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Moving is stressful.
No surprise there.
Ready for another obvious statement?
Getting organized can minimize a lot of the stress of changing addresses.
So...where’s the rub?
Unfortunately, that one word—organized—emcompasses A LOT OF WORK. Work you might not find time to do as all the stresses pile up: finding a new place, packing your stuff, transferring your utilities, gathering moving supplies...you get the idea.
But there’s no need to pull your hair out.
This comprehensive, start-to-finish, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink moving guide from Budget Truck is designed to take the stress out of getting organized. We’ve included:
A checklist of what to do when moving out
Plan ahead and save money
Who to contact before and after you move
Tips for when you book
Guidance for garage sales, thrift donations, and trips to the dump
Gather the essential supplies you'll need
Packing guides for everything in your house
Things to consider before moving day
Best practices for loading, lifting, and carrying
Handy tips for driving a moving truck and towing your car
Guidance for loading and unloading your storage unit
Everything you should know to have a smooth move-in day
And much more!
By the time you finish this guide, you’ll have your full moving to-do list at your fingertips.
Let’s dive in!
Wondering how to move cheaply across the country? Take control of your expenses by creating a moving budget early in the process. Research typical costs, then set a realistic budget that works for your needs. You’ll thank yourself later!
Get ready. We’re about to show you how to save money on moving truck rentals.
It can be hard to get a pulse on the real cost of renting a moving truck. So break the costs down into smaller segments:
Make sure you leave room in the budget for renting and buying moving equipment like dollies, furniture blankets, and moving boxes. Though you may be hesitant to add to your moving costs, you will ultimately save money by avoiding damage to your furniture and other possessions.
Making a move across the country? If so, you will need to budget for travel costs on top of gas for the moving truck.
Account for expenses like staying in a hotel and dining out while en route to your new home. You may also be paying for some family members to fly across the country while some of the family drives in the truck.
Make sure you also consider how you will be getting your car across the country, such as shipping the vehicle or towing the car behind the moving truck.
When you’re moving, you often need somewhere to house your belongings before you can get the keys to the new place. Or you might be downsizing your home and need to store important keepsakes in a storage unit for a while.
In these cases, it’s important to budget for a storage unit.
To determine costs, think about how long you’ll need to rent it for, what size you need, and whether you want additional features that could add to the cost. For example, if you have items like a piano that require special care, you’ll want a temperature-controlled storage space.
In the hubbub of moving day, don’t forget one of the most important things to do when moving: spread the word about your move!
While telling your friends is important, you also need to change your address with USPS, utility providers, and companies sending bills or other important mail.
One of the most important steps to moving out of state-or down the street-is to tell USPS about your move. If you don’t, mail will end up going to your old address (basically a black hole).
Change your address online at least two weeks before you move. You’ll need a credit or debit card to complete the process.
Mail forwarding service lasts one year, but it’s best to directly change your address with any other services like magazines. Mail forwarding includes first-class mail, priority mail, and first-class packages.
Whether you’re moving across town or out of state, tell your utility providers about the move.
Make sure you give your future residence at least one week notice so your utilities are up and running when you arrive.
If you’re moving locally, simply call to change your address with the same company.
Long-distance moves will require you to shut off service in your current state and start it with a new company in the new house.
Utility providers you’ll need to contact might include:
Private insurance rates may change depending on where you live, so it’s important to inform insurance companies of your move. Private insurance providers may include car insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, etc.
Contact the company directly to change your address, at least two weeks before your next bill.
Your credit cards and checks must match your current address, so banks and other financial institutions need to know about your move.
If you have an online banking account, go into your profile to change your address. Do this at least a week before your move.
Employers will need to send checks, pay stubs, and other work-related mail to your new address. Inform your company about the move so you don’t miss out on any important information related to your job.
Complete the task at least a week before the next pay cycle.
Are you a big online shopper? If so, don’t forget to change your address with online shopping sites you frequent. Failing to do so will save you from shipping a purchase to an old address. Most retailers aren’t willing to refund your order if you make this mistake-yikes.
As you’re contacting everyone about your move, make sure to schedule your moving truck rental.
In fact, it’s never too early to book a moving truck-especially if you’re moving during the popular spring and summer months.
As soon as you know your move-out and move-in dates, make your reservation.
