Tips to Packing for a Move on a Budget

Relocation is undoubtedly a difficult task but more difficult to get done on a budget. However, with careful planning and research efforts, you can relocate stress-free and without overspending.

One thing that usually comes to mind when trying to relocate on a budget is – should I engage the experts or do I go with the do-it-yourself method? You can get an affordable bargain if you are ready to cut down the amount of stuff to load in your boxes.

You can consider decluttering your home by getting rid of unused items in your possession. You can as well get some cash from it. If you are looking for a way to maximize your packing for a move, this post will see you through a complete guide on how to do it. Whatever you are thinking, let’s first look at the merit and de-merit of either employing an expert to do the work or do-it-yourself.

Tips to Packing for a Move on a Budget

In this article

Merit and Demerit of Engaging Professionals or Do-It-yourself

There are benefits attached to either of the above choices and these will be explained in details. Whether engaging a professional mover or do-it-yourself largely depends on your overall objectives.

However, below are the advantages and disadvantages of the two options:

  • Using family and friends for your packing can be fun and interesting, but it wastes time and often leads to frustration. Contracting experts, on the other hand, can help you move quickly and efficiently too.
  • While you must provide food for family and friends throughout the period of the exercise in a DIY option, professional packers only need the agreed fees to be settled.
  • The expert packers make use of the right tool and equipment that make the task smooth and more comfortable. The DIY option solely relies on the physical efforts of the people involved which can be tiring and may result in injury that may be your responsibility.
  • The expert packers bring the right size of the truck for the packing, even if it’s in the same locality. So, you won’t waste time driving back and forth between your old and new homes like you have to when packing by yourself.

Therefore, if you want to relocate on a budget and want a hitch-free relocation, expert packers are for you. But if you are low on cash, not in a rush, or if your stuff is few, the DIY may be a good idea.

Bring Down your Relocation Costs

Relocation costs can be humongous if not checked; spending less on the relocation must be a top priority when packing.

One good way of reducing your relocation expenses is proper planning and purchasing the packing essentials in advance to give you lots of buying-advantages such as cheap deals, freebies, etc.

If your relocation is work-related, you may be able to save from a tax rebate on relocation expenses. Below are a few simple ways of saving on relocation expenses:

Start with a relocation plan

Start your activities with a relocation plan and a timeline for the entire process. This helps in completing the relocation task smoothly and saves you costs.

Leave items you don’t need behind

One cheap way of relocating is by going with a few loads. So, it’s important to leave behind items that you may never need again.

This is a very powerful cost-saving idea because of the transportation cost for example if you opt to do DIY option and the way the packing companies calculate their charges.

The packing experts charges are calculated based on specific factors as listed below:

  • Packing companies charge differently, so you should find the one with a cheaper rate but still offers quality services.
  • The distance between the two locations also affects the rate which you can’t do anything about.
  • Rates also vary at different seasons of the year. The period between January and December is in high demand in the US for example, and relocation often costs more at this time.
  • This size of your stuff will also determine how much you’ll spend on its shipment. Properly sort out your stuff and leave out items that have been idle in recent times and may never need again. This saves you lots of money and storage spaces too. You can also generate money from some of these unwanted items by selling them off.

Other Cost-Saving Strategies

There are some other cost-effective strategies you can employ to maximize your moving on a budget. They are:

1. Use free packing boxes and other materials for your Packing

Spending less on your packing materials help you to save significantly on the overall packing cost. Departmental stores, grocery stores, liquor stores, etc. are few of the places where you can get free packing boxes.

Also, ask family members and friends for other materials like old newspapers and bubble wraps for wrapping as well as old blankets to protect your furniture.

2. Prepare a relocation budget

It helps to always work on a budget for the activities. So itemize all the stuff that has to be done and put every activity on a budget from the packing to transportation, etc. This ensures that you don’t overspend.

3. Sort-out your stuff based on priority

Sort-out your stuff, arrange them according to their usefulness, and keep all the essential items that you’ll continue to need until you finally move and those needed for the packing like toiletries, packing tapes, medicines, etc.

They must be kept in a separate box and properly labeled – say priority item box.

