If you're moving, you might be wondering where to score cheap boxes, packing supplies, and, while we're at it, trucks and movers! And it's smart that you're looking to save, since moving is not only a pain in the neck (and lower back, and feet), but also a major drain on your wallet. The average move costs $1,170 if you're moving in state; if you're moving farther, prepare to cough up $5,630.
Yet bargain hunters will be happy to hear that moving doesn't have to cost that much. With some smart deal seeking, it's entirely possible to save big bucks on every part of this oft-onerous process. Here's where to find these hidden bargains—without jeopardizing all your stuff.
Cheap moving boxes
Buying moving boxes can be a waste of your precious moving bucks, especially since there are so many ways you can get your hands on these cardboard containers for cheap or even free. One place to hit up? Anywhere they sell booze.
"Liquor boxes have thicker cardboard, which makes them ideal for carrying heavy objects like books or electronics," says Lior Rachmany, CEO and founder of Dumbo Moving and Storage.
There are even websites where you can find cheap or free moving boxes such as cheapcheapmovingboxes.com and U-Haul Customer Connect. Also, don't forget about good ol' Craigslist.
"Go to the 'For Sale' section, and then choose 'Free,'" suggests Ali Wenzke, who founded The Art of Happy Moving after moving 11 times in 10 years. "You can typically find numerous posts for free moving boxes and bubble wrap."
Free packing supplies
Speaking of bubble wrap, along with the actual boxes, you must protect your valuables as they go into said cheap/free moving boxes. Freecycle.org helps folks find free packing supplies (and moving boxes) that other folks are looking to recycle rather than dump. Make your move Earth-friendly and save a buck simultaneously!
"Never buy bubble wrap—instead use blankets, towels, sweaters, and other soft items that need to be packed anyway," says Brian Davis, co-founder and lead real estate/personal finance blogger at SparkRental.com.
"There’s no need to add extra items to your move when you can simply use what you’re already packing," adds Davis, who has lived in 10 homes in the past 10 years, and spent only $100 on a move from the U.S. to Abu Dhabi.
Cheap moving trucks
In the DIY category, there is always U-Haul for cheap moving trucks; you can also rent a cheap ZipCar van by the hour or try a car-sharing service in which individuals rent out their own cars for a pittance. But beyond that option, keep in mind that the cheapest "truck" might not be a truck at all. It could be a train!
With Amtrak Express Shipping, you can ship your first 100 pounds anywhere in the U.S.—even cross-country—for a $67 flat rate, with each additional pound costing 57 cents. Just keep in mind that this method has a limit of 500 pounds per person, and you'll have to pack and then transport the boxes to Amtrak yourself. Still, it's a cheap way to get your stuff where it needs to go.
Have a lot of books? You might consider sending them through the U.S. Postal Service.
"The book rate for postal mail is only 49 cents per pound," says personal finance writer Romana King.
No, we are not going to suggest you hit up all your friends and then offer them pizza and beer. Yes, it's a cost-saving option, but at some point in your life you'll find that everyone you know has pretty much had it with helping others move.
Instead, research discount websites for movers and check out references to make sure you're not skimping on quality.
"Groupon is your best bet," says Rachmany. "Also don't be afraid to negotiate with your moving company. Moves can be cheaper during different times of the month, so you can save cash just by moving your move toward the middle of the month rather than during the peak times of the beginning and end of the month, or in the summer."
Also, instead of checking Craigslist for "man with van" type ads, you can get a more secure option going through a site such as Dolly.com or PockItShip, both of which are on-demand pickup and delivery moving services. They're especially good if you're doing a lot of the moving yourself but need some extra help with heavier items. Plus they provide the truck!
And if you want to make a difference in someone's life while they help you move yours, check out HirePatriots, a site that connects you with military veterans looking for work.
HirePatriots founder Mark Baird says that moving help is a typical job posting on this nationwide site and you can probably get some extra hands for $15 to $20 an hour.
Finally, consider "move sharing" as an option: You can call a company, and see if you can piggyback on someone else's move in your area.
Also, for cross-country moves, consider checking with a moving consolidator.
"These companies act like a broker and specialize in booking half-empty moving trucks," says King. "The result is you pay a significantly cheaper rate to move interstate, and the large moving companies that own the trucks get something for a prescheduled move."
With consolidators you might have to wait longer for your shipment to arrive, but it can save you lots of dough on the flip side!
Urban myths live forever on the internet. Enter your PIN backward at an ATM and you'll summon the police! (Cool, but not true.) The cast of "Friends" is in talks for a reunion! (For the millionth time, this ain't happening.) Actual sharks were caught up in Hurricane Irma! (No.) With such rampant lies in mind, is it any surprise that some of the housecleaning myths you read online are equally fake?
