Moving Cost: Ways to Budget Your Move

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Sharmaine R. has moved three times within Los Angeles in the past year and a half. In the three years before that, she moved five times -- including to and from another city. "I've learned that planning is key to keeping your moving costs where you want it to be," she says.

Sharmaine has completed all types of moves and has learned that you can move easily, no matter what your budget -- you just need to know what the moving costs are and where you can save. Good planning and doing as much as you can ahead of moving day will save you hundreds, even thousands on your move. "I've wasted hundreds on stupid things, from last minute box-buying to not getting day van-rental referrals from friends," says our perpetual mover.

Moving is the time to ask people to share their resources and do your research: The difference can mean thousands of dollars saved.
You can rent a van and use your friends, but that means you might need to pay to rent blankets to cover big items and for dollies to move items -- that can add up hundreds more in your budget. Similarly, you might only need two instead of three guys, if you hire a moving company, and that can mean hundreds off your bill. It pays to budget and that means knowing what you need to consider when moving.

Cesar R. is the manager at the Los Angeles-based moving company Load Rock N' Roll Movers. Over the years he has seen these types of small mistakes cost people big money "First of all, you have to have an idea of what you're planning to do," says Cesar. "Especially with the times we are in, every penny counts. If I can save my customers, I will."

1. Assess your needs

Plan out your mode of transportation. Do you need a moving company or a rental? If you're planning a DIY move and the move is small, without a lot of big pieces of furniture -- maybe you can forgo the costs of renting and borrow a friend's car, van or (even better) truck. But again, plan ahead! This means giving your friend plenty of advance warning as the last-minute rental of a moving truck or van will cost you more.

2. Know what to budget for
Sharmaine suggests that if you go the rental truck route that you "budget for your truck, gas and mileage, and food for people that help you." Know how much the truck costs for the day and include gas -- which can add up in those big trucks -- and mileage. Unlike rental cars, many van rentals charge you per mile driven, which can add up. As for food, it might not be something you think of ahead of time, but it can add up. If you have five people helping you, that can mean two or three meals for a long moving day.

3. Attend to details
If you're going the the DIY route to moving, Sharmaine says that you need to think about all the little details that are often overlooked. "Dollies, ropes, pads, packing tape, insurance, they are all important to your move and they all add up," she warns. "When you don't have a moving company, you have to pay for these, so budget for these items and see where you can find the cheapest prices."

4. Weigh costs and benefits

The cost benefit of a moving company is that everything is included in the price of the move. "Renting a company means you don't have to pick up the truck, fuel it up, have enough gas and hire guys to do it yourself, " says Cesar. "You call a company like us, we show up and we leave you at your new location where you want things to be. You don't have to stress and struggle and hurt yourself. Plus, we have dollies and pads to cover items in the move -- and that's also included in the price."

5. Be packed and ready

Cesar suggests being prepared with your packing -- it saves you time with the movers and in the end that saves you money. "The best thing would be to have everything packed and ready to go on move day," he says. "A common mistake people make is to have miscellaneous items out that take more time for the move. We won't charge you for packing these, but it will add time to your move since we charge by the hour. Packing everything beforehand saves you money." Sharmaine agrees: "If you have everything all packed and you are ready to go, you have movers in and out really fast."

6. Get boxes, and more boxes

While you might be able to get boxes from friends and businesses to save money, if you have last-minute items and no boxes, a lot of money will be spent buying boxes from the moving company. "Moving boxes through the company get marked up 50 percent or 80 percent," explains Cesar. "So make sure you have extra boxes ahead of time. I've seen people spend hundreds just on this."

7. Insure the move

Cesar stresses the importance of moving insurance and making sure that you hire a licensed and bonded moving company. "A moving company is responsible and has bonding insurance, so we are covered if something breaks. And if someone ends up getting hurt on your property they are liable to sue for injuries, but a moving company has insurance and workmans comp."

Sharmaine is set to move again around the end of the year. She is moving in with her boyfriend to a new place, which means they will have two apartments moving at the same time. "With all the moves I have done," she promises, "I will have it to military precision and costs will be limited."

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