10 Cheapskate Moving Tips and Tricks

I have moved a grand total of 11 times in the last 12 years. That’s a lot of moving. I don’t recommend it. Ha! But the good news is that I’ve picked up a lot of helpful tips through all those moves and today I’m sharing them with you!

1. Use a coupon code when renting a moving truck. When you change your address with the post office, you can opt to receive coupons from different companies. The last three or four times we’ve moved, they have had a 20-30% off coupon with Budget Truck rentals. They are usually cheaper than U-Haul to begin with, so this has been the best deal for us, but definitely shop around! You can probably find coupon codes other ways too. If your moving dates are flexible, it may save you a lot of money to move on a weekday.

2. Get free moving boxes. Most retail stores have tons of great, clean, sturdy moving boxes. We just usually drive up behind a strip mall and look for the “cardboard only” dumpsters. I’ve also heard good things about fast food boxes. If you talk to a manager, they are usually willing to save a pile for you. You can also find free moving boxes on Craigslist or other online selling pages. If you know you will be moving often, save your boxes from move to move! We have had the same boxes for the last four moves and it was worth the space they took up to have boxes ready to go for the next move.

3. Use old documents as packing paper. You’re supposed to dejunk when you move anyway, right? So go through your file box and use old magazines, school papers, phone books, and junk mail to pad fragile items. Then you can dispose of them when you get to your new place. Just be careful if you use anything like bank statements or utility bills that may contain personal information.

4. Buy lots of packing tape. LOTS! Then decide on a home for it and always put it away. Nothing slows you down like spending twenty minutes trying to find the stinkin’ tape. How does that roll disappear so easily?! I like to have a few rolls placed in strategic positions… one for the kitchen, one for bedrooms, one for downstairs, etc. Then I’m not hunting all over the house for a roll. I know that the kitchen tape will be on top of the microwave because I always put it back there when I’m done taping a box.

5. Label boxes by content and destination. I used to label boxes by the room they came from in the old house, but I quickly learned that it’s useless information. Instead, I label the box with what’s inside and where I want it to go in the new house. Then when people are helping me unpack, they know where to put things.

I have seen several tips to use colored duck tape to label boxes, but at $3 a roll, that’s way too expensive! Plus then you have to color-label rooms in the new home so people know where things go. I just write the labels on with a permanent marker. I can read, everyone who will help me move boxes can read. It works and I don’t have to spend $20-30 on colored tape.

6. Put together an OPEN ME FIRST box. This is the box that holds all the essentials you will need within the first few hours when you arrive at your new home. I like to use a clear plastic bin with a lid so that it’s easy to keep separate from cardboard boxes. Here’s what I have in my box:

– toilet paper
– shower curtain
– bath towels and hand towels
– scissors
– flashlight
– paper plates/cups/utensils
– paper towels
– garbage bags
– grocery sacks
– phone chargers
– basic tools for assembling furniture (screwdriver, hammer, etc.)
– pieces of disassembled furniture (in labeled ziplock baggies)
– dish soap/sponge
– snacks
– water bottles
– pen and a notepad
– cleaning rags
– moving envelope (see #7)

7. Keep a moving envelope. I keep all information that I need relating to the move in a manilla envelope. This includes things like utility information, new school schedules, rental agreements, realtor contact numbers, moving truck rental papers, etc. You do not want this important information to get lost in the abyss of cardboard boxes!

8. Pack a suitcase for each family member. I pack just like I would for vacation. I include clothes, toiletries and medications for three days. It simplifies things immensely to know you’ve got the essentials and don’t need to dig through boxes at midnight to find pajamas or diapers.

9. Pack bedding at the last minute. On the morning of the move, throw pillows, blankets and sheets into garbage bags. Label them and toss them in the back of the moving truck. Then you can just remake the bed in the new house. When it’s finally time to sleep, you’ll be so thankful everything is together. And if you want to go above and beyond, make sure to wash all your bedding a few days before the move so you won’t have to worry about it for a while at the new house!

