June 17, 2021

Alexandra Beer House

The Real Estate Experts

Understanding PCS Rules and Building the Best PCS Binder Ever

Surviving your military Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move isn’t magic or rocket science. By taking time to plan and keep your paperwork and move organized, you can get to the other side of your current or next PCS experience with at least your sanity safe and sound.

In this episode, Megan Harless, an Army veteran and spouse, and unintentional advocate and expert in military moves, shares her best advice for smoothly navigating your military move from start to finish, including building a great military PCS binder.

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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of PCS with Military.com.

Amy Bushatz 0:00

A military move is a challenge for even the most organized rule following receipt keeping record compiling person among us. As a military family member, I know that whether I like it or not, it’s entirely on me to keep the details of our military move straight. In a perfect world, the systems would work flawlessly. Finance would take mere days to reimburse us for any qualified expenses, and would give us our per diem pay right away. The movers would not only simply avoid breaking and losing my stuff, but they would deliver it somehow better than it was when it was packed. And not only would I have some idea of where we are going to live when we got where we are going, but when we arrived, it would be sparkling clean and smell like freshly baked cookies. Well, that’s lala land in real life, you have to be a military movie ninja. And it’s for real life that we have people like Megan Harless, an Army veteran and Army spouse, Megan Harless is also so keyed in to the hacks around creating a smooth PCS, and pushing for fixes to a broken system that we named her Military.com 2020 Changemaker of the Year. But her work around reform is a different topic for a different day. That’s because Megan is also the owner of PCSLikeaPro.org the author of the PCS Like a Pro book, and the creator of PCS Like a Pro binder system. Do you see a theme here? In short, she knows how to PCS like a pro. And today she’s joining us to share her best tips and tricks. Megan, welcome to PCS with Military.com.

Megan Harless 1:34

Hi, thank you for having me.

Amy Bushatz 1:37

So I’m really excited to have you on because you are a pro as previously discussed. So but first, okay, start by telling us like, let’s lay some street cred. How many times have you personally moved with the military or otherwise?

Megan Harless 1:51

So with the military, we have done 10 PCSes as a family.

We are inching up on 16 years now. And then within there, we have also done two local moves as well. So put together about 12 moves that we’ve done. And in the span of 16 years.

Amy Bushatz 2:11

Yeah, that’s a lot. And let’s not discredit those local moves, because they offer their own stresses and their own learnings. And gosh, they help you know what to do next time when you PCS without being local. Like I’ve learned so much by moving one string of duty station, right, like from one town to another so so much. So yes, that is totally a thing, man. Okay, street cred is I mean, that’s a lot of moves. Yeah. Nice to see, you know, good job, okay.

Other than the street cred, give us a little background on how exactly one becomes a PCS ninja. How does that happen?

Megan Harless 2:54

So I kind of got I don’t know what the best way to say it is involved in the whole PCS process into in a way. So back in 2018. As many of us remember, that was kind of like a horrible move year for a lot of people. I was fortunate enough that we moved in 2017. And then not again until 2019. So we kind of missed that, that chunk of time where a lot of people just had a horrible move. And so at a time I had wrote this open letter, turn into a petition on change.org is basically a military families grievance of the moving process, you know, we were tired of stuff breaking, we were tired of the answer to everything being you know, just file a claim on it, you know, some things money can’t replace, you know, we have memories that are tied to the to our things. And so, in our ever changing world where you know, our constant is our household goods, like, we’re just kind of fed up, we were kind of at rock bottom. So this petition that I posted on like a Friday, I completely thought it would kind of die off into internet land over the weekend didn’t happen, kind of went the opposite direction. And over 100,000 service members and family members had to sign to this petition. So it got the attention of the media, obviously, it got attention of other military families, it got the attention of folks in Congress. I was, you know, working with several senator’s offices, working on us dropping language to a letter that they sent to Transcom working with, got the attention of moving industry and of course, Transcom you know, and it kind of was an eye opener of, you know, like, hey, there really are some issues happening, and maybe it’s time that we start addressing these things. So once that kind of all took place and took off, you know, it was one of those things where I didn’t want to just take it for what it is, you know, like I did this petition and got their attention, like, okay, we’re good, you know, somebody will do something. And, you know, part of me felt like this responsibility of, you know, like, we got this traction, we got this momentum, we got this visibility on this big issue. Let’s see it through now to make sure that changes do happen and that it’s not just lip service that we’re given of, oh, we’ll look into it. So from there, you know, since then, I’ve been working with Transcom kind of regularly, every month we meet on a spouse advisory panel, we discuss the issues that are going on, provide feedback from what families are experiencing, try and come up with, you know, reasonable solutions that can be implemented to kind of improve the process. And in there, it’s also working with the moving industry as well, a lot of what I have found, you know, there aren’t those conversations happening, they don’t really know, what goes on in our home on the regular when we move. And so it’s kind of educating, you know, it’s not just moving down the street with those local moves, but our lives are starting all over adding new location. And so, you know, we do get a little upset when something shows up broken and damaged. Because we may not be able to just buy a new one from Ashley Furniture from Walmart or wherever, you know, these things mean something to us. And we just want you to take a little pride in your work and to make sure that you know, things go as they’re supposed to do so, because of all of that, you know, I really have have dived into the regulations, I really dived into the process to the changes.

