It’s that time of year – Permanent Change of Station (PCS) season. You’ve received your orders. What’s your next move? Moves are expected to continue this summer through August. If you haven’t moved yet, it’s not too late to start preparing your budget for PCS expenses. Following some of these financial tips for PCS may help.
Start by reviewing your current budget
Since you and your family are being relocated, it makes sense to expect all your PCS costs to be covered. However, that’s not always the case. In fact, some experts suggest that servicemembers spend an average of $1,725 in non-reimbursable costs during each PCS.
Review all your monthly spending:
- Utilities: electricity, water, heat, trash, cable, internet
- Insurance: homeowner’s or renter’s, auto and life
- Private vehicle: monthly cost of the vehicle (if financed), parking, maintenance and gas
- Entertainment & fun
Relocation can impact these major spending categories. Because cost of living varies throughout the world, you should expect these amounts to change.
To prepare for any unexpected expenses, begin by identifying what monthly spending is essential and non-essential. Consider cutting out some of your non-essential spending while you prepare to move and settle into your new location.
Don’t forget to make an appointment with the finance office at your current duty station. They’ll be able to provide you with more details about your relocation benefits. You may be eligible for temporary lodging reimbursement if you’re moving overseas, reimbursement for house hunting expenses and even per diem for PCS travel.
Prepare for the following expenses
Regardless of whether you’re purchasing a new home or renting, you should prepare for a change in housing costs.
Start by calculating your new Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).
Then, you can look at available housing in this range to best budget what you need to spend to meet your needs. If you predict you’ll have leftover BAH, consider building your emergency savings or setting it aside for a future move. You may not have this option for PCS relocations outside the U.S., as some stations require you to live in military housing.
If you’ll be renting, plan for:
- Application fees
- Varies by location, assume $50-200 dollars to be safe
- Security deposit
- Most of the time, this is between $500-750 dollars
- First month’s rent upfront (possibly)
You should consider the cost of moving your vehicles to your new location versus selling and purchasing another one when you arrive. Compare costs of driving your vehicle or shipping it. If the cost of shipping or transporting your car is greater than the value of the car, it might be worthwhile to consider selling it.
New costs to budget for:
- Cost of gas
- See how gas prices vary between your home and new location with
- Registration, inspection and taxes
- Varies by state
- Cost to park your vehicle
This is something to consider if you’re relocating overseas, as transporting multiple vehicles is likely more expensive than purchasing new when you arrive. You might need to rent a car while you shop for a new vehicle or wait for your vehicle to be shipped.
This expense can vary based on your new station and the size of your household, so be sure to budget accordingly .
After all, they’re a part of the family too! It can be costly to transport your pets, so prepare your budget for these costs and any associated fees to get them into or out of the country. Make these arrangements as early as possible; you don’t want to leave anyone behind.
According to FlyPets.com, relocating your pet could cost up to $1000 depending on where you move
Advance your financial goals with your move
Although PCS season may be a stressful time for you and your family, consider the upside this move can have on your finances and your financial goals.
If you have an expensive vehicle and an auto loan that isn’t practical, a PCS can be a great time to sell and downsize to a more economical vehicle. Or, it could be a chance to downsize your home. If your BAH covers a three bedroom house and you used to live in a four bedroom, you may want to consider making the move to a smaller home. Then you can use the savings to build savings, pay off debt or plan for retirement!
Know where you can find the help you need
Relocation is a part of military life, but planning ahead can keep your move from impacting your finances. A PCS can be exciting and stressful at the same time, especially if it’s your first one. Don’t be afraid to seek out advice along the way.
Take advantage of online resources and installation offices to ease your transition.
Move.mil is the military’s go-to resource for everything PCS for servicemembers and civilian relocations. Your financial partner can help you plan ahead for PCS season.
Whether you’re adjusting your budget or house hunting for a new home and need a mortgage, financial institutions for servicemembers like Navy Federal can help ease your transition and take the financial stress out of moving.
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