Hacking the 2022 PCS Moving Season Through Insider Tips (with Megan Harless)

PCS with Military.com Hacking the 2022 PCS Moving Season Through Insider Tips (with Megan Harless)

It’s been a rocky few years for military PCS moves as COVID restrictions and labor and truck-driver shortages continue to bring their unique challenges. So how can military members and their families best prepare for the 2022 moving season, and what should they learn from seasons past?

In this episode, Megan Harless, an Army veteran and spouse, Permanent Change of Station (PCS) advocate and expert in military moves, shares her best advice and insider tips for getting through whatever move Uncle Sam has in store for you this year.

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

Amy Bushatz: When it comes to making sure the systems set up by the Department of Defense to help military members and families keep their lives running smoothly, despite the various needs and challenges of military life. Sometimes you just need a watchdog or someone who pairs the inside scoop with being a helper.

Reporters do that. A lot of what we do at Military.com is that. But then there's other people out there serving the need. People like today's guest, Megan Harless. An Army veteran and an Army spouse. Megan is the owner of PCSlikeapro.org, the author of the PCS Like a Pro book and the creator of the PCS Like a Pro binder system- sense a theme? All of which she started after taking a simple step of starting a petition a few years ago, to demand that the DoD helps military families who are moving, had a little bit of an easier time.

Since then she's become one of the top advocates in the space, even sitting on an advisory council to help military members and families have an easier time with PCS policies from us transportation command, the DOD section that is in charge of moves. Today she's joining us to give some help with getting ready for this year's PCS season.

Megan, welcome back to PCS with Military.com because we had you on last year, too.

Megan Harless: Well, thank you for having me.

Amy Bushatz: So, this is your second time on the podcast with us last year, we had basically the same conversation, but about 2021. And this year we're all about 2022. So I really appreciate you coming back and joining us.

Megan Harless: No, I appreciate you having me back on, and that we get to continue this conversation.

Amy Bushatz: It's going to be so fun. So first remind us how many times have you moved with and without the military and in you're in the middle of getting ready to move right now right?

Megan Harless: Yeah. So we have completed 10 PCSes and we have number 11 coming this summer. We're looking at probably mid to late June timeframe for that one. And then in there we've also have had two local moves. And then as a kid, like I moved a handful of times with that as well.

Amy Bushatz: So you have moved, in short, all of the times.

Megan Harless: Yes.

Amy Bushatz: All of them. Okay. So I mentioned in the intro that you got involved in this because of a petition that you did. Tell us about, well, remind us about that and how you got where you are today, which is on this advisory council and just being really this top expert in this space.

Megan Harless: Yeah. So I had, it started as a an open letter to our elected officials, just a general military family's grievance about the PCS process. It was done at the August of 2018. So the end of peak season of 2018, and a lot of families, and a lot of my friends that moved that summer just had really bad horror stories of their PCS experience that year. Everything was showing up broken, damaged, not showing up at all, or covered in mold.

And so for me, it felt like we had hit rock bottom. And so at the time I had ran a personal blog site of mine, which was basically telling the military life experience from the spouse perspective. And so I wrote this open letter. I basically saying, we want better. We deserve better. We want better accountability and transparency.

And that we shouldn't expect our stuff to show- up damaged and broken or not at all. And so I had posted that and somebody in the first couple of comments had said, you know, this would make a great petition, and I was like, you know sure, whatever. So I made a change.org petition posted the link, and this was on like a Friday and I fully expected this petition to die off into internet land somewhere over the weekend. It totally did not. It took off in the opposite direction and got over a hundred thousand signatures on it to very, very quickly. And it also got the attention of some really high-ranking people as well really quickly. And so from this petition I was contacted by a defense fellow that worked for a Senator on Capitol Hill.

And he reached out to me and said, Hey, how can we partner with you to work on this and to get some attention to this issue? And so I worked with him and Senator Tester's office sending letters, to TRANSCOM comm asking the same questions I was asking. I had calls from TRANSCOM which when you get a call from a number you don't recognize, you normally don't answer it. But whatever reason, I answered this one and it was just like, hi, I'm this person from TRANSCOM and when we saw your petition and you start thinking like, how in the world did you get my contact info? You know, but being prior service and my husband military, like our contact info is out there somewhere.

