Smart Money Podcast: Pandemic Debt and Moving Costs

Sean Pyles
Liz Weston, CFP®
By Liz Weston, CFP® and  Sean Pyles 
Edited by Kathy Hinson

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Welcome to NerdWallet’s Smart Money podcast, where we answer your real-world money questions.

This week’s episode starts with a discussion of the economy's K-shaped recovery and how that may affect how you deal with pandemic-related debt.

Then we pivot to this week’s question from Emerson, who writes, “I'm planning a big move across the country with my partner. We're strongly considering Portland, Oregon. And I was wondering what money steps you would take now in order to prepare? Where can I look for incentives, coupons, anything that might make it easier or smoother? Our lease ends in August of this year.”

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Our take

The most accurate budget for a relocation requires knowing where you’re going and how you’ll get there. Will you hire movers or do it yourself? Is a road trip in your future or will you fly? Will you be searching for a place once you get there or do you plan to move right in?

While you’re sorting out those issues, you can start sorting — and purging — your stuff. Reducing the volume of what you move can save you money in multiple ways: on packing materials, on the moving container (a smaller space costs you less) and on labor if you’re hiring help. Selling some of your unnecessary stuff also could help you finance the move. You can look for other ways to cut costs, such as collecting boxes from stores or people who have moved recently.

Once you have a destination in mind, you can start researching costs. If you’re hiring professional movers, get several bids, familiarize yourself with common moving scams and check out the company’s records with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. If you’re doing it yourself, research the cost of rental vans and consider alternatives, such as pods that allow you to pack up a container that’s picked up by movers. You could save money by moving when demand isn’t as high, such as during the school year or mid-week or mid-month. (Summer, weekends and month end typically are considered peak times.)

Consider incidental costs such as lodging, meals and gas if you’re driving, plus any housing and meals you might need at your destination if you’re not moving in right away. Then give yourself a budget buffer of 5% to 10% to cover unexpected expenses.

Once you’ve moved, be diligent about changing your address with various businesses and utilities. Moves often lead to missing money, including unclaimed deposits and refunds.

Our tips

Plan and purge. Make a detailed plan for your move, including when and how you'll make the move. Then begin purging any items that aren't coming with you.

Get creative to save money. Look into alternative ways to haul your possessions, and ask retail stores for their used boxes.

Expect your expenses. Budget for items like takeout food, hotel rooms and miscellaneous household items while you journey to and settle in your new place.

More about moving on NerdWallet:

Have a money question? Text or call us at 901-730-6373. Or you can email us at [email protected]. To hear previous episodes, return to the podcast homepage.

Episode transcript

Liz Weston: Welcome to the NerdWallet Smart Money podcast, where we answer your personal finance questions and help you feel a little smarter about what you do with your money. I'm Liz Weston.

Sean Pyles: And I'm Sean Pyles. If you want us to answer your money questions on a future episode, turn to the Nerds. Call or text us on the nerd hotline at 901-730-6373. That's 901-730-NERD. Or, email us at [email protected].

Liz: And hit that subscribe button to get new episodes delivered to devices every Monday. If you like what you hear, please leave us a review.

Sean: This episode, Liz and I answer a listener's question about how to prepare financially for a big cross-country move. But first, in our This Week in Your Money segment, Liz and I are talking about how to manage your debt in our unequal economic recovery.

Liz: And this is something you recently wrote about, right?

Sean: Yeah, actually my latest column for our Millennial Money series with the Associated Press that a few of us Nerds contribute to is about exactly this topic, specifically how to manage your debt and our K-shaped economic recovery.

Liz: OK. What did you tell people?

Sean: Well, it basically boils down to how where you are in our economic recovery right now will determine how you can best manage your debt. And I think it's important to start out by explaining what this K-shaped economic recovery really means. So essentially, one part of the population is rebounding really quickly, especially folks who have white-collar jobs that have been able to work from home and save money throughout the pandemic because they haven't been flying across the country or going out to eat ... that sort of thing. Meanwhile, another section of the economy, especially folks who are working in the service sector, have a longer and slower path to their recovery. There are some numbers that I think really illustrate this, especially how it breaks down along racial lines. In January, for example, the unemployment rate for whites was 5.7%. That's compared to 8.6% for Hispanics and 9.2% for Black workers, and 6.6% for Asians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, pretty stark differences there.

