Peak season 2021 has officially kicked off! This year up to 350,000 service members and families will embark on a PCS to their next adventure. While some will have known of this PCS for a while and have been able to save and prepare, others will be given surprise orders. Regardless of where you fall within this gamut, here are some helpful tips on how to PCS on a budget and make your money work for you.
1: Government Travel Card
One way to help lower your out-of-pocket expenses is to utilize the government travel card (GTC) for authorized expenses. These expenses usually include meals, gas, and lodging. If you are conducting a personally procured move (PPM) you may be authorized to charge additional expenses on the card. Its important to make sure your card is set to PCS mode, and to know that your bill may come due before your travel voucher is processed. In this case you can either pay the bill and then be reimbursed, or call the card company and request a due date extension.
2: Use Your Dislocation Allowance
Dislocation allowance (DLA) is there to help families with other non-reimbursable expenses that can include housing deposits, pet fees, and move out cleaning fees. To make the most of your DLA its best to figure out what your budget for the PCS will be, and what items will be reimbursed such as per diem or TLE. Then you will have a better idea of where you can utilize your DLA to avoid charging another credit card or dipping into the savings.
3: Rack Up the Hotel Points
While this may not exactly help you on your PCS, it’s a great way to make your PCS work for you. Unless you are blessed with a short one day move, it is likely you will be staying overnight somewhere. Pick your favorite hotel chain and join their rewards program (bonus is that many hotel chains have a partnership with other hotels!), and then stay at those hotel chains when PCSing. Your lodging will be reimbursed through per diem, but you have the opportunity to earn free nights and hotel reward points that can be redeemed for vacations!
4: File for the Partial PPM
Many families will move items in their cars that they will need right way, or that are valuable/sentimental and want to keep with them. Take the extra few minutes to set up a partial PPM on DPS, and get your vehicles weighed empty and full. As long as the weight in your vehicles doesn’t make you go over your weight allotment, you can be paid for the weight and distance that you moved it. All those pounds add up and you maybe surprised with your incentive payment will be.
5: Extra Quick Cash
To help boost your PCS fund before your PCS even begins, take part in the PCS purge to clean out what you don’t need. At the end of the clean out, consider having a yard sale to make some quick cash to have on hand for any toll booths or incidentals you may have. You may be surprised with just how much you find you can get rid of. Bonus is that doing this will also help you get under your weight allotment so you can claim that partial PPM!