There aren’t many constants in military life, but one thing many military families can count on is moving to a new duty station every few years, or even more often.
PCS moves require at least some money out of pocket. There are travel costs and moving-in expenses, along with staying on top of your bills while you are in the limbo that lies between the old duty station and the new.
There are a lot of financial considerations to remember, but access your checking, savings and credit card accounts at all times, should not be one of your concerns. When your next move comes around:
1. Don’t leave your money behind.
Make sure your credit union or bank offers mobile banking* and make sure you know how to use it. Set up your accounts for online access, download the mobile app, and become familiar with all its features. Mobile banking – with its ability to pay bills, track purchases, transfer funds, make transaction via text, mobile deposits and many other tools – is a must-have during a PCS move. Some financial institutions even offer a digital wallet* that lets you store your credit or debit cards on your phone or other mobile device – super-convenient when trying to buy snacks at a truck stop and not having to worry about digging for your cards or money.
2. Let your financial institution know you are on the move.
Most banks and credit unions track the location of your purchases. Anything out of the ordinary, say buying gas on your credit card in Kansas in the middle of a cross-country PCS move, could trigger a fraud alert. Letting your credit union or bank know you are traveling is usually as simple as logging into your online account.
3. Know your passwords and have them stored in a secured, easily accessible location.
Nothing is worse than needing to make a deposit, pay a bill online or take care of other banking business while on the move only to discover that you don’t know your password, especially when you keep guessing and end up locked up out of your account. Figure out the way that works best for you in terms of storing passwords. There are several ways to do it online or via your device. If you write them down, or store them as a photo in your phone, make sure you use a “code” that only you know, or somehow disguise them in a way that a thief wouldn’t know what they mean or what they are for. Remember, there are mobile banking apps that allow you to connect your own device’s biometric sign in method, like your thumbprint, to your bank account’s authentication, making access super easy because you don’t have to remember your credentials every time.
4. Count your dollars and cents and make a budget.
Knowing where you stand money-wise is the most important financial consideration of any life change, including a PCS move. How much cash do you have in savings and checking accounts? What are your credit card balances and limits? What are your reimbursement entitlements from the military for things like lodging and per diem? If necessary, look into your options for advance travel pay. And remember that costs and entitlements associated with an overseas move may be different than those for a CONUS move.
5. Know what your income will be at your new duty station.
Check how much your housing allowance will be, and whether any Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) is given. Factor in any change in employment including the possibility of having to change jobs and associated pay cuts.
6. Research housing.
Once you know what your income will be, consider housing costs. Will you live in military or civilian housing? Securing housing and moving in is generally the biggest expense during a PCS move and can add up quickly when you figure in large costs such as deposits or down payments, and little things like new curtains, rugs or furniture.
Moving with the military means the chance for new adventures and keeping an eye on your finances will help you to be able to enjoy all that your new home has to offer. For more great tips on moving as a military family, visit navyfederal.org/.
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