Amy Bushatz 5:57

Okay, you’re like, totally just blowing by that. Like, why, Megan, I think, like the way people memorize the Bible, Megan has memorized the joint travel regulations, joint travel regulations, right? That’s the JTR and DTR. Okay, so you memorize these things in a way that is just really nerdy and awesome. And that I mean, I don’t know if our listeners are a bunch of nerds, but I am. So I’m just gonna go and say that I think that’s amazing. So that I mean, don’t don’t blow by the hard work of memorization now. No, no.

Megan Harless 6:35

So yeah … I mean, we hear about them occasionally with different briefs. You know, it was, you know, the, it’s your move document, we’re always told to go read, you know, what exactly is this thing type of deal? You know, the answer is always, you know, well, it’s on move.mil, go check move.mil. You know, it’s just, I don’t know where to find it. And I don’t exactly know what this means. So it was diving into all of that, figuring out what it is that families really need to know. And then working hard to educate families on. These are the regulations, this is where you can find it out. This is what it means. And this is how you can use it to make your your move better and smoother than what it’s been in the back.

AB 7:11

Now like these are the things you’re supposed to be getting. And here you know, not that make sure you get them. We’re not going to like deep dive into the regulations today. Because it’s like its own separate subject. And it’s so important to understand that stuff. Even if you’ve moved 10, 12 times stuff is constantly changing. And maybe you don’t like there’s still things that I’m learning, even though I have moved multiple times not 12. But I have been reporting on this for a decade, there’s still stuff that I’m uncovering things to you largely in these regulations. I’m like, Well, I’d memorize that, like Megan, maybe I would know that, but I didn’t. So that’s why we have you. And also one more thing is that the reason we made you Military.com Changemaker of the Year is because it is so easy just to slap something on the internet and call it good. It is a responsibility to words have meanings and when you stick stuff on the internet. You can walk away like you have a choice you can just like be like oh, peace out like had my impact and have a nice day. But you didn’t do that you took it on and I just like that’s just such a big deal. So you know Bravo again and thank you for doing that for us. Because really you are doing that for us as a military community. And that’s a big deal. Okay, but what I love about your story is that you did not just like have you know, dive into the dive into the guy’s we made her tear up. It’s so true. Like, like, this is like real stuff guys. Like she’s just a normal human. I’m looking at it right now.

Amy Bushatz 8:50

Um, but also a little bit of a ninja. I think she wears a PCS ninja costume sometimes. Yeah, cool. Okay, good talk.

Megan Harless 9:01

It’s red and sparkly, you know? Okay,

AB 9:07

So here’s, here’s the deal. In addition to diving into the joint trip, travel regulation, and all all these like things that are not fully in English, okay, and memorizing them for the benefit of humanity. You also were like, whoa, hey, I’ve moved 10 times and I know things so now you leverage that for this like really helpful and guides to to help people move this PCS Like a Pro thing. And so today what we’re going to talk about is how to PCS like a pro. And you’re going to tell us stuff like just you know, very not even necessarily super deep dive just like stuff. Maybe we didn’t think of stuff we need to know and so I’m really excited about that. So with that in mind, will you tell us what is your number one biggest key the biggest thing we need to know for creating a smooth pscs like We remember nothing else. What should we remember?