Budget Truck offers three sizes of moving trucks. A 12-foot truck fits everything from 1-2 rooms or a studio apartment. A 16-foot truck can hold the contents of a 1-bedroom house or about 3-4 rooms. Our largest truck, the 26-foot truck, is best for anyone moving out of a 2- or 3-bedroom house or any residence with 5-8 rooms.
Check out our side-by-side truck comparison to make sure you book the right truck.
On the fence between two sizes? Choose the bigger truck. You won’t want to take two trips. And you can always add padding if you end up with a little extra space.
Do you need to tow a car behind your truck? Opt for the 16-foot truck or the 26-foot truck. Request a car dolly if the towed car is front-wheel drive. You’ll need a car carrier or car trailer if you’re moving a 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle.
Not sure where to find the closest Budget Truck location? We can help with that.
There’s nothing like an impending moving day to make you despise everything you own.
Make the process less painful by decluttering well before you pack. No need to move stuff you don’t even use! You’ll love feeling lighter after holding a sale or visiting the local thrift store or dump.
Why not make a few bucks on things you don’t use anymore? As they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
If you have the time and energy, you can post your items for sale online to broaden your customer base.
Here’s how to prepare for moving day with a yard sale:
Once the garage sale is done, you may still have things left over that you don’t want to bring to the new house. Dispose of these items by taking them to the thrift store if possible. If the thrift store won’t take them, finish off the job by taking a load to the local dump.
If hosting a garage sale sounds like too much work (or you are short on time), simply take a load to the thrift store. Thrift stores are convenient, but they also reduce waste, help save the environment, and support charitable causes.
There are many things you can take to a thrift store, but make sure they are gently used and in working condition.
Thrifts stores vary in what they accept, but most stores will take these items:
As a last resort, you can get rid of things you don’t want anymore by taking them to the dump. Reserve this method for items that are broken and cannot be recycled.
Make sure the items you toss are non-toxic. Things like batteries, paint, electronics, cars, and chemicals cannot be dumped in a landfill.
Always check the rules at your local dump before making the trip.
Some items that can be taken to most dumps include:
Minimalism is all the rage these days.
And on the brink of a move, the last thing you want to do is buy more stuff.
Why head to the store? You won’t regret the convenience and efficiency that come when you invest in the right moving supplies!
Luckily, you probably have some essential moving supplies lying around the house.
You won’t have to spend a dime on them. You also won’t have extra things taking up space before you’re loading a moving truck.
Gather moving supplies from around the house first, including:
No matter how well-stocked you are on office and cleaning supplies, you’ll likely need to rent a few things to cover the rest of your moving supply checklist. These items are usually very affordable and can be rented for just a few hours or for a few days, depending on your needs.
Here’s what you’ll need to rent:
Renting these supplies is a great way to save money and reduce waste in the environment.
Want to really go green? Think about renting reusable moving boxes.
You’ve gathered supplies around the house and made the necessary rental arrangements.
Still got a nagging voice in the back of your mind asking, “What moving supplies do I need?”
Well, now it’s time to hit the local hardware store for the last few things on your moving inventory list:
Do you have the itch to start packing yet?
Let’s talk about how to pack up your stuff smart and fast.
Why did those items make our list of what to pack first when moving? You won’t need to use them between now and your moving date.
How should you box them up? We’re glad you asked...
Those are the essential rules of packing up.
But they don’t work for everything. And sometimes you have to alter them.
Use the packing tips for moving below to make sure all the stuff in your house makes it to your new address.
What’s included: Refrigerator, freezer, washer, dryer
How to pack it: Good news! You don’t need boxes. Clean out the appliances (defrost the fridge and freezer first) and secure the doors with something stronger than duct tape (a.k.a. rope or a bungee cord). Measure each appliance and make sure it will fit through hallways and doorways BEFORE you load it on the dolly and move it.
Pro tip: Always keep a refrigerator upright so the coolant stays in the right place.
What’s included: Toaster oven, toaster, microwave, pressure cooker, blenders, stand mixer, coffee maker
How to pack it: Hopefully, you did your spring cleaning and all you’ll have to do is wipe the appliance down and brush out the crumbs. When the appliance is clean, neatly roll the cord and lightly tape it to the side of the appliance. Finally, wrap the appliance like a present in something soft (blankets or towels are great) and place it into the labeled moving box.
