It can be easy to get caught up in the logistics of moving, but it’s equally important to consider the financial impact. Besides finding a new place to live and saying goodbye to your old home, you have a lot to think about, including how to pay for your move.
Moving can be stressful, but it shouldn’t cause financial distress. As you settle into your new home, you shouldn’t have to worry about moving expenses you didn’t anticipate. You want to rest easy with the knowledge you did everything possible to make your most cost-effective move.
To get there, it’s critical that you draft an accurate, realistic budget. Follow these 5 tips to help you get started.
1. Plan your moving budget early on
There’s the financial cost of moving, but also the emotional toll. Among the many ways to minimize your stress and anxiety, the number one decision you can make is to plan ahead.
Planning ahead means having a budget written down that you know is realistic and within your means. Preparing a budget may seem daunting at first, yet knowing the costs – no matter what they are – is better than not knowing. You can’t find ways to reduce expenses without a baseline knowledge of what they are.
It’s crucial you start planning early because your ability to control moving costs decreases the closer you get to move day. If you wait until the last minute to hire movers, for instance, you risk overpaying and taking an unnecessary financial hit. So, give yourself time to come up with a detailed budget, one that accurately reflects the most cost-effective version of your move.
If you’re using professional movers, take advantage of your lead time to conduct in-depth research. It’s not enough to simply ask for a quote. You want to gather as much information as you can about how their services are priced.
2. Use your to-do list for moving budget planning
One way to get started is to make a to-do list of all the tasks you have to complete before, during, and immediately after your move. Then, examine that list for activities associated with monetary expenses. For example, if you have “Find a new place to live” on your to-do list, you can make a second list of expenses related to that task, such as a mortgage or rental payment, insurance, security deposits, and other upfront costs. The more detailed your tasks and expenses, the more accurate your budget planning.
3. Clarify your priorities
Developing a budget will raise questions about your priorities. Embrace the process as an exercise in discovering what matters most to you. For instance, if the thought of packing all your belongings is overwhelming, allocate money in your budget to have your moving company do the packing. If you’d rather pack yourself and save that money for a different purpose, at least you’ll have a clear picture of where you’re making sacrifices in order to gain benefits.
Or consider this example: When you move long-distance, one of the biggest financial decisions is whether to get rid of your current possessions or take them with you. Sometimes it’s cost-effective to sell or donate large furniture before you move, then replace those items when you’re in your new home. That said, if your possessions are newer or have sentimental value, then maybe it’s worth the extra cost to move them with you. Either way, your budget will prove a reliable guide to your priorities.
4. Start saving in advance
Moving is a one-time expense, which means it’s probably not factored into your regular monthly household budget. If you don’t already have money allocated for a move, an accurate moving budget will let you know how much you need to save. That’s why having a moving budget sooner rather than later is so important. It means more time to save before the move.
Moving expenses are above-and-beyond routine household expenses. Besides professional movers, there are numerous other costs that might come into play, including moving insurance, transportation to your new home (fuel and hotels if you’re driving; if you’re not, plane tickets and shipping for your vehicle), security deposits if you’re moving into an apartment, gratuity for your movers, and so on.
5. Set aside extra for unpredictable expenses
No matter how well prepared your budget is, there’s always a chance something comes up you couldn’t anticipate. So leave a buffer in your budget, a little padding to help absorb the shock of any surprise costs. If something happens, you’ll be glad that you did. But if everything goes smoothly, without a hitch, then you’ll have a little savings left over to celebrate in your new home.