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Lowering the stress when moving

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Posted: Monday, June 27, 2011 10:32 pm

Are you moving this summer? If so, you're in good company.

The end of June through the beginning of September is considered the high season for moving. That's likely driven by recent graduates striking out on their own and families with children looking to minimize school-related disruptions.

If you are moving, are you stressed about it? If so, you're in good company there, too. According to researchers, moving is one of the five most stressful things you will ever do. Whether you move across town or across the country, you have to figure out how to organize your possessions, pack them and then unpack them on the other side -- and that is just plain hard. Especially when you have a million other "regular" activities to tend to. It's not as though everything else comes to a standstill just because you are moving. No, you have to fit it into an already-bursting-at-the-seams schedule.

So how do you cope without going totally gray? Here are five tips to manage (and master) any move:

1. Bind It Up. Get a binder and use it as your command central. It can be one you make yourself, or a preprinted, tabbed binder with helpful checklists. Not only will a binder or accordion file neatly contain any and all papers, it will give you the sense that you have the important things together, at your fingertips.

2. Comparison Shop. Moving is expensive. Once you get past initial bids, which are often artificially low, hidden costs for boxes, tape, other packing materials and, of course, labor quickly add up. Before you spend a dime, get at least three quotes, and ideally five, from companies and really compare the fine print. If you're just renting a van, compare the per-mile charges; often what appears to be a flat rate is not. If you're hiring professionals, carefully consider how many hours it will take to move the things in your house. It is not unheard of for companies to try to win a bid by providing a low estimate based on an unrealistic number of hours.

3. Get Insurance. Yes, you need it. Loss of property is the No. 1 headache reported by the moving industry. A moving company only provides the most basic insurance based on weight, so purchase additional coverage. Most homeowners' or renters' insurance does not cover goods in the possession of movers, so you can't count on that, either. Don't risk being one of the unlucky ones whose moving truck splits open on the interstate, spilling Grandma's dining-room table, or whose things get "lost" in transit. Moving insurance is worth every penny, because moving does come with its many mishaps.

4. When in Doubt, Definitely Throw it Out. Do you really want to lug that ugly coffee table to your new place if you know you're never going to use it and it will just sit in the garage or basement? Remember that it costs you to move every little thing, so go through your stuff and make some serious decisions. Goodwill, Salvation Army, veterans groups and other charities are waiting for people like you to donate items. So do some good for yourself and others and pick and choose what really gets to come along for the ride.

5. 15-20 Minutes a Day Keeps Chaos At Bay. Even if you choose to have professionals pack, start going through your stuff in 15-20-minute increments as soon as you can. Doing a little bit every night before you head to bed for four weeks or so will set you up for a less stressful move. Start with a few things that you know you won't be using soon. For example, you can box up the Christmas decorations or the kids' Halloween costumes without worrying that you'll need them right away. Such items can be sorted and packed well in advance.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife@getbuttonedup.com.

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