Pro tip: Roll the cord up and secure it with a rubber band and then wrap it with paper before taping it to the appliance.
What’s included: TV, surround sound, gaming system, DVD player, desktop computer
How to pack it: First, place pillows or blankets at the bottom of boxes. Then make sure to individually wrap each appliance with bubble wrap. When doing this, check that the cord is tucked away so that it doesn’t scratch the outside. Lay the electronics vertically, like books. If there is any wiggle room on the side use more bubble wrap or blankets to make it tight and secure. Before taping the box up, add another pillow on the top.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to return the cable box to the cable company.
What’s included: Couches, beds, loveseats, dining table, chairs, dressers
How to pack it: You’re in luck-it’s not that hard to figure out how to use a moving blanket. Softer wood items like dining tables, headboards, or dressers will need to be covered with a blanket and then plastic-wrapped. The wrap keeps drawers and doors in place and prevents the furniture from being scratched. Skip the blankets for couches, loveseats, and other items covered in fabric-head straight for the plastic wrap instead.
Pro tip: Label an individual ziplock bag for each item that you disassemble. Place screws and other spare parts in the appropriate bag and tape it on the item.
What’s included: Coats, pants, shirts, dresses, socks, undergarments
How to pack it: Wardrobe boxes are great for dresses and suits. However, with everyday shirts and pants, skip the hassle of folding all of them just to hang them back up. Purchase the larger black garbage bags with tie strings, flip the bags upside down, and then cut slits in the top. Slide the clothes in and pull the hangers through the slit so they are hanging out. Finally, pull the strings tight at the bottom and tie them.
Pro tip: Pack seasonal clothes that you aren’t using first so they’re out of the way.
What’s included: Children’s books, textbooks, encyclopedias, novels, magazines
How to pack it: Before buying a ton of moving boxes, start a moving inventory list to see what you already have around the house, like shoe boxes, Amazon boxes, or printer paper boxes. Books are really heavy and you’ll want to avoid packing them into larger boxes that end up being too heavy to carry. Pack them horizontally or vertically with paper stuffed in empty spaces.
Pro tip: When loading books into boxes, avoid placing them on their spine or vertical edge.
What’s included: glass, porcelain, Corelle, fine china
How to pack it: Before you put anything in the box, add a layer of packing peanuts, a blanket, or a pillow. Always wrap each item individually with bubble wrap or layers of paper. When packing dining plates, place them vertically and then fill the empty space with more packing peanuts, paper, or bubble wrap. Face cups down and place cardboard on each side of the cup. Never stack dishes.
Pro tip: Mark the box as fragile with arrows on the outside of the box to show which way is up.
What’s included: Non-perishables
How to pack it: If the food won’t be good in a week, toss it! Items that need to be refrigerated also have to go, unless you think they will last in a cooler. For items that are non-perishable and open (think lunchbox snacks, rice, and pasta), it is best to place them in gallon-sized ziplock bags. One can isn’t too heavy, but lots of cans are, so place them in smaller boxes that can be carried easily. Unopened boxed items like instant dinners and cereal can be stacked in larger boxes.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to cover both ends of your salt and pepper shakers with tape.
What’s included: Pens, knick-knacks, toilet paper, anything else
How to pack it: The best way to pack for moving is to pack one room at a time. Most rooms will have random odds and ends. Pack these small similar items in labeled ziplock bags, and use the bags of miscellaneous items as fillers in boxes with extra space. Make sure you place them in the boxes for the room where you want them to end up.
Pro tip: Keep a few toilet paper rolls, trash bags, and a bar of soap handy because you will need them as soon as you move in.
When the day arrives, you’ll have a lot to do.
No sweat! It’s all covered here.
You have to think about both comfort and safety. Say no to open-toed sandals but yes to sturdy sneakers or boots.
A reliable moving day outfit looks like:
This is an easy one: your reservation includes a pickup time. Give yourself a few extra minutes so you can arrive on time. If the truck isn’t waiting too far away from your current residence, you can get this step done in under an hour.
Check out our moving truck driving tips below to make the journey a breeze.
