Category: personal finance

How To Plan A Mess-Free Cross Country Move?

how to plan a mess-free cross country move

We moved cross country two times in less than a year. Our first move happened when I was 8.5 months pregnant and 2nd move happened when our baby was 6 months. The moves are both emotionally and physically tiring and you need months to recover from cross-country move (at least it was for me). Below are some of the lessons learned on planning, moving, and settling down in a new place.

Before The Move:

As soon as the move is confirmed, create a to-do list and assign a responsible person under each task. We used post-it notes and wrote the task name, due date, owner name and stick to it on a wall.

Also the tasks are posted top to bottom based on due date. So, the urgent works would be at the top and it goes down if the due date is far from now.

We started this planning 3 weeks before the move and continued to remove the notes as soon as we complete a work. We also talked about the progress at the end of every day.This process helped us finish all the work on time and in the end, almost all of the things went as planned.

Our Move Plan:

My husband moved a couple of weeks before us for early start date of the new job. I had to stay due to my work schedule. My parents flew down earlier than expected and stayed with me after my husband moved. During those few weeks, I sold our 2nd car, packed rest of the house and rented the house before we left to NJ. It was crazy when I think about it. But I’m so glad I did. I was able to sell the car at the target price although it was a little risky in case if the car wouldn’t have got sold.

Packing:

Packing is what makes the move more painful. Think of it as a project and take one step at a time. Before you even start packing an item, ask yourself the below questions:

  • Is it worth taking this item or not?
  • Have I used this item in the last 3/6/9 months?
  • How much would it cost to replace?

If your answer is no to the above questions, get rid of the item or sell on Facebook Marketplace and move on to the next one. If you need the item, put it in an assigned box (Write down the rooms in each box before you start packing things. For example, kitchen items go under kitchen box. This is called assigned box).

For moving boxes, check out your nearby retain store. Some big retail stores give you the boxes for free (just ask them if they have any extra boxes for packing stuff). If not, you can get some from craigslist or local facebook groups. If you couldn’t find any second hand moving boxes, you can find new ones at U-Haul. The best part is, you can return the unused boxes back at U-Haul after the move.

When packing, make sure you put couple cover/pads around the mattress and other expensive items to avoid damages.

The Cheapest Way to Move:

If you’re looking to save money, moving on our own is the best option. During the 2nd move, my husband drove the truck from NJ to TX while we stayed a few more days, cleaned the house and flew on the day he reached TX. It saved us at least $1000.

Finding The Right Mover:

This is a very important step when you plan the move. Uship is a great place where you can get quotes from many moving companies. Go over their reviews, insurance information, delivery time etc before you select one from the bidding process. The one we found was quite nice except that there were some scratches on the furniture and trash can (I know 😉 ). They broke our laundry sorter and bought a new one when we reported. They also delivered within 2 days (2 days from TX to NJ. Can you believe?).

If Uship doesn’t work for you, I also heard that Amtrak for cross country shipping is another good option.

 

For movers insurance,  check your old/new renters insurance. Some insurance companies cover the move up to a certain limit.

3 Weeks Before the Move:

Call your utility companies and let them know your termination of service. Make sure you include 1-2 extra days in case if the plan didn’t go as expected. Same with USPS, make sure to forward your mails to the new mailing address. The forwarding process takes place over 10 days time. So you need enough planning to avoid missing important emails.

During The Move:

Late evening/night time loading worked the best of all the times. Because, even if it gets late, you don’t have to worry about other basic requirements such as food etc. Make sure you have sleeping arrangements planned after the movers loaded the truck.

Also, provide specific instructions to the movers on the weight of the box, which boxes should go first etc. depends on the type of the product. Some boxes are lightweight and contain fragile stuff. The movers need to handle it with care and cannot stack anything else on top of it.

Carry on luggage:

More than clothes, I’d recommend carrying important documents and other important stuff with you when you travel. I hear a lot of moving companies losing stuff these days. It’s better to keep the most valuable items with us instead of stuffing all of them in the moving van.

After the move:

Update your new address in back accounts, Amazon and other important accounts.

Settling in the new place:

It kinda goes against what I’d normally prefer. But as soon as you moved into the new place, start unpacking and keep the house ready within a few days. I noticed that the earlier we keep the house in order, the faster we would feel settled.

Back Story:

There were many interesting events happened during the move (especially, when I tried to sell our 2nd car). People didn’t take me seriously although I knew the details about the car. What helped me was feeling and looking confident. I posted on Facebook, Craigslist and keep meeting people until I found the right seller.

