9 Sep

Are You Saving Money When You Move Yourself?

  • By: Doug MAUSHARDT
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Save Money, Move Yourself???

Whilst drinking my morning coffee today, I had an epiphany (fancy word for a profound thought). Why is it that people go the DIY route when it comes to moving? U-Haul, Rider, Penske, Budget, all seem to be the preferred go to route for the save yourself money DIY crowd. Why is that? Simply, it’s the illusion of saving a LOT of money. Or at least… that is what we think. We have all seen the DIY trucks; their marketing is simple and brilliant. I would venture you see at least one of these trucks per day and get to see their $19 dollar per day rental splashed all over the back door of the truck. Couple that with the fact that at one point, in everyone’s life we have had to move our own belongings. Sometimes more than we would like. We start doing the math in our heads and think, okay 20 bucks a day for the truck and I can get my buddies to help if I get some pizza and beer. My buddies & I should be able to get this move done fast and cheap! That is the brilliance in their marketing, and why I call it an illusion, because if you pencil it out, the math doesn’t lie.

We recently did a quote for a couple doing their first cross country move for a new job to the East Coast. Budget is small for this move so we really had to do all we could to keep the costs down. After putting in all discounts allowable, we provided the quote. The quote included: packing of the TV’s & beds, a move into local storage and two months of storage, as well as the long distance move to the East Coast. The final cost was more than they anticipated and the first thought was “we can just rent a truck.” Curious to see how much of a difference it would be, we talked about it and we worked up a quote with the rental truck company to see how much they would save.

The Math Doesn’t Lie

Okay here was my first real shock. Rent a truck for 20 bucks a day right?? Wrong! To rent the mid-sized truck and car hauler to drive from San Diego to the East Coast with their basic insurance was….. $4224.00!!! Now the trip across was going to approximately 3100 miles, being very generous, let’s say the truck gets 10MPG (they don’t) that equals 310 gallons of fuel consumed. Figure the national average was around $3.50 per gallon, that’s over $1000 dollars just in fuel. If you push hard and get 600 miles driven in a day, it will take you 5 days to get across. 5 days, 4 nights in a hotel, figure $100 per night for a hotel for an average and you have $400 in hotels. Give yourself a $30 per day food budget and you are at $150 for meals. Then figure pizza and beer for friends if you can get them to help, plus an undecided amount for storage at destination while you wait to find your new home, plus the local rental truck charges for that move. Let’s recap:

Truck Rental $4,224.00
310 Gallons Fuel $1,085.00
Hotels min 4 nights $400.00
Food $30/Day $150.00
Total $5,859.00

$5,859.00 does not include storage or moving costs out of storage

When comparing the quote that we had provided, which included some packing, a local move into storage, two months of storage, and the long distance move to the East Coast to arrive and be delivered to their new home, not a storage unit, was $40 cheaper? Wait, that can’t be right, you mean, I have to do all the work myself, find people to help me do it all myself, and pay even more for it? But wait, I forgot, these are not the Budweiser crowd, these are the microbrew crowd, pizza maybe cheap, but they do not do cheap beer. 🙂

Final thoughts…

The DIY companies are very smart and very invested in taking market share from the full service moving companies to increase their share of the moving market. After all they lure you in with a great… no amazing teaser rate, only to end up spending as much as you would hiring a mover. There is a place for DIY companies, absolutely, they are great on the small local moves where you only have a small amount of stuff to move, where aren’t worried about things getting broken as there isn’t any valuation on your move and you know there is minimal mileage involved between A and B. We use rental trucks even on our long distance moves if our big truck can’t make it into a small complex. They do have a place in the moving market. However, I implore you to pencil out the numbers, and see if you are really saving money, or are just fooled by the illusion….


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