Tips for Saving Money During PCS Season
Tips to Save Money During Your Upcoming PCS
This article has been edited for corrections and clarity
If you are preparing for a permanent change of station move, there are ways to save money along the way. Some of them may require a bit of advance planning, others are typical resources people use when PCSing overseas or stateside.
Military members typically have to find housing in the new location when PCSing. Some who lack experience with PCS moves will complain in advance that staying in a hotel can be frustrating and the costs can add up. Why not, these new-to-PCS-travel people wonder, look into getting an Airbnb or VRBO that is less than your BAH?
But that question belies a basic ignorance of how PCS moves work–these travelers quickly learn (once they have had their first PCS move) that you cannot simply choose to check into a hotel or Air-b-n-b when PCSing. Travelers on PCS orders are required to make reservations at the gaining base’s Temporary Lodging Facility or obtain a formal Non-Availability letter that authorizes off-base lodging at the government’s expense.
Failing to do so means you will not be compensated for your hotel expenses when PCSing.
READ: What You Should Know About Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA)
Don’t Go Crazy With Food
Does your Temporary Lodging Facility feature a kitchen? Using it can be a money-saving alternative to constantly eating out while on the road. All of that adds up, especially with a large family. You also want to make sure that if you are moving back to the United States after time overseas you don’t go crazy with all the restaurants you had missed when you were overseas. If you are driving across the country as a part of your PCS, try packing sandwiches and plenty of snacks instead of buying food at restaurants along the way.
READ: Restaurant with Military Discounts and Veteran Deals
Make a Budget
Make a PCS budget. Figure out how much you will spend ahead of time and stick to the plan. You will want to budget for extra expenses that might come up along the way. Having a budget will allow you to stay organized and not overspend when possible.
READ: Best PCS Tips For Military Families and PCS and Moving Discounts for Military
Use a Lending Closet
If your new duty station has a lending closet, use that while you are waiting for your household goods. That way you don’t have to spend money on items that will be coming when you get your household goods. You can just return them to the lending closet.
Your PCS Move Weight Allowance
Every military family has a weight allowance for their household goods when it’s time to move. This is based on the service member’s rank and if they have dependents or not. Get rid of or sell what you can before you move. If you go over your weight limit, you may have to pay the cost of the additional weight. It is very difficult for someone who isn’t a professional mover to estimate that weight, you may need to consult with your losing base’s Travel Management Office (TMO) for assistance in this area.
Know Your PCS Entitlements and Benefits
You should be aware of your PCS entitlements and benefits. You can be reimbursed for expenses such as meals, incidentals, and lodging. This doesn’t mean you should go wild and not think about the costs. Keep to your budget but be aware of what you are entitled to during your PCS.
A PCS might be a good time to visit family. You can combine a trip home during your PCS, saving you money in the long run. You might also want to stay with your family to save money while waiting on housing. The service member may still need to report for duty, but paying for one person vs a whole family can save you money.
Start saving for your PCS as soon as you can. The move is going to cost you more than you think it might so you want to make sure you are prepared. You may have the option to apply for advance pay in association with a permanent change of station move, but this is basically an interest-free loan on your basic pay that must be repaid in monthly installments via allotment to the Government. Consider this option carefully before committing.
Save On Gas
While the cost of gas may be higher than you have ever seen it, there are a few things you can do to keep the costs low during your PCS. Join a fuel rewards program, use apps such as GasBuddy and Waze to find the cheapest gas along the way, and plan your route so you won’t be doing any unnecessary driving.
- PCS and Moving Discounts for Military
- Spring Cleaning and PCS Prep: Companies That Can Help
- PCSing and Your Child’s Education: The Military Interstate Compact
- What You Need to Know About a PPM PCS
About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.