Published: June 14, 2019
Even though the military provides quite a few allowances for moving, there can still be a lot of out-of-pocket costs. Use these tried and true tips from Kate Horrell, Military Finance Coach, to keep things under control.
1. Stay Underweight
Before you move, go through your house and do some serious decluttering. Say goodbye to books you didn’t love the first time you read them, toys the kids have outgrown, and excess housewares. Not only will you feel emotionally lighter, but you’ll also decrease the risk of going over your weight allowance and owing the government money.
2. Claim Your Pro Gear
Another way to ensure you don’t go over the weight limit is to separate the service member and spouse’s professional gear. Read up on the pro gear rules, and make separate piles for each. Put a big sign above them that says “pro gear,” and point those piles out to the movers when they arrive to pack up. Just don’t forget to list it on your moving paperwork before you sign it!
3. Cash Out with the Clean-Up
Once you’ve tackled the task of decluttering, see how much of that stuff you can sell. Installation yard sale groups, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist can help you empty your house while filling up your wallet.
4. Know Your Entitlements
Familiarize yourself with the entitlements that come with a PCS move. Most installations have classes on the moving process. Take advantage of the allowances you’re authorized, including temporary lodging. And make sure you request Dislocation Allowance! You don’t receive it if you don’t request it, and that’s often a lot of money you can add to your wallet.
5. Empty Out Your Pantry
There’s nothing worse than being forced to throw out or give away a ton of good food. So slash that grocery budget for the last few months in your old place by using up everything you can in your pantry. If you’re feeling stuck, search the Internet to figure out what to do with random ingredients. Don’t be afraid to have some crazy meals with items you wouldn’t usually put together!
6. Plan Your Food for the Road
Plan for simple ways to eat without having to go to restaurants for every single meal. Start by figuring out how much you think is reasonable for restaurant meals, like one meal and one snack each day you’re on the road. Then, pack a cooler of road trip picnic items.
For example, breakfast can include yogurt and berries, and you eat out for lunch. And for dinner? Grab some chicken and a salad from a nearby grocery store. Don’t forget any necessities like paper plates, paper towels, plastic utensils, and a cutting board and knife to make it easier to stick to your food budget!
7. Consider Cooking in Your Hotel Room
If you aren’t required to stay on base, look for a hotel that offers breakfast. If you’re really lucky, you may be able to find one that includes dinner, too. The Internet is a great place to research the quality of those breakfasts and dinners as some are a lot better than others.
Also, look for a hotel with at least some type of in-room kitchen. If it has a “full” kitchen, it’ll decrease the amount of temporary lodging allowance that you receive, but you’ll still come out ahead if you can avoid going out. Once again, prepared or semi-prepared food is your best friend. Stock the fridge with a pre-cut veggie tray, and look for microwavable or easy-prep options. This is a great time to indulge in things you don’t usually buy. (Hello, Pop-Tarts!)
8. Reset Your Budget
Take advantage of a move to reset your budget for two of the biggest (and least flexible) PCS-ing expenses: housing and transportation. Figure out where you’re willing to compromise.
In most locations, there’s a balance between location, schools, size, and price. Be sure to factor in the costs of commuting. In the end, saving $200 a month on rent isn’t a good deal if you spend an extra $300 on gas, and another $100 on prepared foods because you’re too tired to cook after fighting traffic.
9. Take Advantage of Security Deposit Specials
Check with your landlord and utility providers to see if they have special programs for military members. Some will waive the security deposits altogether, and others may offer a reduced amount or payment plan.
10. Be Creative (and Patient) When Setting Up the House
Don’t overspend on your start-up costs. While not ideal, sheets make perfectly fine window coverings until you have time to figure out what you really want. Restock your pantry slowly, waiting for sales on the items you use the most. And, if you can, hold off on buying furniture until you can find it at yard sales or thrift shops.
Looking for More Ways to Save?
Join Ebates for free to begin shopping for housing items or back-to-school clothes using your military discount. The best part? You’ll earn cash back from your purchases!
Remember, no matter where you may be at along your journey, Blue Star Families is here to support you. Become a member today.