Five Tips to Avoid the Financial Stress of a PCS Move: Part 1

By Alecia D. Blair, Military Saves Communications Associate

Spring has sprung, and permanent change of station (PCS) season is in full swing! If you’re among the one-third of active servicemembers who receive PCS orders each year, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), then you are very aware of the financial costs of these moves that can stress even the most frugal of military families.

According to Ethan Ewing,, it is estimated that “servicemembers spend an average of $1,725 in non-reimbursable costs.” When you consider that most military members and their families PCS every two to four years, that adds up to a lot of money! Here are five tips to prepare, save and even make a little money during your next PCS move.

  1. Save, make money with a Personally Procured Move (PPM)
    Personally Procured Moves (PPMs), formerly known as Do-It-Yourself (DITY) moves are a great way to have more control over your move and possibly make some money for your effort. In a PPM, the government will reimburse you up to 95 percent of what it would have cost a commercial moving company to move your household goods, according to MilitaryOneSource.

    Once you deduct your expenses, you could make significant money if you’re willing to take on all the work involved with planning, packing, moving and unpacking your belongings. The key is to always consult with your installation moving office first, keep careful track of all receipts and complete all forms thoroughly, as indicated by the Defense Finance & Accounting Service (DFAS).

    Don’t want the headache of coordinating your entire move? Consider a partial DITY—moving only part of your household goods (HHG), while the government moves the rest. A partial DITY is a great way to be reimbursed for moving the essentials you’ll often need right away at your next duty station.

  2. Cut costs and make living more comfortable by having the essentials
    And what are the essentials, you ask? Air mattresses, bedding, towels, a pot and pan, cooking utensils, paper plates and plastic ware. If you’ll be without your HHG for a lengthier period of time, consider packing a TV and some small kitchen appliances. That’s right. Pack to be prepared. Put these essentials aside so that the movers do not pack them up! Having these basic items can help you get by if you’re without your HHG for any length of time during your move, thus possibly saving you money on lodging and eating out.

    Don’t buy. Borrow! If you need to borrow bedding or a coffee pot until your HHG arrive, remember that many installations have some form of a loan or lending closet, usually through the relocation and family support center, that lends needed items to military families during PCS moves.

    Once you get more settled, it’s worth the time to visit your installation’s thrift store (or one near you) to find steals on gently-used home goods. And if you’re unpacking and still have goods to purge, consigning them at a thrift store is a great way to make a little money, too!

Don’t let the dollars and cents of PCS season take you by surprise. Avoid the financial stresses of a PCS move, cut costs and actually save through PCS readiness. Set a goal. Make a plan. Save automatically

Check back next week for the final three tips to help avoid financial stress during a PCS move.

Logistics of a PCS Moves

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Guest Blogger | April 25, 2014

    Develop a long-term plan for financial readiness by creating financial goals and striving for milestones. Positive outcomes usually start with a goal and a vision.

Saver Stories View all »

Naval Battalion's Effort Yields Team Success

Written by Super User | November 26, 2010

Construction Battalion Five, DETAIL CHINHAE would like to share our campaign success story with you!

Currently we have 23 members on our Det, (all of whom have registered with militarysaves) and out of them 16 are planning for retirement by saving and investing money in the Federal Thrift Savings Plan.


On the Right Track to Build Wealth

Written by Super User | April 16, 2013

My name is Robina Wahl, and I am a military wife and a veteran. Although I am fairly new to the Military Saves Campaign, the message to “Build Wealth, Not Debt” reassured me that my husband and I were on the right track and doing the right things.

I have always been pretty responsible when it comes to saving and living within my means, but I was not prepared for the unpredictable employment lifestyle of being a Reservist and military spouse.


Building Wealth by Setting Goals

Written by Super User | April 24, 2013

My name is Allison Mecadon and I’m a Youth Coordinator with the Virginia National Guard Youth Program. My husband, Tom, is an M-Day Army National Guard Member (an M-Day member is one who performs weekend drill, but is not on full-time duty).