Megan Harless 10:03

So the biggest thing that I always tell people and we already touched on it a little bit is the regulations, just knowing the regulations, reading them, knowing what your responsibilities are, knowing what your movers responsibilities are. You know, I hear from a lot of failings, a lot of times when my transportation office didn’t say that they said this instead, the regulations, they change a yearly. And so with that, you know, those folks in your office, they may not get the memo that things updated. The JTR is constantly updated throughout the year as things get passed and approved. The DTR usually gets updated once a year when the tender of service changes and goes into effect.

Amy Bushatz 10:41

And tender — what does that mean?

Megan Harless 10:44

So that is the tender service, you’ll find it the DTR part for Appendix B,

Amy Bushatz 10:49

Oh, my gosh, memorized, guys. Whoa.

Megan Harless 10:53

That is basically the contract between the government and your moving company, or you’ll hear called TSP transportation service provider. That’s what they’re held to. That’s what they are supposed to do. That’s what they’re supposed to provide. That’s how they’re paid off is based off of that document. You know, so that updates every year as new changes are implemented and put into place. And so those folks from the office, they may not realize that they may not know that they may not pay attention to that. And so I always say go back to the regulation, because they’re in black and white, if you have an issue with your mood, or if you have an issue with something, you can easily pull that up, reference it show it and it’s not just hearsay, when my office told me this, or this person who …

Amy Bushatz 11:31

So lock that bad boy down.

Megan Harless 11:33

Yeah. So the biggest thing I would say is know the regulations, review them, if you don’t read them, know where to find them, and how to reference them. So that way you can, you know, help yourself, protect yourself, and have them there to use.

AB 11:45

So what I hear you saying is you are your biggest advocate. But and the other thing you just said that I think is interesting. It’s like we tend I think, to think about moving as a service provided, right? So when I walk into my doctor’s office, My responsibility is to show up and his responsibilities to treat me, right. And then trainers facilities to hopefully pay for them. Okay? When I move, My responsibility is not to just be be alive, like and have stuff, right. There’s more to it than that I have responsibilities for this move, as do the movers. And it’s more than just being alive. I don’t think we think about it that way. I think that we think of this as a third purely as a service provided and not something we have to take literal ownership have on our end to

Megan Harless 12:37

Yeah, I tell people to you know, you have to have a hand in it, you have to play an active role in your move, it is your stuff that’s being moved. So if you want that crystal vase, packed a certain way, let them know. So that way they can pack it how you want it, whenever a moving crew shows up to your home, whether it’s the crew to pack on day one, the crew to finish packing on day two, or the crew to load or unload whatever it may be, you know, you kind of set that tone for your move with how you greet them, don’t treat them, like the enemy because that just starts off on the bad foot. You know, it’s important that you kind of create that, that environment of We are a team, we’re gonna do this together. This is how I want things done. This is what I need to have done. You know, for me, my bedroom and my kitchen are always the last things packed because I enjoy cooking to the last day because I hate eating out for three weeks straight. My bedroom is usually where we corral my cats to to keep them away because they have anxiety, they will attack people that they don’t know. And so moving day is just as just a very chaotic and hectic for them.

Amy Bushatz 13:37

PCS ninja has attack cats.

Megan Harless 13:40

Yes, I do. So we keep them corralled into my room. So everything else is free game to pack but I always ask them to start with my kids rooms, because my kids need to stop adding stuff to the car pile. And if their stuff is in boxes, they can no longer do that. So I always ask them to start there. You know, so having that plan and telling them you what you need done. You know really makes it feel like they are helping you but they’re doing what you want them to do. If that kind of makes sense. So you work together as a team and and you set that tone and you know if you have questions about something ask them be available don’t just say here’s my house pack my stuff and sit on your couch for the next three hours and then wonder why something bad is happening so yeah, be involved in your move.

Amy Bushatz 14:26

I have this like vision as you’re saying that of me sitting on what was admittedly a ridiculously comfortable couch in our first apartment at our first duty station, right watching these people, I mean, not a big place right? So it’s like chaos, and I’m just like, I don’t know what to do with my hands. You know? And it was not a does that like that decision did not have big repercussions but like I just literally didn’t know what I was doing.

