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:
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.
1. Find out exactly what the military will cover and what costs fall on you. You can visit your family center and base transportation office for more information.
2. Budget for shipping charges, temporary housing expenses and start-up fees for utilities.
3. Make a list of things you'll have to buy when you move in and estimate those costs.
4. Use that list as a 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. When you PCS, insurance can mean the difference between disappointment and financial disaster.
1. 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.
2. 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 also can set up automatic bill payments to make your life easier during future transitions.
1. Choose an insurance company that offers coverage in all 50 states and abroad, so you don't have to change providers with every move.
2. Open a separate savings account and contribute enough each month to ease the cash crunch before your next move.
3. Set up automatic transfers for investment accounts to ensure your savings habits won't slip.
Tips for valuable possessions
Have expensive and valuable items (e.g., artwork, collectibles, heirlooms) appraised. This isn't paid for by the government, but it's a wise investment in case of loss or damage. Hold on to your receipts for more expensive items and keep them separate from the rest of your shipment.
Related: How to file a PCS claim
Use a video camera or take close-up pictures to record the condition of your furniture, television and other expensive and/or valuable items before packing and pick-up. This will help if you need to file a loss/damage claim.
Do not ship small, extremely valuable items such as stocks, bonds, jewelry, coins/coin collections and items of great sentimental value such as photo albums. Pack them in your suitcases and hand-carry them, as well as your purchase receipts, pictures and appraisals.
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