10. Snap a photo. Before you drive away, take a picture of your whole family on the front steps of the old house. It is so fun to look back and see how our family has changed. Then I always know how old the kids were when we moved. Here’s one of us from several moves back:

I’d love to hear your best moving and packing tips. Leave me a comment below!


  1. My husband moves people for a living (works for a contractor to Allied Pickford's in Australia), so yes, lots of tips and tricks. But he says it's late and he's tired, so I can't get too much out of him right now. Mostly, I would think get rid of "puss" before or as you pack. This is seriously (I am NOT kidding), the technical term for anything that doesn't really fit in a box, is small, light, and of no real value.
    Anything that can fit in a box SHOULD go in a box. Don't go with garbage bags (or bags period) because they're cheaper. Boxes are easier and worth it in the long run for your sanity.
    The essentials box is brilliant. Too many times he's had to move people into a new house where there is NO toilet paper left behind, they didn't bring any, and since this is a very very rural state, that can sometimes mean you don't have TP for quite a few hours…

  2. I have moved so many times in the last 12 years it is insane. My husband and I just bought our first house and went from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 6 bedroom home! I have found that clearly labeling everything with your name and where you want it to go as well as what is in it does help. Even if it is a duh that it is your box, it makes no confusion.

    We also found that regular boxes were awkward for packing food. So we went to Costco and grabbed a few of their chicken breast bags boxes. They are meant to hold 30+ lbs, have study handles and open enough to pack your food in. You see what is in your food box right away and can pull it out if needed.

    We used our dishtowels and rags to pack some of our breakables in the kitchen. This made a home for both things.

    I saw a friend move with big picture frames wrapped in saran wrap. To protect it even more, take a box that is flattened and wrap the plastic around both.

    Electronics are always the last to be packed and they go in a car that you drive. This ensures that you know where your expensive things are and they are not going to get broken in the truck.

    If you can do this, pack up the truck the night before you move and then unpack the next day. Saves your energy and better at coordinating for help. You know exactly when you will have people at each place.

    Get a moving truck with a ramp!! Also, it is worth the extra $7 or so to rent the dolly. It made moving our heavy furniture a breeze with the dolly.

    It doesn't matter if the previous owners clean or not, having your own cleaning supplies packed in a car and being able to quickly clean before bringing stuff in goes a long way.

    Also, some people don't want to bother those helping, but having them take the boxes directly to the room they go in makes your house feel less overwhelming when you go to unpack. The extra steps are worth it!

    I hope these are good tips!

  3. Oh yeah… one more tip….

    Getting moving boxes that are the exact same size is AMAZING! It made packing the moving truck so easy to have 30ish boxes that were the same. We got our boxes from someone else who had just moved, but it was all the same boxes that a grocery store had. Sure it looked like we had a million animal cookies around, but if I ever move again, we will make sure to get the exact same size boxes again.

  4. We invested in the plastic wrap used for wrapping things on pallets (Home Depot has smallish rolls). We wrapped all my plastic bins in stacks of 4 or 5 and plastic drawers that I store my fabric and craft supplies in and it was huge help. The alternative was dumping it all into cardboard boxes and stacking the empty plastic bins. This was way easier and nice on the other end when I needed to organize my craft area. I think my husband wrapped some stuff in the garage as well.
    I also keep a bin of packing essentials and it moves with me from room to room. Tape, scissors, screwdriver/tool kit, markers, labels, notepad and pen (for jotting down things to do/buy as I think of them, garbage bags, baggies for screws and bolts. If I have time I inventory each box as go and then save it on the computer and print out the whole list so when I get a couple of days into unpacking and need to find something, I can search the list to find what box it is in. We do the essentials box as well. I put hand soap as well as Clorox wipes in mine so I can clean things that are not up to par when we move in. And rings for the shower curtain.
    I also make signs to put outside the doors of rooms, like Master bedroom, Girls Room, Study, etc. then I don't have to direct traffic quite so much. This last time my kids' boxes and the master and kitchen boxes were color coded with neon address labels, and my signs were the same colors. No reading necessary. 🙂


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