If you’re like the 700,000 military servicemembers who are reassigned to new locations each year, you shell out an average of $1,725 for non-reimbursable expenses.
When you combine moving costs with the difficulty of uprooting your life every few years, relocations can take a big toll. While some moving hassles are unavoidable, you can ease the financial pain of PCSing with a little advance planning. Consider following this timeline for your next move:
What to do now: Avoid Budget Blues
Whether your move is days or weeks away, develop a moving budget in advance to keep your finances on track and avoid last-minute costs.
- Find out exactly what the military will cover, and what costs fall on you. You can visit your family center for more information.
- Budget for shipping charges, temporary housing expenses, and start-up fees for utilities.
- Make a list of things you’ll have to buy when you move in and estimate those costs.
- Use this budget to determine how much you should save for your next move.
What to do before you leave: Prevent Moving Mishaps
Some moving horror stories result from damaged or lost property. So it’s critical to have the right levels of insurance before you PCS. In the case of a moving mishap, insurance can mean the difference between disappointment and financial disaster.
- Find out how much of your personal property the government movers will insure. If it’s not enough to provide full protection, a temporary renters insurance policy could be an affordable way to cover the difference.
- If you’re shipping a vehicle, review your auto insurance policy to find out if moving-related damages are covered. If they’re not, ask your insurer about purchasing shipment coverage.
What to do after you arrive: Fine Tune Your Finances
Once you settle into your new place, consider fine-tuning your finances to make your next move easier. The stop-and-go that comes with a PCS — stopping everything and starting over again in a new area — can be a shock to your finances. Military members can find some relief by working with companies that “move with you” and serve your needs wherever you go.
- Consider using online banking so you don’t have to worry if there’s a branch bank near your new home. You can also set up automatic bill payments to make your life easier during future transitions.
- Choose an insurance company that offers coverage in all 50 states and abroad, so you don’t have to change providers with every move.
- Open a separate savings account and contribute enough each month to ease the cash crunch before your next move.
- Set up automatic transfers for investment accounts to ensure your savings habits won’t slip.
With the right preparations, your next PCS could be financially painless and leave a surplus in your cash flow instead of draining it.