Moving? Save Money and Reduce Stress with These Tips

If you find yourself facing a move during your federal career, the author offers some important tips for you to keep in mind to help reduce the hassle that always comes with making such a big change.

Moving is a major life transition and is often expensive – unless you know how to save money. Whether you’re going down the street or across the country, it’s a stressful and time consuming process. Simply put, moving is hard, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. As a federal employee, you may already know that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average person moves over 11 times during his or her lifetime.

Many government employees are asked to move because they are promoted or receive a new position. Oftentimes, these are long distance moves, which can require spending money on movers, shipping costs, hotel stays, and more. Don’t lose sight of ways to economize, though. Read on to learn helpful tips for relocating – without digging too deep into your wallet.

Make a Plan

Before you begin the big move, make sure you have a plan in place. A solid plan is the key to minimizing stress and ensuring success throughout. Start early on by journaling and making lists. You may want to sketch out a basic timeline, which can help to break down the whole process from beginning to end – before, during, and after your move.

If you’re moving out-of-state, there are additional tasks to take into consideration. Most of them are on the administrative side, such as switching your driver’s license or state ID, registering your vehicle, getting new bank checks, and changing your car insurance. You may want to register to vote early on in your new state. If you bank locally, you will probably also need to cancel the old account and move your assets to a new financial institution. While moving locally doesn’t present quite as many considerations, it can be just as overwhelming when left to the last minute. Combat disorganization by making a list of these necessary organizational changes beforehand so you can accomplish them right away when you move.

Dealing with Stuff

When it all comes down to it, deciding what to do with all of the stuff that has accumulated over the years is the biggest moving challenge. As you begin to pack, you will inevitably unearth items you haven’t thought about in years – old cords and cables that don’t connect to anything, cassette tapes from the early 1990s, a nephew’s graduation pamphlet, and the like. You name it, it’s probably lurking amongst your stuff. What do you do?


When you begin your move, consider all the items you own and why you own them. It goes beyond trashing old cables and recycling unneeded papers. Do you have a second set of dishes that haven’t seen a meal in years? Are you plagued by the presence of gardening tools and supplies, but no time to maintain a garden? If your shears are no longer trimming hedges, consider getting rid of them. Likewise, if you haven’t used those dishes in more than a year, are you really all that likely to change this habit in your new home?

Part of your master moving plan should include time to get rid of unwanted items. There are plenty of ways to do this feat. Have a yard sale or sell them online through a service like eBay or Amazon. As an added bonus, you can use the extra cash to cover some of your moving expenses. A tax-deductible charity may also be willing to take these extra items, allowing you to save money at the end of the tax year.

While old appliances may not be worth much money, getting rid of these things will ultimately help make the move less expensive. Movers often charge by weight. Even if items you no longer need don’t weigh much, they’re still taking up valuable space that could be used for more important items.

DIY Packing Materials

People in transition often spend a lot of money on boxes and packing materials. There are numerous ways to come by free boxes that don’t involve spending money on costly supplies from FedEx.

Most towns have recycling centers, which often supply endless boxes. Hospitals, laboratories, and medical offices are also a good source of boxes. These are all but guaranteed to be high quality, because medical supplies must be shipped in double-walled boxes. Try restaurants for produce and ingredient boxes, as these are often shipped in bulk. As always, it’s important to ask the facility whether they allow people to take their unneeded boxes. Most will say yes, but – especially as a government employee – it’s important not to bend any rules.

When it comes to packing material, don’t spend exorbitant amounts of money on things like bubble wrap. Surprisingly enough, these materials can be expensive. If you’re packing items yourself, use bed linens, towels, and bulky clothing (think puffy winter jackets) to pad the space between delicate items.

Always wrap individual items in newspapers, or get cheap newsprint or butcher paper from a craft store if you’re worried about the text smudging onto your collectibles. If bubble wrap is an absolute necessity, try Craigslist or ask around for people who have recently moved to the area to find packing materials.

When packing items yourself, always make sure to do so properly. If your fragile items are irreplaceable, breaking them indicates more than a cost deficit. It could mean the loss of your grandmother’s china.

Cost Perks for Federal Employees

Federal employees are entitled to certain benefits, allowing for other ways to save money. For example, when getting a quote from a moving company, ask if the business is willing to offer discounts to veterans, or to military or federal employees. Explain your situation to a representative to find out if you qualify. Saving as little as 5 or 10 percent on the service could make a huge difference in expense.

Find out from your agency if you are eligible for any reimbursements. Reimbursements are usually dependent upon your reason for moving, but it never hurts to ask if you may qualify.

Shop Around

Moving costs are complicated by numerous factors, such as the weight of all your possessions, the amount of moving insurance, how far you’re going, and the cost of the movers themselves. If movers are packing and loading items for you, expect to pay more for materials. Fortunately, there are a huge range of options available to those in transition, so seek multiple quotes from several different moving companies, PODS, and rental truck services.

Means of Moving Items

There are a number of ways to assess the most cost-effective options. It’s also important to consider individual options alongside the stress factor that each presents to make your final decision. While a rental truck is the most affordable option, it also requires the most work; conversely, a moving company reduces stress almost completely but is very costly. Consider the following moving options:

Moving Companies

Of course, the most expensive option is to hire a mover to pack all your belongings, load them into a vehicle, and unload them at your new location. If this is your preference, there are still numerous ways to procure affordable prices. Those in the military and veterans can also search for discounts on moving services through the Military & Veterans Discount Center. Finally, try NARFE for up-to-date listings of discounts offered to active and retired federal employees.

Rental Trucks

Two rental truck options are U-Haul and Budget. You can decide on the size of truck rental, depending on the bulk and weight of your belongings. This is the do-it-yourself option, and requires you to pack everything yourself, drive it to the new location, and unload it afterward. Using a rental truck is also the most cost-effective option. These trucks require a flat fee plus the cost of gas or mileage. The U-Haul website offers numerous discounts and specials during various times of the year for hitches, towing, rentals, and moving supplies. Readers can also try a promotion code for Budget truck rental, offering a 20% discount right now.


PODS are often the “happy medium” between moving everything yourself with a rental truck and hiring a moving company to do everything for you. PODS are portable storage units, and will be delivered to you on your schedule. They allow those in transition to pack at their own pace and do not require them to rent or drive a truck. When the PODS unit is full, the company will retrieve the unit to be stored until the move takes place. You can schedule delivery of your unit upon arrival.

Moving presents a challenge, but expenses can be negotiated, prices cut, and costs reduced – especially if you know how to navigate the system. Federal employees are entitled to numerous discounts and perks; it’s a simple question of knowing where to look. It all comes down to making a careful plan, getting several estimates, and finding the right coupons, all of which can help make the relocating process as easy and stress-free as possible.

About the Author

Jason Kay is a professional resume writer and regular contributor to, a professional federal resume service and repository of sample KSA statements.