Moving can be very stressful. Aside from hauling heavy furniture, balancing cardboard boxes full of fragile items, and struggling to stay organized amidst all the chaos, moving between homes can also be financially demanding. An unexpected major expense can really derail your yearly budget.
There are ways to keep spending under control, however. If you have an upcoming move in 2016, use these tips to prepare yourself so you don’t feel the sting of excessive moving expenses.
1. Change your mindset
Treat your home budget as if you were running a business. Not only will you take money more seriously, but you’ll discover plenty of new ways to look at spending. To start, make sure all major expenses are justified by weighing the total cost against the potential returns. Develop a reserve fund in case some element of the move goes amiss. Pay close attention to each expenditure, and eliminate those that aren’t working.
When you treat your family finances as if you were a professional accountant, you’ll quickly find yourself more prepared for any unexpected moving expenses that may arise.
2. Cut costs wherever possible
If keeping your move costs as low as possible is a top priority there are ways to minimize the expense. If you plan on keeping the same phone and internet services, then you can take your equipment with you. You can pack your belongings yourself, schedule a shut off date for utilities to avoid paying for time you are no longer there, cancel or forward any magazine and news subscriptions, and be sure to be ready when the movers arrive.
Not only should you cut costs that directly relate to the move, but also those that arise indirectly as a result of the move. It may be tempting to eat out or take quick sightseeing excursions when you’re in transit, for example, but those options cost more money than making sandwiches and playing board games in the hotel.
3. Get quotes from more than one reputable mover
Every moving company has different rates, and some of them are much higher than others. Do keep in mind that cheaper isn’t necessarily better and you will get what you pay for. The most important part is understanding what you are buying, what is included in the rate. Conveniently many companies such as TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® offer free online estimates but you’re always welcome to call. Be cautious when considering nonprofessional movers, as scammers and thieves abound. A truckload of lost or stolen belongings will end up costing you much more than the services of a reputable company. Take the time to read reviews of the company and ask friends or family who have used the movers how their experience was.
4. Predict major upcoming expenses
Factor your moving expenses in with any big ticket purchases you plan to make throughout the year. Being aware of upcoming costs can help you to shift things around in your budget enough that you won’t have to scramble for extra money at the last minute.
If your schedule allows, booking your move on a weekday versus weekend is typically cheaper as there is more demand for moving on the weekend. If you have the flexibility, you may also consider timing your move to fall during a less financially stressful time of year.
5. Track your finances using an app
Budgets can be hard to follow, especially when you’re juggling receipts and bank statements. By using an app to simplify the process, you’ll be able to review your budget more often and stick to it more naturally.
Mint is one such financial tracking app that makes it easy to keep tabs on your income and expenses. You can easily create budgets and get a bird’s eye view of where your money is going, as well as manage your bills and monthly expenses.
6. Take only what you need
Moving can be a great incentive to do some spring cleaning, and getting rid of unnecessary possessions can make your move easier and cheaper. Take the opportunity to do a large eBay sale or an old-fashioned yard sale to recoup some of your expenses. You may find that the money you make can heavily subsidize your moving costs.
If you can’t sell all your unneeded items, donate the rest to charity and claim a deduction on your yearly taxes to save even more.
7. Claim work relocation expenses on your tax return
On the note of deductions, the IRS may allow you to claim a moving deduction if you are moving for employment. As long as the distance from your old home to your new workplace is at least 50 miles greater than the distance from your old home to your old workplace, you’ll likely qualify.
This deduction applies to all reasonable moving expenses, including the cost of the move, hiring a professional moving service, and insuring your possessions. You can also deduct several other expenses, including the cost of temporary lodging or the cost of storing your possessions at a facility.
With a little time and careful planning, you can ensure a smooth, successful transition to your new home without breaking the bank.
Alice Williams is a digital communications expert for AT&T with an MA in Communication Studies. She writes extensively on communication, business and tech and is currently based in Salt Lake City.