4 Key Tips For Moving On A Budget

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In many major cities across the U.S., particularly those with a few colleges within their borders, late August through early September means that moving season is in full swing. The weeks leading up to that month-to-month transition are just as hectic in their own way, particularly for those somewhat strapped for cash. However, it's entirely possible to slay the dragon of move-in season without breaking the bank - you just need to plan carefully in advance and limit your spending. Whatever your reason is for moving, these principles can help get you where you need to be, both physically and financially.

1. Make a real, detailed budget

No, seriously! This might seem overly obvious, but it's easy to mistake a title like "moving on a budget" to simply mean "moving cheaply" and not actually plan out your finances. You need a bona fide (and comprehensive) plan for your expenses. Moving by spending the absolute least amount possible may or may not be the right move for you, but either way, you should form an accurate budget so that you can properly anticipate how the move will impact the rest of your finances for the month.

It’s also wise to evaluate all of your actual moving costs - packing supplies, a rental vehicle, gas mileage - as well as necessary expenditures for right after you move. These could include cleaning supplies, furniture, activation fees for certain utilities, initial renters insurance payments and more. Plot these out chronologically and include them in your budget from the very beginning. If you really want to take it to the next level, you could also set the goal of paying off any lingering debts before moving, and including them in a separate section of your budget. This might not be feasible, but if it is, it'll take a weight off your shoulders that would otherwise linger after moving.

When creating a moving budget you can start from scratch, but there are many existing templates available online as well. Consider using a moving checklist to make sure you’ve thought of everything ahead of time as well.

2. Avoid professional movers if possible

Moving is stressful, and no one takes joy in its physical or mental burdens, so the impulse to hire movers is understandable. But if you're weighing the cost of a U-HAUL or Budget truck, boxes, and gas against any reputable pro moving service, the former is almost invariably less expensive. If you’re moving alone but need an extra set of hands, buying a friend dinner as a thank you is much more affordable than having professional movers come in for the job.

If you can afford professional movers and do decide to employ them, pay attention to fees added onto the base price, like overtime or specialty charges for certain items. Most only apply in specific circumstances, like for people moving a piano, but make sure you've checked for any you might need to pay. You’ll also want to make your estimate of how long they’ll work for (and subsequently charge) as accurate as possible to keep your budget on track.

3. See what your employer may cover

This usually only applies if moving at the behest of the business you work for, but tit’s possible that your employer will reimburse you for some or all of your relocation expenses. Such repayments could solely be for transportation and shipping costs and travel expenses, or include temporary housing, realtor fees and any charges levied by a landlord for breaking a lease early (if applicable). Either way, it’s worth checking with your employer to learn more.

4. Check for tax write-offs

If moving out of state, you'll need to file two separate state tax returns, and you should account for the costs these may incur. That said, you may also qualify for a variety of deductions if you moved for work. Determine exactly what these will be and incorporate them into your plan, as it might allow you to spend more than you thought if moving close to tax season.