11 Tips for Smoother PPM Moves & Car Shipping for Military Personnel
PCS moves are stressful for entire families, but they’re an unavoidable part of military life! Most families will move six to nine times during their kids’ school careers and the upheaval can have a profound impact on both parents and children.
But don’t stress: the first step when it comes to minimizing the impact of PCS moves is thoughtful planning. The more you know about everything from how PPMs work to finding reliable car shipping for military personnel, the easier your move will be and the happier your family will be when you arrive at your new home.
When you get the order to move to a new duty station, you may be thrown for a loop if it’s your first move. Luckily, you have plenty of options when it comes to moving yourself, your family, and your household. Personally Procured Moves (PPMs), once known as Do-It-Yourself (DITY) moves, are a popular option for families because they offer more control and more flexibility to multi-person households. When you choose a PPM, the government will reimburse you up to 95% of what it would have cost their contracted moving company to transport your stuff.
Sounds simple, right? There are still plenty of logistical details to be worked out and lots of details you’ll need to stay on top of to ensure you qualify for reimbursement. Here’s what you need to know about choosing a PPM.
What exactly is a PPM?
When PCS orders are handed down, you have the option of arranging the transportation of your belongings yourself instead of using military contracted carriers. You can move your household goods using a rented truck you drive yourself or your own vehicles or hire a commercial carrier. After you move, you’ll be reimbursed.
Why do families opt for a PPM?
The allure of having someone else pack and move your belongings for you is obvious. PCS moves can be time-consuming enough without having to handle the details yourself! On the other hand, no one will ever handle your household goods with as much care as you will and not knowing where your stuff is for days can trigger a whole other kind of stress. Minimizing the risk of lost or damaged belongings isn’t the only reason families opt for PPM program, however. The benefits of a PPM include:
Being able to move when the time is right. When you don’t have to work with the transportation office to schedule your move, you can arrange your move using the timeline that’s best for your family.
Being able to control every aspect of your relocation. At no point during your move will you have to work around someone else’s schedule or use a company you don’t trust.
Being inspired to declutter. When you’re handling every aspect of your own move, you’re going to be very motivated to purge what doesn’t really matter.
Being able to make a little money. Provided your paperwork and receipts are all in order before and after your move, you will be reimbursed for moving trucks, supplies, and other expenses. If you’re budget-conscious and look for discounts on PCS moving costs, you can come out ahead.
Understand the ins and outs of PPMs
Every PCS move can run into problems, but when you’ve chosen a PPM to move the problems are yours and yours alone. That means it’s really important that you understand the rules for PPMs inside and out. You should be asking questions every step of the way and working closely with your household goods and transportation office representative to make sure you’re complying with the policies of your service branch. And when you’re given paperwork to review, make sure you read it carefully. The information you receive from the household goods and transportation office will be much more reliable than advice you receive from well-meaning colleagues and friends.
Accept any and all help
The prospect of an impending PPM move may raise a lot of questions. The good news is that there are a lot of people ready and able to help you find answers. For instance, your local household goods and transportation office can help you understand the procedures you need to follow to ensure you have every detail accounted for at the end of your move. If advances or PPM incentive payments are available in your service branch, they can help you access those. And they can help you find government and commercial certified vehicle scales nearby. Some branches even have websites that let personnel see when PPM claims are being processed.
Companies who routinely provide services to families moving from one duty station to another can also help you. Movers and moving truck rental companies can often answer questions about weight allowances and other issues related to the transportation of your household goods. Remember, even if someone doesn’t have an answer to your question, they may be able to point you toward the person or agency that can help you out.
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Submit your PPM application ahead of time
Once you’ve decided that a PPM is the right way for your family to approach your PCS move, you have to submit an application. To apply, you’ll need to meet with someone in your base Personal Property Transportation Office (PTO). Your PTO representative will go over the PPM program with you, give you the forms you’ll need for reimbursement, and answer any questions you have about how a PPM move works. Once you’ve been authorized for a PPM (or partial PPM), you can go ahead and start scheduling services.
Note that attending counseling sessions may be required as part of your PPM application being approved, so apply as early as you can. That way, that and other requirements won’t put you behind schedule.
