The Unexpected Perks of Local Moves

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Often when people move, it’s across the country or at least across the state. But for my recent move, it was just about seven blocks away! Yes, I just completed a local move. And I’m a little surprised about all the unexpected perks.

Here’s the story: My husband and I are expecting our first child and have had our eyes peeled in our “dream neighborhood” for over a year. This neighborhood came with a much better school district, a house big enough to accommodate our growing family, and a close-knit community that we were eager to join.

So although it seems silly to think we put in so much effort for a move just seven blocks away, we think it was well worth the investment and are so happy with the decision.

What We Learned

We didn’t have to be as organized.

A lot of my friends have moved across the country and in doing so, have had to really focus on their moving gameplan because it came with some serious logistics. How many days and miles do you need the moving truck for? Who will drive the moving truck and who will drive the family’s cars? What do you gotta bring on the moving truck to survive the few days en route?

Figuring out this information wasn’t exactly impossible for them, but I found out (the easy way) that common logistic problems definitely didn’t sneak up on me because our move was local.

Scheduling and driving a rental truck was easy-peasy.

To save money, I opted for a Hybrid Move. Translation: I hired Helpers for the heavy lifting, but rented and drove the moving truck myself. Because my move was local, when I was choosing the truck I needed, my priorities were strictly around the size. Nothing else.

Here’s another thing: Often times during long-distance moves, new homeowners need to research a truck that has extra seating, valuable leg room, USB or GPS capabilities, etc. Guess what? That extra information didn’t matter so much to me as I was zipping back and forth. Plus, the rental process was a breeze because there were so many trucks available in our area that fit our minimal requirements.

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Even details like where or when I needed to drop the truck off were far less complicated because I was going to pick-up and drop-off at the same location, which meant I was dealing with one salesperson the entire day. And yes, he quickly got to know me when I picked it up and was very flexible on when I brought it back. Repition is nice.

Plus, I’m not necessarily “used to” driving a 15-foot moving truck, but I can do anything for 7 blocks, right?! I would have been a bit more hesitant to drive a solo mission across the country, but zipping around a neighborhood I was already familiar with was definitely a perk that came along with this local move.

My neighbors were a huge resource.

When we moved into our new house, we needed an extension ladder to get up on the roof right away. The homeowner before us left several decorative ornamental pieces on the siding around our home and I couldn’t stand to look at these eyesores another day! You’re probably laughing at me, but seriously, a missing extension ladder was the only thing holding me back.

Google Map image of my new home.

 

Sure, we could have purchased one, but they’re expensive (like almost $200!) and it would’ve taken up quite a bit of non-existent room in our limited garage space.

But – yet again – because we still lived so close to our old house, we were able to borrow the ladder from our old neighbor! We drove it the seven blocks to our new house, used it, did a happy dance on our lawn once the job was done, then drove it right back to our old digs. I had no idea that the network we made in our old neighborhood would pay off so quickly, but staying local does have its perks … especially when you find yourself in a bind!

Potential financial overlaps pay off … big time!

Paying two mortgages at the same time is not fun, but ironically for the few days that we had possession of both our old house and the new house was pretty amazing in terms of moving perks. If you’re moving locally and have the chance to close on your new house just a few days before the old ones, do it! I can’t begin to tell you all of the hidden perks that came along with this situation.
For one, we were able to accomplish a lot of our DIY projects in the new house without having to live through the mess. We demoed the trim, added new trim, painted the walls, and had the floors re-finished all before we had to move into our new place. This was an epic success because we were not only able to dodge the mess and dust, but these jobs were so much easier (and quicker) to accomplish without the nuisance of all of our delicate, new furniture.

And speaking of all my “stuff”, after the DIY dust settled, we started bringing over the light-weight boxes to our new home. Anytime we would drive to the new house, we would fill up our cars with a few boxes and before we knew it, a lot of our stuff was already there and it wasn’t even moving day yet!

I can’t stress enough how much time, money and stress we were able to save thanks to this overlapping, local ownership.

