No matter how you tackle it, a military Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move likely is going to cost you money. Military family advocates estimate each PCS costs on average about $5,000 out of pocket. And even if you manage to get most of the PCS-related costs reimbursed, you're still likely paying something upfront.
That, said military money expert Ryan Guina in an episode of the PCS with Military.com podcast, is just one of the many reasons military members and their families need to get tabs on their finances during each military move. Here is some of his best military money advice for any PCS.
Get smart on your allowances. The military move system is designed with the idea that the Defense Department will foot the bill for getting you from one home to another through payments known as “allowances.” And while the reality is more complicated, getting expenses covered is a matter of knowing what money is available. For example, understanding those rules will save you from misunderstanding how many vehicles will be relocated for you or what expenses to expect for your pets.
"Just really start reading, contact their customer service, read the FAQs and educate yourself on what your situation is going to be like," he said. "Educate yourself and understand that if you have a question, there's going to be an answer somewhere, and there's probably a program in there to help you somehow. It's just a matter of educating yourself and kind of being an informed consumer."
Know that not every situation is the same. Even as you learn what pay or allowances you could receive, it's also important to know that the things available to help the family next door may not be available to help you. That's because those allotments change, depending on where you are moving from, where you are going and whether the whole family is going, too.
"You can mix and match and choose your own adventure 100 different ways," he said. "Each of them are going to have slightly different outcomes. So the key here is to get educated and understand that each situation is going to be a little bit unique."
Use the Government Travel Card wisely. As of 2021, most if not all military members are required to use the Government Travel Card (GTC) to pay for the bulk of their PCS expenses, like lodging. But just how the GTC can be used and the process for getting it paid off when your move is over can vary by military service. That means it's important for users to pay close attention to the information they are given about the GTC and keep receipts for everything.
"So this is one of those things where you always stay up on top of your paperwork and get it filed as soon as possible," he said.
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