Six ways to save on moving day

Moving is a hassle, to the point where many people prefer a trip to the dentist. But these money-saving strategies can make moving a little cheaper. 

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    Greg Buster, left, of Franklin County, helps his son Robert Buster, move his belongings into a moving van.
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May is National Moving Month! But despite the inherent excitement in setting up shop in a new, more suitable living space, 40% of Americans would rather go to the dentist than move, while 34% would rather do their own taxes.

It's no surprise we hate moving so much. It's not only a hassle but can be an extremely expensive endeavor: of people who paid professional movers more than their original quote, 57% paid as much as an additional $175 to $1,000. And on top of that, nearly 71% of people tip their movers, according to an Apartment Guide survey, which only adds to the total expense.

While we can't help you alleviate the burden of uprooting your possessions and starting anew somewhere else, there are some ways to lessen the financial strain of hiring movers. From ideal scheduling to scoring free materials, here are some ways to cut your moving costs.

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Save 20% by Moving in the Off-Season at Off-Times

The actual date in which you move plays a big factor in how much you'll pay. "A move on the last day of June will likely be 15% to 20% higher than a move on the last day of March," explains a representative from Unpakt. This holds true for any moves throughout the summer until early September. The price trend then shifts back to the lower price points in October through early May.

Moving costs are also higher at the very beginning and end of the month; a move on a "dead day" like June 7, for example, will be substantially lower than a move on June 30. And according to Unpakt, if you select a dead day in one of the cheaper months, like March, the cost could be as much as 50% cheaper than over the summer. If you have flexibility in your move, aim for the middle of the month in an off-peak time like winter or early spring.

Clean Out Before You Move

Movers determine how much you'll pay based on how heavy your stuff is. So purge your stuff before you start packing. Here are some ways to do whittle down your belongings:

  • Sell What You Don't Use: A general rule of thumb for sorting through your stuff is asking yourself whether you've used the item in the last six months. From clothes to kids' toys to extra linens and kitchen gadgets, you might be amazed and what you've amassed. Then, cobble together a stoop or yard sale or sell your gently used goods online via Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist. Put the extra money towards your moving costs.
  • Get a Floor Plan: Use a floor plan of your new pad to measure your stuff. If your furniture won't fit through the door or in the room on paper, it won't fit once you get there either.
  • Check Appliance Hookups: If you're planning on taking your appliances, make sure the connections match before you move. Gas appliances won't work with electric connections and vice versa.

Pack Yourself

According to Relocation.com, the process of packing accounts for 25% of the total moving costs. Save this fee and pack your own boxes, or consider a partial packing job: pack the small stuff like books and clothes, and leave the big items — your HDTV, and other fragile items — to the professionals.

Score Free Packing Supplies

Moving supplies are expensive. Currently, U-Haul sells a 1- to 2-bedroom packing kit for $179.39, which includes 59 boxes, four rolls of tape, and markers. Add in three bubble rolls at $4.05 each and you've spent $191.54 on packing supplies. Skip the cost and find free packing materials a la:

  • Free Boxes: Retail stores usually have a stack of unwanted boxes. (Liquor store boxes are extra heavy duty!) Stop by and ask if you can take them off their hands.
  • Free Wrapping Paper: Save newspapers and magazines for a few weeks before your move. Use them to wrap semi-fragile items.
  • Put Fabric on Double Duty: Wrap fragile items in your clothes, sheets, or towels.

Mail It

Some items might cost less to mail via the postal service instead of move. Your personal library of hardcover books weigh a ton; they'll hike up the cost of your move for sure, but if you send them using Media Mail from the United States Postal Service, you'll likely save some money. Media Mail starts at $2.53 and has a 2- to 8-day delivery time.

Negotiate

No matter what most moving companies initially quote for moving costs, there's room for negotiating. Jamie Allen, the author of "How to Survive A Move," told MSN he saved $500 by negotiating. But you don't have to be an expert to knock the price down a few pegs; just let moving companies know you're shopping around and considering other offers. Moreover, make sure you price check your estimate like you would any other item you're purchasing; Unpakt allows you to compare rates from a variety of local movers, so you can select the best deal for your move.

With these tips, you can remove at least some of the financially strain that comes with a move, and focus more on the joys of settling in to a new space. And if you suddenly realize that your new home is missing a few things, we know a place that's got a whole lot of deals on furniture, kitchenware, and more.

Angela Colley is a contributor to Dealnews.com, where this article first appeared. 

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