Your Essential Moving Checklist

Map out everything you need to do, week by week, until the big day.

When it comes to moving, proper organization is the defining difference between ultimate success and complete failure.

Even if you’re already an excellent organizer, you might still feel overwhelmed by the number of relocation-related tasks you have to complete before moving day — unless you find a way to bring order to the chaos.

Here’s a moving timeline that will do the trick. It will help you organize your time, prioritize your tasks, track your progress, and reduce moving stress. What’s more, you’ll never forget anything important, because your week-by-week moving checklist will remind you of what to do every single day until moving day.

Eight weeks before moving day

Organizing a safe, efficient, and trouble-free relocation requires about two months of careful planning and hard work. So, start your moving preparations about eight weeks before the big day:

  • Start looking for an appropriate new home in your future area (you may have to start sooner if you’re moving to a particularly hot real estate market).
  • Inventory your possessions and decide what you’re going to take to your new home.
  • Research your moving options and decide if you’re going to move on your own or use professional moving services.

Six weeks before moving day

  • Contact a few trustworthy movers and request an in-house estimation of your relocation costs. If you’ve decided on a DIY move, contact several truck rental companies and compare their rates and conditions.
  • Review your finances and designate your moving budget.
  • Notify all the relevant people and institutions of your move: your landlord (if you’re a renter), employer, family physician, children’s school (if applicable), and bank, for starters.
  • Start looking for a trustworthy health provider and a good school for your kids in your new city.
  • Schedule your move and book your chosen moving company (or book a rental truck of appropriate size for the day of your move).

Four weeks before moving day

  • Obtain your and your family’s medical records and your children’s school records.
  • Take your pet to the vet for a complete checkup and get all the necessary papers: vaccination records, health certificates, etc.
  • Get rid of unwanted items. Organize a moving sale, sell items online, donate them to charity, or give them away to relatives and friends.
  • Obtain packing supplies and start packing the items you won’t need before moving day. Make sure you don’t pack any nonallowable items.
  • Cancel subscriptions to delivery services and memberships to clubs and organizations.

Two weeks before moving day

  • If you’re driving to your new home, have your car serviced to make sure your road trip will go as smoothly as possible. If you’re flying to your new city, book your ticket and find a trustworthy auto transporter to ship your car.
  • Change your address with the United States Postal Service.
  • Transfer utilities — arrange for services in your old home to be disconnected the day after your move. Contact service providers in your new city to have utilities running in your new home on move-in day.
  • Reserve a parking place for the moving truck (directly in front of the entrance to your home) and an elevator for the time of your move (if applicable).

One week before moving day

  • Contact your moving company and confirm that everything is going according to plan.
  • Say your goodbyes — organize a farewell party, spend some quality time with your closest friends, visit your favorite places in town, etc.
  • Check on your packing progress. Most of your belongings should be packed up and labeled by this point.
  • Prepare an “open first” box that contains all the essentials you’re going to need as soon as you arrive in your new home.
  • Hire a sitter to look after your children and/or pets on moving day (if necessary).
  • Check if you’ve paid all the bills, picked up your clothes from the dry cleaners, returned library books and borrowed items, etc.

Two days before moving day

  • Finish packing — leave out only a few items you can’t do without during the last couple of days in your old home, and the cleaning supplies you’re going to need to clean the place before leaving it for the last time.
  • Defrost and clean your fridge and get all your household appliances ready to move — empty them, clean them, and make sure they’re fully dry and safely wrapped for transportation.
  • Disassemble large furniture pieces and pack them for shipment.
  • Make sure you have all valuables and important documents with you.

Moving day

  • Have a good night’s rest and get up early in the morning to have enough time for last-minute moving tasks.
  • Double-check your home for forgotten items.
  • Meet your hired movers and provide them with all the information they need to perform a quick and efficient move.
  • Keep kids and pets away from the hectic moving procedures.
  • Carefully read all the paperwork you need to sign.
  • Prepare some refreshments for your movers and have some cash ready to tip them if you’re satisfied with their work.
  • Give the truck driver your exact new address and your phone number.
  • Clean your old home, lock it safely, and bid it farewell. The time has come to set foot on the road to your new life!

