pinterest), to keep your cords and other equipment organized.

Bread tabs

Find moving boxes on the cheap. One of the ways I like to get free boxes, is by collecting them over time. I have no problem asking my friends, family and co-workers if they have any packing materials or extra boxes for me to use. I also save the boxes from orders I make online that get delivered to my house. Here are some other ideas:

  • Find free or cheap boxes from individuals on Craigslist
  • Ask your local liquor store or grocery store
  • Gather packing materials from the local recycling center
  • Try large restaurants or fast food places

Transfer and move utilities ahead of time. Some companies will charge a setup or transfer fee to move your utilities. By planning ahead you can be sure to budget for these extra moving costs, which will help you save money. This is also a good time to reevaluate your subscription services, to see if you need to keep paying for them. With online subscriptions like Nexflix and Hulu Plus, there’s no hassle for moving your TV or cable service and it’s much cheaper.

Are you planning to move anytime soon? How do you make the process easier and more efficient come moving day?

Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan

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About the author: Carrie Smith is the financial artist and editor behind Careful Cents. She helps creative entrepreneurs make a living with their creations, and reach financial freedom through systems and financial organization. She’s been featured in The Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine, Kiplinger Finance and several other business websites. In May 2013 she quit her full-time accounting job to pursue entrepreneurship and blogging. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram @carefulcents.

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  • IdaBaker July 2, 2012, 8:09 am

    I love the, “When in doubt, throw it out” thinking.  One of the benefits of moving is just that, sorting and getting rid of.  It might be a bit difficult, but in the end, well worth the effort.

    Due to my own personal circumstances, when I moved from Los Angeles to FL, I packed and shipped 12 boxes.  That’s it.  I was moving into a furnished apartment, but it was still difficult choosing what to put in the boxes.

    • Carrie Smith July 2, 2012, 9:43 am

      Great idea @d1c2c7f7f7d6dca5942eb0b466169d40:disqus Shipping your possessions is definitely a good money (and time) saving tip. Plus since you were moving into a furnished place, I’m sure that saved a ton of money as well. And it’s much less of a hassle.

  • thethriftyspendthrift July 2, 2012, 8:52 am

    Good tips. I have to remember your first point, as it is something I think I would forget!

    Also, in terms of boxes, depending on where you work you might be able to get a ton. Things are shipped to my job on a daily basis and the past two weeks, I have noticed that my boss was taking boxes out every night to move her mom’s stuff out. Gave me the idea to ask for boxes when I need to move.

    • Carrie Smith July 2, 2012, 11:34 am

      Very true @d73a02a5a65e73f5f054d05240d415f4:disqus Some jobs have access to tons of boxes. Where I work we are always ordering office supplies, so I can get nice sturdy boxes for free!

  • From Shopping to Saving July 2, 2012, 10:14 am

    I’m moving at the end of this month and I plan to use a lot of your tips… packing ahead will be so much easier. I’m really nervous because I hate packing and moving, especially from a city that I adore. I’m nervous, but I think once I get organized and moving, everything will be okay.

  • Modest Money July 2, 2012, 11:27 am

    I really like the tip about bread clip tabs to organize electronics.  It can be a hassle trying to remember what goes where when setting everything up again.  I know I wasted a bunch of time trying to figure out why something wasn’t working, only to later realize I had the wrong cord plugged in.

    As for boxes I just get all boxes from liquor stores or grocery stores.  I usually have to hit up a few stores, but at least it’s free.

    Good luck on your move Carrie!  Or did it already happen?  It will be great to be closer to your full time job.  A short commute is always nice.

    • Carrie Smith July 2, 2012, 11:36 am

      Thanks @modestmoney:disqus My move is happening within the next few weeks so I’m just now doing all the prep and pre-packing. It’s going to be a lot of work, but having a shorter commute will definitely help compensate for it.

  • John | MarriedW/Debt July 2, 2012, 12:56 pm

    I’ve been hoarding boxes for a few years, but I honestly would rather lay down and cry than pack up and unpack again. I may just hire people next time. And I will burn all those boxes that are still unpacked from the last move.

    • Greg@ClubThrifty July 2, 2012, 4:44 pm

      I totally hear you John.  For a long time, I was kind of a gypsy.  I think I moved 12 different times in 10 years.  I defenitely learned to pack a light suitcase.  Now that I’m married and we own a few things (like furniture), we pack all of the boxes ourselves and hire movers to move most of it – especially the big stuff.  There was a point in my life where it was worth the money to try and move a piano with friends.  Now, I’ve decided it is cheaper to pay a moving company for a few hours than it is to pay for a herniated disc in my back.

