Think doing your PCS move yourself without the help of the on-base transportation office is too much work? Military spouse Mallory Pevoto, aka the “DITY Mama,” says think again. A Personally Procured Move (PPM), also known as a DITY move, might sound like too much to handle, but by organizing packers and movers yourself without the help of Uncle Sam, you can have more control over what happens with your household goods and maybe even make some money in the process, she says.
In this episode of “PCS with Military.com,” Mallory talks us through why military families should strongly consider a PPM for their next military move and what to do if you find yourself facing one when it’s not what you want. Listen now.
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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of PCS with Military.com.
Amy Bushatz: Welcome to PCS With Military.com. I'm your host, Amy Bushatz, Military.com's executive editor. On this podcast, we talk about everything you need to know to make this military move season your best yet. PCS With Military.com is brought to you by Navy Federal Credit Union. Proudly serving all branches of the armed forces, veterans and their families. No matter where you are in your military career, Navy Federal Credit Union has the products and resources to help you navigate your finances. Learn more at NavyFederal.org. Our members are the mission.
Now, let's get this PCS started.
While a do-it-yourself or DITY move has always been an option for military families during a permanent change of station over the last several years, it's become more than just a choice. As the moving industry struggles to keep up with demand for truckers, packers, and loaders, many military families find themselves with no other option for getting from point A to point B. Instead of leaving the bulk of the work to Uncle Sam, they were told or are being told that they must move themselves.
No matter how you shake it out, moving with or without the military is a challenge. What's officially known as the personally procured move or PPM can be a dream come true if you want to be completely in control of your move or a nightmare if passing your problems off to the on-base transportation office is your preference.
But just like any part of the PCS process, there are people out there who have not only found ways to make it easier on themselves, but also share that knowledge with others. When it comes to the mysteries around successfully moving yourself, that expertise is deeply valuable. And that's why in this episode of PCS With Military.com, we have Mallory Pevoto AKA DITY Mama. You may have seen her work on social media sharing her hacks on successfully moving yourself wherever the military sends you. A stay-at-home mom and Army spouse of 15 years, mallory's DITY Mama work has empowered, helped and encouraged military families to successfully move themselves with at least most of their sanity intact.
Today she's gonna share her best tips, tricks, and insider knowledge for moving yourself. Mallory, welcome to PCS With Military.com.
Mallory Pevoto: Hi. Thank you for having me.
Amy Bushatz: Thank you so much for joining us. I'm excited to uh hear your encouragement and insider information today on how to do this. So why don't you start off by telling us how many times you have moved with or without the military.
Mallory Pevoto: So we have moved 13 times in 13 years, but only 11 of those in the 13 years have been PCS moves. The other two were local moves.
Amy Bushatz: And how many of those were DITY or AKA PPM moves?
Mallory Pevoto: Every single one of them, 13 and 13 years.
Amy Bushatz: So you always move yourself?
Mallory Pevoto: Yes.
Amy Bushatz: Okay. So you not only are the expert sharing tips, tricks and advice because you have made this an expertise, but you are the expert because you have done it so much.
Mallory Pevoto: Yes. It's a lot.
Amy Bushatz: It is a lot. Okay. And I wanna note upfront that you call your stuff DITY mama. I noted that it's also known as a personally procured move. The fact that they decided they being the DoD to change the acronym for this, or what it's known by is something that drives me insane. But they did, they changed what it's called. So it used to be called a DITY. Now it's called a PPM. And I think most people still think of it as a DITY, even though it is officially a ppm. But in this episode we're gonna use those two terms interchangeably.
All right, so broadly, there are two types of moves letting the military deal with it for you by going to the military transportation office and having them source the movers.
And then they pack your stuff and then they move it. And then if you want them to, they unpack your stuff, all in all. Or you can move yourself, aka DITY. Why would you, if you can go to the military office and say, help me, and then they do it, why would you move yourself? Why do you move yourself?
Mallory Pevoto: Well, a DITY move or PPM move family will want to do a DITY move one because it gives you more control. So with a DITY move you are able to choose your own moving truck. You are in control of your timeline, when you get your items, when they arrive who's going to help you unload and load so you have choices in that. So if you want more control of your move and packing your items, that a DITY move is the way to go.
Also, I feel like it's great for families who want a shorter transition time. In doing a DITY move, most likely you're doing a door-to-door. That's pretty standard for a DITY move. Not always, but most likely you're going, you're doing a door-to-door if you're able to DITY move, and that just creates such a shorter transition time for your family.
You drive to your new duty station. You arrive at your home. Your stuff is either with you or shortly behind you. And again you for the most part have control over that. When is it going to get here? When is it going to arrive? And you get to start unpacking right away. So I've found that to be really helpful, especially with children.