Megan Harless 14:55

You know, some people are like that, they’re not sure what to do. So I mean walk into the room, just check what’s going on, see what else is going on. In me with my kids room, we always find socks and some candy wrappers underneath the bed, you know, so like, I’m in there, when I see that they’ve made it to that part, pulling that stuff out, I’m checking the boxes that our last name is spelled correctly, because we’ve had it spelled multiple ways. You know, I’m making sure that they’re not just leaving the box, as you know, boys stuff, you know, like, what, what does boys stuff mean? Is it their books? Is it their Legos? Is it their action figures? You know, and when you see things like that saying, like, hey, can you write what’s in the box, so that way I know, you know, if it’s something that goes into the closet, or if my child can unpack, here’s their clothes, you know, so be involved, just be present, just go, go check on on random little things and be a part of it.

Amy Bushatz 15:46

I’m a big fan of outsourcing, like, work smarter and letting experts do what they do best. So well, I could sit down and create things for myself and organizational systems. No, you have a PCS binder for us. Okay, so people can get a kit for that on your website PCSLikeaPro.org. But can you walk us through creating one? Like, if we look at your binder, what goes in the binder, and I do like envision this in all caps, “THE BINDER,” the binder.

Megan Harless 16:15

Yes. So a lot of people so I’m old school, I like a three ring binder. A lot of people, you know, depending on your organization method techniques prefer an accordion style type of file thing. Some folks prefer a zip binder of some sort, but I use a three ring binder. So whatever it is that you have, just use that. So in this, I have multiple tabs that kind of help organize my life and the things that we need to get from point A to point B. So one tab will be like our orders, my husband’s orders, and his le s and his leaf. So that way we can legally get from A to B, and he’s not some a wall type of person. And that’s how things go south real fast. Yes. And make multiple copies of your spouse’s orders like you think they may not need it, you think like one is good, but when he goes to in process, like every office wants their own copy, and just having a picture of it on your phone doesn’t really do well. So don’t be afraid to make all those copies. Another tab has all of our, if we have hotel reservations, either on either end of our move, I put a copy of that in there. If we are driving someplace, I do old school, again, print out some Google, MapQuest directions, technology does fail at time, sometimes you hit a dead spot in cellular tower coverage. And, you know, so I always just like to be that extra planning person. So I have a copy of those directions there. A couple other tabs contain stuff like our current lease and our move out checklist that we need, and also save copies of any receipts we use for that move out. So if I need to hire a professional carpet cleaner, or I have somebody come in to professionally cleaned the home, because I’m just over it and don’t want to do it myself. Yes, listen, we used to clean our home and everything such as like saving that money, like I can go wipe stuff down. And then I finally outsourced it once and had somebody come in and clean and it was the greatest thing in the world. So I now budget that into our our PCS expense.

Amy Bushatz 18:16

And then you’re saving those receipts because those things are how to use those receipts later.

Megan Harless 18:23

Okay, so for like your carpet cleaning and house cleaning, you’re not necessarily, like the military isn’t going to pay you to reimburse you that. But whatever your expenses are, and what you get paid reimbursed from the military, for the different entitlements, whatever is not covered, whatever is not paid for, you can use that on your taxes. When you go to file your next taxes that helps reduce the cost or the taxable income that you have, or the percent of taxes that you have.

AB 18:47

So you’re saving for that — and you guys can hear an episode with a finance expert talking about money stuff for your PCS, move on to different PCS with Military.com episode. So yes, we have all the things we’re very, very handy.

Megan Harless 19:01

Yeah, so save all of those receipts. I also have, you know, if we already have a lease signed at our next location, I’ve got a copy of that lease in there. So I can easily reference it when we go to do our moving walkthrough. If we don’t have a lease, if we don’t aren’t buying a home, I have a couple of listings in there, or an idea of you know, where we want to live so we know where to go and look, I have a couple of tabs for what I call our medical and life documents. So one will be like your medical records, your shot records, your dental records, your eye exam, your whatever it is of your personal body medical file. And the other one is like your birth certificates, your marriage certificate, your Social Security cards, your passport, vehicle registrations, insurance policies.

