It’s the time of year when many people are thinking about making big changes, and few can cause more stress than moving.
Moving can be a challenge for even the most organized households.
Here are some tips on how to save money on your next move:
1. LIGHTEN THE LOAD. More stuff means you’ll need to rent a bigger, more expensive truck. Moving companies typically set rates based on a combination of how much your belongings weigh and how far they need to be moved.
Consider a garage sale or look into organizations that accept furniture donations.
2. AVOID A SUMMER MOVE. It’s best to avoid moving from mid-June through mid-September.
“That’s the time of year kids are out of school and moving companies are stretched very thin,” said Eric Reed, the director of corporate business for AIReS, a relocation management company.
This heightened demand enables moving companies to increase rates between 10 percent and 20 percent, on average, Reed said.
It’s also cheaper to move in the middle of a month rather than at the end, when apartment leases tend to expire.
3. COMPARISON SHOP. Get at least three estimates from moving companies. That can be done directly or on sites such as Unpakt.com, which lets users itemize the items they need to move, then generates a list of movers and rate estimates.
Ideally, you want to get an estimate that’s specific to your situation. That means having the movers come over and review what you’ll need moved. Then you can ask for a written estimate.
Many companies will provide an all-inclusive, guaranteed price if pressed, said Sharone Ben-Harosh, the CEO of FlatRate Moving in New York.
Don’t go with any mover that charges for an estimate or asks you to sign a blank or incomplete estimate.
If you’re using a mover, check that it is certified by the American Moving and Storage Association. For a directory of companies screened by AMSA, a moving checklist and more pointers on dealing with moving firms, go to www.protectyourmove.gov/documents/Rights-and-Responsibilities-2013.pdf .
4. UNDERSTAND INSURANCE OPTIONS. Moving companies tend to include basic insurance coverage in their service, generally around 60 cents per pound, per item.
It might be worth considering a policy that offers full replacement coverage on high-value items, but you’ll want to get insurance estimates as well, as those costs can add up quickly.
5. HAGGLE. Make it clear that you’re going to get estimates from several other firms, said Matt Spinolo, of employee relocation company Cartus Corp. A company could offer to match or undercut a rival’s lowest rate.
6. WRITE IT OFF. The IRS permits a tax deduction on moving expenses that are incurred in connection with relocating for work. That includes costs of moving household items, such as boxes, truck rental or shipping, along with travel expenses such as airfare or gas.
Generally, the IRS requires that the expenses have been incurred within one year from the date you first reported to work in the new location. And the job must be at least 50 miles farther from your former residence than your previous workplace.
Check with your tax adviser or the IRS to make sure the circumstances of your move qualify you for the deduction.
For more details: www.irs.gov/publications/p521/ar02.html .
7. DO IT YOURSELF. You can always save the most money by doing it yourself.
But even if you go DIY, it doesn’t have to be all on you. Consider services that rent large containers and then transport them to your destination. This option can be several hundred dollars cheaper than renting a truck, particularly if you’re moving across the country.