03.01.2022 By Alecia D. Blair, Military Saves Communications Associate

5 Tips to Avoid the Financial Stress of a PCS Move

If you have ever PCS’d before, then you are very aware of the financial costs of these moves that can stress even the most frugal of military families.

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5 Tips to Avoid the Financial Stress of a PCS Move

If you have ever PCS’d before, then you are very aware of the financial costs of these moves that can stress even the most frugal of military families.

While most of your expenses are reimbursed, you may still come out of pocket for upwards of $2,000 per move. Here is more information about figuring out your travel expenses.

Here are five tips to prepare, save and even make a little money during your next PCS move.

1. Cut costs and make living more comfortable by having the essentials

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. 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.

Keep in mind if you forget an essential item or your HHG take longer to get to you, most military bases have lending lockers and thrift stores where you can borrow or buy things for cheap to get you by. These are usually through the relocation and family support center.

2. Evaluate your current finances

Hopefully, your family has a budget that is readily accessible. If not, now is the time to pull all of your financial details together. Write down the recurring bills that will be constant no matter where you move. These may include credit card payments, student loans, child support, automobile loans, college savings plans or tuition, etc.  If you’re staying within the Continental United States (CONUS), you should include automobile insurance, taxes and phone plans.

3. Know your entitlements, and stay within your budget!

When moving, you are entitled to certain benefits to help ease the financial burden of a PCS. Travel reimbursement, Dislocation Allowance (DLA), permissive 10-day temporary duty (TDY or days off that are not counted as leave) and storage of your HHG are all benefits available to you when PCSing.

To stay on budget when traveling, especially as a family, look for deals. Many restaurants offer ‘kids eat free nights.’ Always inquire about a military discount (you’d be surprised how many establishments offer a discount but do not advertise).

4. Spouses: Prepare for your next career move, temporary loss of income

A PCS move can mean a significant loss of income for a military family when a military spouse works outside of the home. Military spouses need to prepare themselves for a PCS move by preparing for their next career move: update your resume, network and research companies at the next duty station.

Military spouses may also be eligible for unemployment compensation and licensing accommodations when “trailing” a moving military member.

Military families can prepare for a temporary loss of income by sticking to a budget, saving money well in advance and building up emergency and rainy day funds. Doing all of this will help lessen the sting of a job loss on a household budget.

5. Bolster PCS savings to cover housing expenses

Regardless of whether you decide to rent or buy a home at your next duty station, you will have to pay a significant amount of money up front. Renting a great home often requires first and last month’s rent, a pet fee (if applicable), rental insurance and extra money to get utilities up and running.

Buying a new home often requires many overlooked costs of homeownership, including a significant down payment or VA funding fee, closing costs, inspections and homeowners insurance, just to name a few.

So, having substantial savings dedicated to these types of housing costs is very important to make sure you don’t get in over your head in your new home, especially if you’ll be paying a mortgage.

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. 

Here is more information to help you with your next PCS

Weigh Your HHG Options Before Your PCS

PCS Moves and Household Goods

PCS resources

Plan before your next PCS! Take the Military Saves Pledge today, the first step in creating your personal savings plan. Well send you tips, resources, and information that will help you reach your savings goals.