4. Open a “Destination” box

This box like the priority items box will be used to keep all your next essential items that’ll be needed immediately in your new home like towels, toys, coffee cups/maker, toothbrush/paste, etc. will be kept to help you quickly adapt in your new home.

5. Be sure to label the Boxes

Make sure to mark all opened boxes properly. This helps to avoid buying items you already have as it gives you easy access to all your priority stuff whenever they are needed.

6. Choose the Packing option that best suits you

Whether you want to use the do-it-yourself option or you want to hire professionals for your packing, you must first have an accurate idea of the cost by seeking and getting cost estimates (use a moving cost calculator) from low-cost moving professionals who will visit your place and give a pre-packing estimate.

You can also prepare your own DIY cost estimate to help you decide on which option to use. However, never compromise the professionalism and safety of your items when looking for a cheap moving option.

Moving Tips for Packing on Budget

You certainly want to avoid over-expensive packing materials when planning to move on a slim budget.

To help you save some pennies, this list we’ve provided will enhance your problem-solving skills and save you cash while packing for your upcoming move.

Below are the tips to pack on budget while staying organized and safe:

1. Declutter your House so you can pack less

One important packing tip is to ensure you only move items you still need. Decluttering before you begin the packing phase will help you reduce your stress and amount of work to be done. It involves determining what to sell, dispose, or donate from your pile of belongings. Measure your new home to figure out furniture that fit and get rid of those that won’t.

2. Begin Packing as ASAP

Early planning is very essential if you know that you will be moving your house. An early approach to the tasks will enable you to cover more and have a nicely organized move.

You will be able to find moving boxes easily without the need to buy them. There will also be enough time to shop for moving companies or moving vehicles, as well as gather other deals that may enable you to complete this move.

3. Make Good use of all your Containers

Bring your hampers, baskets, and luggage and fill them with your stuff. This will reduce the number of moving boxes required for your relocation. Your wheeled luggage is also nice for packing heavier items for easy moving. Careful with the weight in order to avoid breaking your wheels while rolling around a static object like a table.

4. Use Liquor Boxes to pack Heavy Items

Liquor boxes made of wood are specially designed to carry heavy glass cans and bottles, which make it perfect for moving your heavier stuff. These liquor boxes are crate-style made and usually come with handles to ensure easy carrying. Request for free used boxes at your local liquor store from any of their employees, or just get them at a discounted rate.

Pro Tip

There are many places to get a different quality of free moving boxes without stress. For other places to source for free moving boxes, read our post on where to find free moving boxes.

5. Pack Breakables with Clothing

Use clothing to cover delicate or items that can be easily scratched instead of purchasing bubble-wrap. Picture frames, silverware, ceramics, and plates are all examples of fragile items. Use your sweaters, pajamas, and other soft fabrics to line the wall of your boxes before you pack fragile items into it.

You will not only save from packing material using this tip, but you will also be maximizing packing space. You won’t need to get separate boxes for your clothing and dispose of a pile of bubble wrap at your new home.

6. Pack Clothes using the “Trashbag” Packing Method

Your closet can present you with one of the most difficult packing challenges when moving. There was a very efficient trick some years ago on how to pack and haul hanging clothes. It is simply referred to as the trashbag method. It is way easier to use large black trash bags for this as their durability is on the high side.

Below are the steps to use trashbag packing method for clothes:

  • Step 1– Make a hole in the bottom of a trash bag.
  • Step 2– Stack 10 – 15 hangers through the hole.
  • Step 3– Make sure your clothing is covered by the bag at the ends as well as the bottom.

With this method, your clothes will be packed and moved with squeezing.

7. Don’t purchase Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is expensive and not environmentally friendly. You can easily make use of old towels, T-shirts, and sweatshirts to keep your fragile items instead of spending money on getting bubble wrap. You won’t need additional boxes when you used your personally owned clothing to safeguard your items carefully.

8. Use Clean Socks to pack your Glasses and Stemware

Although you can use pajamas and sweaters effectively for big and fragile items, however, they are not ideal for glassware and stemware. Gladly for you, you can use clean socks to provide proper cushion for packaging glassware. Start slipping each of your glasses into a sock and gently pack them into the boxes. The socks will prevent the glassware from clinking together while moving by acting as a buffer.

