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United States Army
Financial Readiness Program - Army Community Service
10288 4th Armored Division Drive
Fort Drum, NY 13602
Resources are available to help you understand and manage your finances, including one-on-one financial counseling to assist you and your family with financial readiness. Services are designed to focus on money management issues throughout your active-duty lifecycle and into retirement. Financial readiness educational opportunities range from basic planning to long-term investing. Check out the information below to see what’s available at your installation.
The Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program offers free Financial Planning and Consumer Affairs Services to help Service Members and their Families develop and maintain a realistic Family budget, reduce debts, improve their credit, plan for the future through savings and investment, and resolve consumer complaints. The Financial Readiness Program offers regularly scheduled classes on budgeting, checkbook/debit account management, financial management, Car buying, and investing. Individual counseling is available for Service members and Families requiring or wishing to receive personal assistance. Classes are also offered for units and Family Readiness Groups (FRG) in all areas of financial planning.
Financial Readiness is an integral part of Soldier and Family wellbeing. It is especially critical during relocation. Start saving for your move now! Every move will have costs you must pay for upfront or out of your own pocket. It is suggested that you save a minimum amount equal to one month basic pay and one month BAH to assist you with moving expenses. Additional money should be saved to pay for security deposits and first month’s rent or down payment on your new home. Plan to pay for any leave/vacation you take prior to arriving at Fort Drum. The military does not finance your leave/vacation. Keep all receipts related to your move. You will need them when filing your finance reimbursement claim and for tax purposes. Plan for emergencies. Experts recommend having an emergency savings equal to 3 - 6 months of your income.
Below is a list of some of the expenses you may be faced with when you PCS to Fort Drum. Think about them and begin to plan ahead.
Other Financial Impacts
There may be other financial impacts of a PCS move. Here are some questions and thoughts to consider:
Northern New York is considered to have a cost of living slightly higher than the national average though high utility costs in the winter increase the cost of living during the winter season. Below are the average costs of housing and utilities. Your actual living expenses may be higher or lower, and will depend on several variables including, but not limited to, location, availability and the choices you make.
Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) -- There is no COLA entitlement for this area.
Average Cost for Home Buying -- The median home price for the area is $155,000.
Average Cost for Rentals
Average Utility Costs -- Your utility costs will vary depending on where you live, your energy usage habits, whether you use well water or city water, how your home is insulated and heated (gas, electric, fuel oil, LP gas, wood), and several other variables. Home heating utility costs can easily average $200 - $400 or more per month in the winter. Many electric/gas utility companies offer a Budget Plan to help customers avoid high seasonal payments by spreading the cost for electric/gas utility service over the entire year. Be sure to ask about payment options when setting up utility services. Be prepared to pay deposits on utilities when establishing service.
A motor vehicle registered in NYS must have liability insurance. Those stationed at Fort Drum must notify their insurance company that they are living and driving in the state of New York regardless of where the vehicle is registered to ensure they are covered in the event of an accident. Insurance coverage for New York must be a minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a person involved in an accident, $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people in an accident, and $10,000 for property damage for a single accident. New York State is a no-fault state. The liability coverage must remain in effect while the registration is valid, even if the vehicle is not used (except motorcycles). You will also be required to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. You do not need to change insurance companies unless your current carrier does not cover New York. However, this is an excellent time to shop around for better coverage or rates.
Visit your installation finance office to find about your moving entitlements. Listed below are just a few things to consider and is not all inclusive.
Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) -- TLE is intended to partially pay for lodging/meal expenses when a service member/dependent(s) occupy temporary quarters in CONUS due to a PCS. TLE reimbursement is limited to a maximum of 10 days. TLE is reimbursed, so it is very important for you to bring enough money to cover your lodging/meal expenses. The cost of temporary lodging on-post is $84 per night for the first guest regardless of rank. The average cost of off-post temporary lodging ranges from $60 to $150 per night depending on where you choose to stay. See the Housing - Temporary narrative for additional temporary lodging information.
Military Advanced Pay -- Be very careful when considering taking an Advance Pay. This is a loan and you will pay the money back over the next 12 months. Advance Pay repayment will be automatically withdrawn from your monthly pay, therefore reducing your monthly income, in some cases, drastically. Do NOT use Advance Pay to buy nonessential items, pay credit cards or finance your leave/vacation!
If an emergency arises while in transit and you will not be able to report to Fort Drum on your scheduled report date, contact the Reception Activity Welcome Center at 315-772-7529 or 1-800-661-7158. If you fail to report on your scheduled report date and you have not contacted the Reception Activity Welcome Center, you will be considered Absent without Leave (AWOL). Medical emergency -- If you experience a medical emergency call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. The nearest emergency room to Fort Drum is located in Watertown at Samaritan Medical Center, 830 Washington Avenue.
Financial emergency -- Should you experience a financial emergency contact Army Emergency Relief at 315-772-6560 or DSN 312-772-6560, or The American Red Cross at 1-877-272-7337.
Automobile emergency -- Check with your insurance company to find out what coverage you may have if you experience an automobile emergency including breakdowns. If you are a member of the American Automobile Association (AAA), you may contact them for assistance.