Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” Well folks, I gathered lots of “experience” in one area of my finances this past month: moving expenses.
Like many other twenty-somethings, Zac and I have moved often. We’ve gotten to the point where we feel comfortable enough to skip moving guides that give helpful planning tips. But no matter how diligent we were about keeping costs down with coupons and bargain hunting for all our necessities, we encountered some major accumulated expenses and losses that were rather unexpected.
Given that twenty-somethings move more than twice as often as the rest of the population (approximately every 2 years compared to every 4.7 years), avoiding the following two mistakes you won’t find in moving guides could save you a lot of money.
1) Leave Enough Time to Sell Off or Donate Your Unwanted Stuff
Moving uproots your life and always takes longer than you expect. Zac and I have demanding work schedules, so packing was our second priority. We packed right up to the last minute of our last lease day of the old apartment. The things we didn’t pack we had hoped to sell on Craigslist, which is usually fast and very easy. However, we were so pressed for time that we had to give away the furniture to friends and strangers. (The latter involves a typical scene in San Francisco, which is leaving your furniture on the street with a “Free” sign. The stranger who picks up the free furniture usually turns around and sells it.) The discarded furniture could have easily fetched us $100.
We also had a bunch of clothes and books we had planned to donate, get receipts, and claim on our taxes. However, this too got the “Free” sign.
None of this sounds like all that bad of a loss, but I’ve actually had to resort to giving away furniture multiple times. Many of my friends have done this too. Wherever we end up next, it’s almost like we need to start over again with a different set of furniture that will fit in the new apartment. Over the years, I must have missed out on getting back at least $750 cash on my old stuff. For some reason, I still have not learned the lesson that I must leave time for selling old stuff, and it’s been a costly mistake.
2) Food Costs Add Up in the Moving Process
Thanks to my handy-dandy Expense Tracker, I’ve noticed that I’ll be over budget for going out to eat before month’s end. I’ve now spent nearly $200 since the start of January, mostly because Zac and I are still living out of boxes and are not settled in yet. We live close to scores of dining options, most of them very affordable. We do love to cook, but going out to eat every night is far too easy a temptation in this neighborhood.
Once you get to your new place, you may want to consider unpacking the kitchen stuff first. Also stock your fridge with prepared meals that you can heat in the microwave. Last night we finally unpacked 90% of the kitchen stuff, so it will be hard to justify going out to dinner tonight.
During your move, there’s also potential for lots of perfectly good food to be thrown out. In the planning phase of your move, think of ways to avoid wasting food, like not buying too many perishables that you might not want to transport, or not get to eat in time. There’s something psychologically defeating about having to buy again groceries you just had to throw out. Why make moving more unpleasant than it has to be?
Chances are, at least one reader a day is in the process of moving. Hopefully my mistakes will make your move a little less costly.