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Smooth Move

Summertime: school's out, new jobs are starting, and people are on the move. CBS This Morning money editors Ken and Daria Dolan recently made a series of moves themselves, and what they learned can help make your move painless.

According to the Dolans, complaints about movers have increased in recent years. The Interstate Commerce Commission, a federal regulatory agency, was abolished a few years ago, which partially accounts for a rise in consumer dissatisfaction with the moving industry. If you're moving within a state, however, state agencies that can help.

The Internet is a good source of information on reputable outfits. At Microsurf, you can plug in your destination, estimate the size of your move, and generate a list of movers with estimated costs. (Microsurf reports information as it is given to them. They do not endorse any of the companies who are quoted.)

Homefair.com is another site which can help take the bother out of relocating, with a salary calculator, lifestyle optimizer, and other catchy tools to help you get there and settle in.

It's a good idea check potential moving companies with your local Better Business Bureau and with the American Moving and Storage Association to learn if there are complaints against it.

Ken Dolan warns that prices are higher if you move in the summer or near the end of the month. You also may find prices are lower if you move in the middle of the week.

Whatever you do, get three estimates in writing. Have the prospective mover come to your house so they can flag potential problems like narrow staircases or a grand piano on a second floor.

Then get a "binding bid" (the final price) from the mover you have selected. That way, there should be no surprises when you get the bill.

Generally, long distance moves are charged by weight, while short moves — under 50 miles — are priced at an hourly or daily flat rate.

A mover should not ask you to put down a deposit. You pay when your household goods arrive at your new home. Of course, at that time you need to pay in full, or you won't get your stuff. You should also tip. The Dolans suggest $25 a mover plus a little more for the crew chief as a rule of thumb.

If you want to save by packing yourself, be careful. If something breaks that you packed, the movers probably won't reimburse you for it. But it may be worth the trouble to pack unbreakable things like books yourself in order to save time and money.

Even in the best moves, things get lost or broken. Movers provide some basic insurance, usually about 60 cents per pound. But that's too little. Chek your homeowner's insurance policy, as many provide coverage for household items during a move. Otherwise, the Dolans advise taking out extra insurance based on the value of your goods, not their weight. Also ask your mover about "transit insurance," which protects you against lost or stolen goods.

When tax time rolls around, the good news is, you can deduct moving expenses "above the line," meaning you don't have to itemize your tax return to take advantage of the deduction. The bad news: tax rules on moving deductions were recently made much tougher by Congress. For example, you used to be able to deduct house-hunting trips, food, and temporary living expenses, but those are no longer allowed.

Now, tax deductions are limited to the actual cost of getting your property moved from your old home to your new one. In addition, you have to pass two tests before you can deduct anything. First, you must move at least 50 miles from your old home and job to get any deduction. Second, you must be moving to take a job, not just for a change of scenery. So, deductions help, but probably will cover only part of the cost of moving.

For more about your money by "America's First Family of Finance," go to the Dolans Web site.

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