Association of Military Banks of America

3 Tips to Save Money During a PCS

By Amanda Mitchell, AFC® Candidate

Summer is just around the corner, and you know what that means! Peak PCS season! That time of year when familiar chaos creeps back in and your life gets turned upside down for a bit. A PCS is stressful by itself, but when unexpected expenses pop up, it can be a recipe for trouble. The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to be prepared. Here are a few tips to get your PCS game on point and help you save money along the way:

Plan Ahead

Whenever it is time for us to move, I like to start planning as far in advance as possible. However, sometimes things don’t work out in our favor, and orders don’t come but a few weeks before report dates. This has happened to us more than once. But I have found that all I really need is a few hours of purposeful planning to make the magic happen. I start with creating a PCS budget. Here are some areas you should include in your budget:

  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • Pet expenses
  • New residence expenses
  • Utility Connection expenses (if applicable)

Know Your Entitlements

The entitlements you may receive during a PCS and once you arrive at your new duty station will vary according to your specific situation. It is essential to know what allowances you are eligible for and what may change to get a better picture of your finances during and after your PCS. Here are some common entitlements/allowances:

  • Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA)
  • Dislocation Allowance Per Diem
  • Cost of Living Allowance (available only in certain areas)
  • Overseas Housing Allowance
  • Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH, changes with every duty station and dependent on service member pay grade)

Know What Expenses are Reimbursable

While PCS allowances are meant to cover most of the increased costs of moving, some other types of expenses can be claimed for reimbursement. I once made the mistake of renting a car to get us to the airport we were scheduled to fly out of because it was over an hour away. Rental vehicles were unfortunately not reimbursable for our specific situation. Had we taken a shuttle or something of that nature, it would have been covered. Lesson learned.  You can find an inclusive list of reimbursable expenses here.

Additional Resources