If you're in the military, you're going to move. It's a fact of military life. Uprooting your life can be hard enough without government paid movers breaking all of your stuff. Yes, you can file claims for damaged goods and get reimbursed, but did you know that there's a way to make some money and ensure your stuff gets to your next base intact? After all, if you want a job done right, do it yourself.
That's right, you can choose to perform a Do It Yourself move. A DITY will earn you an incentive payment of up to 95% of what it would otherwise cost the government to move you and your stuff. Here are some tips and tricks to help ensure you have a smooth move to your next base.
1. Overkill is underrated
Not sure what size truck to rent? Get the biggest one. The last headache you need while packing up your life is finding out that not everything will fit in the moving truck. Remember, you get reimbursed for the cost of rentals. As long as you feel comfortable driving it, go all out with that 26-footer. Once you get it out on the road, it's really not that bad. Just be sure to use your mirrors.
2. Buy all the moving supplies
Boxes? Buy a ton. Tape? That's not enough. Bubble wrap? Just take it all. With a similar mindset to the truck, a shortage of moving supplies while packing your place up is always an unwelcome surprise. Yes, you can always go out and buy more if you're short, and you should. But that will cut into your moving time and when it comes to out-processing, time is so rarely on your side. Consumable materials like these are also reimbursed by Uncle Sam, so have plenty on hand. Plus, most major moving suppliers will allow you to return excess supplies. You're covered either way.
3. You don't have to do it all yourself
Willing to shell out for some pizza and drinks? Enlist the aid of some buddies to help you pack the truck. The military is a team environment and that includes help with moving. Plus it gives everyone a chance to hang out and say goodbye. Maybe you just have a few odd and/or heavy pieces of furniture that won't fit in a moving truck (see tip #1 first). You can opt to do a partial DITY. That is, have the government move those difficult items free of charge and move everything else yourself. If the government movers get to the next place before you, no worries. The government authorizes up to 90 days of temporary storage at the receiving location. Just call to schedule a more convenient delivery day and time.
4. Stock up
The government will pay you based on the weight that you move and the distance that you move it. The more you pack the truck, the more money you get. Now, I'm not saying to cram it full of rocks or water barrels. That's called fraud and will land you in some hot water. But what about that home gym set you've been eyeing? Or the motorcycle you've been meaning to treat yourself to. Heck, your cat always needs more litter, right? Better to get those things at your current base and move with them than get them at your next base and miss out on moving that weight. It's also worth noting that it's to your advantage to weigh the truck full with a full tank of gas too.
5. Save your receipts
If you've been in the military for a minute, you know that if it's not on paper, it didn't happen. The government will reimburse you based on the receipts of your expenses. That Uhaul rental receipt that you got in your email? Save it. The rope that you bought at Home Depot to tie stuff down in the truck? Save that receipt too. The gas pump won't print you a receipt from your fill-up? You'd better go into the gas station and politely ask for your receipt, because a picture on your phone of the pump's screen won't do it.
6. Take the toll
On a weekend trip, that $5 toll to shave off 20 minutes might not be worth it. But if you're cruising the highway all day for a few days straight to get to your next base on time, the toll road is worth the cost. Plus, the cost of those tolls can be reimbursed too. Just be sure to keep a record of what tolls you take so that you can claim them on your travel voucher. Receipts aren't required unless it exceeds $75. Make your life easier and have some change and small bills on hand.
7. Know what doesn't count
Unfortunately, not every DITY expense is reimbursed. While the cost of a truck rental is covered, the cost of an auto trailer rental is not. Moreover, the weight of an auto trailer and the car being towed on it cannot count towards your total move weight. Likewise, any optional insurance you purchase to cover rental equipment is not eligible for reimbursement. Although consumable moving materials like boxes and tape can be reimbursed, certain items like ratchet straps and padlocks are not considered consumables. Finally, Uncle Sam only reimburses the actual cost of rentals, supplies, and gas. Any sales tax paid on top will not be reimbursed.