How Much is Your Move Really Costing You?

by Marianne Giullian

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A couple with two small children moved into our town. They had two 24-foot trucks of belongings and five cars. My husband was asked to help them move their things into a storage unit, then a rental home, and finally a house, all within a three-month period. They paid over $10,000 to move. As I have helped others in the past, I see the same things happen over and over again when people move. They pay a lot of money to move things that aren't worth much and they wait until the last minute to prepare for their move.

Taking the situation above, imagine what you could buy for half of the $10,000 they paid to move. People feel they can't afford to buy new things, but they ignore the actual cost of moving their old, worn things. It would have been worth it for this couple to sell at least three of the cars and de-clutter their other belongings thoroughly before moving. They could have sold at least some things and made some money as well as saving money by not having to move what was sold. They could have bought new furniture for a three-bedroom home for half the cost they paid to move. It is worth it to figure out how much things are really worth and how much it would cost to replace them. Then you can more effectively decide what you should and shouldn't move. Unloading it before moving it will save you from paying to move it.

Another woman I know was downsizing to a 2400 square foot home. She had over 300 boxes, a truckload of other things plus another truckload of furniture. This was for one person. She knew at least six months before her move that she would be leaving. She has rented several storage units and so will continue paying to keep all her things. Imagine how much money she would have saved if she had gone through her belongings when she first found out she was moving! She wouldn't have had to pay to move all her things and also would not be paying for storage units until she sorts through all of it. Add to this the 300 unlabeled boxes of miscellaneous things and you can imagine how overwhelmed she feels.

I helped another woman move. Downstairs there were old, bulging cans of food. I threw away a great deal of food that had gone bad. I also helped her go through her storage shed. She paid $100 a month for 15 years for storage. The movers ran out of time and couldn't get to the storage shed, so everything was donated to charity. She ended up paying $18,000 dollars for things that ended up being donated. After observing this situation, I have thought about investing in storage sheds! People put "stuff" in storage and leave it there for years. It doesn't take long before the amount paid to store things is more than the value of the "stuff."

We had some friends move overseas. They were able to take 6000 pounds, which is about the amount of belongings for a two-bedroom apartment. She started preparing two months ahead and I helped her, thinking that things would go very smoothly. About a month before they moved, I realized that they had two storage sheds as well as their three-bedroom apartment. Although she had taken three van loads of things to a consignment store, she still had too much left. She kept culling through things and taking them to consignment, but by the time the movers came, they still had too much. They ended up being 2000 pounds overweight, not including most of their furniture that had to be given away. It was very stressful for both of them and although eight people helped them clean and prepare, they didn't finish in time.

On the flip side of the coin, there was a couple who went to college in another state. They brought only what they could fit into their car. They budgeted a total of $100 for furniture when they arrived at their destination. Little by little, they found inexpensive furniture to use for a couple of years. She painted it and it looked great. When they graduated, they sold everything they bought for more than they paid and left with only as much as they could fit in their car. They saved all their moving expenses to pay for new things they really wanted. They had a goal in mind, and made it work.

When we move, we find out the amount of money we have available for moving. Most of the time, the amount budgeted does not cover the actual cost. I call around for the best quote from a reputable moving company. We also have used free or used boxes to cut costs. I call the moving company from time to time to see how much I could save by getting rid of certain things. After getting rid of most things on my list, I have the movers come out again and give me a final quote. If needed, I will get rid of more to stay in our budget, but I have plenty of time to do it, and have an experienced person to advise me. Remember to include gas and motels or airfare and meals in your moving budget.

I hope these examples will help you to think how you can improve your move. Remember to start early, don't be afraid to get rid of stuff, and realize that it may be more financially wise to sell old things and use the money to replace them after the move.

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