In my adult life alone, I have moved out-of-state at least seven times in my adult life, including once overseas. My first step in prepping for a big move? Figuring out the finances.
There is nothing that brings on a wave of death-grip panic like shaky finances. And why add that stress to a move that will usually entail breaking or losing something in the truck, at least one (not usually happy) surprise in the new abode, and a really long drive punctuated by gas station food and truck exhaust.
Sort – This is organization, right? So why did I put it in finances? Well, you have to move all of your stuff, so make sure you’re paying to move only the things that you really love and use. I suggest making a couple of “piles” – the yes, no, and maybe. Ask yourself, “have I used this in the past year?” If the answer is yes (and you also actually like the item), then it goes in the Yes pile. Although large and expensive to move, most of my kitchen items go in this pile – I use and simply cannot live without my cast iron frying pans or my Kitchenaid stand-mixer.
If the answer is no, you have two options – If you haven’t used it, and you’re really not attached to it, drop in the No pile. I’m a firm believer in moving as few possessions across states lines as necessary. If you haven’t used it in a year, but you feel that emotional pinch at the thought of giving it up, drop it in the Maybe pile. When you’re all done “compare” the piles. If you have an attachment to a blanket your mom made, but you’ve used a different, non-sentimental blanket in the past year, maybe do a switcheroo and bring the mom blanket instead (we actually did this). You can also try leaving the “maybes” sitting out for a day or two – then come back and see if you still feel the same way.
Sell – Why not? Donating is great, but the tax deduction for a few bags of clothes and home goods isn’t probably going to be as much as if you sell some of it. Make three piles (yes, I like this method of decision-making) – list, yard sale, donate. Go through and pull out the still working, high-end electronics and designer clothes. Those are both great items to sell on eBay, especially men’s clothing and electronics. Furniture or appliances (small kitchen appliances fall into this category too) do very well on Craigslist. And I always do an auction-style eBay sale and price Craigslist items pretty low because, hey, I’d rather get $1.00 for it than have to pay to move it.
Whatever doesn’t sell by listing it gets added later on to the yard sale pile. I have always done yard sales with other people – especially people with children’s items. And again, I always price on the low-end. Yard sales are a ton of fun and aren’t a whole lot of work for the potential payoff – the yard sale we held before I moved to Africa netted me $200. Last year’s yard sale (unfortunately held on a cloudy, cold day), only brought in $35. But it was $35 more than I had previously, so well worth it. Then donate everything left over to your favorite charity (I bring mine to the Jr. League thrift store). I never, ever bring unsold items back to my house.
Budget – Now that you (hopefully) have a little extra cash in your pocket and you now know exactly what/how much you’re going to be moving, you’re ready to create a moving budget. When I did some of my first moves (pre-smartphone moves), I literally wrote my budget out “long-hand” on a piece of paper. Eventually I upgraded to an Excel spreadsheet. Now technology offers more budgeting options like Mint.com, Quicken, or sometimes banks offer online budgeting solutions. Put the cost of the trip – gas, hotel, food, moving truck (rented or otherwise) – and the cost of settling into your new place – rental deposit, cost of changing your driver’s license and registration (most have to be changed within 30 days), first month’s rent, and any delay until you receive your first paycheck from your new job.
Compare the grand total of those costs to what you’re going to be bringing in between now and the move, and see if there are current expenses that you need/can cut. Maybe you cut the cable off early and watch your favorite shows on the tv station websites. Maybe you start bringing lunches to work instead of eating out. Maybe you stretch out your hair cut (and color 😉 ) a little bit longer than 6 weeks or ask for a style that doesn’t need as much upkeep (my colorist worked with me when I moved to Africa to find a color that would stretch for 6 months until I could make it back to the U.S. – loved it!).
Take it from me – the serial-mover – the little bit of effort to take care of the money situation brings a very large benefit when it comes to keeping one’s sanity in the midst of a major transition.