How to Move Across the Country without Emptying your Bank Account

Throughout my college and post-college years I have constantly been on the move. Literally.  Over the past eight years I have lived in a dorm/townhouse/house/apt. for one year and then packed my bags and moved into a new abode. I did live in a cute house for two consecutive years (personal record) while I was in grad school, and I’d bet money that was the year my parents loved me most. Up until this past month, moving has been a weekend event filled with sweat, sore muscles, dust, and a well-timed visit from my parents. However, this summer I experienced my first grown up move that required more than a few pickup-filled trips across town—it required a moving truck packed to capacity and a 1375 mile drive across five states. Oh, and it took a little more money too.

Budget Bandwagon from the Midwest to the Southwest

Budget Bandwagon promotes a road trip without worries

I have nothing but love for Kansas City and the people in it, but I also love the challenge that comes with change and the adventure in exploring something new.  I’m lucky enough to have a boyfriend who likes a little adventure too, and early this year we decided to make a big move together once he finished grad school in May.  Flash forward to the present: We have recovered from the amazing road trip that led us to our future and have happily lived in our Southwestern home for almost one month. Now we are getting ready to start our jobs (and payroll) next week.  That’s right we have been living without a steady income during a very expensive transition. We are not broke, we still like each other, and we have been enjoying our life.  How did we do it?

Planning:  We began toying around with the idea of making the move around Christmas, and I began putting away money then. I pushed pause on putting extra money towards my debt, and began saving above my $1000 emergency fund. When jobs were lined up, and moving dates were established, I was able to “do the math” to determine roughly how much money would be needed to make the move comfortably and stress-free. Because we planned so far in advance, I had the option of having my last month in KC be dedicated to packing, cleaning, and spending plenty of time with my family and friends. This was a personal choice, and it was made possible by saving a little bit more each pay period. Often times “planning” gets a bad rap because it is associated with being “boring,” but my plan enabled me to live two stress-free, income-less months this summer and that is NOT boring. That’s awesome.

Planning ahead let us enjoy the present when the present looked like this

Planning ahead let us enjoy the present when the present looked like this

Working Outside the Box: We knew that my last true paycheck would be received June 15, so we found ways to take smaller chunks out of our savings accounts over the summer.  My boyfriend took a part time job working summer school for three weeks in June, and I took up dog-sitting. Obviously, his job made a larger contribution, but every little bit counts. My dog-sitting paydays covered my monthly grocery expenses. That’s $300 I didn’t have to take from savings–$300.00 I will get to put towards my debt when I start getting paid like a big girl again. Small victories are victories!

Patience: We have completed a couple DIY projects and made some purchases for our home, but they have all been within the budget we gave ourselves. I bought some place mats, new bedding (I’ve been saving for this particular purchase for month), cute fabric bins to organize our closet, and some plants—which I have kept alive for over two weeks (personal record). But this sub point is about patience, so it makes sense that I am currently using a plastic storage bin from target as a nightstand, waiting to purchase my favorite photos and buy coordinating frames, and cooking in my hot kitchen instead of firing up a grill. We are upgrading one item at a time which can be hard when you desperately want your new place to feel like your new home, but it is much better to have peace of mind than a nice piece of furniture.



More Money-Saving Moving Tips:

  • If you move more than 50 miles for work, you can write off some of your relocation costs—so keep track of them!!  Click here for more information and tax forms.
  • Consider your security deposit from your current rental. Generally you know whether or not you can count on it, so incorporate its likelihood into your savings and budgeting plan.
  • Instead of paying money for boxes, I got all of mine for free from stores before they threw them out. The Dollar Store, Target, and the liquor store on my block had great quality boxes, and it seemed like the employees were more than happy to have me take them off their hands.
  • I used old newspaper and wrapping paper to wrap my fragile items.
  • Research moving companies—including prices and reviews. If you aren’t driving your own truck, I would recommend staying in constant contact with your moving company.  We used ABF, and their customer service was excellent.
  • Enlist your friends!! Not only is buying dinner or a case of beer for your friends cheaper than paying someone who works for a moving company, it is much more fun to be around the people you love. There is no way we could have moved as successfully as we did without the help of our best and closest friends.



2 thoughts on “How to Move Across the Country without Emptying your Bank Account

  1. filmy

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