    • Carrie Smith July 2, 2012, 10:32 pm

      I definitely understand that feeling. Which is why I try to get rid of as much stuff as possible. Then if I still have a ton left to move, I consider paying professionals to help me.

  • Jenna from Adaptu July 2, 2012, 5:01 pm

    Love the bread clip idea!  I just moved a couple of months ago and it was a killer slow processes.  I’m still not completely done (I hate unpacking).  Definitely get some friends with trucks and strong arms to help you out, if your moving locally.  Couple boxes of pizza and beer will be cheaper than professional movers.

    • Greg@ClubThrifty July 2, 2012, 6:10 pm

      The bread clip idea is brilliant!  I also love the “when in doubt, throw it out” attitude.  Not only is it a good tip for moving, but it works wonders in every day life as well.  I’ve found that the less clutter we have around the house, the happier our house becomes.  If you don’t control your stuff, your stuff can control you.

      • Carrie Smith July 2, 2012, 10:36 pm

        That’s very true @275afc06d4bb71bdc7d41f73f56d9ca9:disqus If we don’t stay on top of our clutter, it can quickly overtake our lives and our homes. “When in doubt, throw it out” is totally my motto in life.

    • Carrie Smith July 2, 2012, 10:35 pm

      That’s a really good idea @ceb9ed7889cfe2cfafab8a8708574658:disqus I have two brothers who are very muscular and can man handle my stuff for me. Plus they have pick-up trucks that haul tons of stuff. I could probably spend a $100 or so on pizza for them though, lol.

  • Robb July 3, 2012, 4:16 am

    I’m thankful I was able to get about 2 weeks overlap between when my current lease expires and when my new one starts because I can move at a pretty leisurely pace – maybe take a couple of loads of stuff each day. Also I think a purge before moving is always worthwhile because everyone has a tendency to keep junk they don’t really need. Before I moved from Florida to Texas last May I spent almost 2 weeks getting rid of stuff, I think in the end I gave away like 5 kitchen trash bags of clothes, threw out like 6 lawn bags full of junk and gave away some furniture I doubted would survive the move. I realized that I probably needed to massively downsize when I realized I had boxes of stuff that were still unopened from when I moved to Florida 4 years previous. The question I kept asking myself with everything I wondered about keeping was “Is this worth hauling 1300 miles to keep?”

    Lastly I’ve been amazed at myself during this whole apartment process of the last month because I’ve shown levels of foresight and planning that are very unusual for me. AHHHH I’M GETTING OLD!

  • Canadianbudgetbinder July 4, 2012, 5:21 pm

    We still haven’t unpacked most of our boxes and we moved in 3 years ago lol. I suppose if we ever move we are half way to the end . I like the color coding idea something we didn’t think about. We simply wrote on the box where it was to go. It would have been much easier to see a color and automatically know rather than wasting time marking the boxes all over. Happy Moving.. and yes if we haven’t used it in 6 months when we actually come across something we toss it, sell it or give it away free. Mr.CBB

  • Payal_chanana July 5, 2012, 1:19 am

    I would like to suggest that u should hier some company to make your moving easy,and if you are moving wit in London better go for Man and Van movers. 

  • guest July 7, 2012, 2:11 pm

    During our last move, we bought moving boxes from UHaul for the first time. It was more expensive, especially for specialty boxes, like extra tall and wardrobe, but they are reusable up to four times, according to the label. The flattened boxes are on a shelf in the garage waiting for our next move, which will come too soon for me! UHaul will buy back any unused boxes. They nest perfectly in the truck and saved a lot of space and wobbliness. Renting dollies speeded up the process, as we could move three or four boxes at a time instead of one or two.

  • Jane @ Same day loans July 20, 2012, 5:33 am

    Hiring a moving company is the best way to save money and avoid unwanted expenses during shifting. All what I need to do is, pay money and they will proceed rest of the work.

  • NJ Moving July 26, 2012, 7:06 am

    When moving things the best way is to hire a moving company, then they will do all the works and we just have to pay them only. 

  • Bespoke Painted Kitchens August 1, 2012, 7:37 am

    Wow… that’s cool, I am moving end of this month so I can use your tips for save money.