I have picked up and moved 20 times in my life and a dozen have been across the country. I have learned a few things along the way - generally, moving is expensive and stressful! But, after having moved more times than the average bear, I’ve found ways to ease the burden. Here are my top 7 tips for making moving affordable and easy:

1. U-Haul is still king. When all is said and done, a truck rental from U-Haul is still an inexpensive and hassle free option. Reserve your truck, van or trailer early, only get the size you need and negotiate for an all-inclusive price. Always avoid paying per mile. Plus, every truck rental includes one month of free storage making the transition from one place to the next a little more relaxed.

2. Don’t wait until summer. Move in the fall or winter if possible. Everything from gas to truck rentals is cheaper during the cooler months. Due to inclement weather, this isn’t always a good option for long distance moves, but across town should be no problem.

3. Some things are worth buying. Often times it is more expensive and more difficult to move furniture, electronics and other large items. This is especially true when making a cross-country trip. In this day and age of abundant thrift stores and the Facebook Marketplace, many things can be replaced for next to nothing. So, weigh the costs and unless it is sentimental consider selling it if it makes better financial sense.

4. Don’t buy boxes. Craigslist is a great place to find people giving boxes away. I have scored brand new boxes for free almost every move I have made. Grocery stores like Costco and Walmart are also great places to find boxes…ask for banana boxes, they are super sturdy.

5. Make it a party. Instead of hiring expensive movers to lift the heavy stuff, recruit your friends and family. For the cost of pizza and drinks, you can make it a social gathering all while getting your stuff moved.

6. Recycle, sell or donate. Moving is a great time to simplify and get rid of things that you no longer use or will not fit in your new home. Consider selling higher valued items to help offset your costs of moving. For items in good condition, donate them to your local Habitat, Goodwill or Thrift Store. And for everything else, recycle it if possible.

7. Plan. Spend time planning your move and organizing logistics to avoid unwelcome surprises. The first time I moved I didn’t know that the apartment I was moving into didn’t allow on-street parking during the week. My truck had to sit in a nearby parking lot until the weekend and I incurred added cost from keeping the truck longer.

Moving to a new home should be a wonderful adventure…. hopefully these tips will keep it a stress-free one too!