Archive for January, 2009


Frugal Friday: A Cheap, Easy Way to Get Rid of Junk

When you move, everyone tells you to get rid of stuff, but it’s easier said than done.

There are the usual ways – try to sell stuff on eBay or Craigslist, or hold a garage sale to hopefully make some cash.

However, most people when they’re moving just don’t have the time (or energy) to organize a sale of their stuff. So most of it just gets throw away. (I love when people say, ‘Just hold a garage sale! There’s really no ‘just’ about it.)

Whatever you do, the end result for a lot of stuff you have is the dump – you’ll need to throw away a lot of stuff.

Here’s a tip to making it easier. Many people will be rent a dumpster if the job is huge. It ain’t cheap. And the neighbors might not like it. In fact, some homeowners associations won’t even allow it. And you could lose a kid or two in there.

The solution: rent a truck. Keep all the stuff to throw away in a garage or in a room, and when you want to haul it away, toss it into the rental truck and away to the dump! If you’re renting it for the day, you’ll probably have time to do other chores associated with your move, and if you’re moving yourself, you can just keep the truck to move all the stuff that you want in your new home.

Need ideas on how to reduce the junk quotient in your life? Check out this article on prioritizing the things you want to throw away.


Your Next Move — Try a Cab?

The Toronto Star has an interesting feature on a novel way to move: move by cab.

It’s simple: get all your stuff down the curb, call for a cab (or hail one over), and voila, instant wheels for your move. Granted, you’ll have to pare down your belongings to what fits in a cab, but every good idea has a downside, right? Says a cab mover: “They’ll pretty much take anything in a cab if you’re persuasive enough, and tip them enough.”


If you have more stuff that will fit in a cab but not enough that you want to bother a moving company, you have several options for moving services. We get this question a lot at I have only a few things to move — will a moving company be interested?

Maybe, but even if they are, it will be pretty costly. There are other options.

You can do a self-service move, which entails you loading everything into a moving truck and someone else do the driving. This type of service can work better with a smaller load.

There are also companies like ‘Mini-Moves’  and Navis Pack & Ship that specialize in small moves, or you can try to barter out your move on a Website like ‘U-Ship,’ where you say what and where you need stuff moved.

In major metropolitan areas, there are also car rental companies, or if you can do your move pretty quickly, check out a service like Zip-Car, which lets you rent cars by the hour.

For more information, check out this article making a small move.


Get Organized When Wiring Your New Place

One of the biggest challenges on move day is setting up your electronics at your new place. It’s a long list these days:

• Find a provider for your phone, Internet, cable TV and cell phone
• Hook up your TV entertainment system
• Set up the network for your computer — both your Internet access and any networking system if there are multiple computers in your home.

It’s important to plan this well BEFORE you move, because during your move-in, you’ll be dealing with a cat that keeps trying to escape its new home, a crying toddler, and boxes packed to the sky.

To ease your pain (and make some more money), some movers are teaming up electronics shops to offer this service as part of your move.

For example, moving behemoth Mayflower has teamed up with Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” to offer setup for your PC and home theater system. There are also businesses and individuals who will set these up for you (for a fee, of course).

If you choose to do it alone, here are some helping hints for moving electronics

* When you disconnect wires, label them so you know where they connect. I know, they’re usually handily labeled according to color, but even a simple numbering sytem (1 to 1, 2 to 2), which help you set everything up quickly when you get to your new place.
* Take a picture of the assembly as it is now. When you move into your new place, you’ll just need to take a look at the picture to see what goes where. Don’t assume you’ll remember. I thought I would when I moved. I ended up connecting my DVD Player to the microwave.
* Keep all common wires and parts together – just put them in a simple plastic baggie, and then tape that bag to the component itself or have it in the same box as the component. Be sure to label the bag as well.

These articles can help you determine which home services you want at your new place.


If You Pack Yourself, Beware This Huge Pitful

Many people struggle over how to pack fragile items — glass items, picture frames, that beloved neon beer sign from college.

Here’s a suggestion: stop worrying about it and have the moving company pack it. You’ll pay for it, of course, but you could end up saving in the long run.


When you pack items yourself and the items inside get broken, you won’t be covered by insurance. That’s right. All the bubble wrap and good intentions in the world won’t protect that awesome ceramic cat if it gets broken in a box that you packed yourself.

Unless the box itself has visible damage and was obviously dropped or somehow damaged in the move itself by the moving company, the only coverage you’ll have is the minimum valuation that moving companies are required to provide: 30 cents per pound for local moves, 60 cents for long distance moves. That won’t go far in replacing the item.

Here’s another sobering fact: You’re bad at packing. Oh sure, you’ve moved 3 times and like to think yourself a whiz with tape and those little syrofoam peanuts.

But you’re not that good. Sorry. And even if you are good, you’re not as a good as a guy who does it full-time, every day, every week of the year.

But in the end, it’s not about who’s the best: it’s about what happens if something gets broken. And if something does, it might be the best route to make sure your items are protected by insurance.

For more information about insuring your move, check out this article on moving insurance. This article can help you learn how to pack fragile items.


Mortgage Refinancing Follies

I’m doing a mortgage refinance and have been silently mocking my mortgage broker’s laments about all the documentation the government is now requiring on mortgages.

Of course, if the  banks had actually been CHECKING homebuyers’ documentation over the past decade, we wouldn’t be in the terrible mess we are today.

Still, she did clarify her statement. Wherease before they checked NOTHING, now they’re checking EVERYTHING. That, in turn, is raising the costs of doing a refinance for the banks, who (surprise, surprise) are turning over the costs to borrowers in the form of higher rates than they might normally get. 

The next few years are going to bring a real balancing act between getting solid borrowers the funds they need, with the banks’ need to make money (at least make money that they don’t give back in future years because of awful investments).