Amy Bushatz 19:46

Stuff that would really suck if they lost it. And it you know, some people move a safe full of valuables like that’s great. You know, maybe you keep those documents in the safe. You’re saying all that that stuff is in the binder, the binder, I put it on the binder.

Megan Harless 20:03

And so some of the stuff, I mean, you may worry about it falling out. So they make these really great three ring. I don’t know what to call them pocket file thingies where they have zippers on them or slides on them. I put all of that in there and I attach it wherever that tab is I flipped that tab and put that three ring pouch in there.

Amy Bushatz 20:23

I feel like you spent a lot of time at OfficeMax.

Megan Harless 20:26

I have Staples, Office Depot, you know, Target, Walmart, their office aisle — I like, it’s just me, because it does it feel like I’ve arrived at my place. You know, my Amazon wishlist contains like, post it notes and various colors and like highlighters and like, fancy pens and stuff. So like, it makes me happy. You know, and then like other tabs include, like, you know, school records, if you’ve got children or bat records, if you’ve got pets, and then a tab for like, miscellaneous stuff like, you know, you need to keep this you don’t know where it goes like, stick it in that miscellaneous tab. And then the final one is your moving information. So your your move inventory, that they give you both inventory for your boxes and for your furniture, contact info for your moving company and your move coordinator, contact info for your local transportation offices, you know, or your QA Inspector, whoever that may be all that moving stuff. If you need to get ahold of somebody, or when you get to your location, your stuff gets delivered, you’ve got your inventory to check off your numbers that all goes in your binder and not just stashed somewhere else. And then we talked about the three ring pouch deal, I have another one of those where all of our receipts along the way our hotel receipts, our gas receipts, our food receipts, I shove all of those into that pouch as well. So it’s all right there in the binder as well.

Amy Bushatz 21:54

This is so much better than my confessing my previous method of letting my husband — I’m gonna blame him — letting him the receipts into the glove box, right? Like, in short, due to a lack of system. This is the system right? Yes, we have no system. This is what this is. Yeah, you’ve done that up 10 times and you did not arrive at PCS ninjahood or ownership of the binder by happenstance, you probably learned the hard way. Am I right?

Megan Harless 22:23

Yes. I mean, I, when I think back, like our first couple of PCSes is like I had a two pocket folder that I was just like, tucking stuff in, there were a couple things, paper clips here and there. But there was no real system. And you know, with each PCS you know, the whole needs of necessity, you type a deal, you know, as the mother of creation thing. And so it’s just like, there has to be something better, I’ve got to get this, you know, we were started having kids, we started having pets there started being a more need more stuff to can carry from A to B, it’s just that there has to be a better way. And so just sitting down over time and learning with each move as to what the best method would be how to best organize it and it all evolved into the binder.

Amy Bushatz 23:59

Okay, so based off of your own experience, you’ve created this glorious piece of organizational perfection. And you’ve made mistakes, but you also spend quite a lot of time. I mean, we talked about the binder, we talked about your website, you also run a Facebook group on this subject remind us what it what that one is called.

Megan Harless 24:21

It’s PCS Like a Pro: Your Smooth Move.

Amy Bushatz 24:25

Okay, so in that we have a whole world of people asking for advice were and then you I mean, I watched this happen all the time. So they are like, I don’t know what to do about this like perfectly legitimate, terrible thing. Okay. And you dive in with citing the data which you’ve memorized, and you know, and give all the help everyone needs and it’s, it’s really fantastic. But in there, we can watch people sort of learn the hard way, for better or for worse sometimes, you know, that’s just, we just don’t know what you don’t know. So what are the based on all of this experience? What are the biggest mistakes people make? Tell us three or four things that are the road to not having smooth PCS.

Megan Harless 25:08

Oh, goodness, I feel like there’s so many I could share, picking out just a few. And so it’s gonna be hard for me. And so to sound like a broken record, not knowing your regulations, just letting stuff happen to you is not how you should go about doing things. You know, if you feel like something is wrong, it’s okay to stop them and ask a question and to, you know, verify what it is that they are doing, why they are trying to do something, you know, it could just be that maybe you don’t understand something and what they’re doing is the right way to do it. It could be that maybe they’re trying to cut corners, and you just like, no, I feel like this is wrong, and it looks like wrong, you know, so you don’t know that unless you know the rules, right. And so just, you know, knowing those regulations just goes a long way to helping you advocate for yourself and helping you to be involved in the process. And another big thing, I guess, would be not having your own inventory of what you’re what’s in your home, what you own.

