America’s career military families who expect a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) this summer are already putting their financial houses in order. Nine out of ten middle-class military families who expect to make a PCS this summer have already budgeted for the costs of their move, according to the latest findings of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®. Forty-four percent of these families say they expect out-of-pocket costs of at least $1,000, and one out of four expect to spend more than $2,500.
Frequent PCS moves are a familiar part of military family life. The Department of Defense reports that approximately one-third of active-duty service members are moved in a given year, with the peak season for PCS moves running from May through August. The Index reveals that 43 percent of survey respondents expect to have a PCS move this summer. Three out of five say they’ve had a PCS within the past two years.
First Command helps service members understand which PCS benefits they’re entitled to and determine how much of their moving expenses these benefits will cover. By taking full advantage of PCS-related government benefits, career military families can keep out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum.
How can you keep your out-of-pocket costs under control? Do your homework before your PCS. Take advantage of resources which may be available through the transportation office, finance office, and family center at your installation. Find out which benefits you’re entitled to and determine how much of your expenses they’ll cover. You may be entitled to:
- Advance Basic Pay — an interest-free loan of up to three months of basic pay
- Advance Basic Allowance, Housing (BAH) — an advance on monthly pay for off-base rental housing
- Dislocation Allowance (DLA) — helps pay for moving expenses
- Monetary Allowance in Lieu of Transportation (MALT) — pays for mileage when you drive to your new station
- Per Diem Allowance — helps pay for meals and lodging while you travel
- Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) — helps pay for meals and lodging when temporary housing is required.
The better your idea of your expenses, and the better your knowledge of what’s covered, the better you’ll be able to establish a budget for your move. Be sure to figure in costs for food and household items you’ll need to purchase when you arrive, as well miscellaneous costs like deposits for utilities.
Responsible budgeting is critical to helping keep frequent moves from negatively impacting your family finances. And planning pays emotional dividends, too. The Index reveals that three out of five relocating families say they feel extremely or very financially confident about their preparations for the 2017 PCS season.