Liz: Yeah, there really are. And that's the official unemployment rate. As we all know, the actual unemployment rate is usually higher. So if you're in that bottom part of the K-shaped recovery, what should you do?

Sean: It's really about covering your essentials and making sure that you can maintain the roof over your head, your internet connection, the lights on wherever you're living, and taking advantage of any programs that are available so that you can get the assistance that you might need.

Liz: Yeah. And we've talked about many of those before, about getting forbearance and things like that.

Sean: Calling 211 to get connected to local assistance. Those things can help a lot, especially if you need things like food and shelter.

Liz: So once the essentials are protected, what should you do then?

Sean: Well, one thing I'm really imploring a lot of people to do is not be too hasty when the creditors come calling. I talked with a financial coach for this article and she laid it out really clearly, I think. She said that all creditors will make it sound like they're the most important ones to get paid. And that's just not the case. It's important to try to not miss payments if you can, but when people are on really tight budgets, housing and transportation have to be at the top of your priority list.

Liz: That's a really good point. They're going to feel a lot of pressure from collectors and from creditors, as you said, demanding payment. So it's something important to keep in mind.

Sean: At the same time, a lot of people are relying on debt right now to cover the gap that they have between their income and their expenses. So I talked with another financial coach who recommended that people find the cheapest credit options possible. One option that I would like to get your thoughts on, Liz, is actually using a home equity line of credit because it has a lower APR than a credit card. A risk of that is that if you can't pay it back in time, you kind of are gambling with your house. What are your thoughts on using a HELOC if someone is in dire straits right now?

Liz: Well, actually that's a common technique that financial planners recommend to their clients, to have a home equity line of credit. Not to fund vacations and other fun stuff, but to have it as a backup emergency fund. And as you said, you're putting your house at risk. You could get foreclosed on if you can't pay that back. And you need to understand how the loan works. At first, you may be paying only interest and then bigger payments will come. But as long as you understand what the risks are, that could be a way to stay in your home and keep food on the table. So it's not a bad idea. You just have to be very, very careful about using that line of credit.

Sean: Another option that was recommended by this financial coach was a personal loan from a credit union. They tend to have lower APRs than typical banks when it comes to personal loans. And they also tend to be lower than something like a credit card, which can have an interest rate of upwards of 25% sometimes.

Liz: Exactly. And it's definitely a better option than a, I don't know, payday loan or something like that. Title loan against your car. You do want to look for the lowest-cost credit you can get.

Sean: And I think it's also important, once people begin to find some sort of financial stability, is to focus on long-term recovery. It's really hard when you're paying down debt and you're feeling really stressed out to think about savings, but it's important to make that a priority, too. Even saving 1% of your income can get you in that habit and build up some sort of rainy day fund, because we never know when the next emergency might strike.

Liz: People get discouraged about emergency funds because they have emergencies and they get wiped out. And that doesn't feel very satisfying, but that's exactly what it's for. Just get in that habit. Put the money aside, so the money's there when you need it.

Sean: It's also important to talk about how people in the top half of the K-shaped recovery should manage their debt. We know that just because you're making a good income doesn't mean you don't have a lot of debt. The classic debt payoff playbook works well here, which basically boils down to taking stock of what you owe, maybe using a spreadsheet or an online debt tracker like the one we have at NerdWallet to help people organize their balances, and then finding a payoff strategy, like the debt snowball method, where you can focus on paying off your smallest debt first. And then once you pay that off, rolling that amount into your next largest debt and so on until you're completely debt-free.

Liz: Yeah. And it really can help to have an accountability partner. Right?

Sean: Absolutely. Because so many people that are paying off debt feel so alone. And they're really not — especially right now. There's so many people who have a lot of debt. And finding someone who is somewhat financially savvy, maybe has been through this before or is going through it right now, can — so that you have someone keeping you motivated — can be a confidant when you're having a moment of crisis. And just generally provide encouragement because paying off debt can take a long time to do.