If you have your own personal driveway, you’re in luck! Carefully back it in, with another set of eyes if possible.
Don’t have a big enough driveway?
Parking on the street may be your only option. Find out if you need a parking permit and be considerate of your neighbors’ space.
For those in an apartment complex with a shared parking lot, ask your manager where it is okay to park the truck.
Avoiding parking garages and all the dangers therein is probably a good idea.
When moving heavy objects like couches, dressers, pianos, and tables, it’s helpful to have a plan of attack.
So take out your measuring tape!
Measure hallways, entryways, door frames, room height, and other areas that you will be moving the larger furniture through. Then compare the measurements to those of your furniture.
Still need a few centimeters? Try these tips:
The most efficient way to pack a moving truck isn’t just about using space properly; it’s also about keeping those who are helping happy.
Here are a few items that may help with THAT moving day goal:
You’re leaving the neighborhood, so now is the time to cash in those favors.
If you are planning on hiring movers, it’s best to make a reservation at least two months in advance.
When moving yourself, start asking friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and other acquaintances for help 2-3 weeks before your move date.
Let them know how grateful you are for their help with a light meal and drinks. And saying “thank you” doesn’t cost anything!
And now, the main event: insider hints on how to pack a moving truck.
Now the heavy-lifting begins-literally.
Go pick up the truck, gather the friends and neighbors who’ve volunteered their muscles, set out plenty of water to keep people hydrated, and start loading the truck.
What’s the floor plan for this giant Tetris game of everything you own? We recommend the Capital “I” Method.
Imagine a giant capital “I” on the floor of the truck’s cargo area. Use this shape to guide you as you put stuff inside:
With that plan in mind, you’re ready to lift and load.
Always use the best practices for lifting and carrying boxes. Need a refresher?
Follow the same rules (no back bends) when carrying furniture and large appliances, too. Recruit others to help you when items are heavy or oddly sized.
Even if you usually drive a full-size SUV, a moving truck feels like a whole new behemoth.
But guess what?
Size is just a number, even for 26-foot moving trucks. With a little extra caution, you can easily navigate from your old home to your new home.
We’ve got some advice for how to conquer the most common obstacles of driving a moving truck.
Trucks are longer and wider than normal cars, so give yourself extra space to turn. And be vigilant about using your turn signal to give other drivers a heads-up about your intentions.
Know the height of your truck before you step on the gas pedal.
9 feet, 6 inches
On the road, keep your eyes peeled for signs that indicate clearance ahead that’s under your truck’s allowable height. You shouldn’t have any problems on major roads and highways.
Places you might not see a posted height?
Unsure? Don’t chance it.
Always have someone outside the truck guide you: backing up a moving truck is a two-person event. Let them be your eyes and watch for hazards you can’t see from the pilot’s seat.
Towing something behind your truck? Remove the car carrier or tow dolly before you go in reverse.
Enlist your back-up buddy to guide you into parking spaces too. Also on the support team? Side mirrors-use ‘em.
One more thing: it’s not a race. Go slow.
Oh, and use the parking brake.
Just three more things to remember on your trek:
Still got a few questions? Betcha we’ve answered most (if not all) of them below.
Expect to get 8-14 miles per gallon in your moving truck. Yeah, we know-that sounds tiny compared to what the ultra-efficient commuter cars all around you are getting.
That said, these trucks offer their own kind of efficiency: space efficiency. They fit a lot of stuff in the back, and that extra weight detracts from the overall fuel economy but means you have to make just one trip (or a few across town). So, you can reap the benefits of time efficiency too.
Oh, and you won’t have to stop for gas as much as you might think. Our 12- and 16-foot trucks have 33-gallon tanks for gas, and the extra-large 26-foot truck comes with a 50-gallon tank that needs diesel fuel.
Even if you’re an expert at driving big trucks, there are no guarantees that your belongings won’t get damaged. (Sorry! We can’t see the future.)
But...Budget offers excellent personal insurance for all our rental vehicles. Our personal protection plans give you a variety of options for protecting your belongings.
In addition to insurance, Budget offers moving accessories, such as furniture padding to keep your grandmother’s heirloom mirror (and all other possessions) safe.
Might we recommend the combo?