9. Use Egg Cartons to line the Walls of your Packing Boxes

Egg cartons are string and not heavy. Use their design to your advantage by using them to buffer the interior of your packing boxes. Egg cartons can withstand a beating, so it makes perfect sense to use them as an additional protection layer for your stuff as you move.

10. Make Packing Materials out of a Balloon from the Dollar Store

You can purchase a few packs of the balloon from the dollar store in the place of costly air-pillow packing supplies. Use the partially inflated balloons to fill open space in your packing boxes. Balloons take in impact without popping if you partially inflate them. You can get a balloon of different shapes to fill up various sizes of space in your packing boxes in order to secure your items.

11. Make use of Shredded Paper in the Place of Packing Peanuts

Your paper shredder can also serve another purpose for you. Fill your packing boxes with shredded documents instead of using packing peanuts. Since packing fillers often go to waste after use, we recommend using shredded paper instead.

12. Sell Large, Unwanted Items Online

You can reduce packing and moving costs by selling out some of your large, unwanted belongings before moving out. Avoid wasting money on moving old items that you can easily get a replacement for. Rather, list them on a local site and get additional cash from the sale. You will be paying small amounts to pack when you have fewer belongings to move. Consider organizing a garage sale.

Pro Tip

If you have many items to dispose of and organize your garage sale very, you will be surprised at what will come out of it. You can finance your move from the sales generated by your moving sales. Read our guide to a profitable moving sale.

13. Label Everything

Label each packed boxes as you finish with them, you can label them specifically by the content or just use the name of the room. Use proper labeling for everything and consider the color code system, giving color to each room. Pack each room’s items in separate moving boxes to simplify and optimize your movers’ job. This makes everything easier and not that it shows you are retentive.

14. Pack Electronics Orderly

Take a picture of your appliances connections such as TV, Computer, and sound system before you disconnect them for easy set up when you get to the new home. Roll up and tape your cables to keep them rolled and also avoid entangling cable to avoid damage.

15. Pack Overnight bag & clear plastic container

Finally, endeavor to pack what you might need for the first day, night, and morning after the completion of your move in your new home. Make sure all the items your household members will need are packed in a clear plastic bag or containers to avoid tossing everything before you can find your toothbrush or towel.

Find out the Costs of DIY vs. Professional Services

Do not just assume that moving yourself is less expensive than hiring a moving company. Although the truck rental option looks good of a deal, many DIY-ers concentrate on a lot of effort into a move only to find out that they’ve spent more than they would with professional movers or U-Haul. You should be able to make great choices with tips for making comparisons.

  • Gather at least 3 moving quotes from different moving professionals you are considering. Regardless of your thoughts, you can still negotiate with moving companies. Moving companies also experience a fall in demand during fall or winter, so scheduling your move around that time will reduce your moving cost with up to 30 percent, as stated by a consultant in the moving industry.
  • Use Yelp reviews to conduct a background check on movers, get references from recent customers, and check the USDOT’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System. Make sure your IKEA furniture is deconstructed by yourself if you are moving with the professionals. Do not allow movers to charge you on even the simplest task that you could handle.
  • Do you still prefer to do-it-yourself? A proper plan for your move is essential to avoid rush hour. Expect a poor gas-mileage and getting stuck in traffic regardless of the vehicle you use, whether your personally owned or a rental truck is due to its weight. Drive during off-peak hours to save money on gas, effort, as well as time.

You should consider portable storage units from our network of cheap storage units if you need something that sits between hiring a professional mover or treating your friends to beer and pizza.

This option is available with many companies even though PODS is the most popular of them all. You fill the unit with your goods; the company hauls it to your new home where you unload it. This is as simple as it sounds.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I create a packing plan?

You need to ensure the safety of your household goods, whether your move is just across the town or the nation at large. Therefore, you need to come up with a comprehensive, prioritized, and proper plan for packing.

You can get packing help at a price from your professional moving company if you are moving to another state far away. The required and relevant tools, equipment, and knowledge to easily handle fragile and large items are easily available with experienced packers.

Therefore, you can avoid damaging your household goods by requesting for packing help from your movers. However, if you decide on DIY packaging, you need to concentrate on the types of packing supplies you need.

