The PCSing Spouse

Where Spouses Help Spouses

Category: moving

Remodeling at a New Duty Station

Truth is I wrote and re-wrote this blog post a few times. I wanted to paint this picture of an amazing DIY home remodel that worked flawlessly. Honestly that is not what is happening in our home currently. We are working with a military budget, and on a military time frame. So instead I will tell you a little bit about my projects, give you my current tips and when we finally finish maybe I will share a fabulous update.

We moved to our most recent duty station with no intention of buying a fixer upper. We really had considered living on base again. However a VERY long wait list changed our minds. As we drove around and got familiar with our new town we found one location that just stood out to us as “the area we want to live”.

So we did it, we bought a house right in our desired neighborhood. It looked nice from the outside, ok from in the inside, but we saw a lot of potential in our new home. 30 long days later it was time to move in.

Once the previous owners things were out we could see how damaged the house truly was we knew it was going to take a lot of sweat equity to make this house a home.

The whole house needed new carpet, every single room. The whole house needs new paint, every single room. The back sliding door no longer locked or shut completely. The garage door has been rammed a few times and is all bent up. The fridge stopped working the first week we were there. The whole house needed new blinds, every single room. Door frames were broken. The living room had this weird built in entertainment center over the fireplace that was designed for one of those old tube televisions. The legit hardwood floors in the kitchen have water damage and need sanded. Honestly the list could go on. Now some of these things we were prepared for, others came as huge surprise after closing.

While our house is slowly becoming a home, it is going to take us awhile to finish. This has been the most challenging, frustrating, expensive, learning experience.

So my tips for any of you headed out to your next station and considering a fixer upper.

  1. Don’t. It is not as easy as it looks on Fixer Upper or any other HGTV show.
  2. If you do, make a plan. List all the things you want to do and place them in order of priority.
  3. Create a backup plan. Find a handyman or a contractor willing to do the jobs you can’t.
  4. Be prepared that the job can and will be put on hold for TDY, or other Military related reasons. (2 week TDY right in the middle of laying hardwood floors happening right here)
  5. Youtube.com will become your new best friend. Don’t know how to spray texture on walls? There is a youtube video that will give you step by step instructions. How do we know what we are doing? We don’t but we are not afraid to learn from someone who does.
  6. Try to enjoy it by being hands on. There is nothing more satisfying than realizing you are capable of more things than you ever thought you’d be able to do. I measured, cut, and hung 90% of the sheetrock in my new family room. It is so rewarding to be able to say I DID THAT!!!
  7. Be prepared to learn about yourself, your spouse and your marriage. Remodels/DIY projects/Home Repairs are not easy. They are stressful, time consuming and can be financially straining. Communication is key, talk it out. You will learn what each of you and your pocketbook can handle and don’t be afraid to take a step back and re-access.

Whatever you decide to do whether it be renting, base housing, or buying I just want to say Welcome Home!  

***Welcome to our newest blog teammate Alysha Lutz!!!

Careers and the MilSpouse: The Good, the Bad and the Reality

“We’ve got orders.” Those three words have two reactions; instant excitement for a new journey, or a wave of anxiety that starts a mental “to-do list.” Either way, this phrase is bound to arise once, twice, eight times in your life as a MilSpouse; and after the first few pack outs, unpacking and rearranging, it becomes easier to accept a new zip code as home. If only the employment path for a MilSpouse could be as organized and orchestrated as a move with a  good moving company. As a former Career Counselor in Hampton Roads Virginia working with Veterans, exiting Military members and Military Spouses; and being a MilSpouse myself, I know firsthand the interruption a PCS can bring to a career. Whether you are just beginning your career after graduating college, or you are returning to the workforce after raising your children, navigating the ever changing and not always accepting world of workforce can be daunting. It is my hope that in the next five posts I am able to offer some tips of the trade and suggestions to make the process of looking for and returning to work less stressful and overwhelming.

Along with my co-workers, we developed these top six recommendations for MilSpouses who are seeking employment. I will address each of these steps in the next five posts. These tips work for all stages of your career path.

  1. Brainstorm Your Work History and Skills
  2. Develop a Working Resume
  3. Visit Your Local Workforce Development Agency/Employment Commission
  4. Create a LinkedIn Profile
  5. Join a Military Spouse Employment Group
  6. Be Flexible

Brainstorming Your Work History and Skills

 

