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Where to Find Cheap Packing Supplies {Tips for the DIY Move}

Posted Mar 24 2013 9:29pm
Tips for the DIY Move There’s no way around it – moving is an expensive proposition, whether you’re paying someone to do it for you, or you’re doing it yourself. Even if your company pays to move you, there are still additional expenses involved in moving from one property to another. Selling, buying, or renting, it all gets expensive! Thankfully, we had the  money saved up to cover all our moving costs, but my frugal self could not bear to spend anymore than absolutely necessary.

The good thing is, I’ve moved a time or two (or three or four. or more.) in my life, and I’ve learned some tricks about where to get packing supplies without breaking the bank.

There’s no way around it – you’re gonna need boxes if you’re moving. How many and what kind all depends on the stuff you have, but the fact remains that boxes are a necessity. However, you most certainly do not have to pay the exorbitant prices charged by truck rental companies, office supply stores, or moving companies. At any rate, I never have!

  • Ask your friends. With this last move, I put a shout-out on the FB group for the ladies in my church, and someone had a whole collection of boxes from the last time they had moved! Free for the taking! Another friend brought me boxes and packaging material from her workplace, and still others brought me boxes that they collected here and there. If you’re on Facebook, just post a status asking for boxes and you’ll probably get plenty. If you’re not on FB, try the old-fashioned word-of-mouth version – that should work pretty well, too (she says with tongue-in-cheek).
  • Ask at grocery stores. I absolutely love produce boxes for packing! They’re the perfect size to carry, they often have handles, and they typically come with padding of some sort or another. I’ve found them to be very useful in particular for dishes and other fragile items like vases.
  • Ask at other stores. Many retail stores have a procedure for getting rid of their boxes, and so aren’t likely to have any to offer you. BUT I have had great success at Target! You can almost always find someone stocking shelves there, and they typically have a cart full of empty boxes trailing along beside them. Sometimes the boxes are too small to be used for moving, but I’ve had great success there.
  • Ask at work. At the very least, you probably get reams of paper delivered to your office – those boxes are a great size for packing just about anything! Save all the ones you come across; every little bit helps.

I inadvertently had the opportunity to try out a few different sources for packing tape on this last move, and I can tell you confidently that of the 3 I tried, Staples definitely had the best deal! My first experience was with tape from the Dollar Tree, and I got so frustrated by its cheap quality that I could barely force myself to use up what I had bought. Then I bought a roll from Walmart, and while I was pleased with the quality, I was perturbed by the exorbitant price (more than 3 times the price of the Dollar Tree).

I struck gold at Staples! You can buy a six-pack of standard packing tape for $16.99, which comes to $2.83 a roll – that makes it less than the Walmart price but for almost twice the yardage. There may be better deals elsewhere, but that was the best price among the stores I checked in my area. If you don’t have Staples, try other office supply stores in your town to see if the prices are similar.

When it comes to packing up valuable items, you want to be sure they are well padded and secure in their boxes. Bubble wrap and styrofoam can get pretty pricey, and are not exactly environmentally sound choices. I’ve found that recycled items can actually be the best packaging, and cheaper to boot!

  • Newspaper is GREAT for wrapping just about anything. It does leave black marks on some dishes, but a quick trip through the dishwasher or a swipe with a wet rag takes care of that problem. It also does get black ink all over your hands, but once again, a quick hand-washing session is all you need. Ask friends to give you their newspapers instead of dumping them in the recycling bin (you can do that when you’re unpacking). You can also stuff crumpled newspaper (or catalog/magazine pages) into nooks and crannies in boxes to prevent the items from shifting.
  • If you really don’t want to deal with the ink, a roll of butcher paper or plain newsprint (without any print on it) will do just as well (albeit more expensive).
  • Shredded paper is awesome packaging, and it’s completely free! Whenever I packed a box of breakable items, it always seemed like there were lots of little gaps and holes in between the stuff in the box. To fill in the gaps, I would take the bin from our paper shredder and dump the contents into the box: all the shredded paper would settle into the holes and fill them up nicely. I am happy to report that not one single boxed item was broken during the move! The only drawback is that you have to be careful when unpacking those boxes – lift the items up out of the shredded paper, and be sure to keep it contained in the box. Then you can just pour all the shredded paper into a garbage bag for recycling.
  • Recycle packaging from boxes you receive in the mail, and ask your friends to pass their recycled packaging along, too. I used paper, bubble wrap, plastic air bubbles, and more, all recycled from my own mail.
  • The Dollar Tree sells bubble wrap if you want to use that for especially valuable items. I bought 3 rolls there, and didn’t really find myself in need of anymore than that. It did the job just fine!
  • If you have a friend in the medical field, ask them for surgical wrapping. It’s sturdy and cloth-like and even stretches a little and is perfect for dishes, vases, knick-knacks and picture frames.
  • Washrags, hand towels, dish towels, and aprons are ideal for packing up your kitchen items. You’re going to use those things in the kitchen anyway, so might as well make use of them as you pack them into boxes! I wrapped drinking glasses, bowls, pans, knives, and more in my kitchen linens and they worked perfectly.
  • Don’t pack your blankets and towels away in a box! They can be used when packing the truck as padding for furniture and anything else not contained in a box. In a pinch, you can use them as padding in your boxes, too, but do be sure to leave a few out for packing the truck.

These are my honest-to-goodness, real-life tips for packing on your own without spending a lot of money. (One extra tip: Buy permanent markers at the dollar store. They come in packages  of 4 – for a $1! – with different colors so you can organize the labeling on your boxes if you want. Trust me. You want your boxes to be well-labeled!)

What’s your best tip for moving on the cheap?, 5 eBooks for $7.40!

Find more inspiring and informative posts at Make Your Own Monday , Motivational Monday , Homestead Barn Hop , The Bulletin Board , Better Mom Monday , Natural Living Monday , Trivium Tuesday , Titus 2sday , Teach Me Tuesday , Hip Homeschool Hop , Titus 2 Tuesday , Delicious Dishes , Open Call Tuesday , Tiny Tip Tuesday , Healthy 2Day Wednesday , Frugal Days Sustainable Ways , Works For Me Wednesday , Real Food Wednesday , Whole Food Wednesday , Allergy-Free Wednesday , The Mommy Club , Encourage One Another , Thought Provoking Thursday , Simple Lives Thursday , Homemaking Link Up , Keep it Real Thursday , Frugal Thursday Rewind , Your Green Resource , Homeschooling on the Cheap , Thrifty Thursday , Fellowship Friday , Fight Back Friday , I'm Lovin' It , Weekend Bloggy Reading , Weekend Whatever , Snacktime Saturday

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