I learned that my PCSing emergency fund was not enough in McBride, British Columbia, a lovely little village of 612 people. I can tell you this because I was stranded there for three days during my very first PCS move. “Clunk” and “BOOM” are never good sounds, but they are a full on nightmare when you are towing a trailer from Florida to Alaska and hear these sounds in middle-of-nowhere Canada. All that fear and stress of a PCS came to head with when these “Clunk” and “BOOM”s happened behind our truck.
I can happily say this was Hub’s fault and we were safe. It was all because we were run out of our campsite by the western Canadian mosquito army at first light that morning. Hubs went to turn around in gravel lot of the hotel/diner where we wanted to have breakfast, and that’s when we heard the heart dropping sound. The tire hit a hidden culvert and flew off the axle.
$1,000 is not enough of an emergency fund when PCSing.
While insurance is great, it will never be fast and with a snapped axle, and we were going nowhere fast. The local auto shop (located conveniently behind the hotel/diner we were at) said they could get an axle there in two weeks. Well, that wasn’t going to work being on military orders.
And because anything that can go wrong will; as the forklift was helping us move the camper out of the road, it ran out of gas. Hubs was still driving slowly but the forklift stopped. This then caused the fork part of the forklift to slide off the back of the camper as it was being pulled and become impaled. Lovely disaster number two within 90 minutes.
As Hubs called shops in the nearest town (2 hours away!) I moved our emergency fund into checking. Being Dave Ramsey fans, $1,000 was ready to move. However, that grand went FAST. There was the new axle, the gas to drive 4 hours to pick it up and bring it back, a hotel room for three nights, cost for the auto shop to do the work attaching the new axle and the patch work to close up the forklift holes, $1,000 wasn’t enough, we had to dig into our trip budget. While the first thoughts as I moved our emergency fund was relief that it was there, slowly it turned to annoyance that it wasn’t enough!
Military Families need a PCSing emergency fund of $2,000-$3,000.
Like so many other things in life, the advice or rules that work for civilians just don’t cut it being a military family. $1,000 is fine for an emergency fund for other people, but NOT if there is the chance you will have to move at any moment.
I’m sure you also know someone this has happened to. Our friends PCS’d from Hawaii to Alaska, he then promoted. With the promotion, they got new orders to California. This all happened within 12 months.
As a military family, you need a fully funded PCS fund at all times. I blew through $1,500 with one broken axle and two forklift holes. Sure, insurance reimbursed some of that, but not for a few weeks. We needed that money, cash when the emergency happened.
Get your PCS emergency fund together.
I call my PCSing emergency fund, just my PCS fund. But it is the same thing. You only use this PCS fund for EMERGENCIES while PCSing. This is different from your normal emergency fund of a simple $1,000. This fund needs to be ready to go ASAP.
- If you have a good savings of 3 to 6 months of expenses, why not move a little to a new savings account labeled “PCS”.
- If you have barely any savings, make this your first money goal.
- Somewhere in the middle? Great! decide how much you still need to get a fully funded PCSing emergency fund that will keep you safe!
Tell me, have you ever had to use an emergency fund while PCSing?