Again, our 2nd car was not an expensive one and in case if I didn’t get to sell it to individual buyers, I would have gone to the dealer and sold it myself.

When was your last move (doesn’t have to be cross country) and how did it go?

Extra Income Project – Join Me

extra income projectI had this idea in my mind for months and I finally made it official. Yes, I have created a group to share our extra income earning projects.

The intent of this group is to share ideas and attempts to earn income through extra projects. Anything that promotes spending money to earn additional income is not allowed.

You might want to pay that debt or save money for next vacation. Whatever it is, this is a place where we get to share each of our extra income ideas and outcomes AND encourage each other.

For example, I have an audacious goal of saving $1000 for our 10 years anniversary celebration next year (10 months to go). All of this $1000 should come from extra projects I do outside of my day job. I’ll be sharing exactly the projects I am doing and how much I am earning through these projects.

So far I have $65 in the envelope by selling used items and I’m hoping to try other ideas to earn the rest of the money. I hope we share each other ideas, thereby all of us earn extra income.

The goal of this new group is to encourage each other and follow the journey of us as well as others. I’d love to see you there.

Link to the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/incomeprojects/

Here Are 7 Ideas To Avoid Impulse Purchases

7 Ways To Avoid Impulse PurchasesHave you ever bought something on an impulse and dreaded the purchase after some time? I have done it and now I try my best not to do impulse purchase ever. Below are the ideas I follow religiously to avoid impulse purchases and I can tell you they do create a positive impact on your shopping habits.

1. Unsubscribe all your favorite store newsletters? Hello Nordstorm!

I have a dedicated email account where I received piles of store newsletters. Although I almost never buy things just by looking at the newsletter, they tend to influence me on what I wanted. I unsubscribed all the store newsletters and only when I need something, I go their website and resubscribe. The cool thing is, when you resubscribe, the stores will send you the first newsletter with coupon code. Oh yeah!

As soon as my purchase is done, I’ll unsubscribe again.

2. Avoid going window shopping

Please don’t tell me i’m the only one who buys things when I go for window shopping. I can tell you from my experience, malls are not the place to just hang out.

We do go to malls, primarily to the play areas my kids enjoy. We go directly to the play area and come back. No stopping to look at things or window shopping.

3. Limit Your Social Media Access

I can’t tell you how many times I felt the need to buy that new handbag or cloth just because someone in my Facebook/Instagram feed wore it. There is nothing wrong with buying something we love or splurging on something. However, these posts would indirectly influence us to buy those things even though we don’t need them.

4. Postpone Your Purchase:

We had been looking to buy a water flosser (probably not a great example to mention here 😉 ) and when Costco had a sale on a flosser set this Thanksgiving we wanted to buy it right away. However, this pack came with a big flosser and travel flosser for $60 + tax.

Why do I need a travel flosser and why not just use a $1 flosser pack when traveling? It was tempting to buy the set as it was a good deal and we needed it.

Husband and I decided to postpone the deal and sleep on the purchase before we hit the “purchase” button. The next day we forgot about it and I came across a deal on Amazon that was better than this one. It was one flosser for a much lesser price. I understand I missed the 2 pack set, but I didn’t need it. I only need a water flosser for home and I got a good brand of water flosser for a great price.

Just by delaying the purchase, we saved $25.

5. Don’t Buy Just Because It’s A Good Deal:

Buy one, get one free and similar promotions are very tempting. No matter how good the deal is if you don’t need it, don’t purchase it. If it’s too tempting, move away from the location or close your laptop and take a break. You’ll forget the purchase in few minutes.

If it’s still tempting, ask your spouse or someone you trust about their opinion before you buy.

6. Have A Budget:

I might sound like a broken tape record. But I strongly believe in budgeting and I highly recommend it in case if you don’t have one for your family (feel free to reach out to me if you need help in putting together a budget). Keep a splurge money for your “want” purchases every month and as long as you buy within the budget, you don’t need to worry about it.

Both husband and I have splurge money ($20 each) and we love to splurge on our favorite stuff every month without checking with each other.

If you don’t have a budget, none of the others pointers are applicable. You cannot buy anything if you don’t have budget. period.

7. Create Your “Need” List:

Although I am a saver, I enjoy spending money on clothes, skincare and makeup. Over the years, my shopping habits have changed and I buy a few branded items that would last longer. I carry a running list of things I want and when I see a sale on something, I check my budget to see if I have money and if I have money, I’ll go ahead and buy it.