Liz: Now, you talked to a bunch of financial coaches. How can people get some help if they need it?

Sean: Well, there's a great organization called the AFCPE, which is the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. And they can connect you with financial coaches who can help you. Additionally, I'm a big advocate for nonprofit credit counseling, just to get some help from an outside expert who is trained in how to help you understand your budget and your debt, and maybe provide some tips to help you manage what you're working with.

Liz: Still, with all that help, sometimes there are situations where people don't have much choice, that they're not going to be able to pay off that debt.

Sean: Regardless of where you are in this K-shaped recovery, if you're making monthly debt payments that are more than half of your gross income, it might be time to look into debt relief, like bankruptcy. I talked with a bankruptcy attorney for this column who said the best time to file is when you've hit bottom and things are just about to get better. You don't want to be in a position where you're going to be racking up more debt after you file, because it will be pretty challenging to get credit in the immediate aftermath of filing.

Liz: Yeah. And a lot of people wait to the point where they don't even have the money to file for bankruptcy.

Sean: And again, because we're talking about individual debt in our broader economic picture, I really do want to reiterate the fact that we are currently in a moment of debt crisis for so many Americans who have rent in arrears, mortgages that they haven't paid for months. We have so many folks in Texas who now have thousands of dollars in utility bills. It seems like every month there's a new form of debt that people are being asked to pay that they simply cannot.

Liz: It's an important thing to keep in mind, that this is not a situation that people brought on themselves.

Sean: All right. Well with that, I think we can get onto a new segment that we're calling the Best-Of Minute, where we talk with the Nerds behind our Best-Of Awards for just a few minutes. For some background, NerdWallet puts together a list each year of the best financial products based on countless hours of in-depth research from our team of Nerds. This research puts an unfiltered and objective view on all of our winners to present you with the best financial products. To help you understand how our Nerds came to these decisions, we are talking with a few of the Nerds who did the work. And this time around, we're talking with investing Nerd Kevin Voigt about the best brokerage accounts.

Hey, Kevin. Welcome back on the show.

Kevin Voigt: Thanks, Sean. And thanks for having me.

Sean: Happy to have you. So let's just get down to it. I have three questions for you. First up, what makes a "best brokerage account"?

Kevin: Yeah. Well, we spent a lot of time throughout the year kind of reviewing and updating how we score these on best. And basically our list of best brokerage accounts is our kind of a holistic look at a number of different factors that an investor may value when choosing among brokerage firms. There's a lot out there, right? We have 47 different reviews and 47 different brokerages. Generally speaking, our evaluations look hard at two overall values: costs — a variety of costs, such as the cost to open and maintain an account — and a choice of options for the average investor.

Sean: All right. So that brings me to my second question, which is that I know you've put together a pretty lengthy rubric for comparing different kinds of investment accounts. What factors were you considering?

Kevin: Well, as I mentioned before, we look at account minimums, costs to trade, if anything, account fees, the investment selection, the quality of the trading platform, the quality of the app, the quality of research and data, as well as the quality of educational resources and customer support.

Sean: All right. OK. Last question. So when it comes to investing, I think a lot of people want to know which accounts will make them the most money. Is that even a thing that we can judge?

Kevin: No, not at all.

Sean: I didn't think so.

Kevin: I mean, a brokerage account is simply your access point, your port into the ocean of investing. And these are companies that are legally regulated to do this kind of work. So what you buy and how it does is completely dependent on market factors. This just invites you to the table to play.

Sean: OK.

Kevin: That said, there are two basic questions investors should ask themselves before opening a brokerage account, which is, "Do I want to make all my investment decisions myself, or do I want someone else to do it for me?" Right? If you're a DIY investor and you really want to trade individual stocks and maybe even get into advanced functions like options trading and that sort of thing, then you absolutely need to open a self-directed brokerage account, and make sure it has all the bells and whistles that you like if you want to trade. If you're more of a do-it-for-me investor, which frankly I am, then robo-advisor platforms are your best option. These are providers who, you answer a questionnaire, and that determines sort of your risk level. And often that has to do where you are in life. If you're close to retirement, you probably want to take fewer risks than if you're starting out your career. And then these do it for you — make all the investments based on your risk profile.

