By Amanda Huffman
After the actual move, one of the hardest parts of moving is figuring out how to make your budget work. here you are and what your housing situation is can have a major effect on how far each dollar goes. Even with inflation coming down and housing rates recovering from the pandemic, the challenge of moving continues to be hard on military families and their budgets.
Following are several useful tips I have learned over the years as my family and I have moved across the country. Our budget work became especially challenging during this most recent move because BAH had not increased at the rate of the housing market.
Trim Out Extras
One thing we did last summer once we had the boxes unpacked and our house semi-situated was to limit our meals out, or even to stop going out to eat. We had been comfortable in our past location and the occasional meal out wasn’t a strain on our budget. But moving meant we needed to be more intentional, and we decided eating out was a want not a need.
Besides eating out, think of other extras you could cut out. t? Could you skip Netflix or any other streaming platform for a few months or hold off on setting up your cable service? Could you ride a bike to work instead of driving?
Find Ways to Save
Check out second-hand stores to find stuff you need for a cut-rate price. There may also be programs on base that can give you something for free or at a reduced cost.
And while I don’t like to advocate for cutting back on savings for retirement, it isn’t a bad place to look when re-adjusting your budget. You might not need to stop saving altogether, but you can choose to reduce how much you are saving for retirement for a short period of time before getting back to your goals.
Save Up Before a Move and Try to Save While Moving
One family I knew planned for their move by cutting back on their spending and building up their savings account. They also relied on their Dislocation Allowance to help cover things when moving, putting it in savings to use once the move was complete. You can also try to limit your spending while you move to your new location. Packing lunches, such as peanut butter and jelly or turkey sandwiches, a small ice chest where you freeze the ice pack each night of a move, can be a great option.
If You Have Savings, Use Them
I once was telling someone about an unexpected expense that forced us to dip into our savings to cover all the bills that month. My friend reminded me that is exactly why we have savings — so that if something comes up you can cover it.
When you are moving, there is a lot of transition while you are working to get settled and find your rhythm. Don’t feel bad about using your savings. You have worked hard to have that financial stability so use it if you need it, and then work to get back on track to start building up your savings again.
If you don’t have a savings account to rely on, you don’t need to use a payday loan service that can charge a really high interest rate and get you stuck in more debt. The finance office at your base has the ability to provide interest-free loans to help you. The rules on when you can use these loans and how much you can take out vary, but it may be a good option to look into.
Remember to Still Find Ways to Have Fun
Even though cutting costs is an important aspect of getting your budget in line, doing things you really enjoy is important, too. So instead of eliminating things, think of simply cutting back. For example, instead of getting a cup of coffee from a coffee shop every day, treat yourself to it just once a week. Or instead of getting ice cream from an ice cream parlour, get it at the grocery store and enjoy it at home. Be creative. If you can make a sacrifice but still enjoy it in a new or different way then it is a win-win.
These are just a few tips to get you started with thinking about ways to adjust your budget post-move. If you need more help, remember you can always reach out to financial experts, such as those at AAFMAA who can help you set up your finances for success.
Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Service, is the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War Horse, Military.com, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more.