Planning to tow a vehicle behind your moving truck? Follow our driving tips from the previous section, but use extra-extra caution. That means:
With those basics in mind, here’s everything you need to know about how to tow a car with a moving truck.
Wondering how to tow a car with a truck? Budget offers car carriers, car trailers, and car dolly rentals that allow you to tow your vehicle behind your moving truck. Car carriers and trailers carry the entire car on a trailer, while car dollies lift just the front wheels off the pavement. Car carrier rental is meant for four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, and car trailers and car dollies are used for 2-wheel or front-wheel drive vehicles. We highly recommend auto tow protection as coverage for damage to the car that could happen while it’s being towed.
Can’t move in right away? Got any leftover belongings that won’t fit in your new place?
Stow your stuff in storage!
Drive-up storage facilities are made for easy access to your storage unit. Unless the facility manager tells you otherwise, you should be able to drive cargo trucks right up to the unit and start loading.
Give yourself plenty of space for turns while driving to your unit so that you don’t damage the moving truck. If you have to back out of an area, have a companion stand outside of the vehicle to assist you.
The type of storage unit you decide to get will determine the security and how to open a storage unit.
Most indoor units will have a keypad for accessing the facility. Once you are in the building, different companies use various ways to lock the storage unit, such as padlocks and keypad locks.
Drive-up storage facilities generally use padlocks for the doors.
When you are walking through your storage unit for the first time, take time to notice the details before unloading your items. Double-check the cleanliness of the area, and look for any animal droppings or bugs. Also scan the area for any damages to the walls, floor, or door.
Although it may seem like a hassle, the best way to load a moving truck is to pack in everything backwards from how you want it in the unit. If you don’t, then you will have to move everything twice, unloading the moving van on the side of the unit and then moving your possessions again into the unit.
When it is time to load the storage unit, Tetris the boxes in the back of the storage unit. Keep the boxes’ labels facing forward so you can find stuff fast in the future.
Once the boxes are in place, move furniture into the unit. Disassemble pieces like bed frames to save space. Leave an aisle to provide easy access among all the items. Wrap or cover furniture to prevent dust buildup.
You are about to move into your new place. Yay!
Before you say goodbye to your storage unit, take care of a few final tasks.
First, make sure that the storage facility knows you are leaving. Next, after unloading the unit, sweep the floors and wipe down the walls.
Finally, check out with the facility and (if applicable) don’t forget your padlock!
You’ve arrived at your new home. Congrats! You’re literally in the home stretch.
Once you’ve parked the truck and taken the necessary measurements (hallways, doorways), stretch your muscles: it’s time to unload.
Hopefully you’ve stored some supplies away in an accessible area of the truck because now’s the time you need them. These necessities include a multi-surface cleaner, toilet paper, paper towels, and soap-anything you’ll need to get the home functioning on a basic level.
For example, moving helpers will probably need to go to the bathroom during the unload (just, hopefully, not while you need help moving heavy objects), and you’ll want to clean shelves before you start unpacking.
Keep supplies on the kitchen counter so everyone has access.
While it’s amazing to have a whole crew of helping hands to unload the truck, it can also become utter chaos.
Before the games begin, gather everyone together for a quick huddle. Remind them:
This will provide an efficient and organized way of unloading.
If you followed our tips for the most efficient way to pack a moving truck, everything you own is loaded up in the shape of a giant capital “I.”
Now, attack unloading the opposite way.
Open the back of the truck and start grabbing those boxes at this end. These were the last things you loaded and they’ll be the first items you unload. Of course, they’re also in the way of getting anything else off!
Next get the boxes along the central line to reclaim your walking path. Furniture on the sides is next off and then-saving the best for last-you’ll finally be able to access the appliances that you loaded first.
Worried unpacking will be just as much work as unloading because nothing ended up in the right spot?
Alleviate this problem by taking items to their final room as often as possible. This is much easier if you’ve labeled boxes by room or color-coded your boxes.
Not sure where a box goes? Designate one area for the “unknown” boxes.
You’ve done it!
But...the fun isn’t over quite yet.
Now it’s time to return the beast to its home.
Find a Budget Truck rental location near your new home by checking out the Budget Truck locations page.
Don’t forget to return the truck with a full tank of gas. And before you hand over the keys, check for any belongings you may have left behind in the chaos!
