PCS moves have the possibility of being an exciting change of pace or disasters waiting to happen. They put a strain on your energy, your management skills, and, often the most felt, your finances. Despite the military covering a lot of the moving expenses many military families find themselves shelling out between 1-2 thousand dollars of their own to complete each PCS. Considering how often military families move that can add up to quite a bit of lost cash over the years. However, with a bit of planning and a whole lot of organization you can bring your out of pocket cost down while making the whole process less stressful.
The biggest mistake military families make concerning PCS moves is not budgeting beforehand. A PCS should not come as a surprise. Even if you do not know exactly when and where you will be moving you do know that a move is inevitable. For that reason you should start saving a portion of your pay every month to cover moving expenses. This will not only ease the strain of a move but will ultimately allow you to save money by giving you the freedom to jump on lower prices for moving trucks or temporary housing as soon as you find a deal.
Besides creating a moving nest egg it is important to plan a detailed budget. Go over exactly what expenses the military will cover and what you will have to pay for out of pocket. This will let you know in which areas you should try to be more frugal. There are plenty of online resources for making budgets, such as the housing calculator at http://militaryhousingallowance.org/calculator.php . Refreshing your excel skills can also be a good way to get yourself organized.
Once you are thoroughly organized one of the best ways to save some money, and even make some money on a move is to complete a DITY (Do-IT-Yourself) move. Instead of relying on military resources to move you, you will pack, transport, and unpack your belongings yourself, using trucks that you rented. Using a military discount to rent trucks, and procuring your own packing supplies can save you a large chunk of money. However, it can also be quite stressful, and many people find that they spend more money when they are stressed. For that reason you should be realistic about whether you have the time and energy to complete an efficient DITY move. If you do not, it may be better to let the military move you.
If the military is moving you the number one way to not spend more than you budget is to make sure you stay under the allotted weight for your belongings. The fees for excess weight can add up quickly, cutting into other areas of your budget. It is a good idea to go through your belongings and get rid of items you no longer use, whether you are using military resources or moving yourself. Selling items on craigslist or at a garage sale can help pad your wallet for moving day, but even shedding the extra weight through donations is a good idea. One mistake people make when deciding what to get rid of is getting rid of too much. Remember that replacing a lot of little items at your destination will add up quickly. You should fight the urge to design a completely new house when you get to your destination and continue to make use of the furniture and decorations that are in good condition and used regularly by your family.
The final way to make sure you stay within budget is to get proper insurance for your belongings. The military will help provide limited insurance, but if you are moving more than they cover make sure you look into adding on your own temporary insurance. Although this is an added expense you may feel tempted to cut corners on, it is not a good idea. Replacing your belongings at your final destination out of your own pocket because you didn’t want to spring for insurance can be devastating to your finances.
At first, the PCS move might look like an unending list of expenses. However, if you take a hard look at a well-organized budget you will start to see little things you can do to save money on your PCS move. Keep in mind that the more you move, the better you will get at staying within budget, and within a few years you should be an expert PCS family.