A few unplanned costs of moving

By glblguy

Those of you that have been reading Gather Little by Little for a while know that I’m a planner. I’m not a long term planner, but when I know something is coming up I work out all of the details ahead of time, and in particular the financial aspects of it. I generally layout a spreadsheet listing out all of the expected costs and how much I think each of those line items are going to be. Right next to that I layout where the money is going to come from.

I did this for our recent move probably 100 times. I started this whole process back when we started looking for a new home. I laid out a simple budget to determine how much house payment we could afford, I did it again when we were faced with having to pay two mortgages for a bit, and I did it another right as we began going through the process of determining whether or not we should move ourselves or pay someone to move us. I tweaked and adjusted the numbers constantly. I knew going into this that I was going to miss a few things and did I ever.

To be real honest, for the last two months staying on budget has been next to impossible both from an inability to properly anticipate our expenses and frankly due to just not having much time to work on it and track it. Starting today the, the budget is back in full swing! Funny how we come to depend on things. Without our budget, I feel out of control and that keeps me up at night.

We incurred quit a few costs during and after the move that I honestly didn’t plan for. I’ve often heard the phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know.”  and that was so true for our move. Here’s what didn’t know I didn’t know:

Stocking the fridge

I didn’t anticipate the extra grocery expense of having the stock the house with food, in particular the refridgerator. A week or so before our move, we began letting our food run out of both the fridge and the pantry. The pantry so we wouldn’t have to move as much, and the fridge so the items wouldn’t spoil. Our first run to the grocery store bumped us way over our grocery budget.

Miscellaneous things we needed

This area was the heavy hitter. Once we moved in, we found all sorts of little things we needed. These included:

  • CO2 CO detectors – The owners had a vent less gas fireplace and no CO2 CO detectors.
  • Portable heaters – To be honest, this is one I should have planned for as I knew the house didn’t have central heat upstairs or in the basement, but I missed it. We had a few small portable heaters already and I guess I had convinced myself they would work. Nope, they were radiant heaters, we needed convection oil radiator heaters to heat the air. We had to purchase 4 of these.
  • Yard supplies – The yard was a mess, more so than I remembered it. Grass was grown up everywhere and extremely high. I had to buy extra trim line for my trimmer and some RoundUp to kill all of the weeds and out of control grass. RoundUp is awesome, but man is it expensive!
  • Various supplies for repairs – There were a few things on the house that needed repaired. A support on the front deck was lose and required some extra bracing, light bulbs were burned out, a few lights had shorts and didn’t work correctly, and some other small little things. While none of these individually where very expensive, added together they were more than I expected.
  • School supplies – Since our children all started in new schools, their new schools had requirements for supplies that their other schools didn’t so we had to go buy some different notebooks, a few extra binders, some plastic containers, etc. As with the various items for repairs, it wasn’t a lot, just unexpected.

Tipping the movers

This was something I completely didn’t expect. The day our movers arrived, he was reviewing the expected cost and options for payment. He said, “We accept cash, Visa/MasterCard, and personal checks but if you decide to provide a tip for us that should be paid in cash. Of course this is completely optional and not required, but I just wanted to mention it”. Tip movers??? Since when do you tip movers??

Digging around on the internet, it seems that tipping your movers for doing a good job is fairly common practice and encourages them to be a little more careful and do an extra good job. My guys did a great job, so it seemed I should tip them. There was no rule on the amount, so I went with the 10% rule and tipped them $100 each. $200.00 I didn’t budget for!


I completely forgot that moving companies won’t transport gasoline. While we had the U-haul trailer, I was concerned that the fumes might kill or hurt my fish. I considered hauling it in the back of my SUV, but didn’t want to smell gas fumes for 3 hours while driving to our new home, so I left the gas at the old house.  At the new house, I had to purchase new gas cans and fill them up with gas. Another $50-$60 I didn’t anticipate.

To make matters worse, not an hour after I came home with the new containers filled with gas I found 2 gas containers left by the previous owners under the deck! Grrrrr…

Warmer clothes

This is one I keeping kicking myself for as we should have anticipated it. Our new climate is significantly colder than where we moved from and thus requires warmer clothing. My wife and I have lots of warmer clothing, but our kids had outgrown most of theirs. We had to go buy new jackets and gloves for all of them. This was a big budget buster because I hadn’t allocated any clothing expense in our recent budgets.

Thank you emergency fund

So how did we pay for all of this? With our good old emergency fund. After all, that’s what it’s for right? All of the above unanticipated costs were needed and we hadn’t planned for them in our budget. That’s exactly what an emergency fund is for. Prior to having an emergency fund, we would have bought everything on a credit card. We would of course told ourselves that we’ll pay it back next month, only to pay minimums. Not this time. Another example of being able to survive without credit cards.

How about you? Move recently? Did you have unplanned or surprise expenses? Share your story, add a comment!

Photo by: alexik

22 Responses (including trackbacks) to “A few unplanned costs of moving”

  1. The Debt Helper Says:

    Moving costs are always move than you expect but it always seems to be the little things that make the difference. Who thinks of CO2 detectors and portable heaters when they move house, probably very few people and that’s because we are busy worrying about the bigger things like hiring a removals company or ensuring that the sale goes through and the dreaded packing! Glad that you had your emergency fund to use and it’s great to hear how the move went, hope you are enjoying your new place!

  2. Miranda Says:

    Ah, moving. We moved six times in six years when we first married as we traveled around, going to school. Now we’ve bought a house. New construction. We were surprised by how much it costs to put in a yard — even if you do most of the work yourself!