Amy Bushatz 26:05

A huge amount. Like, every time I read that advice from you, I’m like woof, like, I like whoa, whoa, that is just such a huge, I don’t even have that much stuff. Although my husband has a lot of outdoor gear. Let’s not talk about that. But we don’t have in the grand scheme of thing, things that much stuff. We moved here to Alaska with like 5,000 pounds. I mean, like almost nothing. Nonetheless, I feel like that, like even the concept of that is overwhelming.

Megan Harless 26:37

So it does have a lot of upfront time investment into it, where you sit down, and you can make it as detailed or as detailed as you want. It does require some good time investment upfront to create it if you don’t have one already done, but then just updating it yearly, or every six months or so, you know, if you have a big birthday, holiday travel, whatever it may be, that doesn’t take very much time. But the importance of having your own inventory is you know, should a box go missing? You’re able to easily identify what was perhaps in that box? If that’s what happens, right?

Amy Bushatz 27:16

Like you just don’t like oh, well, I mean, this box is missing. No idea what’s going on it. The other thing that comes to mind is I feel like if you were to create this inventory, you would suddenly have less stuff due to due to going through everything you own and realizing you didn’t actually want this particular you know what I mean? Like a real good way to spend a lot of time going to Goodwill.

Megan Harless 27:34

Yes. So and the other big importance of having this inventory is that if you have a catastrophic loss, you have to itemize, I mean, if you want to really be paid value of what your stuff was, and not just buy the liability limit, you really need to itemize what you have. And so if you already have that inventory created, it’s cheesy to say, here’s a copy of what I had, you know, and then if you go and file with your private insurance, they’re going to need a spreadsheet as well as to what did the moving company cover? What did they not cover? And again, you’ve already got spent the time and you’ve got the information. So it’s one of those, build it so you have it and hope you never have to use it type of things. You know, but just having your inventory I hate seeing people say I have seven boxes missing. I don’t know what was in um, you know, two of them said closet items, one of them said linens, one by printer. Who knows? Yeah. And movers are notorious for that, where they take things from other rooms, you know, because they have a box and they want to fill the space in the box. So your crystal vase might be in that box labeled closet items. But having your inventory goes a long way of you knowing what you have in case something should happen.

Amy Bushatz 28:46

What’s another tip,

Megan Harless 28:47

Another one would be when you when your stuff arrives at your new home, checking off your inventory numbers, as you’re still going through.

Amy Bushatz 28:59

This was a mistake like people just sit. I’m back on the comfortable couch that I’m super glad to see again, right?

Megan Harless 29:07

Like the truck shows up and you’re excited to see your stuff. And so you’re just directing traffic of you know, this is child’s room. Number one, this is child’s room number two master bedrooms back there, this is what we’re calling the living room type of deal. And so a lot of folks don’t check off their inventory numbers. And so they go to start unpacking and they realize, you know, there’s just like, I feel like we’re missing two boxes, but I don’t know, you know what they are because we didn’t do that. And it’s very important because number one when your stuff is delivered, you have to sign the inventory form and anything that’s missing needs to be identified that day. You know, if it’s something that’s in a box, like that’s okay, but it has its own inventory number, it has to be identified that day. So if you sign inventory saying your stuff arrived, you’re going to get a lot of pushback and probably denial of your claim for those missing items because you didn’t identify it that day. You know, so Just checking off your inventory numbers lets you know have that peace of mind that yes, everything did arrive all the inventories numbers did arrive or not missing any of those line item things.

Amy Bushatz 30:11

What is what’s a surprising mistake people make? And I’m wondering like, based on what we’ve talked about, I’m wondering if if it’s not just like, people don’t know, the rules. So am I smelling it outright? But maybe something that feels like, people? It should be obvious, but people just don’t know it? Tell us we can avoid it.

Megan Harless 30:35

Besides, what are you talking about? I think a big one. I want to say private insurance and canceling your private insurance before your move. A lot of policies and this is where I want to tell you right now, go check your personal policy to see and double check that it covers your household bills, renters,

Amy Bushatz 30:54

Renters, or homeowners. Okay,

Megan Harless 30:57

Yeah. So make sure it covers your items in transit between locations and make sure it covers your items in storage. Some do. Some don’t, you know, some make sure you have that policy. But a lot of people are just like, well, I rent my home and we’re moving like, I can save a month of payment if I cancel my insurance, because we’re not in a home for those 30 days, because we’re in the process of moving and waiting for our next house type of deal. The issue is if something happens, you have that catastrophic loss, God forbid, you know, the the TSP, the moving company liability is only up to $75,000 based off a $6 per pound for your shipment. So if it costs $300,000 to replenish the stuff in your home, you’re not getting that from the moving company. And if you cancelled your renter’s insurance, you’re not getting that from anybody

Amy Bushatz 31:43

That is surprising to a lot of people. And we also touched on this in the in the finance episode. So but this cannot be hammered home enough guys. Yeah. You have a like we’ve talked about you have a responsibility for your own PCS, and that this assumption, and I think you’re right like it, I feel like I do assume that like if you break it, you buy it right? Well, that’s not entirely true. And it’s interesting that you mentioned this because just yesterday I saw a thread on a Facebook group here for at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska, where somebody has a shipment that was I believe, stolen, her key spouse is trying to help her out, you know, figure out what what do you need to know? And everybody’s saying, Well, did you have renter’s insurance? And, you know, I don’t know the answer for them. But, you know, like, you’d be I was surprised how many people on this site did not know that their renters insurance may or may not, but might cover like it was before they concluded that it did not cover right, they just assumed and so we we talked about that in the finance episode. Listen to that, guys, for more intel on this. But it’s a super, super, super important thing to remember. And I don’t think that we can, we can talk about it enough. So with that in mind, give us a couple of pieces of advice just like some real solid takeaways that we can take like actionable, you’re getting ready for PCS, go forth, do this.

Megan Harless 33:10

So the first things I tell folks is one as I’ve said before, read the regulations or at least know where to find them start take the little Notes app of your phone, copy the links there so you can go back and look at them later but but know the regulations. Another thing I always tell him that home inventory that we discussed and then being organized. You know that’s that’s everything with the PCS binder that we’ve discussed. But also with your home, take the time to walk through your home you know, take a room or two a day depending on how big your home is. And just go through it do do what’s called the PCS purge. You know, my rule of thumb if it’s not sentimental, if you didn’t use it as at this duty station, and you know, you’re not going to use it at your next duty station, it’s time for it to go it’s outlived its purpose, somebody else needs it. Go ahead and get rid of it. Um, you know, one that helps you have less stuff you have to put on your inventory, but also it helps you with your weight allotment You know, you’re not gonna have to worry about going overweight because you’ve you know, you’ve cleaned out you’ve purged and when you unpack stuff you have to put away I mean, get rid of it on this end. And so go through do that and then I am a big fan of pre packing. So really quick with the rules anything that the company takes possession of into their moving truck they are liable for regardless of who packed it. The PBO – packed by owner – is no longer allowed to use be used on the inventory. So you can pack you can pre pack if you do like pack a box. They need to be able to look inside of it to verify for the contents for the inventory, but I do pre packing so like I will put trash bags over my hanging clothes and coats to protect them. I will put my folded stuff into Ziploc flex totes to help protect them. I don’t want dirty hands and strangers hands touching my shirts and my pants and all that stuff. So I do things like that my office supplies like all of my millions of paperclips and pens that I have I put them into Ziploc bags. So that way, I’m not fishing out pens and pencils and crayons from the bottom of the box. like a crazy person, sometimes, you know that it’s easy. It makes easy packing, and it makes it easier to unpack, I can pull that bag out, set it on my desk, I can organize it later, but I can get that box out of my house. I’m not fishing for pens in it.

Amy Bushatz 35:40

So it’s like more taking responsibility. It is their own move. Which like, I feel like like my gut reaction to that is well gosh, darn it, why do I have to do that, like they’re making me move, you know, but I guess like, this is just one of those things, that it’s just a part of military life. And if you accept it, your move will be pardon the phrase smoother.

