When I graduated from college, I was lucky enough to land an incredible job. It was 2,496 miles away, but it was an amazing opportunity, so I packed my car. Moving across the country can be a great, fun-filled adventure full of pretty mountains, deep valleys and loads of singing in the car, despite the inconvenience. However, there are a few things to keep in mind so everything turns out as stress-free as possible.
Junk It or Trunk It?
Chances are you’re moving to take your first job or start college. If this is the case, you may not have much stuff. Excellent! If you can fit everything in your car, you’ve just saved yourself a massive headache. If you have just a little too much to fit in your car and your move is short-term or indefinite, consider leaving what won’t fit with friends or family or selling it. Whatever you can’t sell, you can donate and use a tax deduction. Make sure and get a receipt.
If renting a truck is your only option, first determine how big of a truck you’ll need, then shop around to check rates so you get the best deal. Typically, trailers rent for much less than trucks. If that’s an option, it may save you some money.
A Little Love
Your car will need a little love before you pack up and leave. You’re about to put thousands of miles on your car, and the last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of the road with a car full of stuff and a flat tire. No fun. Take your tires in to get checked, and if you’re due for an oil change, now is a good time to check that off the list. You’ll also want to check all of your fluid levels: windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze and power steering. Check out this handy guide for doing so yourself if you don’t have money to spend on a mechanic.
On the Road
This is where it’s going to add up. Before you leave, check online for gas prices. Resources like the My Trip Calculator from fueleconomy.gov will show you gas prices along your route so you can find the cheapest places to stop. But whatever budget you create from those numbers, you’ll need to adjust for the extra weight, especially if you’re towing something behind you or driving a rental truck. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 100 pounds of weight added to your car can reduce your mileage per gallon by 1 percent. When it comes to hotels, you may be tempted to book them ahead of time. If you’re going to do that, make sure they’re refundable. You never know how your trip is going to go. You may unexpectedly stop to see a waterfall, get tied up at lunch or have car trouble. The last thing you want to worry about is losing money on a hotel room you’ll never use.
Save even more money by remembering a few tips:
• As soon as you know you’re moving, start saving boxes. Check with local restaurants, grocery stores, retail stores or ask a friend that works at one. Purchasing boxes can be expensive.
• Keep your donation receipts in a folder that can easily be found on tax day.
• Speaking of taxes, if you’ve relocated and have expenses beyond what your new company reimbursed you for, you can write off those expenses too.
• Don’t forget to fill out a change of address with the USPS and snap valuable coupons.
Moving isn’t cheap, but with a little planning and careful budgeting, it can be manageable – and set you up for a fresh start without dipping into the red.