11. Move at off times. If you’re moving locally, consider moving during the middle of the month. Moving companies are always busy at month's end, but when business is slower, the rare company may lower its tariffs -- but you've got to find it, say movers contacted nationwide.

12. Plan ahead. "If you're not organized in your move, you're going to be wasting time," Allen says. And time is money. Being organized will save you money in perhaps unexpected ways, Allen says. For example: "You could end up paying for an extra month's (utility) service that you don’t need if you don't get the service cut off in time."

And if you're disorganized and hurrying, you'll pay to ship stuff that you don't necessarily use anymore. Better to set up online bill paying so you can keep tabs on things and your credit rating won't suffer from missed bills, Regelman says. The Better Business Bureau suggests planning your move six to eight weeks ahead of time.

13. Beware the storage unit. Don't think storage units will save you money, warns Regelman. Just because you're not shipping stuff -- and it's out of sight, out of mind -- doesn't mean you're not still paying. You'll likely end up paying a few hundred dollars a month to store a $200 piece of furniture. You're better off getting rid of possessions before a move, she says.

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14. Pick your season. "Moving between the months of October and May can often save you money," says author Martha Poage.  "If you are not under a deadline to move by a certain date, you can get discounted moving rates from the van companies during this off-season period."

15. Get money for your move. If you're relocating for a current employer, negotiate for moving costs, advises Ramsey. If it's a new employer, negotiate the move as part of the job offer. If the company won't pay for a moving van to move you, maybe it will pay for you to move yourself with a rental truck, he says.

16. Take things apart. "Disassemble items yourself to save money," Poage says. Some moving companies may charge extra to disassemble items like cribs, bunk beds, outdoor play sets and water beds.

17. Find a good mover. Perhaps the single biggest way to save money on your move is to find a good mover. The cheapest mover often doesn't turn out to be the one with the cheapest rates, experts say. There are lots of underhanded moving companies out there, according to the Better Business Bureau, which offers tips to spot them.

"Some companies, if they're not good companies … when they come to move you, they'll just change the price," Poage says. "They'll say, 'Oh, you didn’t tell us there were two flights of stairs.' They'll just come up with all kinds of things to try to change the price of the move."

She’s seen cheap movers running with boxes and literally throwing them into the truck to try to save time, or banging into walls, causing damage a renter or homeowner has to pay to fix. "It's mostly the little, smaller, local companies that you have the problems with," she says.

Follow these steps to find the most economical mover and get the most for your money:

  • Get an estimate. Movers have to give you an estimate in writing, says the BBB, which has more tips here. You also can ask if the mover will give you a binding estimate, in advance, that guarantees the final cost. Get one if you can. But it has to be in writing, and you have to get a copy before you move, says the BBB.
  • Check references. Simply put, know who's handling your valuables, and if they're known for foul-ups or scams that will cost you money later. Ask your friends for recommendations. Check the Web for complaints, and search the BBB's database. You also can use the Freedom of Information Act to ask for copies of any complaints filed against the company with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, says the BBB. You may have to pay for copies of this information. Another place for references is Move Rescue, a Web site that compiles complaints, and you can search pre-screened movers at Move.com.  
  • Deal directly. When contacting a mover, ask if the person you're speaking to works for the mover or if he or she is a "household goods broker," says the BBB. They're two different things, and you may not realize it when you come across an ad for brokers, usually on the Web, says Jan Alonzo, senior vice president and general counsel at UniGroup, which owns United Van Lines and Mayflower. A broker is an independent contractor who lines up moving gigs, usually for smaller  companies. But if a broker is disreputable, his estimate might not be binding, and you could end up paying more. Alonzo's advice: Avoid brokers; talk directly with the movers.
  • Shop around. Get quotes from a few different movers. Quotes at Home is one source for quotes from movers in larger states. 
  • Don't forget to negotiate. The larger moving companies will often just say "this is our price," Allen says. But that price is more flexible than you might think. When Allen had to move his deceased father's effects from San Francisco to Atlanta a few years ago, he says, he got a quote -- then let it be known he was looking elsewhere (though experts advise not to mention specific prices). "They dropped over $500 off their original price" of $2,500, he says.

18. Protect the family jewels. Sometimes saving money means not losing it -- and movers sometimes lose stuff. Or break it. Get all valuable household items appraised before your move, advises Poage. Point out the high-value inventory to the moving company before such items are loaded onto the moving van. Take anything very small and of high value, e.g., jewelry, with you. And remember to keep the appraisal documents for such items with you in case of damage or loss during the move, Poage says.

If belongings do go missing -- of great value or not -- filing a claim for lost or damaged items may seem like a nuisance after the headache of a move. But it's your money, says Poage, so pursue it. The deadline for submitting claims is usually 90 days after your move. And always keep copies of the forms.

There’s a final question: Should you ask your friends to help you move? Labor that costs only the price of pizza and beer is tempting. But our experts weren't convinced that, after you're out of your early 20s, a big move should be entrusted to friends. For one, says Allen, you're committing yourself to helping move every person who's helped you -- a real time consideration.

"At some point it's worth spending the money to not go crazy," says co-author Regelman. "When you're 40 and have heavy things, it's just not worth throwing your back out. Spend some money and save your sanity."