Being asked to move heavy things for free is the No. 1 drawback to having friends. (Think of how much free time a hermit has in the spring!)

Being asked to move heavy things for free is the No. 1 drawback to having friends. (Think of how much free time a hermit has in the spring!) On the flip side, if you have friends when you relocate, you can enlist them with a few basic tricks. It's best to start nice and graduate to more Machiavellian tactics. Here's how.

Returning the favor

The best reason to help your friends move is the expectation that they will return the favor, so you might have to lift a few fingers. To minimize your involvement, advise them to move big items first - it saves space, it's easier on the back, Martha Stewart said so - then show up late citing a "family emergency."

Charity

If your buddy has been eyeing a piece of furniture you no longer want, let him have it. Then convince him he also needs a second food processor, a broken toaster and a complete set of macrame plant hangers.

Carrots and sticks

The industry standard is pizza and beer. This works best on really good friends, who might actually help you without collateral snacks. For more distant acquaintances, you might have to step it up to steak and cocktails.

Bait and switch

Invite a few friends over to watch an important sporting event - just as the moving truck arrives. Atop your couch, pile some boxes, a few storage bins and maybe a recliner. We can totally DVR the game, you say. Could you just help me with a couple things first?

Blackmail

A lot of things surface when you're going through a few years' worth of stuff. For example, party pics of your friend running naked through the yard while drunk-dialing his ex-girlfriend. Exploit them, real or not.