We leisurely unpacked our wardrobes, bathroom essentials, and entire kitchen before moving day. When moving day finally arrived, we needed to hire the minimal amount of Helpers, then, the entire job was done in two hours! Plus, the unpacking process was a lot less stressful because nothing needed to be unpacked immediately since the closets, bathrooms and kitchens were already done.

With the help of the movers, moving day turned out to be relaxing (yes, that’s a thing!) … a welcome perk I definitely didn’t see coming.

The transition of utilities was seamless.

When we called about canceling some of our monthly utilities, some of the companies quoted us a cancellation fee because we would be ending our contract. But much to our surprise, a lot of these cancellation fees were waived if we had these services transferred over to our new house instead. We obviously opted for that option, which made the transition pretty seamless and much more affordable.

It also made paying our bills a whole heck of lot less time-consuming because we didn’t have to set up new automatic pay accounts through our bank for all of these new utility companies. So we could continue making payments and the utilities continued just like usual. It was definitely a win-win!

All our food stayed fresh.
How to Pack Up a Kitchen - Fridge, Pantry, and Freezer

Another unexpected perk was not as significant as the previous ones, but one I still appreciated!

In a long distance move, transferring your frozen or refrigerated food is another task that needs some pre-planning and an exact game plan. Groceries are far too expensive to let them go to waste because of poor planning. But in my local move, none of this pre-planning was necessary. No cooler (or planning) necessary! I don’t know about you guys, but I could get used to this trend of not having to pre-plan during a move!

Long story short, my seven block move came with some pretty unexpected perks that ending up saving me time, money and stress. Some of our family and friends rolled their eyes at us when we announced that we were hopping just one neighborhood over, but I’m happy to report it wasn’t that big of a deal to do, and the perks for us were huge; Even if it’s just seven blocks away from our old one!

The DIY Playbook are Bridget and Casey, two crafty bloggers writing out of Chicago about cool DIY projects, lifehacks and money saving techniques. After 15 years of blogging, they believe that if they can figure out how to DIY it, you can definitely do it too.

How to Move Your Stuff to College (Without Bothering Mom and Dad)

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In the college classic “Animal House”, Donald “Boon” Schoenstein famously exclaims to his fraternity brothers “We can do anything we want! We’re college students!”

Which makes me think Boon had plenty of help moving to college in Faber and into the Delta house. (Okay, maybe this dates me a little.)

Either way, whether this is your first time or your fourth time (or seventh, if you’re like Bluto), transporting all your stuff from your room at home to your dorm at college can be as challenging as any of your finals. (Moving to college without mom and dad can be tougher than your entire exam schedule.)

We can help you figure out how to get your stuff down to campus if you don’t have the luxury of hiring Mom & Dad’s Moving Company. Here’s your multi-scenario cheat sheet. 

You Have a Car

Awesome start! Nothing better than a road trip to kick off the new semester! But if you can’t fit everything into the back, what are you going to do?

Moving to College U-Haul Trailer

https://www.pinterest.com/jwcostner/

Got a mountain of boxes and bags? A mountain bike? A bunch of furniture and the all-important mini-fridge to transport? If so, think about renting a trailer to hook onto your car. U-Haul rents them one-way, based on availability. Check out our complete U-Haul pricing and review guide and streamline the decision-making process.

Wait, you don’t have a hitch installed on your car? U-Haul does that too, for a price. Just input your exact car model and they’ll give you an estimate right on their site.

But maybe you’re feeling crafty (and want to save some money)? Imagine how proud your parents will be if you installed it yourself! Here’s a popular step-by-step guide, with some pictures to boot.

Washi Tape

DIY Corner: Color Code your Boxes

Allow me to introduce you to an old friend of mine: Washi Tape.

