If you're in the military, you're going to get Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders. While the military provides an extraordinary array of allowances and other benefits to make moving easier, there are some expenses that won't be reimbursed, and there are some expenses that will be reimbursed but you will need to pay for upfront. Either way, you'll need some savings to get you through a PCS move. A PCS savings account will make life easier. Here are five common PCS expenses that you might need to have money to pay:
Pet Transportation, Boarding and Quarantine
Moving with pets brings extra challenges and extra expenses. Whether it is boarding your pets while your household goods are packed out, staying in a pet-friendly hotel or rearranging your flights to be on a plane and route that can accommodate your animals, extra expenses add up quickly when you PCS with your family's beloved pets.
Getting Your Vehicle To/From The Vehicle Processing Center
If you move overseas, you will probably be authorized to either ship a vehicle or store a vehicle. Both of those activities occur through the contractor's vehicle processing center (VPC), which may not be anywhere near your house. This means that you will need to get your car to the VPC, and then either return to your home or arrange your travel so that you leave from an airport near the VPC. While some of the expenses may be reimbursable, you'll still need to pay for them as they are incurred.
Pro tip: In many cases, the process of moving a vehicle overseas means that you'll be renting a car for a few days or weeks at one side or the other. The military will not reimburse this cost, so be sure you've budgeted for it.
Almost all moves include authorization for some level of temporary lodging, and some moves have lengthy temporary lodging authorized. These expenses are claimed after they have been paid, so you'll need a way to pay for those expenses as they occur.
It's an extreme example, but our family of six spent 59 days in temporary lodging when we moved to Naples, Italy. At one point, the Navy owed us about $12,000. I was really happy that a) we had savings, and b) we had credit cards that didn't have balances on them.
Whether your children are two or twenty, there are often sneaky little expenses that come with moving children to new child care facilities, a new school, new sports teams and other activities. Youth service centers may require yearly registration fees, schools may have different uniforms and your new violin teacher may decide that your daughter just can't squeeze through with that too-small instrument any longer.
Depending on where you move and your credit history, new utility providers may require you to provide significant deposits for your new electricity, phone and other household utility accounts. These are not specifically reimbursed by the military, though you may choose to pay some of these expenses with your Dislocation Allowance (DLA.) Be sure to ask if the utility provider offers any special programs for military members - you may be able to pay a smaller deposit.
Moving is exhausting and challenging under the best of circumstances. Having adequate funds to cover your expenses will remove that extra pressure.
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