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Is This Even Legal? Three Strange Hacks That Might Help Pay for Your Move

in Long-Distance moving, Moving Costs by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

When you put a down payment on a house, you get a house. If you put a deposit on an apartment, you get an apartment. When you pay for your move, well, we hate to admit it, but you’re not getting anything new. We transport your goods from one place to another, and you pay us for it. The truth is that hiring a moving company is an incredible savings over the alternative. Which is replacing everything you own. Still, a little help paying for the move would be nice.

Fortunately, there are some little-known hacks that might either help pay for your move, or pay for it in its entirety.

The IRS

The IRS can’t pay for your move altogether, but they might be able to help. If you are moving for a new job, and the new job is more than 50 miles further away from your new home than your old job was from your old home, the move might be tax deductible. Yes, that’s confusing. In other words, if you used to commute 10 miles to your old job, and you’d have to commute more than 60 miles to your new job, that would be a good reason to move. The IRS agrees, so they’ll help out.

You also have to work 39 weeks out of the first 12 month period in your new home. It can be more than one job. The good news is, you don’t have to wait till after the year.

A tax deduction is never 100%, but you can deduct the move, up to 30 days storage, even even moving expenses for your family. 

Student Loans

If you are moving for school or have recently graduated and you still have some student loan money to spend, you can spend it on your move. Granted, you’ll have to pay it back, but the theory is that you’ll be making a lot more money by that time. Still, if you are trying to avoid debt, this might not be your best alternative.

Your Employer

You’d be amazed at the number of people who forget to negotiate moving expenses into their new employment contract. For the employer, it’s a tax deduction. For you, another reason to work for that company. Not all employers will pay for your move. But some will even help with a downpayment on your new home or temporary housing expenses while you look.

 

Five Ways To Save Some Serious Money On Your Move

in Local moving, Long-Distance moving, Moving Costs, Uncategorized by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Moving is expensive. We know this and the last thing we want to do is send you into debt for your move. That’s really not a good way to get repeat business. So, here are some tips that are guaranteed to save money.

1. Save Money by Packing Everything

Packing everything in your home can save you as much as 25 percent on the cost of your move. Talk to your moving estimator about packing materials and ask for tips. They can show you how to pack fragile items. Keep in mind that if it’s not furniture, it needs to be in a box. You need to pack pictures (or move them yourself), electronics and lamps.

2. Save Money by Cleaning

Movers don’t care if there’s a little dust, but you want to be sure that there is plenty of space to move, especially near the doors. Clear all debris and empty the trash, or the movers might move it.

3. Save Money by Labeling Everything

If you are doing your own packing, odds are, the movers won’t label your boxes. One of the best ways to keep things moving smoothly is to very clearly label each item with by room. Color coordination is even better. You can even map out your new home to show the movers where all the furniture goes.

4. Save Money by Moving Some Things Yourself

Moving a box or 10 isn’t going to make a whole lot of difference on the bottom line, but if you can move loose items like pictures, lamps and electronics, you can save a good bit of change.

5. Save Money by Reserving a Parking Space

If parking is a challenge in your neighborhood, contact the city and ask about reserving space. Plan on a truck that’s about 26 foot in length. Most cities will charge you, but in the long-run, convenient parking will save you a lot of time on your move.

If you live in a condo or apartment building that has a loading dock, ask your building management about reserving time. Note that most moves start in the morning, so you should reserve your current home for the morning and your new address later in the day. Your moving estimator can give you a better estimate of time.

Featured image CC2.0 401(k) 2012 via Flickr

Please DO Tip And Feed The Movers, If You Feel Like It. Here’s How

in Moving Costs, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

One of the most common questions we face, and often one of the most difficult to answer, is whether to and how much to tip and feed the movers. The simplistic answer is that yes, you should tip and feed the movers, but only if you feel like it.

When and how much should you tip the movers?

If you aren’t happy with the movers, then by all means, don’t tip them. If the movers ask you for a tip, complain to their manager. But if you are happy, there are a number of ways you can do it.

One of the simplest and most direct ways of tipping is by the hour. If you are moving locally, odds are you’re paying by the hour anyway. Adding another $5.00 per mover per hour is pretty simple.

If you are moving out of state, though, you won’t have an immediate tally of the hours and common sense might suggest that you should wait to tip until your items are delivered. It’s not quite that clear-cut, though.