    But congrats on the new house. I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Kristen Says:

    I sympathize with the unplanned costs. My husband and I discovered the same thing when we moved in September. We also discovered lots of little things (and a couple of bigger things) that we really needed and didn’t have once we got to our new home. Fortunately we had some extra money set aside just in case.

    We also tipped our movers, though I didn’t think of it until the last minute either. It was really warm the day we moved, and our guys did a great job. They worked hard.

  4. Monroe on a budget Says:

    The last time I moved, my co-workers gave my family a gift card to a restaurant as a farewell present. That was a brilliant idea – it was enough for two family dinners and then some while I was changing over kitchens!

  5. Matt @ MyFinancialRecovery.net Says:

    I can relate to the unplanned costs of moving. I recently moved from Colorado back home to Vermont. While I handled the process of moving and planning out all the costs for the move well I neglected the post move.

    I tend to get hit by not planning on all the items that I will need when settling into a new place, like the groceries and CO detectors you mentioned.

    With another move coming up (this time just across town) I hope that we can minimize the unexpected costs!

  6. pinroot Says:

    I hate to nitpick, but the CO2 detector you mention is really a CO detector. I’ve googled home CO2 detectors, and what comes up is CO (Carbon Monoxide). Of course, with most of the world wetting their pants thinking that Carbon Dioxide causes global warming (which has been renamed “climate change” since the warming seems to have tapered off), I’m not really surprised about the confusion.

  7. Web Talk Says:

    you guys should do as well as we Europeans do. We just move a couple of times during our whole life. That’s the only solution to deal with costs which in this case will be very small!! LOL!

  8. Stephen Says:

    I’ve had lots of friends work for moving companies, and the best thing to do is tell them you’re going to tip them $xxx each as long as they do x, y, and z (usually move quickly, don’t damage stuff and whatever else).

    That typically gets them moving in the right direction immediately!

  9. Shawna Says:

    Oh man, did we have unexpected expenses when we moved across the country. First there was the extra day we had to spend in New Mexico because I got hurt and ended up in the ER. Thankfully, tha was reimbursed by the hotel that caused he injury, but still. The worst part though, was the crazy difference in food prices when we got to CA! The first night here, we spent $42 on 2 pizza’s, and then next night spent over $60 on Chinese food! Needless to say, we quickly went grocery shopping!

  10. Crisis Cartoon Says:

    I have moved 3 times and I usually ask my family or friends to move stuff together… a few days later organized a house warming party to thank them and to celebrate!

  11. Ray The Money Man Says:

    I love the comment about the Europeans only moving a couple of times in their life. We Americans are always running from something, leaving our families behind.

    Great post!

  12. glblguy Says:

    @pinroot – Good catch, not sure why i typed CO2…i know better. Article fixed, thanks for making me aware!

  13. Justin Says:

    Why would your food budget run over by a lot? If you weren’t spending money on new food in the preceding weeks by letting it run out, wouldn’t that excess cash go back in to filling the fridge and pantry in the new house?

  14. Frugal Vet Tech Says:

    We moved a little over a month ago. I think we had a pretty good idea of the the extra money we’d need to spend – moving truck, extra gas money for driving back and forth, deposits at the new apartment, food for our fantastic friends that helped us out, etc. One thing I had forgotten about was the set-up or transfer service fees for our phone and electric bills. I think the fee for setting up our new phone service is around $18. I haven’t seen the electric bill yet, so I don’t know how much that one is.

    There’s always the little miscellaneous stuff for the new place – organizers, lights, etc. that you didn’t need at the old place but do at the new one (or the ones you had at the old place don’t fit in the new cupboards/cabinets/closets).

    If you have a pet and opt to kennel it for moving day, there’s that expense. Our dog is a stress case so we opted to send her to the kennel for a few days so she wouldn’t be underfoot and freaking out (and so we could just leave doors open while we were hauling stuff in and out). We get free boarding because I manage a kennel, so it didn’t cost us anything extra, but it would be an added item in most people’s budget.

    For pet owners, there are the fees for licensing your pet in your new location. If you frequent a dog park, you may need to buy a pass for your new local park. At our last place, we had to buy a park pass every year. In our new town, we just have to get a dog license and that allows the dog in the park. Occasionally, I see vets charge a “new client” or “paperwork” fee for first-time customers.

  15. glblguy Says:

    @Justin – You know, that’s an excellent point. I’ll have to go back and look at the transaction history. I know we did spend more but as you said it should have balanced out. Hmmmm…

  16. Roger Hamilton Says:

    This is an informative post. Thanks for the useful information !

  17. Justin Says:

    I can see the food costs being a little higher, due to picking up dinner or more easily prepared foods when unpacking and packing and being too tired to cook, but it shouldn’t really push it way over like you mentioned.

    No, I am not critiquing you, even if the tone may suggest that, I am just somewhat curious.

  18. Lynnae Says:

    Ooooh boy, do I know about those expenses. I didn’t anticipate the high cost of school supplies. At my kids’ old school, there weren’t many supplies to buy, but they had a long list for their new school. And a registration fee, too. Expensive!

    And food was a biggie for us, too. We were at my dad’s for a month, so we used up all our food and started at our new place with nothing. It’s amazing how much the staples add up, when you’re used to replacing them one at a time instead of buying them all at once.

  19. Ëåéëà Says:

    Женский род вас явно недолюбливает. ))

  20. FSBO Jane Says:

    Wow, great list of tips! Having moved more times than I’d have liked over my life so far, I can say you are right on the money. Especially about stocking the fridge! :)

  21. jasen Says:

    A great Tips of the costs for moving that you may not know about it!! it give up thumb up!!