Sean: Got it. All right, Kevin. Well, thank you so much. That's all I got for now.

Kevin: All right. Thanks for having me.

Sean: Now, let's get onto this episode's money question, which comes from Emerson. They say, "Hey, NerdWallet. I'm planning a big move across the country with my partner. We're strongly considering Portland, Oregon. And I was wondering what money steps you would take now in order to prepare? Where can I look for incentives, coupons, anything that might make it easier or smoother. Our current lease ends in August of this year. Thanks so much. Love the show."

Liz: All right. Another potential Oregonian to join you in Portland.

Sean: Yeah. We welcome members in.

Liz: To help us answer Emerson's question, on this episode of the podcast we're talking with personal finance Nerd Lauren Schwann. Let's get to it.

Sean: Hey, Lauren. Welcome back on the show.

Lauren Schwann: Hi. Thank you.

Liz: So Lauren, our listener Emerson is wondering how to prepare financially for a move. So where do you think they should start?

Lauren: Well, early planning is so important because it can help you avoid surprises and some of those additional costs you might not expect closer to the move. But I think once you've figured out maybe where you're moving to, that can kind of help the rest of the pieces fall into place. So once you've decided where you'll move, you can think about the how, and you can walk through all the steps in your mind, and that might make those expenses easier to expect. But of course, the more common ones that most people could plan for might be things like packing materials, a rental truck or movers, if you'll need professional help. And cleaning fees, especially if you're leaving a place that might have a security deposit.

Sean: All right. Well, let's dig in a little deeper to how to plan for it and move. I've personally moved more times than I care to recount. And I know how complicated it can be. So what do you think might be a good first step for them?

Lauren: I think paring down your belongings can be really important, because obviously the less stuff you have to move, the less expensive it will be. You won't have to have boxes or pay for more time and labor to move those boxes. So really think about what you actually will need and what those things are that maybe you don't use anymore. So I know the last time I moved, I had clothes sitting in my drawer that had probably been unworn for three-plus years. So things like that. Maybe you have some old college textbooks — things like that — laying around. So start by paring those things down. And then you could even potentially sell some of those unwanted things and recoup some of the costs that way. I know a lot of my friends that have moved out of the city recently have had a lot of luck going through Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor, similar apps like that, where they've been able to sell within their local communities.

Sean: I found those to be really helpful when I made my last major move, which was from San Francisco up to Portland. And most of my furniture I got through Craigslist over the years was not even worth keeping. And so I just put it up on Nextdoor, on OfferUp, and people just came and got it. And I didn't get much money, if any, for my belongings, but it saved me from having to pay to remove it or move it up to Portland.

Liz: Yeah. And they've got a few months to do this, which is nice. They're not trying to leave in a big hurry, so they can take their time and work through different rooms. It's funny, because when you talk to professional organizers, they often say, "Pretend that you're moving." And with each thing, ask would you keep it or not?

Sean: Yeah. It's true. It can be really hard though, because I'm such a hoarder. I have my Game Boy Color from when I was a child sitting in my shed at the house where I'm at right now. And I haven't touched that thing in over a decade, but it's nostalgic to me. So I have a hard time getting rid of things. But for me, what it comes down to is, is it functional? And is it nostalgic, if it's not functional? And if it checks one or both of those boxes, I'm probably going to keep it.

Liz: OK. So as you start paring your stuff down, you'll have some idea of how much stuff you need to move. But how do you go about figuring out how much it's going to cost?

Lauren: If you have a lot of belongings or maybe you're not able to move everything yourself, that's when you might be able to start looking into some full-service moving companies. And I think a good first step obviously would be to look into a few different ones. That way you're not locked into the first expensive price that you see. So you'll get an idea of not only the price, but you could also start vetting these companies. So if you're moving between states, you can actually check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website. And you'll be able to look at the company's registration, insurance, complaints, their safety ratings. So that can help you decide which one to go with. That might save you some costs down the road.

