(Photo: Erich Ferdinand)
But on the other hand, everything you own in the world has to find its way into a box, and you're going to end up with tons and tons of boxes. How the heck are you supposed to keep track of them all?
Technology to the rescue! There are a lot of simple high-tech tools you can put to work to make sure that your move goes off without a hitch. And the good news is that keeping your life in order before, during, and after the move can most definitely be had on the cheap.
Offload before you pack
Like most people, you've likely got a lot of things sitting in your basement, attic, garage, or other storage area. It doesn't matter if you haven't touched these stored items in ages; if you've ever seen an episode of "Storage Wars," you'd know even old junk can have a lot of value to the right person.
Before you pack something, think to yourself, "Will I wind up putting this item back in storage when I move?" If the answer is yes, consider getting rid of it. After all, moving is expensive -- better to make money from your move than to spend extra money moving around stuff you don't need.
The most popular low-tech way to do this is to hold a garage sale, but if you want to squeeze every penny out of your treasures, unload them on eBay. If you're not familiar with the online auction site, don't worry -- it's pretty easy to get up and started.
Create a spreadsheet
Most major professional moving companies use high-tech tracking systems to make sure all your stuff gets where it needs to go. If you're making the move without their assistance, you won't have access to that kind of system. Still, that doesn't mean you can't come up with your own tracking system using a free Google Documents spreadsheet.
Not sure where to start? A good strategy is to give individual rooms letters, and then give each box you use in that room a number. Write a brief description of what you've packed in the box in that spreadsheet cell. Then, as large and as legibly as you can, write the cell's letter and number on the box. That way, you can easily direct all boxes with the same letter into their new rooms. Further, you'll be able to quickly find any necessity without having to rummage through each and every box.
Regardless of what strategy you use, it's a smart idea to label multiple sides of each box. After all, when moving, boxes often get bunched up and stacked on top of each other. Your move is most definitely subject to Murphy's Law -- if there's a way for a box's label to be out of sight, it will be.
Use a to-do and moving app
If you've got an iPad, you may want to enlist its services to help you move. And one of the best ways to do that is through a free app like MoveTools.
Created by insurance company State Farm, MoveTools is an organizational system that helps you remember where you put what item. Just tell the app what you're putting in each box as you're packing it, and you'll be able to quickly find the items you need when it comes time to unpack. The app will also let you print barcode labels and provide you with a handy to-do list that reminds you of all the important moving tasks. And believe me, to-do lists come in darn handy, because I guarantee you'll forget something without one.
Don't have an iPad? There are plenty of other apps out there that function similarly to MoveTools. If you have an iPhone, you may want to check out the $1.99 app Moving Van, which allows you to take pictures of the contents of each box so you can quickly know what item is located where. Android users may want to try the 99-cent Moving Planner, an app that's garnered solid reviews that helps you stay on top of your moving to-dos.
Organization is key
Just like everything else in life, how much money you wind up spending on a move depends on how much work you're willing to put in yourself. But you don't need to break the bank to have a successful move. It's all about organization. Stay organized, and you'll have a smooth move no matter what high-tech moving solution you prefer.