My Coast Guard
Commentary | June 27, 2022

Ease the stress of making a permanent change of station with financial knowledge

By Nicole Bertrand, MyCG writer

As a military member, you can expect to conduct a permanent change of station (PCS) move multiple times throughout your time in service. In an effort to help ease the transition, the Coast Guard is offering Financial Readiness training focused on this major event, or “touchpoint,” in your career. In this mandatory training, you will learn about financing the move itself, as well as sound practices to help you continue on the road to financial health. 

Building financial stability before and during a PCS move
Do you have a spending plan? If not, you should create one. Start by evaluating the current state of your finances. What are your income and expenses? How much debt do you owe? It is important to prioritize your spending to meet your basic needs. Then, make adjustments as needed. 

Here are some tips:

  • Track your income and spending for 30 days.
  • Save and/or invest 10%-15% of your pre-tax pay.
  • Keep transportation expenses to 15%-20% of pre-tax pay.
  • Limit housing expenses to 25%-30% of pre-tax pay.
  • Develop a plan for paying off debt and stick to it.

Here are some additional suggestions to help you with your move:

  • Find out which expenses the government will reimburse. You should use your government travel charge card (GTCC) during your PCS.
  • Review pay and entitlements. Typical travel pay and allowances include mileage reimbursement, per diem, and dislocation allowance (DLA). Look into what help you can get to offset driving costs, money to cover hotels and meals, as well as assistance with expenses not otherwise reimbursed. 
  • Check into other allowances you may be eligible for: Including, overseas housing allowance (OHA); cost of living adjustment (COLA); move-in-housing allowance (MIHA); temporary lodging expense (TLE); and temporary lodging allowance (TLA).
  • Be mindful of weight limitations. You must cover expenses for shipping items that exceed allowable weight limits.
  • Be prepared for costs of transporting and storing your car. Costs associated with vehicles can be pricey. The government only pays for the shipment of ONE vehicle to overseas duty assignments and usually only pays what it would cost to drive one personally owned vehicle from station to station in the U.S.

Be prepared for moving expenses to add an extra burden to your budget. If you do not have money saved to help with these costs, members may be able to request an advance of up to three months of basic pay, basic allowance for housing or overseas housing allowance to help offset PCS-related expenses. Additionally, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA) offers a variety of PCS assistance programs, for more information visit their website

“To eliminate the stress of PCS, be proactive and plan ahead,” said Will Washington, the Coast Guard Fifth District Base Portsmouth personal financial manager. “Be patient and communicate with your family. They are also re-locating. Be flexible because sometimes plans change. And, be prepared. Leverage all available resources.”

Be sure to notify financial institutions and creditors of your upcoming move. Also, it’s a good idea to check each of your three major credit reports for free. Following these suggestions can help make your PCS much smoother and assist you in creating a more secure financial future. 

For PCS resources, contact your unit Admin/Servicing Personnel Offices (SPOs) for the most up-to-date PCS information specific to your unique situation. 

For assistance or questions regarding developing a spending plan, contact your local Personal Financial Managers (PFM), your assigned command financial specialist (CFS), or a CG SUPRT Money Coach at www.cgsuprt.com. You can find the Touchpoint curriculum on the portal on the Coast Guard e-Learning page or on the FINRED website Coast Guard Resource page.

Resources:

  • Introduction of Financial Touchpoint Curriculum ALCOAST 104/22
  • Nearest Personal Financial Manager (PFM) located at each Health, Safety, and Work-Life Regional Practice (HSWL-RP) 
  • Your Unit Command Financial Specialist (CFS)

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