And so we started talking, and at the time it was, I wanted whoever is in the seats to make positive changes happen. I wanted them to see it. I wanted them to understand what our issues were, what we wanted and for them to make the changes to make that happen. And so they, we talked about that some with TRANSCOM and with them.

And at one point I actually did email Gen. Lions directly who at the time was the commander of transportation command, going more into detail about these issues and what we want. And so from there, we were able to stand up this advisory panel with TRANSCOM. We brought in some moving industry folks to it at the very beginning, where we talked through some of the issues that we had and what we wanted and how we can make this program better together.

And so here we are several years later that panel is still there. We still meet monthly. We still talk about all the PCS issues. With that, some of the spouses that sit on that panel, we have been able to stand up other advisory panels within our own service branches. So I know the Marine Corps has their own PCS advisory panel, where they have other Marine Corps spouses there, same thing with Navy, same thing with Army.

And then with that was also able to stand up a panel with the moving industry. So I have some spouses and some moving industry reps. We sit on that and we discuss the issues and how we can work together there. And also have traveled a little bit too. So last year went to the International Association of Movers Conference down in Orlando. And we had a panel there about the military and moving experience and talked about what our experience was moving and what we wanted to see and what we thought could change to help make it better.

Amy Bushatz: That's just such an amazing story of what stepping up and asking questions can do. You're so often I think as military spouses were discouraged from doing that, and that's not how to make a change. You gotta be bold. You gotta stand up and you gotta start pushing a little bit. And that's exactly what you did. And I can say, because I've seen the changes that have resulted from you doing push that that was a good thing for the military community. And so I thank you for that.

Um, We're going to hear from quite a few people in, yeah. We're going to hear from quite a few people in this PCS with Military.com season talking about the 2022 military PCS situation and giving their best tips and tricks for tackling it. But I think your perspective is very on point because you're a military family member yourself. So you don't just bring that perspective of what's happening and what we should do about it. But the experience of, I mean, you're literally going through a move. Okay. So tell us first, what has changed for since last year? Or tell us first. What changed for last year? What changes were in place for 2021? And then once they were put in practice, what did we learn from those?

Megan Harless: Yeah. So a couple of things. So every year we know the program changes a little bit. It's usually what's called the business rule changes. So basically it's changing the regulations with the goal of helping to improve the process and experience that year. So last year with the regulation changes, we saw that the TSPs, the transportation service providers, they were required to increase customer service. And so that meant they needed to have customer service representatives available on Saturdays from eight to five during peak season.

So that way, if there was an issue with the delivery pack-out, whatever it was, it happened on a Saturday, there was somebody you were able to get ahold of. Another change that we saw go into place last year was what they call residential property protection. So this was a very basic, simple thing. I don't know why it wasn't there previously, but it basically means like they come in and they lay down that plastic wrap over your carpet or your high walkway areas, or they cover your front door with some moving blankets just to help prevent damaging your door as they carried your dresser out.

So we saw that. And then with the JTR, the joint travel regulations, the two big things that we saw, which I'm very excited and happy that they updated was the PPM increase, went from 95% to a hundred percent.

Amy Bushatz: And that's the money you get back when you move yourself. So instead of getting 95% of what they would pay somebody else to do your move, you're getting the whole kit and caboodle.

Megan Harless: Yes. And so when we saw the stop movement orders of 2020 happen, and then more people went to moving themselves during that season, they had implemented that change as a temporary thing to help encourage more people to move themselves cause the COVID concerns. And so, and that's something we had been asking for since 2018 is like, why can't we get paid a hundred percent of it if you were going to pay it to a moving company?

And so they finally made that a, a solid forever change type of deal. So we get the a hundred percent and then the other thing was that they changed the wording for the TLE, temporary lodging entitlement. So where previously it, you couldn't include Airbnb or vacation rental by owner type of establishments it had to be like a hotel chain type of deal, but they changed that lodging to where it now includes those private rental options, which gives people more flexibility with traveling. Especially if you have a larger family or you have pets, sometimes it's easier just to get an Airbnb.

