Moving can be a strain on your back. But if you’re not prepared, it can also strain your wallet, and your credit score. With a little planning and foresight, you can avoid a stressful situation with these tips.
1. Create a budget
Whether you’re moving across town or to another state, the expenses tend to stack up. Sit down and do the research so you’ll have a solid handle on the costs ahead and how to cover them, including: moving your stuff (hiring movers or renting a truck), gas, food, supplies, hotel and storage rental. Don’t forget the deposit for your new apartment, along with any startup fees and deposits for cable, Wi-Fi and other utilities.
2. Check your credit report
Have an idea on where you stand credit-wise. Late payments or past-due accounts could impact your ability to rent. Contact your creditors to take steps to make your past-due accounts current. If you need help or advice with finding a new place in Texas, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development field offices have free or low-cost counseling available.
3. Apartment housekeeping
If you’re counting on the money from your security deposit, talk to your landlord and confirm the requirements. Ideally, your move is taking place at the end of your lease. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always allow this. Talk to your landlord to discuss solutions and arrangements, such as payment plans or finding a subletter. Otherwise, falling behind in your struggle to pay two rents could hurt your credit score.
4. Use credit wisely
If you’re using a credit card to cover moving expenses, keep an eye on the credit limit. By staying below your credit limit, you can avoid costly penalties.
5. Notify services
Give notice of your move-out date to your local utilities, including water, natural gas and electric. The last thing you want is to get stuck paying the new tenant’s utilities. Some companies will make you pay for the entire month, while others will stop amassing charges on the date of your choice. Always ask if they prorate the final month, and plan accordingly.
6. Update your contact information
As soon as you have your new address, take time to contact your account holders: banks, credit cards and utilities. While the U.S. Postal Service has a forwarding service, this could add several days or even weeks to the delivery schedule, and put you at risk for being tardy with a bill.
7. Check your balances
If you’ve fallen behind on your utility bills, that could have a detrimental effect on your credit score. Meaning, when you sign up for service at your new utility, you could be asked to pay a deposit. Before you move, get current on past-due utility bills. For your energy needs at the new place, look into prepaid electricity plans, such as First Choice Power to Go. It has no contracts, no deposits and an option for free power on the weekends, so you can save money and rebuild your credit.
8. Sort and sell
Now it’s time to think about the move itself, and here, if you’re smart, you can keep the expenses under control. Hauling around furniture and other items you neither want nor use is a waste of space and money, especially if you need a storage locker. Take pictures of your unwanted items and post on local social media selling sites. The extra cash can help pay moving expenses.
9. Get help from your friends
Hiring movers is convenient, but often, there is big savings when you rent your own truck and round up friends and family to help. Even if you have to sweeten the deal with pizza and snacks, you’ll still keep plenty of cash in your pocket compared to the hourly wages and insurance costs of professional movers.
10. Collect boxes
Instead of buying brand-new boxes, start haunting grocery stores, liquor stores and other retailers. Restocking leaves them with plenty of extra boxes that are free for the taking. Also try friends, family, and social media to see if anyone has extra boxes to give away.
11. Save receipts
If you meet the requirements, you could deduct your moving expenses on your federal taxes. Set aside a large envelope for receipts for things like transportation, packing materials, gasoline and storage. Next year, you could end up with a lower tax bill.
Keep these tips in mind during your move, and you can avoid or at least minimize the financial pitfalls that sometimes come with making a big change in your life.