Self-packing with the use of free packing materials can help you keep money and move on a budget. A detailed packing plan is essential regardless of who will be doing the packing for you.

How to get ready for the moving day?

Researching the preparation method for the day of the move is one of the most popularly asked questions about relocation.

However, sadly, most people ask this question when their move is just by the door. This is one of the widely-known moving mistakes that you need to avoid by getting ready earlier.

Ensure your safety by using non-slippery shoes and gloves, as well as other protective elements. Get a rental dolly and purchase weightlifting belts if you are handling the loading of the moving truck.

This will enable you to stay safe from any potential injuries. Get every obstacle out of the way to have a clear path to carry your household gods through.

Make enough food, drinks, and snacks available. Give your car proper advance preparation so you can easily hop in and transport it to your new home.

Does DIY packing the best?

A good move requires proper packing by a highly-trained packer that used custom cartons and supplies.

Arrange for packing with the mover a day or two before loading the moving truck. There is no “too early” time to start packing your goods.

Although you can save money for packing your household goods by yourself, however, the liability for damage will not be the responsibility of your movers.

You may have to service some of your household appliances before the move. These services can be arranged for before the day.

Who is to be held for loss or damage of cartons that I pack myself?

Any loss or damage to any of your packed boxes regardless of who did the packing will be the responsibility of your mover that moves such an item.

Do not waste time to file a claim with your moving company if there is a loss or damage to any of the contents of moving boxes packed by your mover and always be sure to keep the damaged items and the packing boxes and materials for inspection by the moving company.

However, your mover will only be responsible for any exterior damage to the moving boxes that lead to interior damage of the contents if it was packed by the owner, also known as PBO.

Your mover can reject a roughly packed box if it feels it may lead to damage to the contents due to the over-packing and heavyweight of the box. Should you agree to re-pack, they will charge you an extra fee.

What can I do to make sure that my household goods end up in the right room during the move?

Consider a labeling system where you use abbreviations to denote each room, such as BTR, for the Bathroom and also ensure each box is marked clearly.

Also, make sure you label your packed boxes on the top and each of the sides. Your movers will closely partner with you to ensure everything is placed at the desired place.

How much should I prepare for moving expenses?

Get ready to pay around $1,200 for moving services to relocate a studio apartment on about 1,000 miles.

About $6,300 is the average cost of moving a three-bedroom house on the same distance. Use our moving cost estimator to understand the costing better.

What does the 50 20 30 budget rule mean?

The 50/20/30 budget rule gain popularity through Senator Elizabeth Warren’s book titled “All Your Worth – The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.

You just apply the basic rule, which is to divide your after-tax income and budget to spend 50 percent on needs, 30 percent on wants, and save the remaining 20 percent.

Is negotiation with movers permitted?

You can negotiate moving services just like other services out there. You can get a very nice deal if you know how to go about negotiation with movers.

You can get the best possible relocation services at the highest possible rate and ensure a hassle-free and successful completion of your move when you negotiate effectively.

Read our post on how to negotiate with a moving company.

Is it less expensive to hire a mover?

You won’t be concerned about driving a moving truck or other relevant expenses or face the hassle of moving truck rental. Just as you may know, hiring a self-pack mover is less expensive than full-service national moving companies and a little bit higher than a truck rental.

Is hiring movers worth the price?

You may discover that using a mover for your move is not as expensive as you believe, and you can just take your time to gather moving estimates for moving long-distance.

The majority of reputable movers charge based on the weight of your household goods you are moving. Hourly rate applies to local moves.

Is it preferable to hire moving companies or move me?

There is some kind of damage coverage on the majority of full-service moving companies. Although you probably will pay more for hiring full-service movers, however, it is never a waste. You will save time, energy, and stress, so you can just get to the new place and enjoy it.

What are the cheapest means of moving locally?

Renting a moving truck and handling every part of the move is the cheapest local moving method. According to our research, using a rental truck is almost three times lesser than using a moving container, using a rental truck cost about $1.73 per mile for a move of 421 miles.


Packing is the high side of moving exercise and it has been studied that many people spend more on this aspect than the actual mutual. This guide has handled all you need to packing for a move on an affordable budget. We will keep posting informative content on this page. Stay tuned!

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