It’s rare that the same crew is at both the pick-up and delivery. In the majority of cases, your goods are transferred from a local truck to a semi-truck and then a crew experienced in long-distance moving will transport it.

The toughest part of the job is at the pick-up, so it’s not a bad idea to tip with that in mind. They are the people who wrap your furniture, they do any packing, and that’s all before loading and unloading the truck.

If you aren’t comfortable tracking the hours, you can tip as a percentage of the move (10 percent, perhaps). Just be sure to divide it equitably among the pick-up crew and the delivery crew. 60/40 is a good divide.

What should you feed the movers

While you are under absolutely no obligation to feed the movers, having food for them to eat can make the move go a lot quicker. Pizza and sandwiches are always favorites. Don’t serve food that’s too rich or your movers will be ready to take a nap. As for hydration, sports drinks are the unofficial official drink of movers. Stock up. They will drink more than you think.

Featured image via Steven Depolo/Flickr.

21st Century Solutions For Not Being Hit With Extra Charges At Your New Home

in Advice, Moving Costs, Preparing for a move by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Even the most diligent moving consultant can miss one giant piece of the puzzle, the new home. While in most cases, the new home shouldn’t add much to the moving price, there are circumstances where the unknowns can add up. There are ways to avoid any sort of extra charges.

Long carry

When you receive a moving estimate, don’t be surprised if you get some questions about the distance from where the truck can park to the front door. If it’s longer than say, 100 feet, you are charged extra based on the amount of stuff you have. If it’s a local move, it will add to the number of hours.

Stairs

Movers don’t specifically charge more for stairs inside the home, but if there is more than one flight of stairs to get to the front door, you will pay extra. Even if the stairs are inside the home, it could require an extra mover and it will certainly add to the time.

Obstructions

People don’t give much thought to the obstructions that might impede a move. For example, my home has shrubbery next to the front walk that could prevent movers from carrying big items through. Fortunately, there’s a quick workaround in my yard, but that’s not always true. If you can’t clear your new home of obstructions, you should at least notify your mover so they can prepare.

Shuttle

Shuttles are typically only a factor in long-distance moves, but they are very costly. Most interstate moves are performed in a 53-foot tractor-trailer. Some homeowner’s associations have rules against tractor-trailers. If your new home is on a winding or hilly road, it’s often physically impossible for a truck to get through. Shuttles can add a shocking amount to the move, and for good reason. There is a lot of labor involved.

Every time a shuttle is needed, the movers have to call in another truck, often a rental. Then, all of the items are transferred from the big truck to the smaller one before the movers finally unload the contents of the smaller truck into the new home.

Storage

If your new home isn’t ready for delivery at the time the movers are ready to deliver, they will charge you for storage, often by the day. If your goods need more than a day or two of storage, the mover will charge you for unloading the truck, and then when you’re ready for delivery, loading it.

How to avoid extra charges at delivery

No one wants that hit of extra and unexpected charges. That’s how a good company can get a bad reputation, often through no fault of their own. Fortunately, there are advantages now that we didn’t have even a few years ago. Take your moving estimator on a virtual tour of your new home through your smartphone, laptop or tablet. Show them where a truck might park, how your front door is accessed and whether there are stairs.

Save money by letting your movers know in advance that your new home won’t be ready. Many movers offer one month of storage for free or at a dramatic discount, as long as they can store at their home base. Things get very expensive for the mover, and for you if they have to rent storage space.

Featured image via Pexels.

Why Does It Take So Long For You To Deliver My Goods To Another State?

in Long-Distance moving, Moving Costs by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Perhaps the biggest complaint movers get (other than about dishonest scam artists ripping people off) is that it can take weeks and sometimes more than a month for goods to be delivered across country.

It makes sense. You could drive across country in a matter of days. Moving trucks aren’t exploring the sights. They aren’t stopping at cool restaurants and they don’t have time to admire the world’s largest ball of yarn.

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So why does it take so long for your goods to be delivered? Well, it’s a bit complicated.

I’m sure you’ve driven behind a semi-truck on the highway, only to be frustrated at having to go so slow. While most can go a lot faster (and many do), it’s unsafe and driving too fast can cause rollovers and worse. Isn’t it better that your furniture arrive safely than not at all?

Drivers are restricted by the numbers of hours they can drive. It’s a confusing formula (drivers can drive 11 hours in a 14 hour period following 10 hours of being off duty), but let’s just say they are legally only allowed to drive about 11 hours a day.

