With kids out of school, longer daylight hours, and warm weather, summer is the perfect season for a big move.
Each year, 11 percent of Americans move to a new home. About 3 million of those move across state lines, with professional movers handling about 800,000 moves annually. The summer months traditionally see the biggest surge of moving activity, with a recent report indicating about 38 percent of all moves in 2016 happened between June and August.
There’s a lot of money tied up in the moving industry, though costs vary depending on how far away you're moving, how much stuff you have, and what moving option you choose. By the time you factor in truck rentals, professional movers, and other expenses, the average cost for a move is about $766.
In short, a big move is not a cheap proposition. Whether you’re moving to attend school, for a new job, or simply for a change of scenery, it can be a challenge to cover the myriad moving expenses.
How to Finance a Big Move
Beyond the obvious costs — fees for professional movers, a rental truck, and packing supplies — the expenses of a major move are everywhere. Things like the security deposit for your new residence, home furnishings, and even snacks for friends who help you along the way can quickly add up.
In fact, many movers choose to charge these costs to a credit card and deal with them later. It’s certainly a viable option, but it’s important to be mindful of your card’s terms and interest rate. If you want to plan a big move without breaking the bank, here are a few tips to keep the costs down:
1. Do Your Homework
The best way to keep moving costs from getting out of hand is to explore your options and create a detailed plan.
Compare the costs of hiring professional movers versus using a transport company, renting a storage pod, or doing it all yourself. Whichever option you choose, get several quotes in writing to determine the most cost-effective and efficient way to move.
If you’re able to be flexible on your moving date and time, you can likely get a lower rate. Note that weekend rates are also typically higher than what you’d pay for a mid-week move.
2. Reduce Your Expenses
Once you have a strategy in place, find ways to cut back expenses. Instead of buying new supplies, save boxes and moving material from around the house or gather leftover boxes from your office. Some retailers will even let you have their empty boxes.
Moving is also a great time to clean out closets and drawers in an effort to downsize. Some items are simply too costly to move, so you might consider donating large furniture items that have no clear value to you. You might even be able to receive a tax deduction in the process.
If you have time, hold a yard sale to get rid of some things and make some extra money. It’s entirely possible to pay for a sizable portion of your move — and reduce the number of things you bring along for the ride — by selling off a few items.
3. Find Clever Ways to Use Your Credit Cards
If you're planning to pay for your moving expenses with a credit card, employ creative tactics that allow you to avoid racking up interest charges. You could sign up for a credit card that charges zero interest for an introductory period, allowing you to finance your move without straining your budget.
If you owe money on other credit cards because of a move, you could also transfer those amounts to a card with a low interest rate. This can be a great way to pay off any significant debt over an extended time period.
One important caveat: Don't confuse this with being debt-free. You still need to pay off the balance, even if you’re avoiding interest payments. Be sure to pay off the entirety of the expenses before your introductory rate expires.
4. Leave No Stone Unturned
Along with the cost of physically moving your belongings, there are often several unanticipated expenses associated with moving, including utility deposits, purchasing new furniture and décor, pet deposits, auto license fees, and other expenses.
Check with your current landlord or utility companies to see whether you’re entitled to a refund of any past utility or cleaning deposits. These might seem insignificant, but $50 here and $200 there can easily offset some of your new expenses.
If you're moving for work, ask your employer whether they’re willing to pay any of your moving expenses. Even if they aren’t able to help you out, remember that you can deduct relocation expenses on your income tax return. Just be sure to save all your receipts so you’re ready to go when tax season rolls around.
Moving can be an exciting time. You might be embarking on a new job, transitioning to a bigger house, or exploring a new city. Amid all that excitement, the added expenses can make it stressful to make ends meet. Stick to a plan, explore your options, and get creative with your resources, and you can focus on the positive aspects of your big move without feeling overwhelmed by the stressors.
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