Move on a Budget: 12 Tips on How to Cut Costs

Written by
Move on a Budget

With careful planning, it’s possible to move on a budget! Moving to your dream home or into a new apartment can be expensive, especially if you’re moving cross country. If you’re a renter, you could be forced to move when your contract is up, adding extra expenses. With the steps below, you’ll have the tools you need to set — and stick to — a budget for any move. 

Credit card rewards or introductory bonuses can be a great resource for financing your move. Learn about the offers you could qualify for!

12 tips to move on a tight budget

If you’re ready to move on a budget, follow these steps to create a customized plan. 

1. Create a budget

The first step to moving on a budget is to decide how much you can spend. Your budget must include how much you will spend for the moving truck rental, packing materials, moving insurance, and contingencies. If you plan to hire movers, you’ll need to build in additional costs. Moving usually costs more than expected. Be sure to add in at least 10% beyond what you expect to spend so that you’ll be able to stick to the budget.

Budget, for:

  • Boxes
  • Tape
  • Packing materials
  • Rental truck
  • Moving insurance
  • Movers
  • Car shipping costs, if needed
  • Security deposit for your new rental, if necessary
  • Unexpected extras

2. Decide whether you should go for DIY or hire moving services

Should you choose a do-it-yourself (DIY) move or hire a moving service? There are pros and cons to each. When you move on a budget, weigh the cost savings of a DIY move with the time savings of hiring a moving service. 


  • Lower costs
  • Total control of the move
  • Adjust plans according to your schedule
  • Ensure heirlooms and valuables are protected


  • Takes more time
  • A lot of work
  • You might need to hire help or enlist family and friends on moving day

Moving service pros and cons


  • Someone else will take care of the move
  • Packing can be easier
  • Get the move done even if you’re busy with work or other responsibilities


  • Costs more
  • Heirlooms and valuables could be damaged
  • May have to adapt the move timing to the moving company’s schedule

3. Schedule your moving dates

Avoid peak seasons like summer if you want to get the best movers, get better rates on moving vans, and avoid delays or material shortages. If you can, be flexible about moving dates to get the best rates and save more time and money. 

4. Declutter, sell, and donate unwanted items

The first step for most moves is decluttering and planning which items you’ll get rid of. This means you won’t have to move items you don’t need, and you can save more money. Selling unused items is a way to earn money and keep costs down on the move. You can use the extra income to pay for the move, and you’ll have to move less, potentially needing a smaller moving van.

You can sell items online or through a garage sale. Alternatively, you can donate the items to charities or other institutions. You’ll still benefit from less stuff to pack and move. 

5. Pack ahead of time

Remember that time is money. If you’re finished decluttering, you can start packing right away. Packing ahead of time will save costs on moving days, especially if you’ve hired movers. Make a plan to gradually pack everything and move items in your car over several days. 

6. Avoid spending on boxes

You shouldn’t have to buy moving boxes. Instead, ask family and friends whether they have boxes or containers you can borrow for the move. You can also use suitcases, bags, and other storage items you have around the house. Many grocery stores will give you boxes for free.. 

7. Be creative with your packing material

You don’t need to buy costly bubble wrap to protect valuables or delicate items. Instead, use socks, linens, and casual clothing to wrap glassware and other delicate items. Pack framed photos or art with blankets and quilts. 

8. Shop around for a truck rental company

If you plan to use a rental truck on moving day, get as many quotes as possible. Compare rates, ask about lower rates at certain times, and search for coupons online. Costs also depend on the size of the truck. Choose the smallest option you can. Finally, don’t just choose the cheapest rental truck company; be sure to also check online reviews to hire a reliable company so you don’t lose time in a vehicle breakdown or other issues.  

If you find yourself needing extra cash, MoneyLion can help you find personal loan offers based on the background and info you provide.  You can get matched with offers for up to $50,000 from top providers. You can compare rates, terms, and fees from different lenders and choose the best offer for you.

9. Consider a container-moving company

A storage unit company or container company brings a container or storage unit like a standard shipping container to your house. You can fill it at your convenience, and then they’ll move it to the new house. A storage company that moves containers is a convenient way to move gradually because you can keep it at each house for a week or more, but it can add to total costs. 

In some cases, this can be comparable in cost to renting a moving truck, with added convenience. It’s also usually cheaper than hiring a moving company. But it won’t work to move to or from apartments unless you have access to a garage that can accommodate the storage unit. 

10. Take advantage of moving discounts

Some companies offer moving discounts. Check for coupons online or see whether they offer specials like Memorial Day or Labor Day sales. In addition, it can’t hurt to ask moving companies for their best rates and discounts. If you check with several companies, you can compare rates and even quote better rates to other companies to negotiate a lower price. 

11. Pay attention to your utilities

To keep costs down, be strategic when closing and opening new accounts for your electricity, water, and internet connection. Some electricity companies offer more favorable rates in the spring and fall. Internet service is usually paid by the month, you won’t get a refund for canceling early. 

Try to time your move so you can cancel utilities at the old home or move them to the new home at the end of a month to save money. If you’re moving locally, your utility company can usually transfer electricity and water service to the new address free of charge. 

12. Get ready for moving day

When moving day approaches, be as prepared as possible with the needed money and materials once you start moving out. Get everything ready ahead of time so that moving day goes smoothly and remains relatively low-stress and low-cost.  

Make moving on a budget work for you

Remember that the move is a stepping stone. Keeping costs low can be a smart financial move, regardless of your current budget. With planning, research, and clear goals, you should be able to reduce costs, gather free supplies, use what you have, and save on moving day. 


Is it possible to move without hiring professional movers?

Yes, it’s possible to move without hiring professional movers. You can move on your own.

Can you deduct moving expenses from your taxes if you’re moving for work?

According to the IRS, you cannot deduct the expenses of moving your household goods and personal effects (since 2017), except for members of the armed forces moving for active duty.  

Where can you find resources for financial assistance with your move?

You can get help for your move from the Federal Relocation Assistance Program as well as state and local government incentive programs. There are also federal grants available for those in need. 

Sign Up
Sign Up

Fast, interest-free advances anytime

Get Instacash advances up to $500 for everyday expenses or life’s surprises. There’s no credit check, no monthly fee, and no interest.

Sign Up