Semi-trucks are more susceptible to weather. While most are equipped with chains in case of icy roads, under many circumstances, it’s simply dangerous for a semi-truck to be on the road. A large snowstorm could delay them by hours or days.

Road conditions and speed are just a tiny portion of it, though. The main reason your truck may take days or weeks is that your shipment will likely not be the only one on it. A semi-truck will hold the equivalent of about three two-bedroom homes. More if the homes are smaller and less if they are bigger. Let’s say you are moving to Florida. There might also be a shipment that’s being dropped off in Arizona and another in Texas. They might pick up a load or two in the Carolinas.

There is a way to ensure that your shipment will get there sooner, and it’s to pay more — often a lot more. Most movers will offer you the option of an exclusive shipment, but that means regardless of the size of your shipment, you will have to pay as if it takes up the entire truck.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

What To Do When A Move Goes Very, Very Wrong

in Moving Costs by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

Moving, even with the best most experienced mover, isn’t an exact science. Sometimes miscommunications happen and sometimes, accidents happen.

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Clearly, the best movers won’t have as many miscommunications and accidents as the *well* less respected movers, but the true test of a moving company is how they treat you after they collect your money, not before.

The beginning of the move should set up the entire experience. The crew leader should present you with some paperwork. Essentially, it’s a contract that allows them to move you. It might contain the estimate you’ve already received (always get an estimate beforehand, preferably in person, especially if you have a large home). It’s called an Order for Service.

If any of the movers are rude or disrespectful, call the company immediately. If the mover’s attitude doesn’t make a quick turnaround, ask that he be replaced. It’s possible that they might have to change that mover out with one on another job, so if it takes an hour or two, that’s okay. Just ask that that mover work outside instead of in front of you.

Odds are, you won’t find damages or misplaced items before a mover leaves your home. When you do find them, document them. Before turning to Yelp and other review sites, call the company. Most movers want their customers to be happy. While the odds are you don’t have full replacement value insurance through the mover (this is available through private companies and it’s highly recommended — discuss it with your consultant), good movers will try to help in any way they can. As when talking to anyone, though, remaining calm will typically get you the furthest.

If you feel you were overcharged, contact the operations manager. He or she will be able to go through each and every charge. You should have an exact start and finish time on local moves. On long distance moves, you should have a copy of the weight or the cubic footage of your shipment. Typically, extra charges come from unexpected packing. Compare the amount of packing that the movers did to the amount of packing they were contracted to do. Did you pack everything, including pictures on the walls, lamps and electronics? Your moving consultant should have spoken to you about each of those items, but the bottom line is, if an item isn’t furniture (and in rare cases if it is), it needs to be in a box to ensure that it’s well protected. Even your mattresses and box springs will need to be protected during a move. If you did all of that, then by all means, find out where the discrepancies are.

If your goods are delivered late, it’s usually due to circumstances not under the movers’ control. Usually. Ask for an explanation, and again, remain calm. Movers make money by freeing up their truck space as quickly as possible, so there’s no reason for a decent mover to keep your goods longer than they absolutely need to, unless…

If you’ve done all of this and discussed any problems with the company, all to no avail, it may be time to file a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission, or the Federal Department of Transportation.

Featured image via Pixabay.

What To Do About A Bad Neighbor

in Moving Costs, Your New Home by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

If you live in the city, you likely avoid eye contact. If you live in the country, you might be able to avoid the bad neighbor altogether, but there are almost bound to be times when you will come face to face with your bad neighbor, and rather than reacting, perhaps it’s best to solve any problems beforehand.

Pick allies wisely – Bad neighbors are all in the eye of the beholder. You might hate the purple house with the sofas in the front yard, you might hate the loud music, you might hate the loud cars or the overgrown lawn, but there is someone in the neighborhood who loves all of that, and more importantly, there are likely people in your neighborhood who are friends with your bad neighbor. Tread lightly. You want to engage allies, but don’t ruin relationships while you’re at it. Feel your other neighbors out. Ask what they would like to see changed in the neighborhood. If someone mentions weird colored houses or loud noises, you might have an ally.