Liz: Yeah. And from personal experience, I can tell you it's very important to do this vetting. I thought I had done it really, really well. And I got hijacked. And what that means is they took our stuff and they said, "No. The not-to-exceed-quote we gave you, you didn't tell us about the steps." There was one step. "You didn't tell us it was so far from where you're moving." We moved, literally, from Orange County to Los Angeles. I mean, they were coming up with every excuse in the book ...

Sean: Just to rob you.

Liz: ... Yeah. To raise the price by thousands and thousands of dollars. And fortunately, I was a consumer reporter at the time. I knew how to fight back, but a lot of people don't. And the one scam I want to tell people about is that sometimes these scam artists will buy a perfectly reputable company and then run it into the ground. They will skate on that good reputation for a while.

Sean: Jeez.

Liz: Yeah. So I mean, the cure for that is definitely do your research and maybe default to a brand-name company, because at least they have a long track record you can look back on.

Sean: Yeah. When I moved from my apartment in Portland into the house that we're currently in, we used movers. It was my first time ever hiring movers. And it took me a while to choose the right one because there were three to five pretty big-name companies in Portland that I was considering. Their prices were all over the map, and so were their reviews. So for me, I ended up actually turning to Reddit, which is one of my go-to resources, and just seeing what people had previously posted about these different companies. And I ended up settling on one that was not the cheapest but had the better reviews and was more reliable. And that was what was important to me, is making sure all of my belongings would get to my new house in good condition.

Liz: Another tip I was given is to talk to the big employer wherever you're moving, if you can, and find out who they use to move their executives. It's not going to be cheap, but obviously it's going to be a reliable company.

Sean: Interesting. So in Portland it would be like calling Nike or Intel, something like that, and getting ahold of their HR and just kind of pestering them until they give you an answer.

Liz: It might be easier if you know somebody who works at that company, to have them do your recon for you. But yeah, that's the general idea.

Sean: OK.

Lauren: There's also kind of a compromise between doing it yourself and hiring full-service, which are these moving containers that a lot of companies provide.

Liz: Oh, yeah. Like Pods.

Lauren: Exactly. Yeah. So there's, I think, Pods, U-Pack, a couple other big names there. But that could save you potentially hundreds or more dollars if you're able to pack yourself but don't necessarily want to make the drive yourself.

Liz: So they basically deliver the container. You fill it up and then they pick it up.

Lauren: Yeah. They pick it up, they deliver it, and then I think most of the time you unpack it yourself.

Liz: Oh, OK.

Sean: One of the other compromises with Pods is that you can't really choose the date that the Pod will be delivered, from my understanding. It's more about how it fits on a semitruck that is going to be going to your general destination anyway. So that might mean not having your Instant Pot on day one, or whatever it may be. But again, it is cheaper.

Liz: So you want to make sure that you keep some basics out for when you need them when you get there. So we've talked about getting the estimates and comparing the various movers. What else can you do to make sure that you're budgeting properly for a move?

Lauren: Well, the good thing is there are a lot of moving budget templates and spreadsheets online. So that can be a good place to start. They typically have a list of all the basic expenses that are involved. So you can go through, maybe pick and choose what works for your situation. And then once you get started researching, you can fill in some of those costs and add that all up. And that might give you an estimate, something you can work with.

A good idea also could be to add maybe 5% to 10% on top of that total to your budget, just as a buffer, because we know things don't always go as planned. So if you do have some wiggle room or you're able to set aside a little bit of your income each month leading up to the move, that can help out a lot.

Sean: What's helped me during previous moves when I've been trying to craft a moving budget is thinking about every single step of the process. "It's OK, you need to find how you're going to move all of your things, whether you're getting a U-Haul or you're hiring someone. And then you need to think about the actual process of getting to your destination. What is gas going to look like? How much will you be spending on food or hotels along the way?" Think about every single step of the process, kind of walk yourself through it mentally, and then you'll get an idea of where you'll be spending money at each step.

