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Financial Tips for a Smooth PCS

Establish an emergency fund. An emergency savings fund should be a top priority and should have six months’ worth of your current living expenses and payments. This safety net will provide you with a buffer against unplanned or unexpected expenses. Although you will receive travel allowances, there are usually additional expenses and purchases associated with moving and settling into a new home.

Prepare for dual households. There are circumstances where Marine families find themselves with dual households, either short- or long-term. This can be for various reasons, such as the transfer timeframe doesn’t align with school schedules, employment, or housing issues. COVID-19 also created situations where Marines under “Stop Movement Orders” residing in base housing had a mortgage payment at the next duty station. Maintaining two households is a difficult economic and emotional decision. Please do not go it alone. Contact your local Personal Financial Manager for guidance and support.

Keep receipts. Keep track of and save receipts for all expenses you incur that will not be reimbursed. Marines on active duty who move because of a PCS can make a deduction when calculating their federal income taxes for unreimbursed moving expenses. Such expenses may include moving an extra car, hauling a trailer, or additional travel and lodging expenses.

Save money in transit. There are phone applications to locate the least expensive gas stations in all areas. Many hotels and restaurants offer military discounts upon request. You can also lower your food expenses by purchasing food, beverages, and snacks from your commissary that travel well while in transit.


Maybe you prefer a Personally Procured Move. Typically, with a PCS move, the government hires a commercial contractor to pack and move household goods. You can elect to make a Personally Procured Move (PPM) instead. You can receive reimbursement 95 to 100 percent reimbursement for electing a PPM during your PCS. Refer to MARADMIN 128/20 for details and use the resources on to help you determine the most cost-effective form for your move.

Trim your belongings. Ask yourself this question, “Is there anything I do not want to take to the next duty station that I could sell before leaving?” This will help you to stay below the weight limit on household goods and earn some extra cash for the move.

Take inventory. Photos and video are a great way to document your property and its condition before packing. Carry a copy of the inventory with you—do not pack it away. Consider carrying with you any items that you consider priceless, such as family heirlooms, pictures, or items of emotional value.

Consider additional insurance. Consider getting additional insurance on your household goods to cover potential losses beyond what the Marine Corps reimburses. Often, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will cover your household goods in shipment. Replacement value reimburses you for the cost to replace the item with the same or similar item at present and according to its current value. The cash value is the replacement value minus the depreciation of the property.


Review your credit report. You can get a free copy of your credit report at Oftentimes, landlords and utility companies review past payment history when determining the need for a deposit.

Notify all creditors. Notify all creditors of your upcoming move. Change your address so that you can avoid any missed. This strategy can help you avoid late payments, late fees, or increases in interest rates.

Obtain reference letters. Obtain letters of reference from the current utility, cable, and telephone companies to reduce or eliminate deposit costs at your new location.

Get prequalified or preapproved for a home loan. If you will be buying a home at your new duty station, prequalify or get preapproved at your bank or credit union for a home loan. 

Schedule time to meet with your local Personal Financial Management Office to review your financial situation and be prepared for your upcoming PCS.

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