Planning a PCS Move? How to Save Money (and Stress Less)

Planning a PCS Move? How to Save Money (and Stress Less)
File photo

By Lila Quintiliani, ChFC®, AFC®, Military Saves Senior Program Manager


You may consider yourself a seasoned pro when it comes to military moves, but if you are due for PCS orders this year, you should be aware that this is turning out to be an unusually chaotic and difficult moving season.


“It’s crazy out there right now,” says Kellie Artis, military spouse and COO of Millie, an online community that connects members of the military and their families with specialized knowledge and trusted resource providers to alleviate the stress of PCSing. “Low housing inventory in most locations, a very hot real estate market, and a recovering moving industry are causing a trifecta of stress and financial hardship for families.”


[RELATED: Labor, Wood, Equipment Shortages Creating Havoc for Some Military Moves]


One of the biggest hurdles military families face is that due to the shortage of labor in the moving industry, government movers may not be available. So, many families are being forced to conduct a Personally Procured Move, or PPM, moving their belongings themselves to their next duty station.


While some servicemembers have always chosen the DIY route, and have even made some extra money on their moves by doing all the heavy lifting themselves, this year is particularly challenging: Moving truck rentals are expensive and hard to find, storage units like PODS are in short supply, and finding hired labor to help load or unload can be almost impossible.


Still, there are some ways to save money and stress this summer. Here are a few tips to help you as you navigate your military move:


1. Shop around. Artis says that you should never take the first available offer when it comes to housing, movers, or services. Try to get at least a couple of quotes before deciding. And always check Better Business Bureau ratings and online reviews of the company before you sign on the dotted line. Millie has a new, free concierge service that allows you to gather moving quotes and organize everything on a dashboard.


2. Know your entitlements and benefits. Did you know that you are entitled to MALT, or Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation, when you drive to your next duty station? There are lots of other benefits military families may be eligible for, including Dislocation Allowance, Per Diem, and Temporary Lodging Expense. And several of the military relief societies have started providing financial assistance for pet transportation, which can be very costly.


[RELATED: More Delays for Some Military Tenant Rights]


3. Consider outsourcing. Sometimes spending a few dollars can save hundreds, and with the hectic military op tempo, time often does equal money. Hiring someone to help pack, load, or unload a moving truck can save a lot of stress and may even save on damage to your goods.


4. Get free stuff when you can. Instead of spending a lot of cash on boxes and packing materials, ask around on Facebook and in neighborhood groups. There’s always someone who is just moving in. And you can use towels, blankets, and pillows to cushion fragile items.


5. Be organized. Take inventory of your household goods and track their box numbers so you don’t have to rebuy things you already own when you move into your new home. Save receipts – anything the military doesn’t reimburse may possibly be claimed on your taxes.


6. Don’t forget about insurance. Make sure that your items have insurance while in transit. If you are renting a vehicle or a trailer to move your goods, check and make sure whether your automobile and homeowner’s/renter's policy covers you both against accident and loss.


MOAA partners with Military Saves, a campaign coordinated by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America, to provide insight into military family finances. Want to save for your next military move? Your vacation? A house? Retirement? Take the Military Saves Pledge, and you’ll receive information and motivation to support you on your savings journey.


Download MOAA’s Officer’s Guide

For more resources on deployments, PCS moves, educational and professional development, transitioning and more.