5 Moving Expenses That You Should Know About

 

Happy Family after Move

Moving expenses can quickly spiral if you don't watch out. And given that moving is already expensive ($1,170 for an in-state move on average, $5,630 for farther distances), it really pays to learn how that initial "estimate" you received might end up being far different from your final bill.

It's important to note that most reputable movers aren't trying to scam you. It's just that a moving contract has lots of, well, moving parts. If you’re not familiar with every detail in yours, you could easily end up going wildly over budget. To clue you in on these hidden fees, here are some of the unexpected charges that could make your move far pricier than you expected.

1. Stairs tariff

Although movers have the know-how to move furniture faster and more gracefully than you, their lives would still be easier if you were moving into (and out of) a ranch rather than, say, a six-story walk-up. As such, movers might charge an added fee for stairs amounting to as much as $50 or $75 per flight.  

“Moving companies often work from a tariff, which lists items for which you can be charged, such as if there are stairs involved,” says Angie Hicks, founder and CMO of Angie’s List. Moving into or out of multiple levels? Check your tariff to see what it'll cost you.

2. Shuttle fee

A tractor-trailer can't always squeeze into a cozy cul-de-sac or safely park in front of an urban high-rise. Interstate moving companies deal with this issue all the time; their solution is to get a smaller truck to shuttle over your belongings, often in multiple trips. And for this, they can charge a bundle.

“If they haven’t given you a binding price ahead of time, an extra shuttle charge for this service could be added on,” warns Jim Sullivan, president of Humboldt Storage and Moving in Canton, MA.

So make sure to check the parking restrictions around your new (and old) home to know whether (or when) your moving truck can squeeze in. If it can't, it's worth scoping out if there's a better spot nearby that would enable you to avoid the shuttle. Or, it might even cost less to rent two smaller moving trucks instead.

3. Fees for packing, unpacking, and other related tasks

Asking your movers to take on additional tasks besides moving will raise your bill, according to Ram Katalan, co-founder and CEO of NorthStar Moving.

The most obvious example is asking a moving crew to carefully pack, then unpack, your belongings. But much smaller asks can also increase your bill—like disassembling the water hookup for your refrigerator. Or your washer. Or your dishwasher. (You get the picture.)

The reason? Such tasks are not your movers' main job, plus there are liability issues. For example, if not done right, plumbing disconnections could result in leaks and property damage.

Sure, your mover can arrange for a third-party plumber to stop by and help out, but Katalan says you'll be charged extra to cover it.

All in all, it's best to hire your own plumbers, pack and unpack your own stuff, and do everything possible to guarantee that all your movers have to do is move your stuff. Period.

4. Slooooow movers

“When moving locally—meaning within a 100-mile radius—nearly all moving companies charge an hourly rate,” explains Aaron Steed, CEO of Meathead Movers. “The efficiency and hustle of the movers you choose dramatically affects time and, therefore, how much you pay at the end of the day.”

So keep that in mind when shopping around for movers. Read reviews and ask your friends who recommend movers about their speed. Or, ask the moving company for a cap on the amount you pay, regardless of whether your movers run over that time limit.

5. Driving time

If you're being charged by the hour to move, here's another tip: Ask the moving company whether it charges for driving time. Since driving involves gas money, “some moving companies charge double for driving time on local moves,” Steed adds, “but not all will notify you.”

So how accurate are moving estimates, anyway?

Bottom line: Take the estimate movers give you at the outset as just a starting point. To make sure that estimate is as accurate as possible, it's best to avoid getting them over the phone—where you relay the number of rooms or type of furniture in your possession. The best estimate comes from a reputable mover visiting your home and seeing your belongings.

Even then, says Sullivan, “your final bill should be plus or minus 10% of that amount.”

One way to avoid unexpected moving expenses is to hire a company that charges a flat moving fee. While that might seem more expensive at the outset, depending on the size of your home and the distance you're traveling, it could end up cheaper by the end of the day.

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2018 Color Trend: Teal

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Paint company Sherwin-Williams has just announced its 2018 Color of the Year, and as far as house paint goes, it's quite breathtaking: Oceanside SW 6496, an intense shade of blue-green that, according to the company's color experts, encapsulates our growing sense of adventure—in how we decorate our homes and otherwise!

“People today have a growing sense of adventure, and it is making its way into even the coziest corners of our homes," says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. "We are craving things that remind us of bright folklore, like mermaids and expeditions across continents. Oceanside is the color of wanderlust right in our own homes.”

We have to say, it's a nice change from all the "safe" colors (like those 50 shades of white) which typically dominate people's homes. And interior designers roundly applaud this new paint color pick.

"Shades of deep teal have definitely been trending in the home space for several years," says Donna Garlough, style director at Wayfair.com. "This shade is bolder and brighter than what we’ve been seeing to date, but for homeowners who love drama and want a color with a 'wow' factor, this is definitely a great option."

Some say the shade signals a return to opulence.

"There are buildings that are hundreds of years old which have examples of rich, dramatic color palettes like [Oceanside]—ballrooms, theaters, opera houses," points out Landy Gardner of Landy Gardner Interiors. "Those deep and vibrant colors suggested opulence, which is coming back in today's design."

How to infuse your home with Oceanside

Still, Oceanside's intensity could easily overtake your home, which is why many designers urge homeowners to add only a splash.

"I would use this color in small spaces to make a bold and impactful punch—think powder room, entryway, or a small study," says Drew Henry, founder of Design Dudes.

"Since this is a darker color, make sure to lighten it up with bright accents," he adds. "I'd add trim and crown molding in crisp whites, light marble tile, or white furniture and pillows. Adding this trendy color in small spaces makes your home feel relevant and also keeps it timeless when paired with crisp whites and grays in the rest of the interior."

Yet some designers think a "less is more" approach is just too timid for a color like this. Laura Michaels believes it's best to go all out.

"I used this color in a home office and used it on the walls, seagrass carpet, velvet sofa, and also on the custom lacquered wall unit," says Michaels. "It was a small room, and it gave it a big feel because everything was the same color. The room would have been fairly uninteresting if we didn’t make such a big color choice, and it remained interesting by the use of textural versus color changes."

See her pic below and decide for yourself!

As for what to pair it with, designer Bobby Berk suggests, "Oceanside's rich saturation pairs well with other deep-toned leathers and woods in a den, office, bedroom, or even living room. Its jewel-like tint allows for combinations of marigold, saffron, and Kelly green, and is versatile in masculine or feminine schemes, and everywhere in between! I could see this color on kitchen cabinets in a matte or high gloss, or in a powder room or entry."

One caveat: "I would stay clear of the color in large, expansive spaces that have tall ceilings," says Angela Harris at TRIO environments. "It is highlighted better in a more compressed environment."

"I don’t know that it works well for an open floor plan, where several rooms should be treated the same way," Gardner adds. "And I would not suggest this color in a bedroom—it is too strong. However, I recently painted a dining room a similar color and it is breathtaking. It's best in a confined space, and a place that is 'special.'"

 

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Moving Hacks

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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.

Cheap movers

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!

 

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Home Cleaning Myths

cleaning washing cleanup the ilo 48889Urban 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!

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