Plan your Move with Financial Confidence: Must Have Tips When Relocating

31 10 2011

Featured on Military Finance Fairy!

You’re in the U.S. Armed Forces and just received orders for a Permanent Change of Stations (PCS).  Now you have to move!  Often times military families must relocate on short notice to areas across the country.  Times like these can be stressful and strain any household’s budget.  But rest assured, luckily there are some helpful resources out there for military and civilian alike.  Apartment Guide is a handy search tool for finding housing in other states while Moving Today can provide an array of tips when it comes to Relocating.

“Planning is everything when it comes to moving your household”

I too have been faced with frequent moves.  One might call me a veteran of “the move“.  How often have I moved?  Three times in exactly three years.  Phew!  And with every move the housing got smaller and smaller.  Any smaller and I’d be living in a box!  A moving box that is.  However, when faced with a move I’ve prepared myself financially and planned ahead to reduce any financial strain or mishap that may arise.

Ways to Save Big

  • Begin with the Budget in Mind. Just as we would set vacation, holiday, food, or monthly household budgets, we all must plan financially for an upcoming move.  Set aside money per month for this expense.  Make sure you have enough money saved to cover up-front housing costs such as the first month’s rent and security deposit (these costs do not apply to those service members residing in military housing).  Whenever a service member is faced with a PCS, it is suggested that funds be set aside for moving expenses (i.e. a moving fund) to cover the up-front costs associated with moving into civilian housing.
  • Organize in Advance. Save time and money by planning ahead.  Organize your move on paper with the use of a checklist.  Search for apartments, create a time schedule, plan which items will be moved and try to sell or donate items that are not being moved.  For those folks planning a self service move, there is a checklist for you too!  Organization will save time and money during the moving process because the plan will be laid out in front of you versus planning as you go.
  • Pre-Purchase Counseling. Prior to any move, families considering to purchase a property should acquire pre-purchase counseling advice with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Any expert knowledge a person can gain prior to making any major housing purchase should be welcomed in order to make informed decisions.  Pre-purchase counseling provides information on the home-buying process and debt management.  This counseling can help to avoid a financial mistake in the long-run.  This is especially true for military families considering a home purchase.  Pre-purchase counseling may aid in the decision to live in base housing for a few years and purchase a home at a later time.
  • Cut the Clutter. Moving is a great time to sort through your belongings.  Think of it as a second chance at spring cleaning.  The less you have to move, the more money you can save because a larger moving truck may not be needed.  Sort items into three categories:  keep, donate and toss.  Hosting a garage sale can help to raise money for your moving fund.
  • Fore-go Food Shopping. If your move is happening in two weeks or less, fore-go food shopping (if you can).  Plan meals around remaining items found in your pantry.  Also, perishable food will spoil on any long distance trip if  not properly stored.  However, if you must purchase food during the last two weeks, plan out a menu to ensure all food will be used before leaving your home.
  • Move Yourself.  Hiring a professional moving company may cost hundreds!  An easy financial fix is to move yourself for a fraction of the cost by renting the moving truck and performing the move yourself.  A word of caution – choose a truck that is large enough to store your household belongings.  Usually these trucks are broken down by the number of rooms being transported (two room trucks, three room trucks, etc.).  Choosing the correct-sized vehicle eliminates the need to make multiple trips between homes if furniture does not fit inside the vehicle.  This is especially important for those facing an out-of-state or relocation.  Lastly, inquire about military discounts to compound the savings!
  • Military Moving Assistance.  The military provides moving assistance to service members based on their rank, the number of their dependents and the destination of the move.  Information on what items will be moved by the military are found on the service member’s Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.  Weight limits are determined by the military and will dictate what items will be moved by the military.  Items not moved by the military will be the service member’s responsibility to move (or store) and the service member will incur the cost (this is where a moving budget/fund kicks in).  Service members, however, will receive a Dislocation Allowance (DLA) to supplement the moving costs not covered by the military.
  • Review Property Tax Exclusions.  If you are a Wounded Warrior and purchasing a home, look into property tax exclusions for that state.  For example, some states require a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) service-connected disability rating of 100% to qualify for property tax exclusion.  However, other sates may require a lower VA service-connected disability rating for a partial property tax exclusion.
  • Is your Move Tax Deductible? To qualify for a tax deduction, your move must be related to a new job, the new job must be at least 50 miles from your old place of work and during your first year of employment at the new job, you must be employed at least 39 weeks, working 40 hours a week.
  • Find Free Moving Supplies. Believe it or not, the cost of moving supplies can add up quickly (tape, boxes, bubble wrap, etc.).  Alleviate some of the financial burden by grabbing moving boxes from stores in your neighborhood.  Your first place to visit would be the commissary or grocery store.  More often than not these stores are happy to provide their customers with free boxes – it alleviates the strain on the store to cut and sort away for trash pick-up.
  • Save Money – Forward your Mail.  Prior to any move, always have your mail forwarded to your new home address with the United States Postal Service.  [NOTE:  the online USPS transaction requires the use of a credit card and fee of $1.  To avoid fees visit your local Post Office to process this request]  In addition to submitting a change of address with the Post Office, submit this change with those companies in which you receive mail (utility companies, credit card companies, etc.).  This is an essential part of any move because if your mail is not received – for example a credit card bill – you can be liable for late payment fees, or even worse, a hit on your credit score!  Remember 35% of your credit score is based on your payment history.  One late payment can negatively affect your FICO score so make sure your mail arrives to the home when you do!

Enjoy Your New Surroundings

Okay, the move went smoothly, you saved money and are finally settled into your new housing.  The remaining thing is to enjoy your new home!

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For stress free moving tips, visit Moving Today’s website!

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