Reserve your moving company early
If you have heard great things about a certain moving company, reach out to them as early as possible to reserve services. Booking ASAP will boost the likelihood that the company will have availability on the dates you need. However, be aware that booking early isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be able to use a specific company. More cross-country moves happen in the summer months so you may have fewer choices if your PCS move falls between May and August. And more people move during the last week of any given month so packers and movers are more likely to be booked.
Create a realistic moving budget
Having a moving budget is key if your goal is to break even or make a little money when it comes time to submit for reimbursements. Creating a moving budget can feel like an overwhelming task if this is your first PCS move, but your first draft doesn’t need to be exact. Your first-round moving budget should be based on estimates from movers or moving truck rental companies, the estimated cost of your military PCS vehicle shipping, and an approximation of how much it will cost to get set up in your new home.
When you start to spend money on your move, keep track of expenses and adjust your budget spreadsheet accordingly so you can economize in some areas when other areas end up costing more than expected. Look for military discounts everywhere and try to keep your actual expenditures as close to your budget as possible so there are no surprises.
Backwards map your move
Timing is everything when it comes to PCS moves, but that’s especially true with a PPM. You may have packers coming or movers coming or you may need to coordinate the pickup and drop off of a rented moving truck across states. How are you getting to your new location? Do you need to schedule vehicle shipping? Are your spouse and kids hitting the road, too, or are they hopping on a flight? Are you all supposed to arrive together? Regardless of how you’re moving, backwards mapping your move lets you map out the timing of individual details so everything unfolds smoothly.
Find discounted car shipping for military personnel
When a PCS move takes a family overseas, car shipping for military personnel is paid for by reimbursements. For moves in the US, it’s up to individual families to pay to ship their vehicles. Because shipping your vehicle will add another line item to your budget, you may be tempted to drive it yourself to save money. But consider this: a PCS move can be incredibly stressful already. Do you really want to add a cross-country road trip to your list of to-dos? Or is having someone else handle this detail worth paying a little more for your move?
Companies like Montway make it easier to find reliable, budget-friendly car shipping for military personnel by offering discounts for active and retired service members, streamlining pickup and delivery, and handling all the details so you can relax and focus on making your PPM as easy as possible for the kids. And if you have concerns about shipping your car, read reviews and speak to a company representative before signing a contract. Trust your gut!
Confirm your car insurance coverage
If you’re planning to ship your car and drive a rented moving truck yourself, you need to make sure your car insurance is up to date. First, check with your insurance provider to determine if your car will be covered during shipping and whether your coverage includes rentals.
If you aren’t sure what you need to do to protect yourself from liability, reach out to the closest legal office to find out what steps you should take to be sure your coverage meets the requirements in each of the states you’ll be driving through during your move.
Keep track of ALL your receipts
You’ll have a lot on your mind during your PPM, but the necessity of keeping track of your receipts should be in your thoughts at all times. Without those receipts – whether for the cost of a moving van or the cost of car shipping – you won’t have all the supporting documentation you need to receive reimbursement after your move. The easiest way to keep track of your receipts is to have a separate folder in your moving binder where you stash them as you receive them.
Remember, you can actually make money on a PPM if you spend wisely, do a lot of the planning, packing and unpacking yourself and stay on top of the paperwork required to submit a claim.
Don’t miss your window for submitting your settlement
Remember that once your move is complete, you have just 45 days to submit your claim for the full payment of your PPM allowance. That might sound like a lot of time, but it’s not much more than a month and settling in after a move can be a chaotic process that makes it easy to forget things. Luckily, if you’ve been keeping track of your receipts and expenses, it shouldn’t be a problem to gather everything required. To submit, you’ll need:
- Two copies of your empty and loaded weight tickets (if you transported household items in your own vehicle)
- DD Form 2278
- PPM Move certification plus all of your receipts
- Your PPM Move expense sheet
- Your Change of Station Orders
- The vehicle/trailer rental contract if you rented a moving truck
If you feel intimidated at the prospect of handling your own move, know that thousands of families do it every year. You are more than capable of packing up your home and moving your family to your next duty station – and your next adventure!
Ready to learn more about car shipping for military personnel? Contact us today for a free shipping quote and check out what our customers are saying about their experiences with Montway at Montway Auto Transport reviews.