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At first glance, the idea of purchasing something in order to save money seems a bit contradictory. But you may be surprised to learn that one of the best ways to save money when trying to move on the cheap involves buying moving boxes. Here are three reasons why paying for boxes can lower your moving expenses:

If you pack in boxes that have been lying around the house or were donated by friends, family, or the local wholesale supply store, chances are you'll end up with boxes of various sizes, shapes, and sturdiness. It's likely you'll need a lot of packing tape to hold things together. This may be a fine strategy for storing possessions in your closet, but it can cause problems when you need to load your belongings -- particularly fragile ones -- into a vehicle. Boxes of assorted sizes are difficult to stack when carrying or placing in a van or truck and more likely to topple over. In addition, weaker boxes are easily crushed under the weight of those above.

2. Purchasing moving boxes keeps your belongings clean

At certain stages of life when moving is a routine occurrence, it's very tempting to run to the nearest grocery store and pick up boxes or crates that once held fruits or vegetables. What you may not realize, however, is that these boxes may carry insect eggs, ants and spiders, mold, dried juice, dirt, and other debris (never mind that they've already traveled quite a distance and may be somewhat weakened ). Their less-than-pristine condition can damage clothing, papers, and other valuables, and may bring insects and mildew into your new home. A few new cardboard moving boxes definitely cost less than an exterminator!

3. Professional-grade moving boxes enable you to skip on the moving company

Depending how much furniture you have and how many (strong) friends are available to help you out on moving day, shelling out some cash for high quality cardboard boxes may spare you the expense of hiring a moving company. Moving companies use boxes designed for the task -- padded boxes for dishes and breakables, for example, and large boxes that accommodate a rack of clothes -- to make their job easier and to better protect your stuff. So take a lesson from the pros and use the right kind of boxes.

What to do with cardboard moving boxes after you've moved in?

Once you're all settled into your new digs, what do you do with all these boxes? Here are a few ideas to help you stretch those moving-day dollars:

  • List your moving boxes on Craigslist for free

    and pass along good moving karma! Your boxes will be second-hand, but since they're strong and meant for moving, whoever takes them off your hands will have a much better shot at a safe and affordable move.
  • Store items in your new home or garage

    . Small- and medium-size moving boxes are perfect for stowing away seasonal items or things you want to donate or sell at a later time.
  • Recycle!

    If you can't find any willing takers and don't have room to store the boxes, take them to a recycling center instead of tossing them in the trash. Make sure the recycling center accepts corrugated cardboard.

Moving is stressful no matter the size of your budget. Hopefully these tips will lower your anxiety and some of the unintended costs of moving.

Author Bio:

Becky Harris is the head copywriter at U-Pack, one of the nation's premier moving companies.

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