PCS Costs and How to Manage Them

by Kellie Artis

PCSing is a fact of military life and can often be an exhilarating adventure for service members and their families. I mean, you joined to see the world, right? However, being unprepared for a move can be costly and stressful and can actually cause you to dread a relocation every few years.

Military.com estimates that service members spend about $1,725 in NON-reimbursable costs for each move, and if you haven’t accounted for that in savings, you can easily find yourself with mounting debt.

It’s no secret that moving is expensive, and even though the military covers the bulk of moving costs, there are always out-of-pocket expenses. So just how do the experts suggest managing the myriad costs of a PCS? We’ve compiled some of the most popular ways here.

First—and it cannot be stressed enough—plan ahead. Your next PCS starts well before you receive orders. The number one tip for avoiding the monetary headaches is to prepare for them. This involves creating a budget in which you effectively save for your next move. Set a savings goal and add it into your budget. If you can afford to save a few hundred dollars a month, great, but even a few pennies helps. Of course, there are apps for this. Budget apps and apps that round up your cash and credit card purchases to the nearest dollar will help you save for your next PCS. Or schedule an automatic payment into a savings account. Do whatever works for you, just as long as you are preparing ahead of time.

Staying organized follows closely at number two. As you approach a PCS, make sure you register with your Transportation Office as soon as you can in order to facilitate your move effectively. Research and decide which moving option is best for you and your family. Many military families save money by doing a Personally Procured Move (PPM), formerly known as a Do-It-Yourself Move (DITY). A PPM can take many forms, from a complete do-it-yourself move to a mostly hired services move.

In addition to selecting the right kind of move, go through your house and take advantage of the third tip: purge! Yes, wade through all of your personal possessions and purge. Get rid of what you don’t need or use anymore. Not only does this process help ensure you will stay within your weight allotment, but it also means less work on the other end when you’re unpacking and trying to acclimate to your new environment. Plus, you can make some extra money by selling the things you don’t need anymore. Host a yard sale or post items for sale online. Or, donate them. The extra money might not be immediate, but the tax benefits could be extremely beneficial.

Contact your utility companies and arrange for services to be cut off and paid before you move. Not only does this proactive step ensure you have no lingering debt at your old residence, but it also means you won’t get a nasty surprise on your credit report down the line. Cut unnecessary expenses now rather than right before you move. For instance, are you paying for cable but rarely watch TV? Get rid of it now and put the extra money into your PCS fund.

Lastly, take advantage of moving offers. When you submit your change of address form, you will receive coupons for businesses involved with moving. Use them. Base services will include things like a set amount of free child care on both sides of a PCS. Make your move less stressful by having the base pay for child care while you supervise your move.

Whatever you choose, there are plenty of online resources available to help. PCS season can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be quite so costly.

Want help building your emergency fund or your moving fund? Take the Military Saves Pledge today and then visit MilitarySaves.org for resources, tips, and motivation to help you achieve financial success!

Kellie Artis is the COO of MILLIE, an online community and digital marketplace that connects members of the military and their families with specialized knowledge and trusted resource providers to alleviate the stress of PCSing.