In addition to being one of life’s greatest stressors, moving is also an expensive endeavor. And since most active duty military personnel can expect to make PCS moves approximately every two to four years, the costs really start to add up—temporary lodging, meals, vehicle maintenance, housing turnover fees, boarding pets, etc. If you don’t plan accordingly, a PCS move can quickly become financially overwhelming.
When budgeting for a move, don’t skimp on your research. Making and sticking to a thorough plan can significantly impact savings in the end. Check out these 10 financial planning tips to make your next PCS move easier:
1. Communicate with Your Partner
Before you start adding up the numbers, it’s important to get on the same page as your partner. Speaking honestly and realistically about your family finances can help you both avoid unintended financial difficulties or misunderstandings down the road.
2. Close Unnecessary Accounts
If you don’t already have one, it’s important to make a record of all your financial accounts including bank accounts, insurance policies and credit cards.
Even local subscriptions or gym memberships are worth listing. Note which ones need to be closed or transferred and update address information to ensure a smooth transition once you’ve relocated.
3. Pay Off Outstanding Bills
When budgeting for a move, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to pay off all your outstanding bills. Debt follows you wherever you go, it just gets a bit more complicated when there’s confusion about where to reach you. Avoid accidentally missing important payments, late fees and added interest by paying off any and all bills you can, from rent to utilities to retail credit cards.
4. Calculate Moving Costs
Average moving costs vary depending on factors like location and distance from your current residence, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare a rough estimate. Do your best to plan out your method of transportation (for both you and your possessions), how many days it’ll take to move, whether or not you’ll need to hire additional moving help, plus any meals and hotel stays you’ll need to pay for between destinations.
Your servicemember should get additional insights into what the military will cover and what you’re expected to take care of out of pocket. While you may not be able to get an exact number, you should be able to approximate average moving costs for budgeting purposes.
5. Create a Comprehensive Budget
Once you have a better understanding of average moving costs, work with your servicemember to plan how you’ll effectively save money to cover these expenses. Utilizing financial planning apps and tools provided by many online banking platforms can help inform you of current spending habits and where you can cut back to properly save for the PCS move. Making a realistic budget and sticking to it will help alleviate a lot of stress often caused by moving.
Insights from AAFMAA: 6 Top Budgeting Apps for Military Families
6. Save Receipts for Reimbursement
Some out-of-pocket expenses may qualify for military reimbursement, so it’s a good idea to hold onto all receipts and store them in a safe place where they won’t get lost in the shuffle (making digital copies is always recommended!)
Even if certain line items don’t qualify for reimbursement, you may be eligible for tax deductions.
7. Shop for Lower Rates
Whether you’re moving 30 minutes away or overseas, insurance costs are often impacted by your location. You should take full advantage of a PCS move to shop for lower rates on important insurance products like car insurance, home insurance—even life insurance.
8. Sell What You Don’t Need
If you’re in need of some extra money for your PCS move or you just want to make the move easier, make a plan to sell some belongings you no longer want or need. List the old furniture you don’t want anymore on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, and try to sell some of the extra clothes you never wear in a garage sale or using online resale platforms. Not only does this lighten the physical load of moving, but takes some of the financial burden away as well.
9. Resist Credit Cards
While it may sound easy to charge all moving expenses to a credit card and deal with the problem later, keep in mind that you can do serious damage to your credit score.
Not to mention the added costs caused by high interest rates, which will end up making the move even more expensive overall. If you really need help financially, you can apply for a military loan, some of which are interest-free, such as the Advance Basic Pay program .
10. Start Saving Early
It’s never too early to start saving for your next PCS move. Military families know that relocation is always an option on the horizon, so it may make sense to begin contributing monthly to a savings fund that can be used to help cover the costs of a future move. By getting a head start on budgeting for a move, you can avoid feelings of stress and anxiety that people naturally experience through this life stage.
Need help budgeting for an upcoming PCS move? AAFMAA offers financial planning services for military families in need of assistance. Talk to an AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust Relationship Manager today to get started! Or contact AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC to discuss home buying and selling options.
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