Liz: Yeah. That's a great suggestion. And remember that there are a lot of people moving right now.

Sean: Yes.

Liz: I mean, I saw one survey that said up to half of Americans are at least contemplating a move, and a bunch of them are actually doing it, pulling the trigger. So you might have a lot of competition if you are trying to hire a van or hire movers.

Sean: Yeah. Which brings us to the other part of Emerson's question, which was how to save when moving, especially if it's a competitive market and everyone's demanding U-Hauls right now. So Lauren, what do you think would be some good ways to save in the process of moving?

Lauren: Yeah. Well, on that note, a lot of moving companies or rental truck companies will raise rates when demand is higher. And normally that happens to be around the summertime, or on weekends, or toward the end of the month. So I know if the move is set for August, you may not have as much flexibility there. But perhaps you could get movers to come maybe during the middle of the week and maybe save a few bucks there. Another way would be to do as much of the work yourself as you can. So, as much of the packing and loading and transporting. That'll be less labor and you'll have less space to pay for, so you can really save some of the big costs that way. But of course that's not necessarily feasible for everyone, especially when you're moving across the country. So, on that note, I think when you run through those steps in your mind, you can also get creative about the ways that you can accomplish what you need to.

Sean: Right. I have two go-to tips when it comes to cutting costs on moving. One is I think pretty well known at this point, and it's getting free boxes wherever you can. A lot of times grocery stores will give away boxes for free. I have a friend who works at a pet supply store out here in Portland. She just helped a friend move and get a bunch of free boxes. So that saved her a lot of money. Because if you go to any sort of hardware store or U-Haul store, they're pretty expensive for just the pieces of the cardboard. And that helped us a lot. I also hoarded a bunch of Amazon boxes in the months leading up to my move from San Francisco to Portland. So that might be an idea as well.

But the other thing that really helped me and saved me over $400 when I moved from San Francisco to Portland was not going the U-Haul route. Because people talk about the exodus from big cities like San Francisco that happened because of the pandemic. Well, San Francisco has been shedding people for years now. When I moved in 2018, there were so few U-Hauls that I ended up renting a minivan instead. And I packed it to the gills and fit as much as I could in there. And that saved me a lot of money. It was kind of unconventional, but I got a comparable amount in there.

Liz: Wow. That's really remarkable. I'm just picturing Granny in a rocker on top of the roof.

Sean: Yeah, pretty much. But it's what I had to do at the time, and I would do it again.

Liz: Cool. That's a great idea.

Lauren: Yeah. And on the topic of boxes, I'm sure I'm not the only one right now who's been really amping up the online orders during the pandemic. So our house is basically bursting at the seams. Amazon boxes are a good way to go.

Sean: All right. Well, now let's talk about expenses that happen when people arrive at their destination, because obviously all of the expenses don't stop once you get there. In fact, there's a whole new dimension of expenses that pop up. So what do you think people should think about there, Lauren?

Lauren: Yeah, I think there's a few. Obviously, when you get to your new place, you want to settle in, really make it your own. And so, furniture, decor, setting up utilities is another big one. But there are also, luckily, ways that you can save on some of those. One way I know a lot of people might not realize is you can actually change your mailing address through the post office. And when you do that, they'll send you a packet of coupons. And typically these will include discounts for places like furniture stores or department stores. So maybe you'll get 10% off of Lowe's or Kohl's, and then you can use that to kind of offset some of those costs of furnishing. Also, changing your address is smart because that'll help ensure you won't get bills sent to your old address and you won't miss those. So you can avoid those late payments.

Sean: Yeah. I had a collections account on my credit report that I didn't know about for years because it was from my apartment in Vermont, in college. And I wasn't very proactively checking my credit report for a period of time after college. And I had no idea that this was sitting there until I started working at NerdWallet, honestly. And I paid it off and it was fine, but I still had that collections mark on my credit report — for seven years, which is not fun. So please try to avoid that by changing your address.

