The average American moves about a dozen times during their life, but for military families that frequency is much higher. With installations across the globe, Permanent Changes of Station (PCS) aren't simple moves across streets or neighborhoods, they're often to different states or even international. Elevated stress during this period is expected, even for your wallet.
Unfortunately that moving adds up, even when the government is paying for most of it. A study from Military.com estimates the average military family will spend about $1,725 in non-reimbursable costs during a PCS. When you consider that the average time between PCS moves is two to four years, you can imagine how this will affect long-term finances, including your military retirement plan.
Here are a few tips to keep those non-reimbursable costs to a minimum and keep your PCS as stress-free as possible.
Start With Installation Resources and Information
Moving circumstances will vary with location, branch of service, and family size. Consult your branch and base resources. Most PCS moves are taken care of by a Transportation Management Office, or TMO. Perhaps the largest benefit to coordinating your move is that they'll handle most of the moving details – a huge stress relief.
You can be proactive with your next PCS by visiting your TMO beforehand. Consider attending any briefings they offer on relocation and the moving process. Knowing what to expect ahead of time will help remove any costly surprises when the time comes to relocate.
Understand What Uncle Sam Will Cover
Asking questions about moving and transportation costs will also help you learn about what is and isn’t reimbursable. Make sure you keep receipts of everything during your PCS, even if you're unsure if something is an expense. Keeping unclaimed costs in check will help your money go farther on the next move. It may even tempt you to save more by attempting to expense the entire move yourself.
The DITY Approach
If you’d prefer to have more control over your next move, there’s always the Do-it-yourself (DITY) option. Also referred to as Personally Procured Moves (PPM), they don’t require a Transportation Office, and you can move your belongings as you’d like.
There’s also another benefit to this approach: making some extra cash. The government will reimburse you for 95% of what it would cost them to move you (up to your maximum authorized weight allowance – determined by pay grade and number of dependents).
The government will also supply $25,000 in insurance coverage, a good idea in case the worst happens. If you’re able to keep your costs down, you keep the difference.
PPMs should use the Defense Personal Property System, or DPS, found through the DoD Customer Moving Portal, www.move.mil. This website is the one-stop-shop where members can completely manage their relocation process, and also contains a wealth of information.
No Matter Where Your Next PCS Takes You
AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust (AWM&T) is there to help. Get personalized investing support from Relationship Managers who know military wealth management, retirement planning, and trust services for those who served and their families.
Contact us today to schedule a complimentary portfolio review. We also offer monthly newsletters and webinars for those who want to learn more about other ways AWM&T can help invest in their future.