You have space that you need in that room. And if you have to be there for a longer extended period of time, generally an Airbnb can be a cheaper cost than squeezing, a family of six into a hotel. So we saw those changes, which were really nice last year.

When we get into talking about 2021 and what actually happened on the ground, we basically saw the supply chain crinkle happen. We saw shipping delays due to the port backlogs, we saw the driver shortages and we saw the labor shortage happen. And a lot of this people, will push back on to being from COVID. We had from everything shutting down and then all the different I don't know what you want to call it, but the government assistance programs that were out there, we just had a period of time where it was hard to get people back to work.

And when you get paid $15 an hour to pack versus $15 an hour to take someone's order at a restaurant, I mean, it's very easy to see where people are going to go to to work. So we saw all of those things happen. And so it kind of, you know, no matter how much planning we put into it or how much we changed the regulations, nobody was really prepared for what was actually going to happen when we starting moving people. And so families were either moving themselves that they maybe didn't plan to do, or they were moving their themselves into a storage unit that a moving company would pick up from later. And we also had those longer delays. And so folks were without their stuff longer. You know, OCONUS what normally took 60 to 90 days was taken up to 120 days.

And even stateside CONUS moves. So it would normally take a week maybe two was now taking four to six weeks. And so people had to, if you moved mid- peak season or later, you saw some of this and you were able to plan a little bit better, but if you were in those first couple of weeks, you were kind of in a major pain point for your family.

Amy Bushatz: Right? Because I mean, listen, I'm a planner. I love to plan. So this idea of having a plan and then, that's what I, it's a coping mechanism, right? So you play, you make this plan and you lean on that. And when that is having somebody pack and move you, and you've streamlined, especially if you have moved a lot, you know how to do it, streamlined your situation to get your family there.

And, you know, all of this stuff, against that, and maybe your spouse has gone and maybe you're pregnant. You know, I heard all sorts of stories. I'm sure as did you, people who are literally facing their movers canceled, their leases up, they need their stuff in a truck. They cannot do it themselves. They physically cannot do it themselves. They've got kids under foot. It's real family life. And now what? .So that, I mean, that was a huge challenge in 2021 and not the best change. So what did we learn from that?

Megan Harless: So we learned that really this year is going to be much of the same. You know, for planning and preparing for that. But I think as we saw what last year was going to be like, and trying to forecast and look ahead to what this year, I think more people are really more open to what their options are when it comes to moving. More people that maybe would not have considered a PPM before personally procured move or previously the DITY. The DITY. I feel like there should be a rap song in there somewhere like a beat should drop when we say it.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. We should not be hired to do that by the way. Just no, that should be sent to someone who's good at that. Continue.

Megan Harless: But so I think a lot of people are considering that option that maybe would not have considered it before. We've seen, especially within the last year and a half, those container companies like pods and Upack and Estes or ABF, where they come and they drop, the truck trailer in your driveway, become much more popular because it's a different way of doing a PPM where you're not driving the U-Haul truck, yourself.

Amy Bushatz: Right.

Megan Harless: You know, so we're seeing a lot more of that. And you know, I also want to give the industry a little bit of credit here too, because when we see some of those extenuating circumstances, the family that's about to have a baby that's due any day that they did everything that they could possibly do to plan well, to be able to get their stuff, to set up the nursery in time, to get their bed, to sleep on for the last day. That stuff just couldn't happen for one reason or another that we did see some moving companies, like step in and do what they could do to accommodate those families, whether it was renting them a bed or out of pocket, just buying them a new crib and a rocking chair. So they would have a place for their baby to sleep. You know, So I want to make sure we are able to acknowledge that. Cause it wasn't just sorry you're out of luck kind of deal.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And we do have an episode with industry representative for this season of PCS with Military.com to sort of talk through how this looks from their perspective. And so I encourage people to listen to that because it's a really good one. And, her name is Katie McMichael and she really walks us through how the industry is thinking about this and what the industry sees upcoming for 2022. So stay tuned for that.

What's going to be the biggest challenge for PCSing in 2022? You touched on that we are going to see more of the same. Is that going to be the biggest thing that we're facing? It's just that uncertainty and maybe not being able to schedule the movers that you wanted?

