For anyone who has ever had to move—whether out of state or simply out of your mother’s basement—you know that it can be a major hassle. Between packing up your entire Star Wars action figure collection, disassembling your FJELLSE bed frame from IKEA, and hiring a moving team, not to mention purchasing enough empty cardboard boxes, masking tape, and Styrofoam peanuts, there’s a lot to do.
But what if you have to do all this on a zero budget? For starters, you can scratch that moving company off your list. Same goes for the moving supplies like boxes and peanuts. Before you give your mother a heart attack by announcing that you’ll be living with her forever, read on to find out the cheapest way to move if you have zero budget.
If you hire a couple of professional movers to load all your belongings into a truck, drive across town, and unload it into your new place, you’re looking at about $400—higher if you have more junk, lower if you “know a couple guys.” Still, if you’re flat broke then even $100 is way out of the question.
Zero Budget Solution: Everyone has secrets, and it’s only a matter of finding them. Search through trash cans, take photos on the sly, silently press your ear to all doors before entering—do whatever you have to in order to get the dirt on two or three of your closest friends. Then confront them with the CSI-worthy proof and let them know that in exchange for not posting the material on social media, they will be your professional movers for the day.
Even if you don’t hire professional movers, few of us drive cargo vans and the thought of making 1,214 trips to transport your stuff in your little Chevy Nova is enough to drive you to Zen Buddhism.
Zero Budget Solution: Speaking of Buddhism, the idea of owning no possessions is mostly unrealistic in this day and age—except when it comes to another person’s cargo van. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you steal a truck. I’m suggesting you borrow one. If you haven’t learned how to hotwire a vehicle, you don’t know what you’re missing. Just be sure to wipe down all surfaces for fingerprints when you return the truck.
Again, depending on how much stuff you own, buying empty cardboard boxes can set you back $20-$100 or more. I mean, for crying out loud: they’re empty!
Zero Budget Solution: Chances are, if you’ve been living in your mom’s basement all this time, you likely drink a lot of beer, play a lot of video games, and create a lot of “abstract” music (is it punk? is it electronic? is it spoken word?). No judgment here, but if you’re drinking a lot of beer, go down to the liquor store and ask if you can have an armload of empty boxes. Stores like this tend to have A LOT of cardboard boxes which they’re just going to recycle anyway, so why not recycle to you?
A roll of packing tape (in its own handy dandy little dispenser!) is just $3.49, but since you’ll need a couple or more, this is another place where cost can quickly add up. And again, three and a half bucks ain’t much when you’ve got a few Washingtons to spare, but when you’re working with a zero dollar and zero cents budget, $3.49 can be an entire meal.
Zero Budget Solution: This one works best if you are employed at an office. Bring one box to work each day, go down to the mail room, and tape up your box. True it will take you about 6 months to finish the packing process, but if you’re in a hurry, you should have thought of that before you got yourself evicted.
Another option is to take your unsealed boxes to FedEx Kinko’s where they are kind enough to offer a variety of office equipment and work tables for everyone’s use. Take those bad boys up right here.
Styrofoam peanuts, packing peanuts, foam peanuts—none of which are actually edible. These expanded polystyrene foam bits are for protecting your goods that may break, scratch or dent during transport. But one bag of these babies (containing 7 cubic feet of peanuts) costs about $20.
Zero Budget Solution: An economic alternative to foam peanuts is balled up newspaper. I know what you’re thinking—purchasing enough newspapers to do the job of all these peanuts is just as cost-unfriendly. Unless you do all your neighbors a service and collect the community papers or wads of advertisements that just sit on people’s front steps. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.