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Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, relocating almost always costs more than you thought it would — or think it should. In fact, a Kiplinger article calculated that a cross-country move for a three-bedroom house could cost up to $8,000.

If you’re relocating for a new job, your employer might pay part of your moving costs. But in these days of dwindling budgets and benefits, many companies have reduced the amount they’ll pay for relocation or have cut that benefit altogether. So no matter what, you’ll want to find ways to keep your moving expenses in check.

Here are six tips to keep your upcoming move budget-friendly.

  1. Before your move, decide exactly how much money you have in your budget: Then, look for housing options that can help you stick to that amount.

  2. Move during the off-season: Generally speaking, moving rates tend to be lower between September and May. Moving in the middle of the month, versus the end of the month, may also save you a few bucks.

  3. Get several estimates: Experts at Real Simple recommend getting three or four bids from reputable moving companies. To find a moving company, ask for referrals from family and friends. Once you have some names, you should check the Better Business Bureau database to look for any complaints that may have been filed against the companies. And don’t be afraid to negotiate. Some moving companies may be willing to drop their price if they know you are also checking into the competition.

  4. Declutter before you move: One of the easiest ways to save on moving costs is to move less stuff. Anything you never unpacked from your last move or items that haven’t been used in a year or two are probably safe to toss. Also, instead of holding a time-consuming garage sale to get rid of old items, consider just donating your extra belongings to charity. It takes less time than organizing a garage sale, plus you may be able to get a tax deduction for your donation.

  5. Find your own boxes and packing materials: If you buy boxes and packing materials from a moving company, it will cost you. With some resourcefulness, you can avoid this expense. For example, round up boxes from family and friends. If you still need more, check with local grocery stores, restaurants and retail shops — many will give you unneeded boxes for free. Instead of buying bubble wrap and other types of packing materials, try lining boxes with towels, bed linens and even old clothing. It will keep your valuables from breaking, without breaking your budget.

  6. Pack items yourself: In addition to making sure your items are packed just the way you want them, you’ll also save money. Another DIY packing solution is to have a portable storage unit delivered to your home and load it up yourself. The moving company will drive it to your destination. Depending on how far you’re moving, this can save hundreds of dollars and is often cheaper than renting a truck to move your belongings from state to state.

Yes, moving can be expensive, but by following these tips, you can soften the financial blow and still have a successful moving experience.

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