Megan Harless 36:03

And I feel like whatever I can do to help prep my home and to get it into a moving stage, the better, the easier the process will go. I don’t have to have people here trying to pack my home at nine o’clock at night when my kids are trying to go to bed because we’re in our last week of school. You know, I just stress.

Amy Bushatz 36:22

You know, like whether or not it’s the rules, anything that I can do to reduce my stress around moving is really I think, yeah, I think really helpful you know, and and I always underestimate how stressful that move moment is, like, I’m so I’m super prepared. I know to check the inventory thing, I we’re gonna follow these movers around my house and just make sure everything’s going well. And then when push comes to shove it I’m almost like paralyzed on the couch in a way. Like, I just can’t do this anymore.

Megan Harless 36:55

Eventually you do hit that PCS wall where you’re just like, you know, so be it. If it happens, it happens. It is what it is. You know, everybody has has that PCS wall, they hit at some point. And so I feel like I know ahead of time, I’m going to hit it at some point. So it’s, you know, what can I do? I still have the energy and the motivation to prep my home and to do something that I used to do. I know on the unpacking, and be like, just shove it into that closet for now. We’ll deal with that later.

Amy Bushatz 37:26

One thing I want to come back to before we close that I did not I did not like I for those listening, I sort of shared with Megan, what I thought we’ve talked about today, I did not share with her this question. It just popped into my little brain while we were talking so my apologies. All right. But you mentioned earlier being nice to your movers and that made me think about this push and pull we have with that and the biggest I need to know what’s coming the biggest discussion around this is feed the movers tip the movers slide alcohol to the movers like what do you do?

Megan Harless 38:06

So I’ll tell you the regulation first is that it is at your discretion. And tipping and feeding is not required? It’s that they should not be asking for it. They should not be asking you like you know how much is our tip like, you know, when are you getting us lunch like they should not be asking for it and it’s totally at your discretion if you want to do it. As for what my family does, personally we do not tip but we do feed you know I’m part of my decision to feed our crews is one like my husband, for me are still here in the home, watching things happen getting things going, if one of us and we have to eat too. And usually when people are in my home, like I don’t want to start cooking lunch. Like I’ll cook dinner because I have kids and they’re usually off at school or whatever. But I don’t want to I’m not a big cook lunch myself type person. You know, so one of us will say hey, we’re gonna go get chick fil a we’re gonna go get Wendy’s What do you want we offer you know, one or two places you know, but tell them we’re only going to go to one we go pick up lunch and eat and I personally feel like if one of us can go pick up lunch, they can keep working. You know and then we bring lunch back they’ve got you know, 30 minutes that they’ll take to eat it and I’ll get back to working and they’re out of my home at a reasonable hour. If they have to stop working and go get it you’re looking at you know that that I don’t know what you want to call it the labor lunch where you know, an hour hour and a half two hours you know when we feel like we’ve rested from our siesta like we’ll come back and finish the job type deal. And then they’re in your home longer or you’re having stuff you know finished packing and loading on the same day which you always want to avoid. So I just feel like if we can make that process easier and provide them some chick fil a lunch 30 count and nuggets that they can all split or whatever. And so for us, it just makes one it makes it easier. They can keep working through out of my house sooner and then to it you know it shows a little like things For packing my home. Yeah.

Amy Bushatz 40:01

Well and also, I mean, personal opinion. I’m always happier when someone’s feeding me. Hello? Yes. I mean like, human nature.

Megan Harless 40:11

I will say I mean, even if you don’t feed if you don’t tip, it’s always appreciated that you have like some bottled water in your fridge, some Gatorade in your fridge, especially if you are moving the summer or you live in the hot climate areas like El Paso, Texas, Florida. You know where it is really hot. Being able to offer them like a cool bottle of water. Like it’s just like offering a lot to them.

Amy Bushatz 40:32

Yeah, be nice to your movers, guys. Everyone likes to be fed and no one likes to faint from dehydration. We’re all humans guys. Yeah. And sometimes I think we’re humans who move more often than we would like to but man, we got a lot of good stories and a lot of good lessons. And Megan, you have moved so many times. Thank you for sharing your lessons and your Ninjaness — ninja skills with us here at PCS with Military.com thank you so much for your time today. Thank you.

Megan Harless 41:03

Yes. Thank you for having me.

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