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How I 'saved' £2,000 moving house

Felicity Hannah

We’re in the middle of moving house and, anxious to save money at an expensive time, my husband and I decided to move our furniture and boxes ourselves.

Having received quotes from removals firms for as much as £2,000, this seemed like a massive saving. But was it?
What price convenience?

The first blow to my penny-pinching prowess came when I realised that we could have found a cheaper removals firm.

From speaking to friends, I had the impression that £2,000 was a fairly standard charge. However, after spending a few idle minutes on Gumtree, I discovered a local man-with-van who’d undertake the entire move for £750.

Admittedly, he doesn’t have the reputation of one of the national firms. If I was moving antiques and fine-bone china then I might well decide to go with the bigger company.

But for the purposes of shifting my IKEA wardrobes from one side of town to the other, he’d have done fine.

Still, saving £750 is still a pretty big saving, so I was happy with our decision. But what other costs should I factor in?

Van hire

Two days of van hire doesn’t come cheap and we had quotes for as much as £180. However, by shopping around, we managed to find a firm that will rent us a good-sized van for two days and one night for £125.

We had to top up the tank with £10 worth of petrol, but that’s still a saving of £615. That’s still a big enough figure that it seems worth two days of hard labour on our part.

Although, perhaps I am being blasé about it because it’s not my hard labour. My husband has enlisted some friends to visit and help us shift the heavier furniture.

Feeding our friends

You can’t ask your friends to travel half the country to help you and then not give them a decent supper and a few drinks as a thank you.

We needed to factor in the cost of two nights of decent food and beer. The first night we’re ordering pizza plus 12 bottles of beer. So that’s around £20 for pizza and £8 for beer.

Second night, the plan is to cook something a bit more exciting in the new kitchen. The men have opted for steak and a few more well-deserved drinks, so that’s looking like it’ll be around £25.

Add to that the shop-bought sandwiches at lunch both days – all our crockery is in boxes – at a cost of around £10 a day. So total spending on food and drink comes to £73.

Now, clearly we’d be eating even if we didn’t have friends visiting to help us move. But we certainly wouldn’t be ordering takeaway, buying steak or stocking up on beer. It’s probably an extra expense of around £60.

That brings our savings right down to £555.

Keeping perspective

Once you factor in my husband’s day off work, the total savings fall even further. It’s a long way from the £2,000 saving I’d thought we’d made, but we’re still up by a few hundred quid so it’s certainly worth it.

However, it does show how important it is to tally up all the expenses so you can compare prices properly. All too often what seems like a money-saving miracle can be far less impressive when you do the sums.

It also helps you keep the saving in perspective. When I thought we’d saved two grand, I began to think we could justify splashing out sooner on some of the decorating the new house needs.

But now I see that we’ve really only saved a comparatively small amount. It’s worryingly easy to overestimate your savings and undervalue your costs.