You’ve made it to the final stages of moving. The finish line is just around the bend!
And though you’ve likely only been thinking about surviving up until this point, there’s more work to be done once you’ve loaded the van. Check out these tips for moving into a new house and getting settled.
It’s easy to feel like a hermit when you move to a new place, so once the bulk of the unpacking is done, get out and get to know the neighborhood.
Locate at least two grocery stores nearby. If your favorite grocery store is a little farther away, you’ll want to have one close by when you need to quickly grab one or two ingredients.
Next, find the drugstore or other convenience store that carries household essentials.
Finally, round out the tour by finding the library and post office.
Take time to visit these places in person, rather than just looking them up on a map. Even if you don’t need to go there right away, you’ll feel more comfortable knowing where they are.
A reservation only guarantees the rate once confirmed with a credit card deposit, and shows a customer's preferences for a pick-up location, drop-off location, time of rental, date of rental and equipment type.
The pick-up location, drop-off location, time of rental and date of rental selected in a reservation is a preference only and, if a preference selected is not available, Budget Truck Rental ("BTR") reserves the right to offer a customer alternatives.
All equipment selected in a reservation is subject to availability at time of pickup. If the equipment requested is not available, BTR reserves the right to substitute equipment at no additional charge to the customer.
Rates reserved online do not include applicable taxes, fees, surcharges, additional accessories, protection plans purchased at time of rental, the required refundable deposit, moving supplies or other applicable charges. Charges will be provided at time of pickup.
If a customer needs to cancel or modify a reservation in any way, he/she must contact BTR at least 48 hours before the pick-up date and time listed on the Thank You page and in the confirmation email. A customer must contact either the BTR pick-up location provided on the Thank You page and in the confirmation email or call 1-800-462-8343. Failure to notify BTR in this time frame may result in a $75 Cancellation Fee being charged to the customer's credit/debit card. With a request to modify the pick-up location, drop-off location, time of rental, date of rental and/or type of equipment, the reservation rate may be subject to change.
A customer will be charged a $75 No Show Fee that fails to result in an open rental agreement within 24 hours after the proposed pick up time.
In the online reservation system, Budget provides one-way customers with ample time to complete their move safely. Trip duration estimates for one-way rentals are estimates only. Mileage and trip duration may vary from Budget estimates. Budget will allow customers to purchase additional days or miles by directly contacting the Budget Truck Rental pick up location shown on the Thank You page. During regular business hours and prior to pick up, a customer can add days at the rate of $70 per day and miles at the rate of $0.70 per mile. If a customer reserves additional days and/or miles at the time of pick up or after pick up, $85 per day will be charged for additional days and $0.85 per mile for additional miles. Additional days and miles paid in advance are non-refundable including those purchased but not used.
For local rentals, customers will be charged for the actual miles and days he/she uses the equipment.
Any online discount may not be combined with any other discounted rate, promotion or offer.
For one-way rentals, the average deposit amount is $150. For local rentals, average deposit amount is the greater of $150 or 1.5 times your total estimated rental charges, but may be higher in certain metropolitan areas.
If a customer chooses to pay for a rental with a credit card or debit card, the cardholder must be present with his/her credit/debit card at the time of rental.
At the time of rental, Budget will require two forms of current, valid identification from the individual signing the rental contract. Acceptable forms of identification include: a valid U.S. issued Driver's License, State Issued Identification, Passport, Social Security Card, Vehicle Registrations, Phone Bill and/or Military ID, place of business photo ID, major credit card and paycheck or pay stub. Budget will also require a valid U.S. issued Driver's License from all drivers of rental equipment.
All towing equipment is recommended based on the towing manufacturer's guidelines and the specific vehicle information the customer provided. Different vehicles may require different towing equipment. Some vehicles may not be suitable for towing and should not be attempted if they exceed the towing manufacturer's guidelines. Budget is not responsible or liable for damages incurred while towing equipment is in use, and does not guarantee or warrant that such equipment is fit for the particular use. Budget Truck will attached the towing equipment to the rental truck at the time of pick up, but cannot drive the tow vehicle onto the towing equipment. This will be the customer's responsibility. Budget Truck will provide an instruction sheet explaining the proper way to drive a vehicle onto our towing equipment.
Local rentals returned late are subject to the following fees: