I am not sure how it happened, but when we PCSed from Germany to Fort Campbell, we lost one of our car seats. We flew from Amsterdam to Memphis, and all of our baggage had to go through customs before we got back on the plane for Nashville. We decided we would check our second car seat instead of carrying it with us when we flew into Nashville. The car seat did not make the last leg of our trip.
We had to buy another one as soon as we got to Fort Campbell and that definitely wasn't an expected expense! The truth is, for any PCS, there could be unexpected costs. Things you don't really think about, even if you are a good planner. Life happens, and that can bring unforeseen expenses that you might not have planned for.
Most people do their last cleaning of their home themselves. Doing the cleaning yourself is cheaper and can be done in just a day in most cases. But sometimes life gets in the way. If you or your spouse gets sick, if someone gets hurt, if you simply don't have the energy to do the cleaning like you thought you would, you might decide to pay for a company to do the cleaning for you.
Extra Days in a Hotel
Ideally, you can move into housing or a new home within a week or two of arriving at your new duty station. Sometimes you have to wait a bit longer than that. You can plan for so many days in a hotel, but if you need more than that, you will end up spending more money than originally planned. While you do get so many days of TLA and/or TLE, that might not cover everything. Staying in a hotel longer than expected also means having to spend more days without being in a house with a full kitchen and those expenses can add up quickly.
You never really know what cleaning supplies you will need until you move into your new home. If you are coming from overseas, you might have to start over with everything. There are a lot of little things you have to buy that add up over time, and we don't always think about that before a PCS.
Replace Broken Items
Hopefully, nothing gets broken when you are PCSing, but sometimes things do. Even if you will get reimbursed for the items later, you will probably want to replace what has broken right away, so you have it in your new home. You might not have time to shop around and could be in a location with limited shopping choices. This means you might have to buy something that wasn't ideal because you or someone in your family can't really live without it.
Costs for Utilities
When setting up utilities off post, you will probably have set-up fees. These add up as you set up your electric, telephone, internet, water, cable and trash. You might even expect the costs to be the same as they were at your previous location and then they end up being a little bit more than you were expecting.
We all know that we will have to eat out more during a PCS, but sometimes we don't think about how much that will be. We might assume that we can get by with $30 for dinner each night but based on the area we are staying in, we might end up spending $50 a night. As much as you want to be frugal with those costs, it isn't always possible, and they end up being an extra expense.
The best thing to do when preparing for your PCS is to set aside extra money. Figure out how much you think you would need and double that. Having extra money set aside will help you with unexpected expenses. If you end up not needing to use the money, having that extra stash in savings will be a good thing.
Julie Provost is a blogger for PCSgrades.com and the voice behind Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life.