Instead of living in an empty home or having to stay in a hotel, or just kind of being in those really long transition periods without your things, a DITY move is the way to go. If you're like, we want our stuff right away. We wanna get going right away. We don't wanna wait.
Another pro I feel like to a DITY move is you're incredibly organized. And that is because you touch everything you own, you are packing everything you own. So you have the ability to be like, you know what, I'm not moving with that. So I just feel like. It keeps you really organized. Most likely you're not moving around. You know how everyone talks about that one box they move around with, it's full of like a bunch of cords or things.
They don't even know what's inside of it. With a DITY move, you're most likely not, you don't have those things. You have only what you decided to keep. You know everything that you own. And then of course, we can talk about this more too, but there's always an opportunity to make a profit. So I know that's a big reason why people went to DITY move. .
Amy Bushatz: So what I hear you saying is and I think this is maybe a common misconception that we may talk about later, but when we hear do it yourself, What we're thinking is, oh my gosh, I have to do this myself, not I will now hire someone to do things for me.
Because here's the thing, guys, we're all grownups. Being a grownup is beautiful. You can eat cheesecake for dinner and you can hire people to do things for you. And the extent to which you hire people to do things for you has to do with if you have the privilege to have money to do that, or the budget.
In this instance, because the DoD is reimbursing you or helping you pay for this and should be covering almost all if not all the costs, you can and do get to hire somebody to do it for you. You do not, in fact have to pack and physically move all of your stuff yourself. So maybe that's why they changed the acronym on us, because one made it sound like we were doing it ourselves, and that was very stressful. And the other one makes it sound like we're procuring it ourselves. But did they have to like use personally procured, which is really hard to say.
Mallory Pevoto: You can't say it. I And that PPM Mama just, just doesn't work.
Amy Bushatz: No, doesn't work. It sounds a little bit like a different acronym that we don't wanna use for a Mama.
Mallory Pevoto: But no, that's a huge misconception of a DITY move is that people think, oh my goodness, I literally have to do everything. And that's not true.
Amy Bushatz: That's what I thought.
Mallory Pevoto: You have the ability to outsource. And when we were knocking out so many, everyone was like, oh my goodness, how do you do it? It's like, well, I'm hiring movers . I am, I'm hiring someone, a company that's going to drive it for me. Now, sometimes you can't always do that again, it just depends on um, the weight your household. So for a ppm typically you are reimbursed based off of your household goods weight and the shipping rates for your location, mileage type of thing. So it's different for everybody. So honestly, it's just something, it's with every move, you're just going to have to look back and say, is this in my budget to outsource? Where can I outsource and what do I need to do myself and what can I let other people do? So it just, it depends.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah, and to determine that allowance and that repayment there are tools on Military OneSource, calculators where it's just plug and play and they tell you what that allotment is. So the cash you are,
Mallory Pevoto: Like an estimated.
Amy Bushatz: Yes. Estimated, yes. And in the past it has not been the entire amount that they would pay an actual mover if you went through the DoD for it.
But that has changed. It is now the same amount. So you're gonna be reimbursed what they would be paying if they helped you out with this process. But now you're saying because you are helping yourself out with this process, you are more in control of every step of this as opposed to outsourcing it to the DoD and letting them take the reins, which has pros itself as well. But can also result in a lot of unknowns and frustrations. So if you're someone who really likes to be in control of all of the details and have eyes on that stuff, this is the way to go because you're not letting it go and just sort of trusting the process, which can be very untrustworthy.
All right. So what are some more or other top misconceptions about moving yourself? What do people get wrong? I mean, we've really nailed one of the biggest ones already.
Mallory Pevoto: Right? That's a huge one. I, there's a few more that I feel like are very common. One is that you will always make a profit. And although that is a pro to a DITY move, so if you are able to stay under that estimated amount that they will pay you to move yourself, you are able to keep whatever is left over, which is, it's a great benefit of a DeDITYny move. The only thing is, is that's not 100% reliable, right? Because no move is perfect. Things go wrong. You may have one size truck and have been budgeting your move for that. And then, few days before your move, you're like, oh my goodness, we need a bigger truck. So you're gonna have to, so there's always things that could happen that could take some of that money. So, it's definitely a pro, but don't go into it thinking this is the only reason why I'm doing it. I'm gonna make so much money. Because that can happen, but also sometimes it doesn't and you have to be okay with knowing that you might not make as much as you were hoping.
Amy Bushatz: Have you personally experienced that?
Mallory Pevoto: No. So actually no. So we have actually, we have profited with every single move besides our local ones, obviously, because those were done out of our own. Those were not PCS moves. We had profited on all of them. There have been some moves where we have broke even, but only because we chose to outsource more for those moves.
