How to Make Sure You Have a Smooth Move

March 6, 2013
By Lila Quintiliani, AFC®
Military Saves Assistant Coordinator
Communication & Outreach

Permanent Change of Station (PCS) season is fast approaching, and most military families start doing research on housing, schools and installation amenities as soon as they get orders in hand.  Perhaps the best way to prepare for a move, however, is by having an emergency fund in place.  Moves are expensive, and although many of the costs may (eventually) be reimbursed, there are plenty of unexpected pitfalls that may be encountered.  These difficulties can derail the best of budgets and plunge military families into debt.

Know Before You Go

There are some costs that come immediately to mind when you think about your PCS:  transportation to your new duty station, meals and lodging enroute and temporary lodging when you get there.  Those are among the things that will be reimbursed by the government.  And Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has detailed information on these entitlements and how to file for them.  There are, however, a host of non-reimbursable costs that you might encounter including:

·    Shipping a pet overseas (and entry fees, vet exams, containers and vaccinations)
·    Cost of switching over license plates and registration to a new state or country
·    Replacing all condiments, perishable goods and cleaning products at a new duty station and possibly having to buy new drapes or other furnishings
·    Cost of shipping a second vehicle overseas (or cash to buy a new vehicle after arrival)
·    Setting up new cell phone, cable and internet services
·    Putting down a security deposit and a pet deposit

There are also likely to be delays in getting pay adjusted as well as delays in obtaining travel settlements and other reimbursements.

Start Saving Early
If you know you are going to be moving in the next few months, consider ramping up emergency savings.  If your emergency fund is not yet fully funded, now is the time to do so, even if it means cutting back in other areas.  It’s not permanent: once you are at your new duty station and are receiving a steady and predictable pay check, you can resume saving for other goals.

Know Your Entitlements
Familiarize yourself with all the entitlements available.  It might be worth a trip to your local Finance office to see if you are eligible for advance pays, such as Dislocation Allowance (DLA) that might ease the burden of setting up a new household. 

Keep Good Records
It’s not unheard of for Finance to lose paperwork, so keep all of the records and receipts for your move.  There may also be expenses that the government does not reimburse that can be used as tax deductions, so be sure to check IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses.

No move is completely stress-free, but with a healthy emergency fund at hand, it’s possible to avoid many problems.

Need help establishing an emergency fund?  Take the Military Saves Pledge today and visit where you’ll find tips, inspiration and information on saving.