Ready to be shocked?
The average cost of a PCS ranges from $4,200-$6,200– well, if this isn’t your first PCS you probably already know this.
The cost of a PCS has actually risen about 28% over the past few years. If you are moving OCONUS, you are looking at an even more expensive PCS.
The military will reimburse you but it may take several months and they won’t cover everything. It is becoming more and more important to have a PCS fund in place so you don’t have to come up with this money on your own or max out your credit cards (letting interest build until you receive your reimbursement).
There are so many ways to build up your PCS fund quickly and easily– BONUS: it will set you up for good budgeting habits for the long term. So, that’s a win-win right?
Rocking your PCS fund
Set a savings goal
Set an amount that you are aiming for (and I do suggest aiming high for that extra room). You can even use a visual aid to track your progress and keep you motivated. You can download this printable savings meter here and color it as your savings goes up.
Before setting your goal, make sure to find out exactly what will be covered and what won’t be covered. Take into account if you need to ship pets, or any other extra costs.
Start a budget
If you haven’t already, you need to start a budget. I’m a paper and pen kind of person so I used this workbook to help me start a budget and stick to it. I like it because it walks you through the process in a step-by-step foolproof way. No one will fail at this system if they implement every step. Even if you aren’t a pen and paper person, I highly suggest the free 90 day budget bootcamp ecourse that goes with it– it’s a game changer.
Either way, starting a budget is always the first step in saving money. People commonly think they don’t need to budget unless they are living paycheck to paycheck. You absolutely still need to budget if you are hoping to pay off debt, build up savings, or even if you just want to have the maximum amount possible left over at the end of the month. I guarantee once you start budgeting you will see a difference and it almost becomes…fun.
Keep your “change”
Now I’m not talking about actual change (although if you have a piggy bank, all the more power to ya). I don’t know about you, but I generally use my debit card for everything.
What I’m talking about is an app called Qapital. This app is totally free and it’s pretty awesome. It connects to your debit card and any other card you use. When you make purchases, it rounds up to the nearest dollar (or more if you want it to). It then takes the spare change and sets it aside for you. You never even notice and all of a sudden you have a savings started, plus there is overdraft protection. You can also transfer the money in and out at anytime. (BTW, if you want to use my referral link, you’ll get a $5 bonus!)
Other apps that do this is Acorns and Digit. Acorns is not free but has a few more features than Qapital. Digit is free for 100 days and then $2.99/month afterwards. However they essentially do the same thing, and I’m partial to free things 🙂
Schedule automatic payments into savings
Treat your savings account like any other monthly expense. Even if it’s a small amount, if you schedule an automatic deposit then you don’t even have to think about it. Just let the savings build– and side note, the apps I just talked about give you the option to do that.
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Cut unnecessary expenses
Have cable but constantly watch Netflix? Cancel cable! Side note– if they want you to pay a cancellation fee, just tell them you are PCSing (preferably somewhere like Germany so they don’t talk you into just transferring your service).
In fact, now you can even try the jailbroken Firestick and cancel Netflix too.
There are so many other areas to cut as well:
- Eating out (includes restaurants, pizza nights, and your daily–or twice daily–Starbucks coffee)
- Memberships (gym, music, movies, etc)
- If your able to, go down to one car– you will lower insurance, gas expenses, and get rid of a monthly payment (if you have one)
- Speaking of insurance– shop around to find a better price (USAA did not win my price comparison, my best price was Geico with the military discount) and if you feel comfortable lowering your policy to bare minimum you can save even more but this might not be a super smart long term solution.
- Clothing and baby clothes and toys (consignment stores, guys!!)
- Quit money-wasting habits (smoking, drinking)
- Find substitutions for things you can’t cut out completely
- Other extras (getting your nails done, baby play groups, etc)
The key to building your savings with cutting expenses is to pretend you still have that expense and put it directly into your PCS fund. I know it’s tempting to have the extra money, but if you transfer it into a separate account (your PCS fund) then you won’t be tempted to spend it.
Set aside extra money
If it’s tax return time or you’re due for any reimbursements, throw the extra money into your PCS fund. This is definitely the quickest way to bump up that account. Of course, we’re talking about military life here and the timing usually never lines up if you’re needing the create a PCS fund quickly. Thinking ahead is your best bet here.
Deployments or TDYs
As much as we don’t want our hubby to leave, it IS a good way to get a nice chunk of extra money. For example, my husbands friend took a quick deployment last year over Christmas for a little over a month and got a bonus of $12,000. Even if you aren’t looking at quite that much extra, it’s still going to be pretty decent. If you are needing to bump up your savings quickly, it might be worth volunteering for a short deployment if possible.
Same goes for training. My husband went to a training course for a week and we made an extra $217. This is because the military gives service members per diem rates for food so whatever you have left over is yours to keep and throw in your PCS fund.
Get a side gig
There are plenty of things you can do from home to get extra money like website testing, or freelance work. This article goes over different opportunities in more detail.
Sell your assets
An asset is anything you own that you can sell for money and keep the profits. So a car that you no longer make payments on would be an asset. However, little things can be assets too and you probably have a lot more of them laying around your house than you think.
My husband is famous for selling a gun here or there when we needed extra or when he’s trying to help out one of his buddies. We have also sold things like TVs that were just sitting in our basement, old jewelry that never got worn, etc. I know some people that have made a killing selling old baby stuff their kids have outgrown. The best part of this is that it also helps declutter your house AND it’s less to move come PCS season.
Request a rate reduction on credit cards
If you are an active duty military member (this may also be available to guard members on active duty orders) with existing credit cards, auto loans, etc then you may be eligible to reduce those interest rates to 6% through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. That is a BIG savings.
You will need a copy of your orders and you will need to notify those lenders individually, but if you could potentially reduce your rate more than half, you are looking at a significant amount saved that you can put in your PCS fund. Read more about that here.
It’s hard to stick to budgeting and saving. Having an accountability partner can make a world of difference. If your spouse isn’t interested or you don’t have a friend that you think would be objective or supportive, then you can always join our private Facebook group and find an accountability partner there (It IS the goal of the group– to support you during your budgeting journey and teach you how to use your military resources to SAVE!).
Don’t dig a hole
The point of having a PCS fund is to make sure you don’t dig yourself into a hole with credit cards, waiting for reimbursement (at the mercy of the military gods!) or finding out some things weren’t covered. Taking a few simple measures to save money and build up your savings is easier than you think.
That way, you can focus less on the financial part, and more on thriving in your new location. And when you get that reimbursement and replace your PCS fund– you might even find that you’ve set yourself up for having extra money left over every month.
Now that’s a win.
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