The following is from James Felton, a homeowner living in Atlanta. He writes about real estate, family and home, and personal finance.
If you’re thinking of moving to a new residence this year, you’re not alone. According to the Census Bureau, roughly 36 million Americans moved in the last two years. And while moving might appear tempting, or even necessary, it’s certainly not cheap. If you’re gearing up for a move, keep tabs on your expenses by employing the following five strategies for relocating on a budget.
1. Move Yourself
The process of moving isn’t as overwhelming as you might think. Invite your friends and family members over and make it an event. Serve some inexpensive snacks and beverages to keep everyone fueled, and knock out the work in a matter of hours. You can even go DIY, packing your stuff on your own and arranging it carefully for the move.
2. Declutter Before You Move
Getting rid of unneeded stuff before you move solves two problems – first, you can generate cash to offset moving costs, and second, you reduce the total amount of items that need to be moved.
Sell your unwanted furniture on Craigslist, and open an account on eBay or Amazon to sell outdated electronic devices. Price everything low so it sells fast. Sell your books to Cash4Books – you don’t even have to wait for a buyer, you just send them in.
If there are other items you no longer need, but don’t feel comfortable selling, donate them to an IRS-approved charity to get a tax break on next year’s return. Ask for a receipt when giving items away so you have the necessary documentation on hand when you file your return.
3. Take Advantage of Tax Deductions
If you’re moving for job-related reasons, there are several tax deductions you might qualify for. Refer to IRS Publication 521 to get more information. You might be able to write off the cost of packing and shipping your stuff, as well as the cost of gas and lodging while you move.
4. Negotiate Monthly Services
As you’re in the process of setting up Internet and cable TV service, negotiate hard for better pricing. Competition is high, so vendors must vie for your business. Research the best deals (bundled options are usually cheaper), then call the provider to see if they can beat it. Avoid signing a long-term contract whenever you can so you have the option to switch services down the road if another great deal comes along.
5. Reduce Costs Post-Move
Think ahead to the first few days after you’ve moved – the kitchen probably isn’t set up and the fridge is most likely bare. To reduce the expense of eating out and exploring your new town, sign up for a deal of the day website, such as Groupon or LivingSocial, and enter your new zip code. You’ll get deals and discounts sent straight to your inbox for half off (or more) on local restaurants and other entertainment options.
If you’re planning to use a moving company, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the company has received any complaints. Be sure to choose a company that inspects your belongings before providing an estimate – onsite estimates are much more accurate than those conducted on assumptions. Seek out at least three written estimates before choosing a vendor, and do not agree to pay a hefty down payment before the actual move. It’s incredibly important to do your due diligence with any moving company before committing your cash to a provider.
How have you saved when relocating?