…But Maybe You Don’t Want to Pull a Trailer

Totally understandable. It takes some getting used to (plus, that aforementioned trailer hitch). In place of that, maybe consider shipping your stuff via ABF. They’ll put your stuff on a trailer with a bunch of other people’s stuff, which while risking damaging your (hopefully not too expensive) stuff, might still be advantageous since you only pay for the space your own stuff takes up. Another, more agile option is to order a ReloCube from U-Pack. These containers are 6’ x 7’ x 8’ and are dropped off for you to load up, then taken away and delivered to your new place on campus. (Packrat also offers containers, albeit in medium and large sizes.) Just take note…

Moving to college - ABF Trailer

Image by http://johncassiemillburn.blogspot.com/

Campus move-in day is living chaos. (Perhaps you’ve survived one or two of them.) Check with your college administration to see if there would be any logistical problems or policy issues with having a container placed outside your dorm – or anywhere on campus. Or anywhere even close. Be clear, and get any approval in writing before you try to sneak a 40-foot trailer with a forklift hanging off the tail end past campus security.

So You Don’t Have a Car

Unless you are planning on backpacking to college, you’ll be going through shipping options.

If you only have a few extra boxes to send, the good old US Postal Service is your cheapest bet. UPS is another option if you’re moving to college with only a small handful of items, and their online calculator allows you to estimate your shipping-by-air costs. (Oddly, for ground service, you’ll have to locate a nearby location and talk to someone directly).

If shipping stuff to college via the post office or UPS works for your pile of dorm-destined stuff, go that route first. If not, you still have ABF and U-Pack to fall back on. Again, check with your campus authorities and administrators before ordering up that trailer and forklift.

Moving to college with a rental truck

We see you there in the back with your hand in the air. And yes, you are correct. Renting a truck might be the best way to go if you are moving to college on your own. U-Haul is the first name that lots of people think of, but check out Budget and Penske too because the cheapest price is always different depending on where you live and the date you need it on.

You Want to Avoid Shipping Costs and Trailers Altogether

In this case, your strategy is more limited and depends on your situation. If you still have to buy stuff for college, don’t. Not yet. Avoid buying stuff when you’re still at home because you’ll only have to haul it all to college. Instead, order online and have it delivered straight to your dorm. When all is said and done, you might end up saving a few bucks on that mini-fridge.

Another consideration: although limited to the area you live in and the size of the vehicle, peruse some carpooling sites like Zimride and The College CarpoolMoving to college ride share

There’s also the possibility of people selling random stuff off the backs of trucks when you get there, on or around campus. (Sound weird? It happens every year on campuses everywhere.) If there are such people, you might really score. If not, you’ll have to go without the mini-fridge for a while. Your call.

On the other hand, you could end up with two mini-fridges if you and your roommate aren’t on the same page. Touch base with your roommate before the summer is out so you don’t both end up lugging two microwave ovens, TVs and mini-fridges all the way to campus.

Finally, whenever and however you pack up, think seasonal. Leave those extra blankets and sweaters and your snowboard behind. You can pick them up the next time you’re home after you head back for Thanksgiving or winter break.

Moving to College In Any Scenario

Plan ahead. Pack your boxes. Reserve that truck. And remember to check with the powers-that-be regarding move-in day policies and procedures: the parking situation, restricted move-in hours, having stuff delivered (early?) and, yes, driving a forklift across the quad.

One final note before class is dismissed: Even if mom and dad end up helping you move into your college pad, that doesn’t mean all your stuff will suddenly, magically fit into the family trucks. So when they start scratching their heads, staring at your mountain of stuff and wondering what to do, tell them everything we just told you.

They’ll be proud of their well-educated kid.

How to Install a Smart Thermostat in 8 Easy Steps

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Adding smart technology into your home is not only a great way to add convenience and value, but it’s also a great way to stay energy-efficient. Take the awesome smart thermostat for example… this gadget can be a high expense up front, but it will end up saving you big money in the long run. Some energy companies are even offering their customers $100+ in refunds if they show proof that they installed a smart thermostat!

Because this technology is a win-win-win in our playbook, we decided to show you how easy it is to make your home smarter with the smart thermostat. And when we say easy, we really mean it!  This entire project can be broken down into eight steps that shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes.

We installed the Nest for this tutorial, but there are a lot of awesome smart thermostats on the market. Do your research and find one that works best for you and your home.