Megan Harless: Yeah. So as I said, it's going to be similar to what we see what we saw last year. I think what we have working for us now is that we have time and that we know, and so we can plan and use that. We know the ports have gotten better. And so those shipping delays are getting a little bit better, that they're not as congested and delayed as what they were previously. But we're still going to feel the strain of some of the drivers shortage and some of the labor shortage, especially as we push to have quality crews and quality packers and quality folks in our homes.

And in previously, they could go down to the 7-11 and pick up whoever's down there looking for a job to come pack our home. Last couple of years, we saw some business rule changes where they have to be background checked and things like that. So as we pushed for more quality, that labor piece, until I think it's a, it's an industry thing until we start seeing that as being a professional type of job in some way, we're still going to feel that labor shortage.

And then we coupled that with inflation costs. So those folks who are doing more PPMs and looking into that as an option. Are seeing what the cost of a rental truck is. And just to note, like we saw in my group that we have somebody had asked about two years ago, they were renting, I forget what it was, some containers company or something, but it was like a $3,000 quote. And this year they were doing a similar distance move, similar weight, but now it's like a $12,000 quote. And they were just like, is this really where we're at? And so there's those inflation costs that families are going to have to prepare for as well.

And then. Good things or bad things come in groups of three. And we like the trifecta effect. We also have this housing market that, from what I hear is not going to be busting anytime soon. And so there's that housing shortage that people are paying at or above BAH to be able to rent a home, or there are no rentals because everybody's trying to sell a home.

And so, those folks like us who have been, renters our entire lives, because we generally don't get to stay anywhere long enough for buying to be worth it are now looking at and considering purchasing our very first home because there are no rental options.

Amy Bushatz: Um, And uh side note, we, we also have an episode with a real estate agent. Who's going to be talking about VA home loan and finding a home throughout the PCS process. So he's really great. And you can listen to that too, see we've got it all. We've got it all. We're here to help. So, you can listen to him talk about finding home, but how do you suggest people tackle these things?

Megan Harless: Um, So the first thing is to plan, you know me, I like to plan for everything. We have plan a through Z and we hope we don't have to go past plan C for anything. But do all the planning and think about all the possible scenarios that could happen. What happens if your shipment is delayed for an extra two to three weeks, how will you handle that?

Are you willing to pay on a pocket for lodging or an Airbnb, or are you willing to tough it out and house camp? And what do you need for that for housing? As you say, you have, you have a podcast on it. You're going to have somebody talk more about it, but just for now, I just want to say again, plan. Be willing to sign that lease early.

If you find a rental, if you're willing to pay more than your BAH for that rental, and don't be afraid to be a first-time home buyer. If you can't find a rental, cause we're in that same, but with you.

And then part of that planning, not just, what happens if our stuff doesn't show up in time. But also, you need to plan financially too and start figuring out what your budget is, what your entitlements are going to be and what expenses you expect to be paying. Because a smooth PCS can all really depend on a budget as well. Whether you bust your budget or you stay within it. And with cost of inflation that we talked about with rental trucks and all of that start looking now, if that's the route you want to go start looking now at what those costs are going to be. And you know, gets a couple of different quotes and see if you can financially make that worth your while to do.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. That's such good advice because I think that people, we think about our PCS in terms of parameters and what we are willing and not willing to do, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

We also think about them in terms of what we have always done. And now is a time that we have to think about stuff in terms of possibility about what we've not tried about what we can do and stretch those limits a little bit. It's not, probably not going to be the most comfortable option because stretching limits is never comfortable, whether the thing you're stretching to is a good idea or not. And it may be outside of what you really wanted. But that's, I mean, that's 2022, that's 2021. Heck that's 2020. Let's be real. And so it's a time that we are faced with stretching in this way, and it's just, it's what we're going to have to do.

