Budgeting for a PCS - Guest Blogger Dannielle Niewald



PCS season is looming! Somewhere between sorting and packing, in the back of our brains we manage to create a list of expenses for this years upcoming move. $15 for color coded room labels - because we all know the packer’s version of labeling is something akin to the gibberish our toddler babbled at breakfast this morning. $100 to have the car detailed before shipping it to Japan. $127/night for a hotel room after we’ve packed out and wait to move on to our next location. $35 to buy a going away gift for your child’s best friend of the last three years. Goodness, moving is expensive!

If you’ve ever felt like you are hemorrhaging money every time you move with the military – rest assured, you’re not alone! What exactly can you be reimbursed for? What needs to be planned ahead for? How do we even get reimbursed for these expenses?

During most common (is there such a thing as common?) PCS moves, the following entitlements are allowed:

  • TLE – Temporary Lodging Expense – 10 Days Combined on either end of travel for a CONUS PCS

  • TLA – Temporary Lodging Allowance – OCONUS lodging up to 60 days after arriving at your new duty station.

  • Travel Allowance/MALT – Allowance for travel related expenses. Plane travel is almost always booked internally with zero upfront out of pocket expenses for the service member, while traveling via personal vehicle is reimbursed at a rate of $0.56 per mile. Keep in mind that service members and their families are responsible for any costs associated with pet travel and transfer.

  • Per Diem – Covers lodging and meals during travel days. For 2021, CONUS PCSing Service Members receive a per diem rate of $151. Any spouse and dependent child over 12 years of age receive the Per Diem rate at 75% ($113.25 per person) and any dependent child under 12 years of age receive the Per Diem rate at 50% ($75.50 per person).

  • DLA – Dislocation Allowance – meant to offset the non-reimbursable expenses occurred during PCS. Think of this as your “ketchup” money or money used to replace all of your condiments, cleaning supplies, and other items that can’t be moved with a household good shipment. DLA Can be requested prior to a PCS or after a PCS is completed – however it MUST be requested by the service member. 2021 DLA rates can be found at: https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/DLA.cfm

It is advised that as you complete your military move, to keep all of your receipts.

Remember that PCS binder you created? Now is the time to put it to use! Almost all of your expenses will be made up front out of your own pocket. While some expenses may be purchased with your Sailor’s the Government Travel Card, know that you will be responsible for paying the balance until the Sailor is reimbursed from the government – so planning ahead to have a few months’ worth of expenses available is always a good idea. Failure to pay your Government Travel Card can result in lower credit scores and adversely affect security clearances. Sailors can now submit travel claim receipts via the MyPCS Mobile app as well as directly with their command personnel specialist upon check in at their new command.

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