Confront them – Be careful. As in so many Hollywood movies, people can get a tad defensive when they are told they are doing life wrong, which is how they’ll take criticism of their paint choices. The best thing to do is to befriend them first. Cookies are cliche, but they are effective. Patience is your friend here. Don’t bring up touchy issues when you bring over the cookies. Wait a few weeks. Most people don’t want to be rude, but sometimes it takes someone pointing out their foibles.

The creepy neighbor – We all have one of these. You can check the sex offender registry. If nothing is there, but you still get a bad feeling, listen to your gut and stay away. Don’t hesitate to call the cops if warranted. No one wants to be “that person,” but things will only get worse if you don’t.

Call the landlord – If your neighbor is a renter, too much noise or messy yards are probably a violation of the lease.

For the neighbor who talks too much – I work from home and my neighbors seem to feel I have nothing better to do than talk to them. Sometimes, I have to not answer the door or the phone. Other times, I simply tell them I am on a deadline.

Regardless of your neighbors, remember you live in a neighborhood. Sometimes, the weird members are what gives your neighborhood character. Some neighborhoods, especially those with homeowner’s associations, are much less accommodating to those whose homes look less than pristine. They won’t help with difficult personalities, though.

How To Save Money When Moving Because Of Separation

in Advice, Moving Costs by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

family-law-329569_640Whether you’re separating from a spouse or from a roommate, you probably see costs adding up. Bills are suddenly doubling while the income isn’t. While Ninja Movers can’t really help with most of that, there are ways to help control the cost of the move, even if there is more than one.

It’s possible that if you are moving in the same general direction, your two moves could be treated as one. It takes a special sort of organization, but it could save on time.

If you are consolidating the moves, it’s critical that you are very well organized before hand. Label absolutely everything and color code it. Put colored sticky notes on furniture and mark boxes with matching colored labels or markers. It’s also a very good idea to inventory everything.

Instruct the movers that you will have two separate deliveries. They don’t need to have anymore information than that. Be assured, they don’t need the details of a messy divorce. While the movers can find which possessions need to be loaded first (the last and furthest stop), it will save you money to bring everything that will be unloaded last to the front. When they are done loading those items, they will load the items that will be unloaded first.

It’s best to arrange that one person pay the bill or that it be cut in half. The movers will not be able to itemize how much each move costs, although, and this is a big exception, if an estimator sees the move beforehand, he can give you a cost for each individual move. If you haven’t had an in-person estimate and if you feel that you aren’t in an amicable enough a situation to split the bill in half (or whatever prearranged split you discuss), it’s probably best to do two separate moves.

You also want to have separate moves if you are moving in different directions or if one person is moving out of state and the other is staying. Out of state moves are billed by weight while local moves are billed by the hour.

Why Your Move Won’t Be Cheaper With Fewer Movers

in Moving Costs by Ninja Movers Leave a comment

1795763_818068038217889_6419290821201040947_nEveryone who’s on the mover’s end of the phone while setting up a move has heard a version of this question: “wouldn’t my move be cheaper if there were just two movers instead of the three you’re quoting me?” Generally, to the customer’s dismay, the answer is no. Fewer movers can actually result in a more expensive move.

Yes, that’s tough to imagine. After all, you pay by the hour for the each man, right? Yes, that’s true, but to properly answer the question, you have to put yourself in movers’ shoes for just a minute.

Moving companies have a pretty singular goal and that is to move you as efficiently and quickly as possible. While it might sound strange, that a moving company wants your move to go as quickly as possible, it makes perfect sense if you think about how moving companies arrange their schedules. Unless you have a fairly large move, it’s unlikely it’s the only on that the dispatch office has planned for your moving crew that day. It’s always better for a moving company to have two happy customers than to have one unhappy but high-paying customer.

An experienced moving consultant will factor in all aspects of your move. Are there a lot of stairs, a long distance to the truck or lots of packing? If so, it’s better to have a larger crew so the move can be run with assembly line efficiency.

Even if your move is straightforward, the proper number of movers will save you money. Why? It’s simple math. Yes, you are paying an hourly rate for each mover, but you are also paying for the truck. When your moving consultant estimates your move, he or she will be taking a complete inventory of your furniture and boxes as well as an assessment of the moving environment. After surveying everything, the consultant will calculate the number of man hours. For example, your move might require 15 man hours, including pick-up and delivery, and that can be divided up one of two ways:

2 movers for 7.5 hours each or 3 movers for 5 hours each

Either way, you are paying the same in man hours, but the second way will be quicker, and there’s another factor, there’s the truck. If just two movers are sent, you will be paying for two and a half more hours for the truck and the move will be done less efficiently.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t question your mover. You should always question your mover, but don’t always think that an estimate that includes fewer movers will be a cheaper move.

