Updated September 6, 2014

10 Money-Saving Tips for Moving Out

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It's time to think about move-in day. To make the transition without digging a hole in your wallet, start planning for this big change now.

Set your sights on your favorite neighborhoods, think about how you can get the cheapest moving supplies, and consider how you’ll clean up your clutter now so that your move will be smoother in a few months. We’ve got your primer for minimizing the high cost of moving. Here are 10 must-have money-saving tips for moving out.

#1 Don’t Think You Can Afford It All

Before you sign a lease, or put your money down on your first mortgage, realize that as a young person just starting out you probably can’t have it all. It is easy to want the place with the largest amount of square footage, the one just steps away from your favorite bars and restaurants, or the one with the fantastic 360-degree views. You need to be realistic, though, about what you can afford right now.

The American Community Survey found about half of all Americans spend at least 30% of their income on housing. You do not have to spend that much money, though, to make a smart move.

Tip: If you can’t afford the new building you’ve been dreaming of living in, find a more affordable option. Sometimes older homes and buildings are better deals. As long as you find a place that is safe and affordable, you can save some money.

#2 Find a Roommate

If you are moving out for the first time, you are probably looking forward to some freedom, with some space of your own. Pull back on those freedom plans a bit by finding a roommate or two. Having more than one person to split the rent and the utilities with can be a great cost savings.

Make sure the person you choose to room with is trustworthy, though. Do not be afraid to ask for references and proof that they have good credit and pay bills on time. Even do your own background check by searching for the person on Google and checking out local court records.

Tip: Ask friends and acquaintances about rooming together to save costs. Spread the word that you’re looking, and you’ll be more likely to find a roomie you have some connection with – rather than some random person from Craigslist or the supermarket bulletin board.

#3 Get Creative with How You Cut Moving Costs

While moving companies are generally fairly expensive, you can rent a van for much cheaper, with the help of some strong friends. You can also get free packing supplies by asking your local grocer or big box store for empty boxes they no longer need. Rather than buying overpriced bubble wrap, try wrapping your breakables in sweatshirts or pillows. This way you save space and money.

Tip: When you opt to lean on your friends as your movers, be sure to have plenty of water around for their troubles and some pizza when everything is done. The food is still much cheaper than paying movers.

#4 Shop Around for Insurance

You can save some money in the long run if, like homeowners, you insure your valuables when you rent. Many times apartment complexes and rental homes will have insurance, but it covers your landlord, not you.

According to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, about two-thirds of those renting homes in the U.S. skip rental insurance. If you are one of them, and if there should there be any type of problem, your possessions won’t be covered. That’s a big gamble when the IIAB says the average cost of renter’s insurance per month is only $12.

Tip: To save money, shop around. While some insurance companies may have renter’s policies as low as $10 per month, others are higher. To save the most money, do some research. Contact several insurance companies and ask for quotes. Rental insurance is fairly inexpensive, but the cost can be huge if you don’t have it.

#5 Be Realistic About Monthly Costs

Before you even start thinking about moving out, make sure you know how much it is going to cost you each month to live (on top of what you are used to now). If you do not have enough money to make ends meet every month, you will likely end up moving back home again when the checks starting bouncing.

Tip: Add up all the things you will have to pay for every month. Compare that to how much money you have saved and how much money you’ll be bringing in each month. If you don’t have enough money to move out now, don’t. The list will also give you a good idea of what you need to live and what you can live without to save money.

#6 Get Smart About Bill Paying

Now that you are almost on your own, get in the habit of acting responsibly when it comes to your credit rating. Be smarter about the way you pay your bills so that you do not end up with high interest rates or late fees. You can set up automatic payment plans for your monthly bills so that you don’t have to worry about your checks getting lost in the mail. If you want more control, sign up for email reminders so that you never forget to pay your bills again.

According to one of the leading credit reporting agencies, Experian, serious credit problems can plague you for up to 7 to 10 years. That’s a long time when you are counting on good credit to help you later in life.

Tip: Routinely paying your monthly bills late is a good way to ruin your credit for the next few years. Late fees can also hurt your budget. To save money and heartache, make it a point to pay every bill on time so that you will put yourself on the path to setting up a good credit history.

#7 Use Cash for Non-Essentials

Although being responsible with credit cards is a good way to help you develop a good credit history, you also need to be responsible with what you are spending your money on. After you’ve budgeted for all of your monthly bills, take stock of how much money you have left. If you only have a few dollars left, you’ll have to avoid buying non-essentials and may need to seriously revisit your budget.

Tip: One good way to keep from going over budget, and to instead save money, is to pay for non-essentials with cash. If you only have, say $50 left, you only have $50 to spend.

#8 Develop a Saving System

You can also try what financial Guru Dave Ramsey calls the envelope system. After you make a budget, fill a number of separate envelopes with the money needed for certain expenses. When the envelope is empty, you cannot spend any more for those expenses, and you cannot put any more money in the envelope that month.

Tip: You don’t have to use envelopes. You could use an Excel spreadsheet and keep track of your spending that way. Use any system you like – the point is to get a handle on where your money goes and how much money you have. Have fun with your system so that you’ll be more likely to keep using it.

#9 Plan to Cook

Eating out occasionally is okay, but if you find yourself ordering dinner and lunch out all the time, you are probably spending way too much money.

According to the USDA, an average single man between ages 19-50 spends between $41-$83 per week on groceries. For a woman, it is between $37-74 per week. You can see how grabbing a quick lunch on the go every day of the workweek, at an average of $8 a day, can easily blow a budget. In fact, it may surpass your entire weekly food budget altogether.

Tip: Once you are on your own, plan your lunches before the workweek starts. When you do splurge on takeout during the week, set aside half your dinner for lunch the next day.

#10 Find Frugal Furniture

Just because you have a new home does not mean everything has to be new. There are probably plenty of options that are “new to you” that can save you money. One is furniture. Be frugal with your furniture choices. Ask your parents or your friends if they have any furniture you can use.

Tip: Instead of buying new furniture, make old pieces look new again. Use inexpensive slipcovers and pillows to brighten up drab furniture. Wood pieces may also look great again with just a new coat of paint.

When you’re just starting your life, it can be easy to overspend. However, following these 10 easy money-saving tips can also mark your move into adulthood as the time that sets you up for financial success.

Lori D is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Lori D at lori@creditdonkey.com

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