Like one of them, I was pregnant, toddlers. We only had a few weeks. It was a very unknown move and it was across the country. So we were like, okay, we're going to ship our vehicles to make our lives easier. That move we also ended up needing two moving trucks instead of one. It was just a lot and, but the great thing is, is that maybe we did not profit a ton. We still made a little bit, but it's, we, it didn't come out of our pocket. And we still got all of our stuff. It still worked out and made our life so much smoother and with the military moving us, or the government moving us, those are options that we wouldn't have necessarily had. We would've had to pay out of pocket to ship our vehicle, but instead we were able to use some of that extra money for our move to ship our vehicle. So I'm okay with that. The profit for me is not the biggest thing. It is just a bonus. It is the control for me and just the smoother move, the being in control. So.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So let's say you really don't want to move yourself. Like this is not the top option for you, but you feel like you don't have a choice because there's so much uncertainty around when the military's going to be able to move you or you actually don't have a choice and they say, hi, you need to move yourself. What should you do?
Mallory Pevoto: One, that's so hard. I really do, I just feel awful for the people because although I love it, I know it's not for everybody, and there are certain seasons in our lives where that's just so much harder. And when you're forced to do that or you feel like you have to do that, man, that's really hard.
But in that case, what I, you know what I tell people, what should you do? I mean, what can you do? Right? You just, you have to do it. You have to do it. One of the things that I've talked about with people before is because that is so common these days, especially after 2020, I feel like it's, so, it's more common that people are either being forced to, or they're going to like their timelines aren't working out. All of a sudden the movers aren't available. It's so common these days that I feel like that's something that we should all be prepared for before it happens, if that makes sense.
Amy Bushatz: Like maybe just even like emotionally prepared.
Mallory Pevoto: Exactly. And I was not gonna say it's a lot of this is mental too, right? Because doing a DITY or PPM move isn't necessarily that much harder than doing the move the other way. It's just a different type of hard. It's almost like pick your hard. So I like to tell people that for the most part, and this is your of absolute first one you've already done this, you've done this before. Like you can do this, you can do hard things you already have and it's just in a different way. So a lot of it's just mental it's just, yeah, like you said, just getting your head right, emotionally and mentally like, okay, we're going to do this.
And also just having a plan. Not that you have to DITY move or not that you should, go out of your way to completely plan one even though you want transportation to do it for you, but just kind of have that in the back of your mind, like I, this may happen.
And what am I going to do? Maybe that means just having a few extra boxes laying around. Don't throw all your boxes out. Just kind of keep a few and just kind of have that in the back of your mind. Just kind of start planning for, just in case that happens, especially if it's taking a long time to, get a hold of, the transportation. You know, If it's just like, if you just have that feeling like, this is not going well. We don't have our orders yet. We can't plan for this move yet. Maybe take the steps to start working towards that so it's not so incredibly last minute.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And it's really seems like a good opportunity to do some of the organizational best practices that people talk about and that we've talked about on this show with people like Megan Harless or with LOGSA Mil Moves, Isabell Schmidt, where it's about keeping your paperwork ducks in a row. That was something that our financial columnist Kate Horrell mentioned, having your paperwork, knowing where it is, knowing what you need, understanding what it is you own, and having a binder organizational system for tackling your moves. That binder can be used for pPMs or DITYs they can be used for when the government moves you. They come in super handy.
I have never regretted being organized. I have often regretted being unorganized . So, but the upfront work on getting organized, it's a lot like, let's not pretend that it's not because it is. So you have to be able to mentally get over that hill and say this will be worth the work that I'm putting into it. And maybe that's spending, I don't know, just a little bit of time every day checking stuff off of that list. Inventorying one room but not another.
Mallory Pevoto: And that's something you can do in advance.
Amy Bushatz: That's something you can do in advance. Exactly.
Mallory Pevoto: You don't have to do that. You don't have to do that the month of, like that's something you can do several months before if you know you're moving,
Amy Bushatz: Yes. And once you've done that, it's done. And now you can just build on this base of knowledge and this organizational system that you already have. And again, I have often regretted being disorganized, but I have never regretted being organized, even though one means overcoming the inertia of sitting on my couch and the other one means watching more Netflix. There you go. But here's an idea. Watch Netflix while you get organized.
Mallory Pevoto: While you do it. I like it.
Amy Bushatz: Yeah. It's a combination. It's a good combination. It's just an idea.
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Okay, so give us three or four of your best tips, and I know you have so many tips.
Mallory Pevoto: So preparing in advance as much as you can. Right. We might not know the dates we're moving. We might not even know exactly where we're moving. But most likely we know we're moving. So start, like you said, getting your things in order. Start um, thinking, making your reservations thinking about your traveling.