Liz: And I would go in and actually change your address with all of your financial services companies, everybody where you have an account. Because those mailing addresses, the forwarding only lasts for a limited number of months. And after that, you can run into a problem.

We should put in a pitch for our podcast about Missing Money, because when people move, that's when it happens. Not only do the bills get sent to the wrong place, but your actual money or deposits or things like that can get misdirected. So definitely go. It's

Sean: And we can link to that episode on our show notes post, so folks don't miss that.

Liz: Yeah. Oh, something else we should mention is that with those deposits, when you're moving to a new place, what you have to put down will depend largely on your credit and your credit scores. So if you have a few months before you're moving, that's a great time to burnish those scores if you possibly can.

Sean: One other way to help manage expenses when you get to a new place is something that I did when I first moved to Portland, is actually take out a zero-APR credit card. These are cards that have a period of maybe 18 months, if you're lucky, where there is no interest. And that helped us buy furniture that was quality. And we could make sure that we weren't throwing all of our money at our furniture from day one. And we paid it off over time. We didn't pay any interest, but it makes managing a big expense more affordable.

Liz: And Sean, how did you pick where you're living now?

Sean: Well, we first visited Portland because we had a friend that lived here and we got a feel for the different neighborhoods. And Emerson and your partner, one thing that I would really recommend you guys do is take some time to scope out the city before you decide where you want to live. Because Portland is so diverse. There's so many different parts of town and each area has something different to offer. So maybe visit here before you move out and stay in some short-term rentals and get to know the neighborhoods. Or also, if you do get here and you haven't done that yet, maybe just float around the city for a little bit and get to know where you want to stay. The good news is that there are a lot of vacancies right now for apartments because of the pandemic. So you probably wouldn't have a challenge finding a unit in any section of the city.

Liz: Do you think that will still be the case in August when they're coming?

Sean: I think so. There's been a lot of new development in Portland, so there are plenty of apartments. And with the pandemic, there are still folks who have left the city. So I think that landlords will still have an incentive to get people into their apartments.

Liz: That's a great suggestion.

Sean: All right. Well, Lauren, do you have any final tips for Emerson and their partner before we wrap up?

Lauren: Yes. So another kind of fun way you can save when you move: Once you arrive at your new destination and you're buying some furniture, just don't forget about secondhand marketplaces. So whether that's a physical store or an app. Sometimes you can not only save money, but find really interesting and unique pieces that way. So that's another tip I might recommend.

Sean: I love that.

Lauren: Yeah. And overall, just start your research and planning as soon as you can. And just to be realistic about the amount of work you'll be able to achieve on your own. And if possible, leave some wiggle room in your budget just in case.

Sean: Right. Yeah. I feel like it's always important to factor in all of the random things that you don't think about like strainers and garlic presses, all these household items that you know you're going to want, but maybe you haven't put into your budget. But anyway, that's just my experience. Although Emerson, you have a number of months at this point, so you're doing great. I hope this all goes well for you.

Sean: And with that, I think we can get on to our takeaway tips. Liz, do you want to kick us off?

Liz: Absolutely. First, plan and purge. Make a detailed plan for your move, including when and how you'll make the move. Then begin purging the items that aren't coming with you.

Sean: Next, get creative to save money. Look into alternative ways to haul your possessions and ask retail stores for their used boxes.

Liz: Finally, expect your expenses. Build a budget buffer for items like takeout food, hotel rooms and miscellaneous household items.

Sean: And that is all we have for this episode.

Do you have a money question of your own? Turn to the Nerds and call or text us your questions at 901-730-6373. That's 901-730-NERD. You can also email us at [email protected]. And visit for more info on this episode. And remember to subscribe, rate and review us wherever you're getting this podcast.

Liz: And here's our brief disclaimer, thoughtfully crafted by NerdWallet's legal team. Your questions are answered by knowledgeable and talented finance writers, but we are not financial or investment advisors. This Nerdy info is provided for general educational and entertainment purposes, and may not apply to your specific circumstances.

Sean: And with that said, until next time, turn to the Nerds.