Put aside the bleach. Step away from the coffee grounds. And read on to uncover some of the biggest cleaning myths that could be doing more harm than good in your house.
1. Bleach is the best cleaner for your bathroom
“Bleach does not clean anything,” says Leslie Reichert, cleaning coach and author of "The Joy of Green Cleaning."
“It does disinfect, but before you can disinfect a surface, you have to clean it with something that will lift off the dirt,” she advises. (Imagine trying to clean muddy feet with hand sanitizer, and you get the idea.)
Wipe down your bathroom with your choice of household cleaner, thenyou can disinfect with a diluted bleach solution, Reichert says.
What about those combo bottles of household cleaner + bleach? They're OK, Reichert says, but less efficient.
"An item with bleach in it will probably kill some of the germs but will actually be diluted with the cleaning agent, so my personal opinion is that it's not going to do a quality job," she says.
"Remember, the bleach has to stay on the surface for 10 minutes to kill germs, so washing with a cleaner that has bleach in it is like trying to add hair color to your shampoo."
2. Washing machines clean themselves
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it just isn't so.
“This is a common misconception, because the purpose of a washing machine is to clean things, but they do need to be cleaned, too,” says Debra Johnson, home cleaning expert at Merry Maids.
“Many people leave their clothes in the washing machine long after the cycle's done running, which can cause a musty smell that’s then transferred to your clothes,” she explains.
Even if you're not guilty of that, you should still run a cleaning cycle every month to maintain your washer's functionality and keep it smelling fresh. If your machine doesn't have a special cycle, add a half-cup to 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup baking soda to the detergent dispenser and run a normal small cycle with hot water, Johnson advises.
3. Polish is the best way to care for wood
Commercial polishes contain a host of different ingredients, from the recognizable (beeswax) to the huh-what's-that (polydimethylsiloxane). The good news: They shine up your wood. The bad: They can also leave a waxy buildup. So it's lucky that you don't really need polish.
“Most wood furniture has a finish that seals the wood, and really just needs to be kept clean and free from dust and dirt,” Reichert says.
All you need is a damp microfiber cloth. Its tightly woven fibers trap dirt without the need for an additional cleaner.
4. Too much vacuuming ruins your carpets
This myth was likely started by someone looking for a way to get out of cleaning carpets. But the truth is, "dust and dirt that gets down into the base of a carpet can do more damage than a vacuum," Reichert says.
Of course, you will need to use care when vacuuming delicate floor coverings such as Oriental rugs and handmade carpets. And you should never leave your vacuum in one spot too long.
"The constant beating can heat up the fibers, cause them to melt, and leave a burn mark," Reichert says.
5. Coffee grounds are a great way to clean your garbage disposal
Legend has it that coffee grounds can deodorize and clean unidentified gunk off the blades of your garbage disposal. Alas, you're better off using it as compost in your garden.
“The grounds often clog up the drains and pipes,” Johnson warns.
A better way to clean that's still natural: Place two to three small lemon, lime, or grapefruit slices in the garbage disposal, then turn it on and rinse with warm water, she advises. (Don't use the full fruit—just the peels.)
Fresh out of citrus? Run warm water in your sink while pouring a half-cup baking soda down the drain.
6. Mopping just pushes dirt around
Reichert admits she's not a fan of brooms, but don't dis mops—so long as you invest in one made of high-quality microfiber.
"It picks up the dirt and holds onto it," she explains. "There's no cross-contamination because once the mop head's dirty, you remove it and put on a clean one."
Compare that to a traditional mop, where you're basically "mopping up dirt, rinsing it in dirty water, then spreading that water all over the floor," Reichert adds.
7. Hand-washing dishes is more effective than a dishwasher
Sorry to burst your soap bubble, but no matter how much time you spend scrubbing dishes, you're still no match for a dishwasher. Its water temperature is much hotter, the dishes are exposed to soap longer, "and if you use a 'drying cycle,' you're also sanitizing your dishes," Reichert points out.
8. You need specialized cleaning products for every job
While the shelves of cleaning supplies at your grocery store certainly make it seem that way, you don’t really need an army of bottles under your kitchen sink.
“I’ve found that I just need an all-purpose cleaner for tough jobs and a few high-quality microfiber cloths,” Reichert says. These cloths get high marks because they contain millions of tiny, plastic fibers which easily trap dirt and even bacteria.
9. Washing clothes in cold water doesn't get them clean
Busted! Why is this myth, well, a myth? For starters, the detergent, not the water, has the biggest effect on how clean your laundry comes out, Johnson says.
And, in fact, cold water is typically better for washing clothes than hot.
"Cold water preserves clothes both in quality and color better than hot water, which can also cause certain types of stains to set in the fabric," she says. And to top it off, using cold water saves you energy, so it's a win all around!