Set Your Moving Budget With This Guide

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Whenever you're planning a move, the first thing you should do is create a moving budget. Most people who move feel they don't have time to set up a budget, however, not preparing financially could cost you more in the long-run. Small items such as buying a new shower curtain, sheets or restocking your shelves after you move all adds up. I recommend setting a budget first before you do anything else.

Create a Moving Budget Template

Software programs are probably the easiest way to create a budget template; Microsoft Word or Excel are the best programs to use, with Excel allowing you to use formulas for easy calculations. For your convenience, I've created a moving budget template in Excel that will provide you with everything you need, including formulas and easy-to-use breakdown. It blends perfectly with this article.

If you'd rather have something more portable or if you don't want to spend the time setting up a document on your computer, purchase a bookkeeper's record book at your local office supply store. You may need to make a few adjustments to the column titles or entry boxes, but it will provide you with the basic outline of expense tracking that you'll need. Also, make sure you have a good calculator or adding machine on hand.

Moving Company Expenses

If you're hiring a moving company, you'll need to include the following amounts:

Moving Company Fee: Includes fuel charges and labor. Ask for estimates from three and even if you haven't decided on which company you'll choose, add the highest quote to your budget.

Additional Insurance: If your items are worth more to you, you may need to add this on to your total moving costs.

Extra Services: Could include preparing appliances, moving a piano, etc. Ask the moving company for quotes if these services apply.

Extra Charges: These may include accessorial charges, expedited service charge, flight charge, long haul charges, long carry charges and shuttle service.

Claims/damage costs: you may not need to include an amount here, but to be safe, add in a 5 percent contingency rate based on the total moving company fees.

Professional Packing: This is an optional service.

Moving Yourself

If you're moving yourself, these are the items you'll need to include:

Truck Rental: Rates vary according to size and whether you're moving one way or return.

Mileage/Gas: Ask the rental agency how many miles to the gallon you can expect from the van or truck that you're renting. If you're moving any distance, find out the cost of fuel along your route. Do this by going to the Fuel Calculator, a service offered by AAA.

Insurance: Before you purchase insurance, contact your credit card companies to find out if you're covered under their service. It could save you some extra money. If you're not covered, make sure you include an insurance fee.

Extra Equipment Rental: This may include a dolly, a loading ramp, mattress and furniture covers, etc. Before you add this item to your budget, ask the rental agency if they'll throw these tools in for free.

Incidentals: Add in an extra contingency amount, just in case the price of gas goes up again or in case you need to make some extra stops along your route. It's better to build extra costs in up front.

Travel to New Home

Transportation: If you're moving a car in addition to a moving van, add in the costs for fuel and maintenance fees, such as oil, fluids and a check-up. If you prefer, divide these costs into separate line items.

Lodging: Research your stops along your moving route and find out how much lodging will cost. Determine the number of nights and the room rates ahead of time. Use a tool such as for rates and availability. You can even book online, too.

Meals: Calculate an average cost per meal per person. Include drinks and snacks.

Child/Pet Care: If you require any additional services to care for members of your family either before or after your move, include those fees here.

Temporary Housing: Include this line item if you and your family require temporary shelter.

Packing and Storage Fees

While it might be difficult to determine how much packing supplies you need, it's a good idea to add in an amount anyway. You can get a sense of what you'll need by checking out our article on Packing Supplies.

  • Boxes: Determine the number of moving boxes you'll need and add that fee here.
  • Bubblewrap/Newsprint
  • Tape/Labels/Markers
  • Mattress Covers/padding: If you're using a moving company, they usually provide these supplies at no cost.
  • Storage Fees: Call a few storage companies and use the highest price if you haven't yet decided on which storage facility you'll use.
  • Extra Insurance: If you're storing valuables, include extra insurance to make sure your goods are covered.
  • Moving Costs: These are costs to move the items from your home to the storage facility. It may be included in a line item above, or the moving company may allow you one additional stop at no extra cost.

Selling Home/Moving from Rental

  • Commission: For selling your home.
  • Lawyer/title fees
  • Inspections/Appraisals
  • Advertising
  • Cleaning/Repairs
  • Misc. : Include items such as additional purchases, paint, etc.
  • Lease Cancellation Charges: If you are unable to give enough notice to a landlord, they may charge you for canceling your lease or they may withhold your initial deposit.

Buying or Renting Your New Home

  • Lawyer Fee
  • Title Search Fee
  • Survey Fee
  • Other Fees
  • Inspection/Appraisal
  • Home or Apartment Insurance
  • Redecorating Costs: This is hard to calculate. Look at the largest room in your house and the one which requires the most work or items, break down each cost (paint, curtains, rugs, lamps, garbage containers, etc.), then add it up. You can either do this for each room or calculate an average cost for the entire home.
  • Property Taxes
  • Utility Deposits: You'll need to contact the utility companies for these costs, or contact your current providers and ask what they charge. Make sure you include telephone, cable, water, electricity, heating and any other services you currently have. If you're renting, ask your landlord if these costs are included in the monthly rental fee.
  • Apartment Rental Deposit
  • Apartment Damage Deposit
  • Apartment Pet Deposit
  • Misc.: This could include items such as parking permits, garbage disposal, etc.

Total Costs

  • Add up the total costs. It will be your subtotal line.
  • Multiply the subtotal by 5 percent (contingency).
  • Add the 5 percent to the subtotal to get your total moving cost.

Now that you've created your moving budget, you may want to check out ways to save during your move and the real costs of moving before and after for tips on what to include in your budget and how to scale back.