I’ve been on this savings kick for about a month: extreme couponing, sales, two-for-one, and budgeting. For the first time in my life, I live in a place that has sales tax. It is always a bitter pill to see the final price of something be more than what I’d anticipated. So now, the challenge is to find a deal that knocks off some of the cost so with tax, the cost of the item is less than what I think I should have to pay.
I have always been frugal; I used to be an avid thrift store shopper. This latest installment of my frugal lifestyle has taken saving money to a new level. I have blogs (Hip2Save) and emails that alert me to the sales or deals so I don’t operate alone.
Yesterday, I was thinking about how I saved money preparing for and right after we relocated, because I was wondering if there were ways to incorporate what I do now into an entire upheaval of one’s life. You see, I rely on a lot of stable and consistent factors help to save money: internet service, knowledge of the city, and free time. I was able to recollect on the ways that I saved our family money during our move despite not have those concrete elements in place.
There are loads of websites already listing common ways to save money during a big move. So I’ve eliminated those pointers from my list and retained just unique tips that I discovered. Please note that the assumption here is that you are relocating over 100 miles from your current home but remaining within the United States.
Before the move
If you can plan your move, coordinate with your spouse the route of your trip. Then you can plan your stops and overnight stays easier. You can see if there are Groupons or Living Social deals for restaurants and hotels in your stopover cities. This could add adventure to your trip while saving you time, money and stress while on the road (please see end of blog for website addresses if links don’t work).
While you use up your perishable food supplies (since you can’t pack fruit and orange juice!), think of food that you could prepare and freeze, and then take with you on the road. It might be nice to have homemade muffins or scones for breakfast instead of trying to find something palatable at the hotel’s insipid continental breakfast bar.
You might be able to use your frequent shopper or rewards cards at national chain grocery stores if they exist in towns along your route. If you can research beforehand whether a Safeway, Albertsons, or Dillons exist in states along your trip, it might save some headaches if your phone or GPS device can’t immediately locate a grocery store when you request it. You can plan or anticipate a little more for scheduled stops.
Amazon Prime offers free movies and free shipping on qualified purchases. For a $79 annual membership fee, you get a lot of benefits that extend beyond moving. For the move specifically, you could order and download movies and books to your family’s phones or devices for on-the-road entertainment. If you have an address in your new city, you can start shipping purchases there for free. The membership is good for a year and will save you money all year long; I just mention it here, since you might need something when you get to your new place. You can even order things on the road and with two-day free shipping on some items they will get there when you get there (I’m thinking jackets for colder climates–I didn’t pack a jacket for October in Kansas. Amazon prime would have nice then!)
If you don’t have automatic payment on your bills, transfer all accounts to your new location so that payments is uninterrupted. Don’t need the hassle of an unpaid final bill penalty and fee from a home you no longer inhabit while you are juggling a million things in the home you do inhabit.
Some national companies like AT&T, Waste Connections, or regional utility providers can transfer your service to your new home as well, thereby saving you from some headaches initially as you figure out service providers in your new city. Check to see if it’s possible for you.
Many experts and bloggers advise you to purge belongings before moving. While I normally would agree with this advice, I’ve also noticed that sometimes it is cheaper to move something so that you don’t have to pay additional taxes and other fees to replace items in your new home. Consider the value of the item and its future use quotient (i.e., the likelihood you’ll use it again) before selling. For me, I got rid of clothes, shoes, and some household goods thinking I was being smart, only to have to rush around in our new home to replace some things. If I’d just moved the items and then unpacked them it would have saved some money. The caveat here is that if you are paying for the move, most likely it is cheaper to purge and replace clothes and shoes.
After the move
I found that a local library card invaluable. Until we got our internet hooked up, I went to the library for movies and books and to use the internet for email. I like libraries anyway, so being able to go to the library was my first introduction to the city and its citizens. If you have kids, libraries frequently offer educational activities for your children where they could make friends too. Sign up and get involved!
Although I didn’t start using coupons until one year after our move, with Coupons.com you can get internet coupons at any time. Just be sure to have a printer handy or be prepared to pay for printing at the library. Some coupons can be displayed on your smartphone and some retailers have apps for their in-store coupons (like Cartwheel for Target). Check it out and save! There might be a local retailer that unbeknownst to you is having a HUGE SALE! Hancock Fabrics was new to me in this area…and they have great sales!
I saved money and had peace of mind finding stores that were familiar. I’m not a big Walmart shopper and even Target is expensive at times, so I was happy to see that TJ Maxx and Big Lots existed in Wichita to help me save money as I furnished our new home.
Finally, discover the local discount grocery. A simple internet search with the keyword “discount grocery store” can unveil the most interesting and deeply discounted stores. I didn’t know Aldi stores before but to my delight and surprise they are cheaper than Walmart! Aldi has a unique business model and philosophy so it is a truly fun experience (not to mention the savings). For example, their deli meat is 20 cents cheaper than the same kind and size at Walmart and 24 Aldi snickerdoodles were $2.29 compared to 8 Walmart snickerdoodles for $2.00. Since it is a German-based store, Aldi has its own house brand, and they carry a lot of European candy and desserts. Just be prepared to have a quarter for a cart and to bag your own groceries (it is part of their cost-reduction plan that save shoppers money). Aldi doesn’t have everything you need, but for some staple grocery items it is gold. They don’t have Grocery Outlet or Trader Joes here in Wichita so Aldi (and the Asian grocery stores) really helps cut our food costs. Part of the fun of living in a new place is exploring and finding discounts. Combining a mundane albeit necessary task like grocery shopping while exploring and getting discounts really helps takes the edge off!
I may add more ideas to this page as I think of them, so stop by again if you need more tips on how to save money while you move. Good Luck and enjoy your new place!
UPDATE: January 2, 2014
Hey, I’ve got more ideas! In 2013, I discovered Mr. Money Mustache, a blog for innovative, progressive thrifty folks. Mr. Money Mustache and his wife both retired at age 30 in order to start their family. He’s got great ideas about how to truly change your relationship with money! One idea I got from his blog was learning about green power strips, or “smart strips.”
The strips are designed to reduce phantom energy use from appliances that are only occasionally used, like DVDs or printers. Here is a photo of one of the ones I recently purchased. The DVD is hooked up to the green sockets because it will only work when the TV is on (blue socket). We have only saved a few bucks so far, but I’ve only had them two months; over the course of a year or more we will save a lot more….plus it is good for the environment!
I also learned about two interesting things Amazon does: Amazon Warehouse deals and Amazon coupons. Warehouse deals are products you can buy in bulk. I have spotted 48-roll toliet paper for $23 and cases of KIND nutrition bars there. The coupons work just like any other coupon: You click on the Amazon coupon and the discount is applied at checkout. These are two more ways that you can save by researching online and having the willingness to stock up!
Finally, I really need to mention Sierra Trading Post. Has anyone ever shopped with them? Wow. What a great company. I’ve had an ongoing love affair with this company for over twenty years! From a small shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming, offering hand-drawn images of outdoor clothing in a 5-page catalog, STP has grown to become a powerhouse of super great deals for all types of people. Offering up to 70% discounts everyday, STP brings shoppers quality products from name brands companies. I just bought two Eddie Bauer-brand cotton tees for $6.75 each and an Ex Officio brand beanie hat for $12.50. My husband bought Jacob Ash leather dress gloves for $12.71 each. STP has both an internet site and a color catalog. They offer discounts all year ’round! And the item I needed to return? Free shipping on return item as well as the postage paid on my next order. Great company!
Well, I hope this tips help those thrifty types save even more!