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Save hundreds on your next move

Moving is a huge hassle and an expensive one. By following these twelve tips movers will save time and hundreds of dollars.

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    Mary McAuliffe, right, and her daughter Alley, 16, packs moving boxes as they prepare to move.
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Whether it's across the country or across the street, moving can be difficult. It can also be expensive, costing you thousands of dollars, particularly for long distance treks. If you'd like to save time and money on your next move, then there are a few simple tips that can help get you started.

1. Have a Plan

A solid plan will keep you organized and help you quickly find what you need when you are unpacking. Keep track of what is in each box on a separate note pad, which can save you a lot of time when you are unpacking later. You should also consider labels or labeled packing tape that specifies which room each box belongs in. This will keep the move organized and save time moving and unpacking.

The last thing you want is to get to your new place and realize that you don't have enough space to fit all of your belongings. If possible, print out the floor plan and draw your furniture inside beforehand. If it doesn't fit in the drawing, it probably won't fit into your new place. This will also help you arrange items quickly when you're moving in, saving time spent with the movers.

2. Get Rid of Junk First

The less you have to move, the easier the move will be. Having fewer items to move can also help save you money on a larger rental truck, moving supplies, and time with movers. By eliminating junk first, you can also store less, saving you money on your storage unit. If you get rid of enough stuff, you may be able to do a direct move and skip the storage unit altogether, saving you even more money.

As you're packing your items, decide what you really need. If you haven't used something or worn certain items of clothing in over a year, what are the odds you'll use them in the next year? Consider recycling or donating these items instead. You may also have items that can be sold on eBay or Craigslist, so you can make a little extra cash before the move.

3. Compare Several Moving Companies

Check Yelp or other online review sites to find several moving companies in your area. Compare their prices, services, customer ratings, and willingness to help. Look for hidden fees and insurance costs to make sure you won't be shocked by the final price at the end. You don't need to hire a moving company just because you asked for an estimate, so make sure to do your research.

Inquire about whether any of the companies can offer you a deal or can throw in any free services or packing supplies. See if your favorite moving company is willing to negotiate on the price to match your budget.

4. Find Free Boxes

Boxes can cost an average of $50–$400, particularly if you choose various sizes. On the other hand, you can get free boxes from your local supermarket, office supply store, home improvement store, liquor store, bookstore, furniture store, or coffee shop. Call some local stores and ask them to set aside some boxes for you to pick up. You may also be able to pick up some free boxes on Craigslist or Freecycle. Make sure to also fill up any empty suitcases you have!.

5. Find Deals on Moving Supplies

Take advantage of free packing supplies, like old newspaper, tissue paper, wrapping paper, blankets, linen, towels, clothing, and area rugs. You can save money on supplies and just wash any blankets or linen you used for padding when you get to your new place.

While you want to find a good deal, it's important to choose quality supplies, especially when it comes to packing tape. The last thing you want is for your items to spill out all over the street because the cheap packing tape simply couldn't hold up to the weight in the box.

6. Move During Off-Season

Moving during the off-season can result in savings. If you can be flexible on dates, keep your options open. Remember, the busier the season is, the more it will cost you.

Most people move at the end of the month, so if you can move mid-month, you may save on your new lease, the moving truck, and moving services. Avoiding the 15th of the month can save you even more because this is another popular move-out date, so aim for odd dates. Moving mid-week, as opposed to on the weekend, can also save you money and help reduce traffic. Moving in the summer is the busiest time, while October is the slowest time.

7. Do Your Own Packing

Did you know that about 1/3 of the moving costs go straight to packing? By skipping the full-service move and packing the items yourself, you can save up to 35% on your moving expenses. Hiring movers to pack your belongings may seem tempting, but the savings in time and energy is likely not worth the cost. You may be surprised at just how quickly you can pack your belongings, especially when you have a plan.

8. Enlist Some Help

When all else fails, it's time to start cashing in on favors from your friends and family. They may be able to help you pack or move your belongings, so you can save money on movers. While enlisting help can save you money, you'll want to be careful with this tip because moving can be an extremely stressful process and can cause disagreements between you and your helpers. It may be worth the money to hire movers so that you can just sit back, relax, and delegate.

9. Ask Your Employer for Help

If you need to relocate for work, ask your employer if they are willing to pick up a portion of the tab. Many employers will offer a stipend to employees who are making a move for work. They may also have suggestions for affordable moving supplies or services in the area.

10. Save It for a Tax Deduction

If you are moving for work purposes, you may be able to write off some of your moving expenses. Speak with your tax professional about the options available to you. If you aren't sure whether your moving expenses are tax deductible, then read up on what the IRS says about moving expenses.

11. Carefully Pack and Protect Your Valuables

Anything that breaks during the move becomes a loss. Carefully pack and protect your valuables so that they are not damaged or destroyed during the move. Invest in bubble wrap, furniture covers, packing paper, packing peanuts, and anything else you feel is necessary to protect your items. If the movers damage your belongings, make sure to say something.

12. Use Up Your Groceries

Another way many people waste money on a move is by neglecting their fridge and freezer. It is difficult to move these items, so many people end up throwing away perfectly good food and condiments simply because they couldn't eat them in time. Any food that is wasted is literally money thrown away. Challenge yourself to eat at home more so you can use up the contents of the fridge and freezer before the move, and you'll save money in the process.

This article is from Andrea Cannon of Wise Bread, an award-winning personal finance and credit card comparison website.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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