This is a new series of the blog titled “Maintaining as a Military Family”. A little about me…I go by codename Di and have joined the ranks of the fab bloggers for debthelper.com. My goal is to add some insight into what a Military Family does to “get by” and SAVE!!
Military life can be excruciatingly painful on the wallet. My husband joined the Army in the lowly (but highly respectful) rank of Private 14 years ago. We had children young (not uncommon within our Military communities) and therefore money was TIGHT. Relying on one income was almost unbearable. One of the biggest expenses is when there is a Permanent Change of Station (PCS or what normal people call relocating). Most Military Families have traveled and spent time overseas. This was the beginning of our journey, but not before I had to stay behind with our daughter while he went away to “Army school”. We could have rented an apt near his school and collected minimal Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), extra pay based on location, rank and years in service. However, this was never enough to cover all the expenses (utilities, incidentals, etc). So, we did what would save us the most money and I moved in with my mother for 3 months. While this is not ideal…it allowed us to actually earn money (Basic Allowance for Housing is a benefit no matter where you live). The way to manipulate this situation in order for everyone to be happy is pay your Family or friend, with whom you shack up with, a portion of what you receive and stash the rest for your upcoming move (there always an upcoming move in the Military).
Moving is quite expensive and the Military does a pretty good job of covering all the basic expenses…AFTER you get to your new location. Reimbursements are always a killer for young people starting out in their career because it requires you to come out of pocket ahead of time. The best way to tackle this problem is to plan your move. MilitaryOneSource.com has up to the minute info on all things Military…preparation and planning is their purpose. Once a person is aware of the upcoming expenses, the bottom line doesn’t seem as scary. If flying overseas is how you will relocate, there isn’t much to control or decide as far as actual travel. Hotels stays before & after the flight, rental cars and food costs are the main expenses of a move that are controllable. I always use coupons and ask what kind of discounts there are…there’s usually always a coupon online or a discount offer at hotels, just ask.
Here are some sites I use when traveling (during a move or not):
The obvious Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia are first choices for airfare, rental cars and hotels, but my personal fave is Hotwire. They have the best prices and package deals, plus they are fair when it comes to disputes and customer service. (I once booked a sport utility vehicle for a week and when I showed up there were only vans, which would have sufficed. I did call Customer Service to ask them about the difference in pricing and they refunded me HALF of my fee for the week.) Asking for a discount makes a big difference sometimes.
Moving also requires you to go through all that “junk” lying around in the garage or attic. One of the benefits for me when it comes to moving is that I am motivated to purge….my old stuff that is. There are several things you can do with that old jewelry box or winter coat…all WHILE earning money.
Have a yard sale without even leaving your home
Rent a booth at a flea market and sell your heiny off (beware of hagglers)
Find your nearest consignment shop and let them sell your stuff (my fave)
Donate to the thrift store or Goodwill (and get a tax deduction)
Someone is bound to love that wicker basket you are sick of.
Overall, my best advice is to begin saving the MINUTE you join the Military (more on that later). Moving is just one of the many expenses you will incur in a lifetime. Don’t even get me started on the surcharge for kids.
We’ll save that for next time…