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United States Army
Army Community Service - Financial Readiness Program
9810 Lee Road
Fort Jackson, SC 29207
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 Financial Readiness Program assists Soldiers, Family members and DOD Civilians with their personal financial needs. The program offers budget development and classes in financial and consumer subjects as well as ongoing one on one financial counseling. Classes can be conducted onsite at ACS, at your unit or by virtual means. Counselors may provide consumer advocacy services and complaint resolution assistance. Emergency financial assistance through the Army Emergency Relief program is available to active and retired service members and their Families.
Financial training is a great self-care tool to ensure mission readiness. Appointments are highly recommended to ensure a counselor is readily available to assist you. For more information please call 803-751-5256.
Financial Planning for PCS
(1st Term SMs are required to attend Financial Planning for Initial PCS course NLT 60 days before departure)
In general, military personnel make a permanent change of station move every two to four years. You should start saving now for expenses that are not covered and for expenses you must pay upfront. Any PCS move is going to cost money. Experts say 3 to 6 month’s pay in reserve will cover moving expenses and emergencies.
Expenses for Families are going to be higher than for singles. Below is a list of some of the expenses you may encounter:
Other Financial Impacts
There may be other financial impacts of a PCS move. If you are dependent upon spousal income, consider the loss of employment when moving and the type of work your spouse may obtain at you next duty station. The cost of living in your new area may be considerably higher than what you are accustomed. Plan your finances accordingly.
Fortunately, the Ft. Jackson/Columbia, S.C. area is a moderate cost-of-living area with a reasonably good and diversified source of jobs.
Requesting an advance pay is an option however you must be prepared to repay typically over a 12 month period. Repayment is withdrawn directly from your monthly pay and will reduce your net monthly income.
Advance pay must be used for authorized PCS related expenses that exceed the Dislocation Allowance you will receive for your PCS. The maximum amount payable is three (3) months base pay less deductions. The normal repayment schedule is 12 months. In cases of financial hardship, the repayment can be extended to a maximum of 24 months with Commander's approval.
There is no COLA entitlement for this area. The local area has a cost of living lower than the average for some major U.S cities. Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) is adjusted to the zip code in which you are stationed.
When you arrive at Fort Jackson with dependents, you are authorized to stay on post. Even though, you can stay for 30 days, you will only get reimbursed for 10 days Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA). Bring enough money to cover your 10 days (TLA). The average costs of temporary lodging on-post are around $82 per night. The average costs of off-post temporary lodging is $65 to $130 per night.
There are a wide range of housing options in the Fort Jackson/ Columbia area. Typical rental prices can range from $700 - $2,000 per month. Do your research, engage the assistance of the Housing Office and choose housing that fit your Family needs and budget.
Dislocation Allowance (DLA)
DLA is paid to cover the expense of physically relocating your family members and or household. DLA is based on member being with or without dependents and based upon a Soldier pay grade. This can be advanced at your current duty station 100% or reimburse at your next duty station.
You must request DLA from the Finance Office. If you don't ask for it, you're not going to get it. The dislocation allowance is not advanced from your basic pay or a loan. It's money given to service member making a permanent change of station move.
The starting cost for temporary housing is approximately $1100 per month, depending on your needs.
Motor vehicles of nonresident service members located in South Carolina are not subject to taxation when the vehicles are licensed and registered in South Carolina with the exception of personal property used in trade or business. As of November 2009 the Soldiers & Sailors Relief Act also relieves the spouse from paying personal property tax. A leave and earnings statement must be filed at the Auditor’s Office each year and if the spouse is also on the registration a copy of their dependent military ID must be provided as well. Other dependents that may be included on the registration are not relieved from paying personal property taxes. Additional information can be found at http://www.richlandcountysc.gov/Government/Departments/Taxes/Auditor/Tax-Exemptions
Driver's License -- There is a $25.00 charge to obtain a SC Driver’s License. Additional information can be found at http://www.scdmvonline.com/.
Electric and Gas -- Depending on credit history, a deposit of $150 or more may be required and is refundable after one year of satisfactory payments. Persons with previous accounts may be handled differently. Electric is the preferred method of cooling and heating homes in Columbia because it is cheaper than gas. South Carolina is not known for extremely cold temperatures, but the summer heat can bring on costly utility bills. It's not uncommon to find a home that uses gas as their primary source of heat and some are actually all gas; therefore, make sure you ask the question before you rent or buy and be sure you are willing to pay the extra cost that the comfort of gas brings.
Water -- There is a $40-55 fee for a new account.
AER is a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to Active and Retired Soldiers and their ID Card dependents. If Soldiers find themselves in unexpected, emergency financial situations, AER stands ready to assist them with an interest-free loan or grant. Assists includes but not limited to rent or mortgage payment, vehicle repair/maintenance, emergency travel, medical/dental emergencies not covered by TriCare, auto repair, utilities, food and more. There are countless situations that may require financial assistance. Please speak with an AER counselor to see if we can help.
Additionally, AER offer education scholarships to dependent spouses and children of active and Retired Soldiers. For additional information on the AER Program, go to https://www.armyemergencyrelief.org/ or call us locally at 803-751-5256.
*If you experience an emergency after hours, on weekends, federal holidays or you are beyond 50 miles of a military installation, call the American Red Cross at 1-877-272-7337. They can assist you on AER’s behalf.
If you need emergency assistance while in transit and you are not near a military installation, the following agencies may provide some assistance to you. American Red Cross, Salvation Army, local hospitals (if you have a medical emergency), AAA-American Automobile Association for automobile emergency. Your car's manufacturer may also have provided roadside assistance (see your owner's manual). If you dial 911 from a cell phone, be sure to let them know your location as they may need to transfer you to another location.
For more information please call 803-751-5256 or DSN 312-734-5256.