I used to work as a radio announcer. There were some great perks to the job: I got to meet and interview famous people, play music for a living, and amass a collection of radio station t-shirts which made up at least half of my wardrobe.

There were some definite drawbacks to working in the "radio biz": poor pay, long hours and NO job security whatsoever. If the radio station changed ownership, or format, or both...you were out of a job. As a result, my family and moved...a lot. In one three year period we lived in three different states, and I worked in four different states. At one job, I lived in one state and commuted each day to another state to go to work. As a result, I know a lot about moving...and doing it cheap.

It just so happens that my family and I are moving again next month, to take advantage of rent and mortgage-free housing. Here are some of the frugal moving tips I have picked up over the years, and that we will be using again:

Pack ahead of time - If you know you have a move coming up, don't leave the packing to the last minute. This will cause you to pay for unnecessary expenses like movers, boxes, hotels, etc. Start early and pack a different room in your house each day. When moving day comes, you'll have most of the work done!

Don't buy boxes - I have moved about 20 times over the past 20 years, and I have NEVER paid for a cardboard box to pack my belongings. I get boxes from supermarkets, Walmart, pharmacies, and the dumpsters of various retail stores. Some stores recycle and sell their boxes, so be sure to ask before you just take them, but most of the time they are just happy to get rid of the boxes.

Buy packing tape in bulk - Don't waste time or money buying single rolls of packing tape. Buy the multi-roll packages. One roll won't be enough and it usually costs more to buy them individually.

Don't use movers - I know, I'm going to make moving companies angry, but unless you are disabled and don't know anybody who can help you move, you will save a lot of money and aggravation bypassing the moving companies. I have used movers twice. The first time, my new employer paid for the move, and the movers did a great job, but I never could have afforded the fee they charged. They did still damage some of my furniture. The second time, I paid out-of-pocket. The movers didn't do the job they promised, charged me twice the estimate they gave me, and sent movers to my new home who didn't speak but three words of English (sorry, I don't speak Russian). It was a terrible experience. During my last move, my oldest son and his friend helped me move all the furniture, and I gave them $50 each for their help. Much cheaper, and they were happy to get it. They didn't expect anything. They just wanted to help.

Shop around for a moving truck - If you have a friend with a truck or a large van, offer them a few bucks and reimbursement for gas. It will be MUCH cheaper than renting a truck. I usually move the boxes with my own vehicle, and then rent a moving truck for one day. U-Haul usually has a special price if you don't keep the vehicle longer than a day or go over on the mileage you're alloted. The last time I rented a U-Haul I think I spent $50, not counting the refundable deposit.

Clean the house or apartment you're leaving yourself - Some people will hire cleaners or maids to clean the place they are leaving. You can buy the cleaning products you need and do it yourself and save a bundle. I do need to hire a carpet cleaning company when I leave my current house (it's required in my lease), but you can still shop around for bargains. The carpet cleaning coupons you sometimes get in the mail can come in handy, but keep in mind you probably won't get the same kind of cleaning you would normally get if you just paid the regular price.

The key to a successful move is to plan, plan, plan. Once you have a game plan, you can successfully move in just a day and save yourself hundreds of dollars over the cost of hiring movers and cleaning services.


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