Hey everybody! I have been wanting to blog about this for a while, but I wanted to make sure that I referenced all of my documentation. I also wanted to see if I could find some old receipts but I wasn’t able to. With all of that being said, I wanted to tell you all about a time when my husband and I decided to tackle a DITY Move. This is the type of move where the government provides you with the funds and then you move yourself to the new duty station without the government’s help. No one in their right mind would normally try to attempt this but my husband started crunching some numbers and then realized that we could make a ton of money off the move if we played our cards right.
In the summer of 2008, we got orders to move from Fort Gordon, GA to Fort Bliss, TX. My husband had just completed his training to become a nurse and passed the NCLEX for the state of Texas. I was really nervous and didn’t think we could complete this long trip without the Army helping. We have never done something like this before. I want to tell you upfront that it was a lot of hard work because of all the planning that I had to do but in the end it was totally worth it. I also want to say that I don’t recommend doing a DITY Move if you’re not going to be traveling far. It wouldn’t be worth it.
Some service members don’t know that you can actually get up to 80% of your DLA (Dislocation Allowance) before you PCS and then claim the rest upon arriving to your new duty station. DFAS will deposit the funds about 10 days before the service member is scheduled to complete their final out so it’s best to go to finance early in the process. Of course this amount will depend on rank and the amount of dependents. We have always gotten 80% of DLA upfront and got the remainder later after my husband settled the claim with finance.
Please note: DLA is not authorized for the last PCS (separation or retirement); the first PCS unless the dependents move; and for a member without dependents assigned to GOV’T quarters at the new PDS. I am now going to tell you how my husband and I made over $10,000 on that move. I have no reason to lie and I promise you that after everything was settled with finance, we had an extra $10,000 and some change that we added to our bank account.
We didn’t spend any of the DLA that we got up front. You also get 10 days of TLA CONUS and 5 days of TLE before CONUS departure to overseas and 10 days before OCONUS departure. We started putting a little money aside when we got our PCS orders to Fort Bliss. I applied for housing in advance and housing did provide us with our address before we actually got to Fort Bliss so that did save us some money on lodging once we arrived. I think Fort Bliss isn’t really doing this anymore because of the shortage of housing that they are experiencing out there.
I planned the entire trip out until I couldn’t plan anymore. I crossed every T and dotted every I and made sure I had our paperwork in order. We rented a U-Haul truck with my husband’s basic pay. I also went around post to the Commissary, Post Office and PX and asked for boxes so I wouldn’t have to spend any money. I also used newspaper or anything that I could find to wrap our fragile items in. We hired two guys from Labor Ready to help my husband load the truck. That was about $100.00. We also hire two guys when we got there and that time it was about $70.00. I took my time over the course of three weeks to pack up the house. The biggest expense was the U-Haul because we had to also rent a hitch for my husband’s car.
The moment we decided that we were going to do a DITY Move we started putting money aside for the move so when it came time for the move, we barely used any of the government’s money. We planned out everything from what hotels we were going to stay in to how much we needed for gas. We kept every single receipt that we received while on the road just in case finance started acting crazy and we all know there’s always drama up in the DFAS office. My husband drove the U-Haul and I drove my car with the kids.
When we finally got there and after my husband in-processed the total amount from DLA, TLE, Per Diem for PCS Travel, and HHG Transportation funds for the DITY Move, it amounted to over $10,000. If you plan carefully and budget and don’t lose any paperwork then you’ll be fine. I also wanted to mention that we were still responsible for coming under weight. We had to make sure that we were below or didn’t go over our pound allowance. My husband had to to take the U-Haul to have it weighed while it was empty and then again when it was full with our stuff. I remember asking a lot of questions because the people in finance and transportation won’t tell you everything upfront!
That was the only time we ever attempted to do a DITY Move. It was a successful move but we chose not to do it again because it was very time-consuming. I also regretted that I didn’t have help with driving because my husband drove the U-Haul with his car attached. Driving from Fort Gordon, GA to Fort Bliss, TX is a really long drive. We did split it up over a few days but I didn’t have cruise control on my car and it also was a manual so I got tired very easily. I had no idea that I bought that car without cruise control! It was a brand new car at the time and I didn’t think to get something with cruise control which was a bummer. For more information on PCS travel allowances, please visit: http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/faqpcs.cfm
Have you ever done a DITY Move and if so, what was your experience? Tell me about it in the comments and as always thanks for reading!