10 tips to cut your stress and save money.

By Jeanine Hanson

If you have ever packed your belongings in a hurry and tossed them willy-nilly into unlabeled boxes, knowing you would have a mess on your hands unpacking, you are not alone.

It’s not unusual for people who have moved just once, let alone multiple times, to have boxes of unidentified, miscellaneous “stuff,” piled high in a basement, attic or closet. These may never be opened.

Perhaps you have had the experience of tearing through your unopened boxes, months after a move, because you were desperate to find something you needed. Leaving chaos in your wake, you gave up and repurchased the lost item.

Maybe you have even gone so far as to rent off-sight storage, thinking you will sort through things later.

Days, if not weeks of time are wasted. Frustration builds. A slow simmer of resentment grows in the back of your mind. Any way you look at it, this is a huge loss of time, energy and money that could have been avoided.

Here are ten tips to avoid problems. Yes, it does take a bit more effort while packing — and usually when you are short on time. I know, you feel that it is just too much extra work. However, a couple of well spent hours now can save money and huge blocks of time later, plus the annoyance of looking and looking for something you just can’t find.

1) TAKE PHOTOS FIRST. Before you begin packing, take photos of your rooms and their most valuable contents. Get a small photo album to carry in your pocket.

2) CLUTTER EQUALS DELAY. Clear out the clutter! Donate, toss or give away unwanted items now. It costs money to pack, move, unpack or store. Get rid of the excess, don’t drag it with you.

3) PACK LIKE A PRO. Pack similar things together. Don’t mix items from more than one room into a box just to fill it. Overcome the temptation to wrap breakables in your clothing or bath towels. These are frequently broken while unpacking.

4) LABEL OR LOSE IT. Never use “miscellaneous” as it just creates frustration later. Label all boxes by room on at least two sides of the box. Number the boxes for each room and include a brief description of content. For example, “Dining room/#1/Everyday china.”

5) OPEN THIS BOX FIRST. Have at least one box labeled “open first” for each room, packed with your essentials.

6) CREATE A MASTER LIST. Keep a master list of all boxes and their contents, as well as a list of your furniture and large items. If something goes missing it is easier to identify it.

7) PLAN AHEAD WITH PHOTOS. Use your photos to plan your new furniture arrangement. These photos also make a great reference if you later decided to purchase new furniture or accessories. Just take the small album mentioned above shopping with you. Last but not least, put a copy of these photos into your home or renters insurance file.

8) SAVE STRESS – SKETCH A PLAN. Sketch a floor plan of your new home, note room names and furniture placement. Make several copies to guide your helpers and movers. It will save countless questions.

9) KEEP VALUABLES SAFE. Keep all valuable items separate: e.g., medications, jewelry, checkbooks, important papers, etc. Transport those items yourself.

10) PLANNING IS ESSENTIAL. A recent client used these tips and her movers claimed they finished the job in almost half of the time they had estimated for the move.


Jeanine Hanson, the owner of The Organizers, has been helping clients clear clutter, redecorate, and bring beauty and comfort to every room of their home since 1993. Jeanine holds a B.A. in Art, UW, is a graduate of The Western School of Feng Shui, San Diego, CA, member of the Interior Redecorators Network (IRN), New York City, and a member of the Professional Organizers (NAPO). She has researched home environments across the globe. Jeanine was previously an owner of the Ovens of Brittany restaurants and bakeries for 20 years.

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Published in Nature’s Pathways Magazine, May 2014