Megan Harless: And it'll make for a great story later. Like it's going to suck as we go through it, but just think like in five years, you're gonna be able to tell that story. Like, remember we had this one PCS where. It was ridiculous. And let me tell you all the things and just it's going to suck for now, but it will make a great story later, I promise.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah, that's a great spin, Megan. Good job. Yeah. I mean, how many times though, in all seriousness, how many times do we face stuff in military life that that is the only possible response, right? That that is the only thing that you can say. And if it's not the truth. You know, I, I have great stories because of crazy things that happened.

There are things that have happened in my military life that I look back and my reaction is something akin to whoa, man. I can't believe that happened. And I can't believe I survived that, but I did. So sometimes that's just the attitude that you have to have going in. And I sincerely hope that nobody faces things that are way, way crazy.

But even if you do. You know, we've got the skills in this military life because of the things that we've dealt with, with deployments, or if you're a former service member, or you're current service member, you know, that, that word that I don't like resilience because it's overused. We have those skills. I, you know, my kids watched this TV show or they did when they were little, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

One of the things in the Mickey Mouse - yes. Okay. One of the things that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is they have their tools. All right. So they face a challenge in the TV show, and then they say, I know let's look in our mouscatools! So this is what I think about when I'm facing a challenge that I, you know, I'm thinking, man, I did not want to be doing this right now.

And then I step back and I tell myself, Amy, you have to look in your mousecatools. What is there? And I'll tell you what, when I think about things from that sort of 3000 foot level, to look at my situation, just any situation and say, what do I have in my mousecatools that could help me that I'm not considering right now? Sometimes the solution is so simple and right in front of me. Often, it is really do I actually have to do that? I mean, I don't love to hire somebody to clean my house cause that'd be good to save that money, but I could do that. I could hire somebody to do a move out clean, and then I would be freed up to do the other stuff that just got put on my plate.

Just, simple things like that. And guys guys, you've got to look in your mousecatools. I'm telling you. Got to check for what's in there. All right.

Megan Harless: You you absolutely have to.

Amy Bushatz: So speaking of mousecatools, some of those might be things that DoD is doing to change for 2022, so talk to us about changes people can look forward to for 2022. And I really think that maybe they should start calling their are changes that our mousecatools, but it's just an idea. Go ahead.

Megan Harless: Yeah. Yes. The great thing about mousecatools is that there are so many of them out there for our community and for all aspects of military life if we just search hard enough.

But the changes that are coming for 2022, so first off, if you weren't aware of the change that was made back during the fall of 2021, move.mil has transitioned over to Military OneSource so if you go to move.mil, like no webpage in the world is gonna come up. Um, I don't know if it's still, I don't think it does it used to redirect you. I think they took that down, but now you go to Military OneSource and in their menu, you click the moving tab and it takes you to all of the stuff that was on move.mil.

So, the next one, so, one thing that we have been asking for since the beginning of time is more transparency on the moving companies and knowing, how good a service they do. I mean, we can always go to the Facebook groups and we can always ask who's had company a, who's had company B because we want that real insight as to, experiences. On the TRANSCOM website, they have this new thing called the TSP dashboard, is the customer dashboard where you can go on there and you can look at, so it's called a SCAT code.

So we need get your email from the system that tells you who your moving company is, who your transportation service provider is. There's usually like a four number, four letter code there in parentheses, like right before or after it. And that's called the SCAT code. So you can go onto the TRANSCOM website and you can look up that exact scat code and you can see how that company has performed and what their customer satisfaction rating is. And you can see like how often they've missed the RDDs you can see

Amy Bushatz: -- That would be the required delivery date, RDD.

Megan Harless: Required delivery date. So that way you can have an idea like, are they really great at meeting the required delivery date? And maybe we don't need to panic so much about that, or like they miss a lot of required delivery dates. We should plan now what we need to do. So that's a really great thing that they've brought out in the last couple of months to be able to provide a little more transparency to our community as to who the moving companies are. The couple of changes that are taking place in the business rules or the regulations that we've talked about previously.

So the seven day window spread that was introduced last year is changing a little bit. So last year, whatever days that you put into DPS was counted as your day one of that seven day window spread. They're reversing it this year. So if you're moving May 15th or afterward, when you input that date, that requested date in DPS, that is actually going to be the last date of that seven day window spread.