What You Need

  • The Nest (or most any smart thermostat device – the product itself provides almost everything you need, including a screwdriver, screws, and a level)
  • Drill (optional)
  • Anchors (optional)
  • Touch-up paint, brush, painter’s tape (optional)

1. Turn off the Power

No matter how experienced you are with DIY projects, we highly recommend turning off the power to this system before moving on to the next steps. This is the safest way to install the smart technology and the only way we advise you to complete this installation. You will also want to make sure you have enough daylight left so you can see the project without the lights on.

2. Open up the Old Thermostat

After the electricity is off, we are ready to get to the fun part! Pop off the face of your current unit, which may require unscrewing a screw, depending on your unit. Ours popped right off, no screwdriver necessary. Above is what most thermostats look like without the cover, though yours may vary slightly. What matters most are the wires.

3. Label the Wires

Before you start removing the labels from your old thermostat, we need to label them so that we are fully prepared for the last few steps of this project. The Nest comes with these convenient stickers (right in the manual!) so you can keep your labels organized. If you don’t have stickers, just use whatever you can to label all of the wires. We only had four wires, but you may have more, so make sure you label everything! You’ll thank yourself later… we promise!

4. Take the Old Thermostat off the Wall

After the wires are clearly labeled, it’s time to unscrew the old thermostat and carefully pluck it off the wall. Use your screwdriver and it should come off fairly easily. Make sure that you’re not taking the wires (or stickers!) with you because you’ll need both of them soon.

5. Hang the New Thermostat

The Nest provides a level within the product (genius!), which makes this process extremely easy.  The level makes it simple to identify when the device is evenly placed on the wall, and that’s when you can make a mark so you later know where to drill. If your smart device has no internal level, don’t worry! It’s a pretty simple process to use an external level to make sure you’re screwing it on the wall correctly.

After you mark the wall, add your trim plate (if necessary – it’s the plastic encasing that goes around a lot of these smart devices) and hang the Nest using the markings you made to guide you. You may need to use an anchor for extra reinforcement into your wall during this step, which does not always come with the kit.

6. Attach the Wires to the New Thermostat

This is when those stickers come in handy. Not only is the technology itself smart, the team that created this kit may be even smarter because these stickers are genius! Simply match each wire’s label to the label on the Nest (or the labels you made yourself), then pop them firmly into place. Make sure the little box the wire goes into pushes down snugly, because that is how you will know it is tight, secure and connected.

7. Turn Electricity Back on 

If the Nest lights up a few moments after you turn the power back on, you have successfully completed the installation. If not, turn the electricity off and recheck the colored wires to make sure they’re both in the right spots and pushed down correctly.

Your little gadget will immediately start prompting you through a series of steps that will guide you to align this new technology with your home.

8. Control Your Heat and A/C from Your Cell Phone

This part is where the “smart” technology really comes in! Once you connect the Nest with your home’s wifi, you can monitor it from anywhere you have a wifi connection. That means you can click on the heat from work, turn on the air before you get back from vacation, or even change the temperature in the house while still laying in bed (that last one is probably our favorite!). If that’s not smart technology, we just don’t know what is.

So do you think you can tackle this project and make your home a little smarter, all while saving money and energy along the way? We’re confident that installing a smart thermostat is so simple that you now have all the steps you need to check this project off of your to-do list… maybe as soon as this weekend.

4 Cases Where You Really Should Move to Save Money

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It’s true what they say: there’s never a “perfect” time to move. But sometimes making that decision is the best thing for you and your family.

(more…)

Is Your Move Tax-Deductible? It Might Be for Almost 8 Million Americans

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Did you move for work last year? Did you pay for any of it yourself?

If you answered yes to both these questions, Uncle Sam wants to help!

(more…)

10 DIY Tips That Saved Us Money Quick

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Every year during the month of February, my husband and I participate in what we lovingly refer to as “Frugal February.”

Essentially the concept is to save as much money as possible during the shortest month of the year. That means no eating dinners out, no morning coffee runs, no clothing shopping, no cab rides. We’re certainly not perfect, but we try our very best.

And that isn’t always easy when you live in a big city. The cost of living is pretty high and it can be difficult to save a ton of money. But we’ve learned a heck of a lot over the years and have some tips to share with you. We know some of these ideas should help you put a few more pennies in your bank account this year, just like they did us.

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