Even though most moving tasks are common for all residential moves, you can modify them to meet your personal needs and requirements. Certain aspects of your move will be unique and will require a different approach, so personalize this moving timeline checklist and make it work perfectly for you.

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Source: zillow.com

Planning for Utility Costs in Your Monthly Budget

Planning for utility costs monthly budget

Unless you live in an apartment where utilities are included, you probably groan slightly every month when your utility bill arrives, and you may wonder how you can account for utilities in your monthly budget.

It’s difficult to define an “average” utility bill in the United States, because the needs of a house in Orlando are completely different from the needs of a house in Minneapolis. The size of your utility bill depends on the size of your home, how well insulated it is, how many people live there, energy rates in your region, and how careful everyone in the household is with energy usage.

A 2013 survey of utilities in US cities found that Memphis, Springfield, MO, Reno, Omaha, and Columbus, OH had the lowest average utility bills, with average monthly bills ranging from $234.40 to $293.95. But utilities are metered, so how do you plan for them in your monthly budget?

Start With Your Billing History

If you save your bill stubs, you can get an idea how much you spend in a typical month. Your utility company can provide you with a record of your utility bills if you don’t save your stubs, or you can look back over bank statements to find how much you’ve been paying. Keep an eye out for anomalies like record heat waves or cold snaps. Note the trends in your utility bills so you’ll have an idea which months make the highest demands on your utility budget. Being prepared can help you fine tune your monthly budget based on typical utility costs.

Learn if Your Local Utility Does Budget Billing

Many local utilities offer what they term “budget billing” or some variation of that term. What they do is average a couple of years’ worth of utility bills for your home and bill you the same amount each month. Before you sign up, ask if there are any administrative fees associated with the service, and also find out how shortfalls or overages are handled. Ideally, at the end of the year, you should get a credit on your bill if you’ve used less energy than budgeted (or you may have to make up a shortfall if you use more than budgeted). But not all utilities do this, so ask up front. While budget billing doesn’t give you the satisfaction of low bills during those mild spring or autumn months, it does give you predictability, helping you plan a more accurate monthly budget.

Planning for utility costs monthly budget

Read the Mail Your Utility Companies Send You

Electricity and gas providers generally alert customers to trends in utility prices each year. If natural gas prices increase, for example, your gas company may include this information in their periodic newsletters, or it may be covered in a local news story. And you can always call your utility and ask where rates are headed.

Be Smart With Energy Usage

Lax energy habits cost your family money, but habits can change. The next time you run out of energy-hungry incandescent light bulbs, go ahead and spring for LEDs or compact fluorescent bulbs. They last much longer and use far less energy, and today’s compact fluorescent bulbs come in more eye-friendly colors, so your home doesn’t have to be cast in a dull, unflattering light.

You can have an energy audit done by your local utility company, and it may be free of charge. These are great for pointing out hidden leaks and drafts, which can account for 25 to 30% of an average energy bill. Your home may have obviously drafty places, and you should address these with weather stripping or caulk.

Set your water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit rather than 140 degrees. This can save you $36 to $61 per year, and reduces the danger of scalding, particularly in households with small children. Replace your furnace or heating / AC system filters every six weeks or so to keep dust from impeding air flow into your system and to help it run more efficiently. Finally, every night before bed, do a walk-through and turn off unused lights and appliances. Over a year, the savings can really add up.

Having a monthly budget is one of the smartest ways to manage money both short term and long term. Energy costs can be tricky to budget for because they fluctuate, but you can do quite a bit to reduce utility costs, and your utility provider may offer monthly average billing so you can avoid billing surprises. Online budgeting tools are great if you are starting a monthly budget, because they help you remember all the things you have to budget for and let you track your progress. Learning to plan for utility costs is a powerful way to make monthly budgeting easier and more effective.

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