Every few years, I picture the following scenario vividly. My military husband comes home, and says, “Babe, we got our orders.”
From there, I spring into action. Once orders are in hand, I get out my trusty PCS binder and start filling it with to-dos, checklists, important documents, etc. My PCS binder for military moves has been the most efficient and cost-effective way of keeping things organized for our (many) military moves.
Every PCS move is different for every military family. From CONUS to OCONUS, Movers to DITY, there are a lot of variables that come with each move. Our first one was easy, it was just me and the husband, then came kids, then came pets. Even with the help of technology, I preferred to have a hard copy of everything to hand carry. Our binder was a lifesaver each and every time.
- (For my binder, I use one that can zipper all the way around like this one.)
- Sheet Protectors
- Zipper Pouch
- Dividers with tabs
- Extras can be binder clips, paper clips, extra pens and highlighters
So what are the must-haves in your binder? Below is how I organized the sections in my binder. For sure, you need:
- Important documents
- birth/marriage certificates, social security cards, passports.
- Military orders
- It’s definitely best to have multiple copies.
- Titles of things you own
- houses, cars, etc
- Auto Information
- titles, insurance, shipping info, etc.
- Any checklists
- I start my to-do list as soon as orders are in hand. Your service member may also receive a checklist from his command or moving counselor as well.
- Mental/Dental Records
- For each member of the family.
- School Records
- I also get letters of recommendation from any clubs or organizations as well.
- Pet info/Veterinary Records
- CONUS to CONUS moves aren’t usually a problem with pet immunization, OCONUS is where you may have a whole ‘nuther set of to-dos. Speaking from experience, we PCS’d from Hawaii back to the States, and there were quite a few items I needed to do for our beagle.
- Moving Documents/HHG documents
- It’s up to you if you want your own personal inventory on top of the movers (if you have movers). At the very least, I would definitely keep an inventory of your high-value items.
- Travel Documents
- Your flight and hotel information, especially if housing will not be available at your new duty station, You will have to keep track of TLE/TLA payments.
- Contrary to belief, the military covers most costs of your moves but not ALL of them. Small things such as eating out when your stuff is packed, or have your old place cleaned, or having to buy all new household supplies at your new duty station; these things can add up, and it may be worth looking into have a budget so your PCS spending doesn’t go overboard. Speaking of budget…
- Expense tracker
- If you have to keep receipts of anything, this is where the binder comes in handy. If the business offers you an emailed copy of the receipt, for sure take it. However, if they don’t, keep all of your receipts in a folder or envelope and then indicate somewhere what you have spent so far.
It seems like a lot to cram into one binder, but when you think about it, this binder is your family’s central hub. To help you get started on your PCS binder, I’ve created free printables below. All you have to do is subscribe here. (No spam, I promise)
-Blank To- Do Checklist
The free printables cover some elements of the binder but not all. If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, check out my etsy shop for the ULTIMATE PCS BINDER PRINTABLE KIT for sale! There’s over 70 printables included. As of 2018, the Printable kit is now EDITABLE. Shop Military Printables now!
Printables in PDF format include:
7 page to-do checklist
10 page BLANK to-do checklist
2 Page Budget
BLANK Budget Sheet
Travel Information Worksheet
BLANK Packing List
Daily Trip Planner
Express/Hold Shipment Checklist
**NEW VERSION now also includes**
Change of Address Tracker
BLANK Change of Address Tracker
House Hunt Comparison – Rent
House Hunt Comparison – Buy
BLANK House Hunt Comparison
Day of Move Schedule
Week of Move Schedule
2 Page Move Out Cleaning Checklist
4 Page New Home Inspection + Blank
PDFs can be edited using Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat, or Preview.
It also now includes 20 pages of the PCS Coloring and Activity Book for Military Kids