PCS without Breaking the Bank

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Does just thinking about your next PCS begin to burn a hole in your pocket? Eating out, selling a house, boarding the pets, rental application fees, buying a house, gas for your car. It can seem like the list never ends! Frequent relocation may be a way of life for military families, but financial distress doesn’t have to be.

Here are a few things you can do in order to ease the financial burden of your next PCS:

Communicate with your Spouse

Moving can be terrifying because everything you are accustomed to is changing. Maybe you really love your house and are afraid you’ll never find anything as nice at the next duty station. Maybe you have to give up your job and are unsure if you will be able to find a good job at your next location. A PCS creates an immense fear of the unknown, but communicating with your spouse can help. Simply saying out loud how you feel about different aspects of the move can help you get on the same page. Organizing your finances together and aligning your expectations will give you the best foundation for tackling the PCS together!

Tie Up Loose Ends

Having a budget will help you clearly see all of your financial obligations at your current location. If you don’t have a budget, take the time to list out all of your existing bills and accounts. Then use the list to ensure all bills are paid and local accounts closed prior to moving. Also, make sure that the companies for any delayed bills receive your forwarding address. Making sure that all loose ends are tied up before moving will prevent any negative impact on your credit and will give you a clean slate for a fresh start!

Start Researching Early

Begin heavily researching your next duty location as soon as possible. We usually don’t have the luxury of knowing where we are going long in advance, so take advantage of each day you have by learning as much as you can about the area. Researching about neighborhoods, school districts, and things your family likes to do will help you make reasonable decisions that meet your needs when it is time to seek out housing. You will want to determine your BAH allowance for the new duty station based on rank and time in service early so that you can focus your search to housing that is realistic for your budget. Consider looking at housing a few hundred dollars under your BAH to allow room for utility costs. BAH can vary drastically from one location to the next, so make sure your housing decisions are based on your new BAH.

With each PCS, weigh the pros and cons of living on base. It might make sense for your family at some locations, but not at others. Remember to determine dislocation allowances, per diem rates while in TLF, costs for shipping or boarding pets and estimated fuel costs if driving your vehicles to the new base. These might sound like things you already do for every PCS, but the key is doing them early and translating what you find into decisions that fit your budget. This will help you make sure you’re not over-committing on any purchases or services you select. Don’t fall into the trap of buying too much house!

Take Advantage of Resources

The Loan Locker is a resource that is available to you at most installations. They have various items from kitchen utensils to small appliances. Many even have pre-made dish packs for a temporary kitchen. Consider packing out early and using these resources during the last few weeks in your home, and check with the community center at your new location to borrow items before moving into your new home. This will help reduce your costs of eating out while in TLF and you can put some of that per diem allowance in your pocket instead!  

PCS Savings Fund

One of the most beneficial things you can do to prepare for your next move is to create a PCS savings fund. It’s not glamorous or unique, but it works! Creating this fund is a step you can take to prepare long before you even receive orders. Choose a small amount that you can set aside per month in a savings account specifically for moving expenses. You won’t even feel it, and you will be so much more prepared the next time orders arrive!

Moving can be chaotic, but if you prepare for the chaos ahead of time you can learn to embrace it! Plan ahead for your next PCS and you will minimize financial stress along the way!

For questions or guidance contact me at: slewis@milspouseadvocacynetwork.org.

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