So it's kind of just flipping it. Which to me, I don't know, I'm torn on. I feel like we just got everybody on board of understanding what it was and now we're flipping it, but if you're moving May 15th or after just know that date will be the last day of that spread.

Another piece that we're seeing changed. So the real property damage that we spoke about earlier, so if you had, damage to your home, they scratched a wall or they dropped a dresser. And so now you have a dent in your. You used to have to contact your move coordinator left. You still have to contact them, but you had to contact them, let them know, and they would email you the forms to fill out and then you'd have to email them back.

But now they are going to be required to provide those forms at your home on the day of pack out and delivery. So that way you already have them. So that way there isn't a delay in getting those repairs done for your home.

And then the last big change I want to mention is one that, I mean, if you've been around, you've seen all of the talk and articles and stuff about the Air Tags being used in shipments. And so that's another big change. We've seen people using AirTags since last summer when they first came out and like as people were starting to see delays in their shipments, more people started using them because they wanted to be able to tell, like, when is my shipment moving? Is it finally making progress in its journey?

And so that's another big thing I think we're going to see more of this year, and I think we're going to see some more stories, good or bad about it. But that's the technology change. I know TRANSCOM I don't think they've said anything about, about it. I don't think there is a way to tell families that they can't use it.

I know the industry has their own concerns about it, but I can't- it's another one of those things we've been asking for. We should be able to have real time tracking of our shipment. If Papa John's can tell me that my pizza is now being put in the oven and that, you know, Dana is two minutes away from delivering it.

And Amazon can tell me that my package has arrived and is sitting in my living room. Why can't I know where my household goods are? And so I think the air tag technology is going to be a play a huge factor this coming season.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. And we do talk about that with Katie McMichael. So make sure you listen to that episode, you can hear her industry perspective on that in that episode, I want to circle back to the ability to look up the rating of your moving company on the TRANSCOM website really fast, because here's what I want to know. If they are terrible, what can you do about?

Megan Harless: So you can request a new TSP. Um, You request, you make that request through your local transportation office at your duty location.

And so you go to them, you tell them you'd like to request a new TSP. Again, it is just a request depending on where you're at in the season and the system. They may not be able to accommodate you, but if they can, what usually happens is that they pull your shipment and the process starts all over again.

So it's a

Amy Bushatz: Bold move. Bold play.

Megan Harless: It is because you may not be guaranteed your same dates that you're requesting because your process is starting over and depending on how much notice you have and how much leeway you have in your plans, it may not work for you. And there's also the chance that you end up with the same TSP as well.

In my experience, I feel like a big part of how well a move goes also depends on how well your local agent is that is packing you. And so while you may look at a TSP score and you may think oh, that looks low. I don't know. This could be a little sketchy in my home. Like I'm concerned about it.

Get into your local spouse groups and say, Hey, who had a really good pack out, and find out what company was their local agent that did their pack-out. And when your move coordinator calls you ask them if they can, if they have a relationship with that local agent and ask if they can assign them as your local agents.

Because if other people have had a great pack out by that company. Chances are, you'll have a great pack out too. And if you have a really great pack-out, chances are you're going to have a little to no claim. And that's the goal that we all want.

Amy Bushatz: Yes , that is that's the dream upon which we lay our heads every night.

If you had to give three tips for tackling the 2022 season specifically based on what we've learned over the last few years and what we've experienced, what would you say?

Megan Harless: So the first thing would be to have a plan. Even if your plan is to wing it, make a plan for how you're going to wing it. Um,

Amy Bushatz: This is such a conversation between two people who love to plan, if you're going to wing it, you know, don't.

Megan Harless: Like yeah. It's and if you are, if your plan is to wing it, write down how you're going to wing it.. Well, listen, it gets the wingers into the planning, which is the goal here. So even if you're going to wing it, write down how you're going to wing it. And this includes, and when I say have a plan and don't just have a plan for like your shipment being delayed or having to shift, your pack out a day or two. Have a plan for how you want your home packed. And so for me, I always say, I want my kids' rooms packed first because I need them to stop adding things to the car pile because there's only so much space my car can hold.