How To Deal With A Bad Move

in Local moving, Long-Distance moving, Moving Costs by Ninja Movers Leave a comment
Definitely a bad move. Image from Ripoff Report.

Definitely a bad move. Image from Ripoff Report.

It’s probably weird to see a moving company acknowledging the prospect of a bad move, but unfortunately, they happen. Despite the fact that we are the number one rated mover in Silicon Valley, we sometimes screw up. In fact one of the reasons we are rated so highly is that when we do screw up, we admit it and we take care of it.

Most moves get screwed up in one of four ways; either something is broken, delivery is late, movers are rude or the cost goes over the estimate. Of course, there are other ways, but those are the most common and the ones that even the best movers are sometimes guilty of.

If your move gets screwed up, the first thing you want to do is acknowledge it. I doubt there isn’t a business on the planet that hasn’t encountered a customer who seemed happy until they filed a report with the BBB or posted a negative review on Yelp. Heck, even I’ve done that. Sometimes it’s easier to express your feelings, unchallenged, in writing, than to confront someone, and sometimes movers are big and sound a little scary. Who can blame a person?

The truth is, though, that any good moving company wants the opportunity to make things right. They also want to correct potential bad habits before more customers are affected. The bottom line is, complain, but try to stay calm. Calm customers, of all businesses, tend to do better in negotiation than do irate customers.

If something is broken

Unfortunately, this might be the biggest sticking point between movers and customers. Most movers only cover your move by pound. In other words, your goods don’t even have a dollar value. There’s a good reason for that. A $5,000 dining room table is moved in much the same way as a $500 dining room table. Of course, good movers will take extra precautions with high value items, but the way the move is handled is not based on value. A college student moving from a dorm room deserves a quality move as much as their parents do. For that reason, most customers purchase extra moving insurance.

The best way to handle a damaged item is to contact the mover as soon as possible. They will want to know and they should offer you something, even if it is just $.60 per pound per item. Then, contact the insurance company. They will also contact the moving company.

Late delivery

This one is tough because sometimes there are things that are simply out of a mover’s control. The best advice is to be patient, but to acknowledge your specific inconveniences. If you are staying in a hotel room or if you are having to rent furniture, let the mover know. Depending on the circumstances, the mover might help defray or completely cover your out-of-pocket expenses. You can also ask for a small discount on your move.

Rude movers

First, remember that on moving day, emotions tend to run high. People are trying to deal with the movers, finish packing (if applicable) and often, deal with their kids. On top of that, complete strangers are occupying every corner of their homes. Who wouldn’t be cranky? Don’t put up with rude movers, but before you pick up the phone, ask yourself if you might be able to help rectify the situation on your own. Most movers have natural skills when it comes to relaxing tense situations, but sometimes, you catch someone on a bad day, or worse, you catch someone who should not be in any sort of customer service industry. Call the company immediately. Trust me, they will fix the problem, even if it means replacing the bad seed.

The cost went over the estimate

This is a tough one. An estimate, by definition, is just an estimate. The exception is if you receive a binding estimate. In which case, the cost should never go above unless you haven’t upheld your end of the bargain. The key is to make sure that all i’s are dotted and all t’s are crossed before the move begins. Know exactly what you are expected to do. If you are supposed to pack everything, make sure everything, including pictures on the wall and mattresses are packed. Most people find it easier for the mover to do odd shaped items like that.

If you have upheld your end of the bargain, complain. Find out exactly why it went over. Perhaps there were unanticipated problems at the delivery address, like stairs or perhaps the elevator wasn’t available. Understand that reputable movers want to honor their estimates, even if circumstances are a bit different. However, when the move ends up being much larger or more complicated than originally planned, they do need to cover their own costs. This is a time to negotiate.

Unfortunately, the world is filled with bad movers. That’s why the industry has such a bad reputation, but the last thing you want to do is assume that your mover is just like all the bad guys if you were careful in choosing them. If you chose your mover simply based on price, there’s a good chance that they don’t care if you are happy in the end. If you did your due diligence and checked Yelp and the BBB, you probably have a good one and they will bend over backwards to make you happy.

 

 

 

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