And there's also opportunity that you can start packing here and there. And again, it's really hard to get in that mindset when you're like, it's not time to move yet. I don't wanna be in moving mode. And you know what? You don't have to, but it doesn't hurt to start organizing, preparing and maybe even packing a few things that you know that you're not going to be needing, like your holiday decor, your storage items, start purging.
There's just so many things you can do in advance and having that off your plate, like you said, ugh, just makes it so much easier. When it is time to jump into actual moving mode, actually starting to pack your house, all of that stuff is done. You just have to focus on packing. The next one I would say is to set small packing goals.
Again, doing a DITY a PPM is very overwhelming, especially when you look at your whole house and you're like, I have to, I literally, I have to pack all of this, right? That is an incredibly overwhelming feeling. So I share how to break it down. So instead of saying, oh my goodness, I have to pack my whole house. It's like, nope, we're gonna pack our picture frames today, right? And it's kind of breaking them into those small goals. So little by little you are knocking things out and instead of looking at the whole house. And as you go, it gets a little bit easier and it becomes more manageable.
Another one. A big one, I would say is staging your home for packing and for loading. And what that looks like is, again, before you start packing, go ahead and have a room designated for your boxes, for your packing supplies, for anything like that. Take some upstairs if you have two stories and just kind of prepare your house for packing because there's nothing worse than being like, oh, okay, I have 30 minutes to pack something and I need to get something done today, but now I have to run to the garage and grab a box. And then I have to go find the tape. And then, oh my goodness, where my hi- it just is overwhelming. So having a designated area where you can just pick whatever size you need, where you can just, you're here, your stuff is there. Now I can pack something. It makes it so much smoother in my opinion, especially mentally.
Um, And then also staging your house for loading the truck anything that you can stage is just a game changer because then getting it loaded into that truck is just more efficient. It makes unloading, unpacking so much easier. So I love that tip too.
Let's see. We already talked about outsourcing, so we don't need to go into that more. Um, I will share one that I have found super helpful, especially with children. Whenever your truck arrives, you start unloading your stuff. That is a long, busy day. And so I like to prepare our home. I make it first night ready. I pack first night ready. And so what that looks like is packing anything that you and your family, your kids might need for that first night in something like your dresser drawers. Obviously nothing crazy heavy, but you know, having your sheets in there, your pillows, your sound machine, anything like that, the curtains, the whatever you do to cover your windows. Just having things like that in the bedroom furniture. So when that furniture is loaded into that room, all you have to do is open your drawers, put your sheets on. You're ready. That's the first thing we do. Our stuff is in our home. We get our rooms first night ready real quick, and then we can start unloading and unpacking. And that just makes for a smoother day and a smoother night. Because the last thing you wanna do on moving day is at 10:00 PM search through all your stuff looking for, oh my gosh, what are we going we, we don't have anything. We're so tired. So that's a small, that's a smaller one. I'll throw out there.
Amy Bushatz: No, but I think it's, I think what you're talking about are a lot of sanity savers and a lot of time organization. Like if we talk about productivity hacks or time organization hacks, all of these are related to those things, and it's just a matter of organizing your life in such a way that allows you to use the tools you already have to fulfill the things you need to do. And in this case, that thing is moving yourself.
How can people find you to find more of these simple but genius tricks that you lay out for us on the DITY life?
Mallory Pevoto: Well, I have a website and that's DITYmama.com.
And on that you'll just find information. A lot of it is, I have a How to pack series and just like information, like I break down our payments, things like that. Now, it is not like Military OneSource. I'm not an official. I'm more so how do I do this in different seasons of life? How do I do this as a mom? How do I do this? What does this look like? Type of thing. So you're not going to be finding, you know, I don't have a calculator or anything like that, but you're just gonna find information, encouragement um, how our family does it.
My Instagram is where I'm the most active though, and that is mama's on the move, Mama's underscore on the underscore move. And that is where you'll just find like our experiences. I have a lot of packing videos. I've packed our house, I believe, three times with that Instagram account. So you'll see all different types of homes in different seasons of my life as my children have gotten older, doing it with younger kids as well, and just kind of what has worked best for our family. So that that's where you're just gonna get the packing videos, the experiences, the encouragement, things like that.
Amy Bushatz: Mallory, thank you so much for sharing that encouragement and those tips and tricks with us today on PCS With Military.com. I sure appreciate you.
Mallory Pevoto: Thank you.
Amy Bushatz: Thanks so much for listening to PCS With Military.com. Want more PCS advice? Check out the rest of PCS With Military.com wherever you get your podcasts. A special thanks to our sponsor, Navy Federal Credit Union, proudly serving all branches of the armed forces, veterans and their families. No matter where you are in your military career, Navy Federal Credit Union has the products and resources to help you navigate your finances. Learn more at NavyFederal.org. Our members are the mission.
And until next time, happy moving.