Monday, May 7, 2012

Packing Tips & Tricks: Save Money and Time on your Move

The end of the semester is here! No more finals, no more books, no more all nighters .... at least, for a few months maybe. For a lot of us, that means it's time for the dreaded move. Whether you're just packing up your dorm room and it fits into the back of your car (lucky) or you're packing up your entire life and moving it across the country (that's me at the moment) packing can be a daunting, not to mention expensive, task. These tips will help you learn how to save money AND time on your move!

  •  Before you pack, get rid of EVERYTHING you don't need. For clothing, if you haven't worn it in over a year, donate it to Goodwill (just drop it off - it's super easy.) If it's cute and in good condition,  try Plato's Closet - they'll also take shoes, bathing suits, jewelry, DVDs, home furnishings, and even some bath stuff. For random junk, add it to your Goodwill pile. If it's too big to move or you'd rather give it away to someone, post it on your local Freecycle or your local Craigslist "Free" section. As you're packing, put everything you don't want or no longer use in a pile, and then either donate it to Goodwill or post it on Freecycle for immediate pick up. Of course, if it's trash, throw it away!
  • Paper is heavy - limit the amount you pack. We've all had times where we save a semester's worth of notes "just in case." Maybe we didn't want to throw away the ridiculous amount of notes we'd slaved over, or maybe we thought we might look back on them later. Well, no one ever looks back at their notes from college classes. Recycle your notes. Keep your textbook if it might be useful for a future class or your career, or better yet, sell that too (try Amazon or your local campus bookstore buy-pack program). Magazines are the worst of all - they are SO heavy and somehow I always seem to accumulate so many of them! Get rid of magazines by donating them to the campus fitness center, a doctor's office, a school or daycare center (for crafts!), the local library, putting them outside your door with a sign marked FREE! TAKE SOME! or just list them on Freecycle for pickup. Or, of course, recycle them!
  • Don't pack food unless it can honestly be used after the move. Try to limit your grocery shopping to the bare minimum in the month before your move, and when you're packing, only include pantry items that will be useful after the move, particularly if your stuff will be in storage or you'll be eating someone else's groceries all summer long. Canned items are good contenders for packing, but they're super heavy, so eat those up if you can! Also consider the chance that the food may attract bugs, so pack it in heavy duty plastic and seal it well.
  • Have plenty of packing supplies on hand. You'll need boxes, tape, scissors, a permanent marker, garbage bags, and something to pad items out, such as bubble wrap, empty shopping bags, towels and linens, or other fabric. You can certainly pay money to get boxes, but I prefer to ask at a grocery store or even at a dorm or cafeteria if I can have some of their boxes. Check if there's a cardboard recycling center on campus or nearby to score even more boxes! At Indiana University, there is a cardboard recycling bin behind Collins LLC.
Look how much FUN they're having! Yay moving!
  • Pack like items together and label the boxes. Hopefully the items will be near one another to make that easier, but if not, gather them all into the same box - such as "Kitchen," "Shoes," "Desk/Office," "Crafts," "School Supplies" and so on. It'll save you time when you unpack and make your life easier. Label the boxes with a permanent marker after you're done.
  • Play Tetris with your stuff, but fill the crevices and gaps with socks. Try to fit things together in boxes as best as you can - big stuff on bottom, small stuff inside of big stuff and everything sort of Tetrised together. But of course your stuff isn't perfectly shaped to fit together, so fill in the gaps between items with socks. Doesn't have to be socks - dish towels, underwear, or anything else small and made of fabric will work well too. This will help pad everything out so that it doesn't shift, move and potentially break during the moving process. Plus, you won't have to pack your socks later! 
  • Keep a box or suitcase to the side with stuff you'll need immediately. Some clothes, toiletries, and whatever else you might find yourself living off of for a little while will be very useful after you get moved and all of your stuff is neatly packed away. 
  • Wrap all fragile items in paper, bubble wrap, shopping bags or fabric. Moving can be rough on fragile items such as plates or framed pictures, so wrap them well before putting them into a box. Use newsprint or other paper, bubble wrap, plastic grocery bags or fabric such as towels or even clothes to wrap and protect each fragile item before placing it into a box.
  • Choose the most cost efficient moving solution. If you can carry all of your stuff to your car, fit it in your car and drive it yourself, that's going to be your best bet. But for the rest of us, you might want to look into renting a truck or van (or having a parent rent it for you), or even a U-Haul. If you can't carry the boxes yourself, post on your campus classifieds or possibly Craigslist to find someone willing to help you move for pay - $20 an hour or a $100 flat fee should be sufficient. Or ask your strongest friends to help you out. Hiring professional movers is the easiest way to move, but the most costly. If you hire professional movers, remember that they are being paid by the hour, so make sure you're fully packed BEFORE they arrive, and everything is ready to go to be as quick and efficient as possible and save you money. 

Did I miss something? Do you have a foolproof packing tip I should know about? Post it in the comments!

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