Smooth Moves: Four Frugal Ways to Schlep Your Stuff on the Cheap


Moving is one of the most stressful events in one’s life, and it’s one of the most expensive. Between buying packing supplies and picking a moving van or hiring movers for long-distance hauls, moving costs can quickly add up. But Leah Ingram, the author of Toss, Keep, Sell: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In, has a few tips for keeping costs low.

When in doubt, throw it out

Got a bunch of old clothes you never wear, books you finished a long time ago and knickknacks that have seen better days? Don’t bring it with you. “In 2007, we ended up selling our old house, and before we moved, we sold a bunch of our stuff on Craigslist,” says Ingram. “We did that not only to get extra cash in our pocket, but if you have less stuff, then you spend less if you have to move. If you can get rid of 10 percent of your stuff, you could maybe save 10 percent on your moving cost.”

Don’t go with full-service movers

“If you can’t afford a mover, find some college students you can pay to lift the heavy stuff,” she advises. “One of the ways that we found to be the most efficient as far as saving time and money in moving is using one of those pods.”

The pod system’s flexibility made the move less harried and stressful. “We could fill the pod at our leisure after work every day or on the weekends. When the pod got to our new house, we could empty it at our leisure.” At $1,000 for a full house, “that was very affordable for us.”

Rent or recycle supplies

Buying boxes from the office supply companies quickly adds up. A three-bedroom Household Kit from U-Haul will run you $380. Ingram recommends trying a Freecycle Listserv: “Freecylers don’t like to throw things out,” she explained. “And after I moved, I gave away my moving boxes and all of my bubble wrap and packing peanuts to people via Freecycle because I didn’t want to throw it out and figured someone else could use it.”

Besides buying boxes, Ingram said they can also be rented, a concept that saves even more money. “You pay for the [plastic] boxes, you move and when you return them you get most of your money back.”, out of Atlanta, Georgia, offers free drop off and pick up and boasts that its reusable plastic totes have a lower environmental impact than cardboard boxes. Several other companies throughout the country offer similar services.

Plan your meals

Pit stops at fast-food joints add up quickly, especially for a larger family. “I would recommend planning ahead of time how you are going to eat during the move, if it means keeping a cooler in your car stacked with fresh fruit or cheese sticks, or sandwich-making supplies so you can feed yourself if you have to.”

Read more of Ingram’s tips on her blog, Suddenly Frugal.

Patti Romano is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles. She is a contributor to coupon site

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