For example, I didn’t buy anything for me for almost 8 months and finally saw a lot of good deals on things I wanted during black friday sale. I had enough money on my budget since I didn’t buy anything for too long. I went ahead and bought things in my “want” list without feeling any guilt. Yes, the spending $$ were high, but I did have budget to spend that money.

This change in shopping habit made me appreciate the things I buy and enjoy them much better than before. Because I know I waited to buy them and I absolutely love each and every piece of cloth or accessories in my closet (not a big closet guys 😉 ).

How To Sell Used Items On Facebook Marketplace?

If you guys are want to sell any of your items, Facebook Marketplace might be a good option. It’s so simple and easy to post your items and the response rate is quite high compared to Craigslist, eBay or even Facebook Groups.

If you’re interested in selling through protected Facebook Groups, here is the link to how you can sell used items on facebook groups: https://goo.gl/GMJSvx

Sept & Oct Family Finance Review + November Goals

October Family Finance ReviewYou guys, I have been looking forward to sharing this family finance review with you. I intentionally skipped July and August family finance review as we had multiple unexpected expenses happened on the move.

Husband and I had been talking about making some modifications to our budget for weeks. All through the years, we have been following a budgeting system with specific $$ allocations under each spending category. For the first time after so many years, we tried a new budgeting method in September and looks like we will start using it going forward.

This new budgeting is called “zero sum budgeting”. Instead of assigning $$ for each spend category, we assign a lump sum for the whole month spending. It doesn’t matter if we spend more on one category and less on another category as long as the total spending is less or equal to the lump sum we allocated.

Previously, I used to get stressed if we go over the budget on a category even if I’m under the budget for other categories. Now that we only care about the total spend, I feel like the weight is lifted. I just focus on the total dollar and not individual category spending.

If you’re new to budgeting, I’d still suggest you try category budgeting as it will help identify areas where you can cut costs. If you have been budgeting for a while and are good at avoiding unnecessary spend, I’d highly recommend you try zero sum budgeting.

September and October Wins:

New Budgeting Method:

It definitely works for our family and whatever savings we have left in the budget at the end of the month goes out to splurge. I started shopping 90% of my groceries from Whole Foods. Thanks, Amazon and new budgeting!

Grocery spending:

Dragging two little ones to the store is more of a trip than grocery shopping.  So we hardly go out for grocery shopping these days. Less trips to the store means relatively less spending.

No personal spending:

I wanted to buy some skincare and cosmetics in September and I postponed my purchases to October fearing that I’d go above the line in the new budgeting if I make this purchase (I splurge on cosmetics and skincare. So my $$ are typically in 3 digits).

Interestingly, it didn’t happen in October either. I probably will wait for Thanksgiving sale and do a major shopping at Sephora.

September and October Fails:

 

Eat out:

My work was crazy busy in September and October that I worked even on some Saturdays. That said, I hardly had time to cook meals even though I meal planned everything. No food at home means more pick ups from restaurants.

We tried to limit visiting expensive restaurants. Even then the eat out spend was much higher than ever.

Cleaning:

I don’t know how you moms of 2 or more kids manage. I am short on time with 2 little ones and cleaning is taking a backseat nowadays. I’m slowly improving in November. But September and October were bad months for our house 🙂

Kids Clothes:

We moved from a bigger space to 2 bed room apartment. There are lots of toy boxes unopened. Recently I spent $110 for kids clothing only to realize I have some packed in the boxes. It was a bad job of mine and now my kids have too many clothes. Have you ever done this?

November Goals:

I love setting goals and knocking them off. It gives me lots of satisfaction when I finish the work on time (I guess we all feel good when we accomplish something, right?). I used to post my goals on the blog before and stopped posting them thinking it might not be useful. I have  people reached out to me asking for Goals post and guys, it makes me very happy 🙂 Below are the goals for the month of November:

Parenting:

  • Encourage Jeev to start writing – he is not much interested in writing although this guy loves math. I am also teaching him reading every day.
  • Take the kids to zoo if weather permits and other indoor events planned.

Family:

  • Plan thanksgiving week

There is also another important item that we are hoping to get done this month. I’ll share it with you as soon as it’s done.

Finance:

  • Prepare Black Friday shopping list
  • Go over the finances with Hubby and decide few open items we have
  • Compare health insurance plans between our employers and decide the best one between the two

 

Marriage:

  • Lunch date with hubby without him opening the phone. Lol!
  • He never reads the blog. So i’m going to say it – Write a love note and mail it to him as a surprise (no special occassion guys. Just want him to know how we 3 love him) 🙂