It is amazing how much we can accumulate over time. Even a year or two produces "extra" stuff that adds to our burden when it comes times to pack up and move, again. Preparation is a wise investment.
It is never too early to start. You might think that you have plenty of time to worry about packing, but time has a way of sneaking up (just like that extra stuff) leaving you unprepared and scrambling. Three to six months (go with 6 if you have kids) is time to start working on your game plan.
Know what you have and where it is. Do you have boxes in the garage, attic, or a storage unit that you haven't looked at in months, or years? Now is the time to assess your belonging and decide what is coming with you.
Some things I get sentimental about, other things not so much. As an example: I graduated from HS some twenty years ago (I know, how old) yet I still had a box that contained etched wine glasses from proms past. They have sat in a box for 20 years. The chances of me taking them out of the box, displaying them, or using them was zero. They had always been zero. To this day I wonder who thought giving etched stem ware as souvenirs to guest who weren't old enough to drink was a good idea.
The 3-6-12-NEVER Plan
Designate each item you touch as something that you will use in the next 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, or never. Be honest! All those books on the bookshelf probably aren't going to be read any time soon... you are moving. Extra kitchen utensils and plate service for 20 might not be necessary if your aren't hosting a big party (you could always use plastic). Clothing that you are saving until you lose a few pounds, can probably be boxed now. You get the idea. Items that will be used in the next 6-12 months are boxed immediately. Items that will be used in the short term (meaning between now and the time you move) can be left unboxed. Items that you will probably never use again are assigned a method of disposal: consign, sale, donate, or trash.
- Consignment. The benefits are that you can drop your items off at the consignment shop and be done. In many cases what doesn't sell they will donate for you. At the end of the consignment period you collect your check. If you do this early enough your check will come before you move helping to offset that large expense. This last move I made over $300!
- Sale. A garage sale is a great idea, unless you dread them like I do. I don't like haggling over prices and that is half the fun for most people. And I don't like piles of stuff accumulating. If after going through your items you feel you have enough to make a successful sale - do it NOW! If you are planning to have a garage sale right before you move, find a place to store it that won't interfere with your sorting and packing. Maybe a friend would be willing to loan you space in their garage or basement.
- Donate. A great alternative to the garage sale, and one of my favorites. Items that are in good used condition can be donated to local non-profits and in most cases are tax deductible. Be sure to itemize your donation, and if you are crazy like me take pictures to attach to your donation worksheet. Some tax preparation websites have apps that help you determine the value of your donation. Don't let the bags of donated items pile up - take them NOW!
- Trash. This is a hard one because I try to follow the Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle method. But, somethings are just trash. If it can be recycled make sure you put in the recycling bin. If not, put it in the trash and don't turn back.
Look to the Future
As you get closer to the move date take a good look at what you have left. Do you need it? Do you love it? Does it have a purpose? Example: we picked up a dresser off the side of the road. It was useful, but it was so heavy that the thought of moving it out of the house, into a truck, and into another house didn't sound appealing. Add to that the fact that both my husband and I hated it made our decision easy - it was going back from whence it came. We found a local charity that collected used furniture for families in need. They even came to the house to pick it up, doing all the heavy lifting for me. We got the tax deduction, a family who needed a dresser got one. The house we ended up renting had built it shelves in the closet making our need for the dresser obsolete.
Over the next couple of months is the time to start gathering your supplies: boxes, bubble wrap, packaging materials, tape, etc. For our last move we bought TWO boxes - they were special boxes for glassware. All the other boxes were from the hospital. Every day for months my husband would bring home 2 or 3 boxes. Check with your facilities manager for information on boxes. If the hospital doesn't have boxes, major retailers often have boxes that are available on designated days on a first come first serve basis. Packing tape and bubble wrap - you'll need to go to the store.
If you have invested time preparing, the week of your move should be considerably less stressful. Many of your boxes will have been packed for months, only the items that you love and use will be left, leaving you with less work and more time to say goodbye to family and friends.
Best of luck on your next move!
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