Save Money on Packing Supplies


There’s never enough packing supplies when you need them. You run out of tape with several boxes left to seal. You only have half the china packed and you’re out of newspaper and bubble wrap. What’s a person in the middle of packing for a move to do when this happens? Are you going to jump in the car and head to the closest U-Haul or other type of place that sells moving supplies? How about using stuff you have lying around the house?

Use Your Unmentionables to Cushion Your Breakables

My ex-wife was a collector of small glass figurines. However, unlike most other collectors, she threw out the boxes and packing materials these items came with, meaning every time we moved, I had to come up with some way to pack them cheaply without hurting them. What I came up with was ridiculously easy: socks.

That’s right, I said socks. What I would do is place the figurine in the sock and roll it. Once I had about seven or eight, I’d roll those up in a pair of underwear and tape the roll closed. The socks cushion the delicate objects and the underwear keeps them together.

I recently went on a cross-country trip from Arizona to Kansas and one of the items I took was my printer. I packed it into my suitcase with a towel on top and bottom, and then packed rolled underwear and socks around the sides to keep it from moving around when the baggage handlers mishandled it. The printer works like a champ to this day.

Clothing Makes Great Protective Packing Supplies

Most people I see packing their things up seem to group everything together and have an aversion to mixing stuff in the boxes. Many people would never pack clothing and kitchen utensils together. I do. I use every piece of clothing I own except what I’m wearing to safely pack my stereo and computer components. I roll lamps up in jackets and pants. Cups and glasses are rolled in shirts, as are plates and bowls. I rarely buy packing supplies when I’m moving, except maybe tape to close the boxes.

Don’t Buy Boxes

Boxes are probably the main expense involved in preparing to move. Having moved about a dozen times in the past 20 years or so, I can honestly and proudly say that I’ve never bought a single box to pack my stuff in. I go around the various grocery stores in the area and take any boxes they’ve got lying around outside on the loading dock, especially fruit boxes because they have built-in handles and are tough and sturdy.

I also cruise by the local auto parts stores. The boxes that oil comes in are perfect for books — just the right size, especially for paperback books. They are sized and shaped perfectly so that when tightly packed with books the weight is just right, not too heavy and not so light you feel you’re wasting a trip. Shops that specialize in tires and wheels can also be checked for the boxes that wheels are shipped in.

Use Books to Protect Delicate Items

Delicate items like pictures and lamp shades can present special hazards and problems when packing. You can’t pack clothes and stuff around them or you can end up crushing them, so how do you protect them from squishing and poking? Build a fort for them!

Free Digital Landing Moving GuidePlace a layer of books on the bottom of the box. Next place clothing and other items to brace and support the delicate item. Build a wall of books surrounding the item being protected and then use more clothing — socks and underwear mainly to cushion and support the books. Place another layer of books over the item being packed and seal the box. You now have safely and securely packed your delicate picture or lamp shade without wasting any space.

Use Junk Mail Instead of Newspapers and Bubble Wrap

Newspapers and bubble wrap cost money. When you’re moving, you can turn junk mail from a waste of money and mailbox space into an excellent way of saving money on packing supplies. Sales circulars, local weekly tabloids or newspapers, election materials, everything that comes through your mailbox that doesn’t need to be saved is fair game.

Save the Toilet Paper for Last

Inevitably, you’re going to run into the situation where you’ve got one medium-sized box, no packing supplies such as newspapers or bubble wrap left, and two small and very delicate items left to pack. This is where I make use of my toilet paper. No, I don’t roll it off the roll and cover the delicate items. I use it to cushion the items and make sure they aren’t able to roll around and break. If the item is really delicate, yeah, I may roll out enough toilet paper to create and soft and cozy bed for the item being packed.

I’ve moved an awful lot over the last dozen years, yet I haven’t spent much, if any, money on packing supplies. Do you have any special tricks you use to save money? Drop a line below and let us know.

Photo Credit: Caitlin Childs