December 09, 2013 – When you receive your PCS notice you’ll feel overwhelmed, and for good reason. One of the greatest causes of stress for military families is the expense of moving from base to base. As you know, many families often end up spending at least $1000 of their own money on top of government reimbursements. Since moving companies rarely offer coupons or incentives, it’s up to you to find your own discounts and make moving more affordable.
The best way for your family to conquer the impending move is to be prepared and explore different moving options to find the most economic means for your situation. For the thousands of military and DOD servicemen and women who relocate every year, it’s important for everyone to learn how to maximize a small moving budget. Read on to find out what your options are and how you can save.
Hire a Mover or DITY?
Answering this question takes some time and thought, and maybe even a little research. Before you can answer the question as to how you’ll move, you have to figure out how much you have to move. Also, you have to consider non-obvious factors, like the type of vehicle you have. After all, cars dictate whether you can manage to fit most of your belongings in your SUV, or you need to rent a trailer or hire a mover because you have a compact car – that is, if you want to go the DITY route.
How far are you moving? How many belongings do you have to transport? What is the cost of renting a U-Haul? Borrowing a friend’s truck? Hiring a mover – if so, what kind of mover? These are the questions that you should ask yourself soon after you receive your PCS notice.
If you hire a mover…
You have to decide how much you need to have someone else pack and move for you. Full load movers like American Van-Lines, Mayflower, and others often have a high weight minimums – this means that if you aren’t going to use at least 80% of the space on the truck, you’ll be spending money for weight (and space!) you aren’t moving. And while a Government Bill of Lading takes care of most shipping costs, it’s always a good idea to get the best bang for your buck.
If you hire a moving company, you can save on moving costs simply by getting quotes from several different companies. You can compare their prices and see which movers offer fair rates, and which don’t. Also, while you’re speaking with a moving specialist, always ask about coupons or specials! It doesn’t hurt to look on their website too, you never know what you may find online.
Keep in mind that sometimes movers will provide you with a low rate quote so they get your business – ask yourself if you think they’re reliable. Hiring a mover may be one corner that you don’t want to cut, especially if you want to ensure that all of your belongings arrive safe and sound at your new home. Choosing a mover that’s a little more expensive, but has fabulous reviews may is your best bet. Do your homework and research your mover by checking online websites like the Better Business Bureau, MoverReviews.com and Angie’s List.
If you DITY….
You have a variety of options. If you are fortunate enough to be moving less than 100 miles from your prior location and you have family or good friends in the area that can help you, take advantage of your local network!
If all of your friends have smaller cars too, then rent a U-Haul trailer and make multiple trips between your new location and your old one. While this takes an immense amount of time (and yes, you’re still paying for a trailer rental) it will save you a great deal of money. The Personally-Procured-Move (PPM) allows you to be reimbursed by the government for moving yourself.
Click here to learn more about the advantages of a government backed DITY move.
Or you choose a COMBO Move…
Often times, the most economic and logical decision is to do some of the move yourself and hire a less-than truckload mover to take care of the large items you can’t transport. And the government makes this easy because you don’t have to use the entire PPM Program. So, you can ship some household goods on a Government Bill of Lading (GBL) and the rest of your belongings, up to a certain weight, under the PPM program.
Fill up your car as much as you can with your belongings – maybe even hook up a U-Haul and put some of your larger items inside (like furniture, big boxes, etc). This will reduce the number of pounds that you have to ship via a moving truck, thus decreasing your cost. A small moving company like Transit Systems would be a great way to ship the rest of the items (if your couch, mattress and dining room table doesn’t fit, TSI can ship them for you).This will help you save money, time, and hassle during your already stressful relocation!
How to save on supplies and preparations…
Begin packing and sorting through belongings weeks way before moving day. Get rid of things you haven’t used in the last year, anything that doesn’t have sentimental value, or stuff you simply don’t like anymore! Why pay money for someone to move something that just takes up space? This has an added bonus – not only are you saving money, you’re de-cluttering too! A good rule of thumb is to separate belongings, clothes, utensils, etc. into piles: Haven’t used in a few years, 1 year, 6 months, 1 month, or use daily. Then, donate what you haven’t used in a long time and think long and hard about what belongings you need to take with you.
Don’t buy new boxes because you don’t need brand new boxes! Buying cardboard boxes from U-Haul or UPS can be expensive—save some money and use recycled ones. Ask friends if they have extra boxes lying around, or visit local grocery stores and apparel stores and see if they will give you their boxes.
Craigslist is another great place for used boxes. Also, take advantage of any other (not so obvious) packing materials lying around your house. For instance, use your own blankets to protect fragile mirrors, pictures, etc., but make sure they can be easily cleaned!
Finally, to save money on your move you should always purchase moving insurance. The government offers up to $25,000 of insurance, however you should have belongings appraised so you can insure them for their full value. If fragile or expensive belongings aren’t insured for full value then insurance companies often won’t pay to have them fixed or replaced, leaving you responsible for footing the bill.
Like the old adage goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry – it’s also cheaper to purchase moving insurance (many companies offer $4.00 charge per every $100 of value) then to have to pay for pricey out of pocket repairs!
For more help on who to contact once you receive your PCS notice and how to sign up for relocation services click here.
Tara Chila, blogger for Transit Systems, Inc., writes mostly about moving, business, house & home, kids, and parenting. Transit Systems specializes in a variety of long distance moving and shipping services including furniture shipping.