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

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    The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. Sign up or get more info at

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