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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.
For those families experiencing financial difficulty, the Financial Readiness Program is prepared to assist in establishing a realistic budget as well as providing information and literature on a variety of consumer-related issues including processing of consumer complaints. For more information, please call 803-751-5256. Due to COVID-19, all Army Community Service programming is by appointment only.
Start saving now. Any Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move is going to cost money. Experts say 3 to 6 months pay in reserve will cover moving expenses and emergencies. Think twice, however, before taking advance pay. You may have a hard time making ends meet when you have to pay back the advance.
Expenses for families are going to be higher than for singles. Below is a list of some of the expenses you will be faced with when you PCS. Think about them and begin to plan ahead.
Other Financial Impacts
There may be other financial impacts of a PCS move. Here are some examples:
Fortunately, the Ft. Jackson/Columbia, S.C. area is a moderate cost-of-living area with a reasonably good and diversified source of jobs.
Do not request advance pay from basic pay. This is a loan and you will pay the money back. Advanced pay repayment will be automatically withdrawn from your monthly pay. This will reduced your monthly income.
The purpose of advance military pay must be for 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. If you take advance pay, you'll need to adjust your budget accordingly to accommodate the repayment back to AF. The best thing to do is look at all of your moving entitlements and your regular entitlements and develop a PCS budget. Plan My Move within this website allows you to develop a customized budget.
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.
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 are between $65 to $130 per night.
The estimated purchase price for a newly built home w/2,400 square feet of living area in the Columbia area is $272,847. This home price is typical in neighborhoods containing primarily professional and or executive households.
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 PCS 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 $1100 for a corporate one bedroom apartment furnished including utilities and local phone.
The average monthly rental cost for a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, unfurnished apartment excluding all utilities except water is $1100.
Minimum Car Insurance Coverage Requirements
The following information will help you understand the liability limits. Presently, the minimum limits for SC are "25/50/25".
At the time of an accident, South Carolina Law requires that the investigating officer issue a Notice of Requirement (Form FR-10) to verify that liability insurance was in effect at the time of an accident. When the investigating officer issues the form, the owner is responsible for providing proof (via insurance company) that the vehicle involved in the accident was insured. Failure to provide insurance verification to the department within fifteen (15) days from the date of the accident may result in suspension of the owner's driver's license and/or registration privileges.
South Carolina Law requires that insurance companies notify the department when a liability insurance policy is canceled. The Notice of Cancellation of Policy (Form FR-4) is forwarded to the department and then forwarded to the owner. The owner is required to update the department with current insurance information or surrender the vehicle plate/registration. Failure of the owner to submit verification that the vehicle is currently insured or advise the department of the current disposition will result in the suspension of your driver license and the vehicle plate/registration. If suspended, the owner may be required to pay a reinstatement fee up to $400.00.
So, looking at the table, you find that in SC the minimum liability limits are $25,000 for injury liability for one person in an accident, $50,000 for all injuries in an accident, and $25,000 for property damage in an accident.Driver's License -- There is a $15.00 charge to obtain a SC Drivers License.
Cost of Car Insurance
2007 is expected to have the first decrease in rates since 1999. Expect a .5% to 1% decrease in car insurance rates, from 2006! Even within the state of South Carolina, rates have changed over the past few years. Comparing the current rate to the numbers from a few years back, the average auto insurance premium in 1999 was about $702, that's an increase of about 23.36% in 4 years!
Electric and Gas -- Depending on credit history, a deposit of $150 may be required and is refundable after one year of satisfactory payments. Persons with previous accounts may be handled differently. In comparison, the cost of using electricity has increased by 20% across the U.S. in the past two years; Columbia has only increased by 9.4%. 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.
Telephone -- With so many choices and options available to the consumer, it's difficult to pinpoint an actual cost for a telephone. However, if you choose to get a landline, deposits will be dependent on credit history. Other fees such as installation can vary depending upon the service provider. Shop around.
Water -- There is a $40-55 fee for a new account.
Cable -- Monthly cable can run anywhere from $39.99 to well over $200 depending on the number of channels and services desired. Cable and dish network companies often run specials therefore, it's not uncommon to get installation for free or at a nominal cost.
For active-duty or retired military families who find themselves in unexpected, emergency financial situations, the Army Emergency Relief Program stands ready to assist them with an interest-free loan or outright grant. The program also provides assistance to spouses and orphans of deceased service members. Active-duty soldiers should apply to AER through their unit commanders.
Overview -- If you are having trouble managing your finances, the Financial Readiness Program will assist you. Individual budget counseling is provided to teach soldiers how to increase their monthly cash flow. Check writing and money management classes are provided to educate soldiers and their families about savings and investment options to create future financial freedom. This program also screens families for eligibility for Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance, a program designed to provide additional monies to support soldiers’ families with food.
If you need financial assistance for rent, food, utilities, vehicle insurance and unexpected vehicle repair, contact FRP at 803-751-5256. Due to COVID-19, all Army Community Service programming is by appointment only, except in the case of emergencies.
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.
Once at Fort Jackson, the Consumer Affairs and Financial Assistance Program of Army Community Service offers a wide range of programming in financial planning, money management, proper use of credits and other topics. The Financial Readiness Program at ACS offers a wide range of services to assist active-duty and retired military, their identification card family members, and Department of Defense civilian employees with their financial affairs.
Services and programs available include:
An accredited financial counselor is available to help soldiers and spouses achieve the following:
Appointments are highly recommended to ensure a counselor is readily available to assist you. For more information, please call 803-751-5256 or DSN 312-734-5256. Due to COVID-19, all services are by appointment only and most classes are virtual.