PCS Coming? Ask Yourself These Money Questions

By The USAA Educational Foundation

If you’ve just received your permanent change of station (PCS) orders, you’re likely experiencing a mix of emotions — excitement, fear, stress and more.

While there’s no sure-fire way to guarantee things will go smoothly, asking yourself (and family, if applicable) the following money questions might help from a financial perspective.

  • Should I (we) rent this time?
    Whether you’re in the “buying makes more sense for military families” camp or the “renting makes more sense” camp, you can probably agree with this: homeowners typically have to pay for a lot of things their renting neighbors don’t.

    Sure, owning gives you freedom to make your home the way you want it, and it creates the possibility (not a certainty) of making money when you sell for your next PCS. But owning a home also has some downsides. One of the biggest is that homeownership can be a major drain on your cash flow; much more so than renting. So if your cash is (or will be) tight, renting might be the better approach this time around. If things don’t end up as tight as you thought they’d be, you can always save the extra money to make your next PCS that much easier.
  • Should I (we) hit the financial reset switch?
    We’ve all made financial moves we wish we could undo. Whether it’s buying too much house, living a lifestyle that’s too expensive, or driving a car that costs too much, most of us have been there. Fortunately, a PCS provides the opportunity to fix some of these problems without all of the emotional baggage that might otherwise come with such a change.

    Think about it: It’s unlikely any of your new neighbors will know the type of house you used to live in, the lifestyle you used to maintain, or the car you used to drive. They’ll only know the version of you who shows up at the new installation. So if you’ve got some financial cleaning up to do, your next PCS might be a perfect opportunity to do just that.

For more help with your PCS, check out this Planning Your PCS publication from The USAA Educational Foundation.

The USAA Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization, does not endorse or promote any commercial supplier, product, or service.

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