And so if they keep adding their Lego sets and their stuffed animals and their pile of books, we're going to be strapping a teddy bear onto the roof. So I always ask them to pack my kids' rooms first, and then we do bathrooms and closets. And then we move into the living room, dining room, kitchen area, and usually the master bedroom, because that's where we keep our cats.

And the garage is done for last. So have a plan, how you want your home packed, have a plan on the routes that you're going to take to your next location. And what that consider what the weather is going to be like too. We've seen some crazy snow storms pop up here the last couple of weeks and months.

And if you fall into late summer, you get into hurricane season. You know, early summer it's tornado season, if you're driving through the Midwest. And so have a plan of what your routes are and have a backup plan, because some people I know recently were trying to avoid the snow storm that came through and thinking like, oh, I'll just go south and we can avoid the snow storm there.

But keep in mind, like the south also got hit by the snow storm and the south is less prepared for snow than like Tennessee and Ohio and Indiana and all of them. Like Texas owns one snowplow, I'm pretty certain of that. I think Arkansas maybe owns two snow piles in the entire state. You know, so we're not in the south, we're not made for this Northern weather. So don't think you can just avoid it by driving south, but look at what the weather is and think, If they're under a hurricane watch, then maybe we need to drive an extra three hours out of our way to take a Northern route to avoid hurricane evacuation.

Amy Bushatz: Right.

Megan Harless: And then again, housing plan your housing and take that into consideration. The second thing that I would say that you hear me say a lot in every forum that I'm allowed to speak in, is to have your own inventory. It's more than just using it for when you move. If you have a catastrophic loss of your home, it gets hit by that hurricane, or it gets hit by a tornado.

A lot of times you need to be able to provide a list of, you know, what it was that is being replaced or being paid for. So if you have your inventory ahead of time, that makes that piece easy. Even with moving, if you have a catastrophic loss, you have to do an itemized list of what it is that was in your shipment.

So if you have your inventory beforehand, it makes that process much smoother. If you have a box that doesn't show up and you're not quite sure what was in that box. Well, you have your inventory. You can do process of elimination to figure that out. You know, but have some sort of inventory of what you own, make sure it includes pictures of your high value items and includes pictures of your furniture as well.

And then the last thing that I would want to leave you with would be to budget and be financially ready for your PCS. And this includes like reviewing your renters and personal property insurance policies as well. Because we need to make sure you have a policy that covers your household goods in transit and in storage because the moving companies are only liable for $6 per pound, up to $75,000.

So if it costs $150,000 or more to replace the stuff in your home, you're not getting that from the moving company. So you're going to have to replace that on a pocket or through your private insurance policy. So don't think we can save a month of our renter's insurance policy because we're moving, we don't need to pay that 30 bucks. We'll put that towards our gas fund. Don't do that because something bad is going to happen. Bad karma, keep your policy.

Amy Bushatz: You can see it coming like a freight train.

Megan Harless: It's one of those things you hate paying for every month because it's just like why, but then if you ever have to use it, you're so thankful that your have it. You know just budget and be financially ready and start looking now at what your entitlements are, your DLA, what you get for per diem, how many days travel days you're going to have that you'll receive the per diem. Just that way you can get an idea of what you're going to be receiving and then start trying to figure out maybe what your expenses are too.

Amy Bushatz: Right, man. Those are some really good tips. I think everyone can tell that you and I are the planners of the bunch. You queen of planners, queen planners, I say. And so everybody can really lean on your expertise paired with the fact that you just love a plan. But you know what, as they, as Monica in Friends says: rules help control the fun. So

Yeah. Yes. There you go. Okay. Megan, this has been such an informative discussion. Can you tell people where to find you and if they need more special Megan help?

Megan Harless: Yeah, absolutely. So on Facebook, you can find me, there's a public page called PCS Like a Pro, and you'll see me wearing my pink master mover shirt to know that it's me. And then I also have a Facebook group on there that's PCS Like a Pro: Your Smooth Move, and you can join that group and ask all of your PCS questions and we can help guide you the best that we can.

Amy Bushatz: Awesome. Megan, thank you so much for joining us on PCS with Military.com. Your expertise is valued.

Megan Harless: Well, thank you for having me.

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PCS Family and Spouse