5 Budgeting Tips to Make Your Move Affordable

Moving trucks and packing supplies can drain your budget. Here’s how to save on those costs.

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Niccole Schreck
Moving to a new apartment is exciting, but it can also be very expensive. In addition to packing supplies and truck rental costs, you'll have to shell out money for an application fee, security deposit and first month's rent. If you have a pet or two, that's an additional deposit fee.

The good news is that there are ways to cut costs. Here are five budgeting tips to help you save money on your move:

1. Decide how much you can spend on your move. Figure out how much money you can afford to spend on your move before you even start browsing apartments to rent. This will save you from a lot of frustration down the road. Your moving budget will determine how far you can move, the rental rate and security deposit you can afford, whether or not you hire movers, what tools you'll buy and where you'll eat along the way.

2. Divvy up the money and create your budget. You have your overall budget figure – now divide it into categories. Spending areas may include supplies (such as boxes and tape), movers, transportation and food. A budget is a fluid document that will require tweaks along the way, so create a document with two columns to track estimated and actual expenses. If you discover that something is more expensive than you originally thought, you can compensate by choosing a cheaper option in another area. For example, if you are moving across the country, you might want to allot the majority of your budget to transportation, lodging and food for the trip. You can save in another area by finding free boxes and using towels as packing materials.

3. Don't forget hidden costs. There are plenty of hidden costs associated with moving. Be sure to add these expenses into your budget so you don't spend more money than you can afford. For instance, you may have to take an unpaid day off work. That's money you're losing. Paying installation fees for cable and Internet at your new place are more costs you may not have considered. Most importantly, remember that you may be required to pay up to two month's worth of rent for a security deposit, and you will likely have to pay it before getting your previous deposit back. This means you'll be a few thousand dollars in the hole for a month or two.

4. Eliminate clutter and make money on your junk. While packing, you might find items you no longer need or use. Instead of packing those items and bringing them into your new apartment, make some extra money by holding a garage sale, taking items to a consignment shop or selling them online. Donate anything you didn't sell to a thrift store or charity. Don't forget to ask for a receipt for your donation, as you can get a tax deduction for your good deed. Fewer boxes means fewer things to move and less money spent on relocating those items. Plus, you'll enjoy less clutter in your new home.

5. Get your security deposit back. Take time to repair minor damages you caused, and clean the apartment before you leave. This will increase your chances of getting your full security deposit back. Depending on where you live, landlords typically have between 15 and 45 days to return your security deposit minus damages, and most states require the landlord to provide a detailed explanation of the charges to your deposit. Check your local laws, and be sure to follow up with your landlord on returning your money.

Niccole Schreck is the rental experience expert for rent.com, a free rental site that helps you find an affordable apartment and provides tips on how to move.