Money Talks, So Should You

Suitcase Finance: Living on the move

Sarah K.
by Sarah K., Dimespring 30

When you’re a consultant, there’s a certain badge of honor in being able to live a minimalistic lifestyle. If it doesn’t fit into three suitcases and one box, it’s not coming with me when I move.

In my life, living simply is an important ingredient to living frugally. So how do I decide what’s worth schlepping across the country and what’s easier to throw away and replace later, while still being mindful of my finances?

READ: Suitcase Finance: From spender to saver in three simple steps 

Moving Maxim #1: Be mindful of what you accumulate at all times, not just move time

Prior to taking this job, I was queen of clutter. If one were to look into my junk drawers or under my bed, early-stage hoarding tendencies probably could have been identified. Now, every piece of clothing, every knick-knack, and every kitchen gadget is carefully scrutinized before purchase. If it’s not inexpensive enough to be easily replaced during the next move, or if I can’t imagine making a priority place for it in my suitcase, out of the shopping cart it goes.

Moving Maxim #2: Sort and sell (whenever possible)

Whenever I move, I sort my belongings into three categories:

1. To take
The initial stages are easy — I take my clothes, some photographs and all my important personal paperwork. But when it comes to toiletries and kitchen supplies, I have to weigh whether the value of the item is worth the cost and inconvenience of extra checked bags and shipping.

2. To toss
I try not to toss too much, with the exception of moldy food and spare papers. If I’m not taking it with me, I try my hardest to put it in category three ...

3. To pass along
When you’ve only used furniture or other items for a few months, they are often still in excellent condition and can be sold on sites such as Craigslist, or even within your network via Facebook or word of mouth.

READ: Suitcase Finance: The economics of a long-distance relationship 

And if you can’t sell it, pay it forward. Since I often move on short notice, selling things can be tricky and time-consuming at best. That’s why I always try to help out friends who may have just moved to the area, or who are also trying to live a frugal lifestyle, especially with items that usually can’t be sold or donated (extra baking supplies, unopened toiletries). And it’s easy to find a home for old clothes and decorative items. I direct most of my donations to Dress for Success, an organization that provides professional clothes and career guidance to underprivileged women, and Goodwill, for the sheer convenience of multiple locations.

Maxim #3: Always keep a cushion

Although many of my moving costs are able to be expensed, there are countless start-up costs associated with moving. A new security deposit, a flight, shipping costs and stocking a new household with basic items all add up. That’s why I keep a credit card with a larger limit specifically for moving expenses. This is a great time for using cards with perks and no annual fee — my personal favorite is the cash-back Chase Freedom card, but many of my co-workers swear by the no-fee American Express.

Although I currently live under the constant assumption that I’ll be moving sometime  — or really, any time — soon, I’m hoping my habit of simple living carries over if I finally settle down.


What tips do you have for moving while on a budget?


Sarah is a 20-something consultant, living wherever the job takes her. Originally from Wisconsin, Sarah is always on the hunt for a good craft beer and restaurants that serve fried cheese curds. Sarah is a member of the Dimespring 30, a group of bloggers sharing their thoughts, experiences and perspectives on personal finance.