Some of you may say, well wait a second, I haven’t worked in ___ months/years/ever. Or, I have been out of the workforce for over ___ months/years, or even; my degree/certification doesn’t match what I really want to do now, I think I covered them all, if not, not to worry, you can still create a killer resume.  Grab a sheet of paper, a cup of coffee and about 30 minutes of free time and a quiet place to think. Ask yourself these questions, what do you do at home to keep things running smoothly on a day to day basis? What about while your spouse is deployed, TDY, underway, or on duty? Do you volunteer for the command, at an outside public or private entity? If you don’t have a long work history, but plenty of volunteer experience, you have work experience! Paying bills, making sure everyone is where they are supposed to be and on time, working a soup kitchen or bake sale? Translate those skills to: bookkeeping and financial management, time management and organizational skills; good communication and written skills, fundraising. See where we are going here? Just because you may not have had a solid 8-5, you still have skills that are utilized in the workforce; you just have to know how to word them. If you have been volunteering on a consistent basis, while financially uncompensated, that still falls under employment, and can be used to show work history, and skills.  If you have work experience, list the employer and duties in chronological order going back 10 years. This process can take a couple of days or even weeks, don’t feel overwhelmed. Your resume is your “face” to the employer until you land the interview; you want to show your best. In the next post we will look at determining which style resume is best suited for you and how to create it.

Until next time;

Empowered Women, empower Women

 

**** Welcome**** to our newest blog teammate Keadra Young-Bogardus!

Keadra is a USN wife by way of Kalamazoo, Michigan who is currently stationed in Northeast Ohio with her husband who is a recruiter. Her background is in Law Enforcement; however, degrees in Sociology and Public Administration brought her to the world of Workforce Development. Keadra’s hobbies include fostering her budding business Kubed, LLC a training and consulting agency, and raising their daughter.

Settling Into a New Duty Station

Lately, I have been hearing about many spouses having a difficult time finding work and adjusting to an unfamiliar duty station. I am here to share a couple tips that I found to be most useful to me (in no particular order):

  • If possible, use resources that are available to you to get a head start to know the area that  is surrounding you.
    • At our current base, we have access to the Fleet and Family Center. This facility has an abundance of resources (and people!) to help you with your needs or wants. Sometimes, they offer FREE classes on certain topics like New Parent Support, Budgeting for Baby, Resume Writing, and New Spouse Orientation, just to name a few.
    • Use Social Media if you can! Prior to us moving, I sought out the local spouses’ Facebook group page. I found information on what to do in the surrounding areas and made new friends.
    • Ask your spouse to get you in contact with the Ombudsman (if applicable) at your spouse’s new command. He or she may also have some pertinent information for you and your family to assist in the adjustment.

  • When you get to your new duty station, if you are able, go exploring with you and your family member(s)! Make some new memories by finding some local shopping or cuisine. Talk to locals about some common questions you may have!

  • Besides wandering around looking for “Now Hiring” signs, you can look on websites for the local newspapers and set up the automatic search function on job websites. Most of the time, it is FREE!
  • Get in touch with the region liaison for USAJOB’s “Program S”. To briefly summarize: this program will allow spouses (on military orders) to be matched up with job openings based on their interests and qualifications. A resource that can help point you in the right direction would be somewhere like the Fleet and Family Center, as mentioned above.
  • Open yourself to additional interests that can lead to a broad range of job opportunities. I currently have my Associate’s degree in Web Publishing, but have not found employment that aligns with my wants and/or qualifications. Instead, I have looked to expanding into my other interests such as Real Estate, physical fitness, and photography. I can take my knowledge of Web Publishing and incorporate it into Real Estate, specialty fitness classes, and use photography as a marketing tool.

  • Volunteer! It is a way to get to know the area or lead to a path of employment! (Not to mention to pass the time while your spouse is deployed!) I volunteered with my daughter’s new school to get to know the school staff and found out that they were hiring for a position! You do not know until you try and it allows you to expand on other interests and hobbies.

There you have it! Those are a couple of tips to help you with settling into a new duty station or finding employment!

 

***Welcome**** To our newest Blog Teammate Tiffany Kyall!!!

Tiffany Kyall is a fellow Navy spouse trying to find the balance between military family life and building her own career. Interests include but not limited to: technology, photography, real estate, and fitness.

PCSing to Paradise

As I sit here on the couch, I notice there’s still a moving sticker, barely visible on the underside of my dining room table. I’m laughing because we have lived here for two years. But that’s how it is in the military. You’re never fully settled, and just when you think you are, you get orders. The move to Hawaii was especially painful and complicated. I’m hoping this list will help you learn from my mistakes and have an easier PCS to Paradise.

 

  1. Do NOT wait to do the pet requirements. You will need shots, blood work, and then a waiting period that must be met before your pet can come. This took us all together, about 5 months. Also, it costs you money out of pocket. The Army will only reimburse you for the Hawaii Government fees. Not the flight costs and not for the shots or blood work.
  2. Document your possessions! This will involve detailed pictures as well as serial numbers. It’s a pain. A safe of ours got damaged and because they didn’t document the serial number on it correctly, they refused to pay.
  3. Your personal documents. Get a file folder to take all of the documents you may need. Keep all of your travel and in-processing paperwork in there. This includes professional documents you might need for a job. Your HG may take over a month.
  4. Get on lists. In Hawaii, you can live on base at any branch and they will allow you to get on the housing list before you arrive. Also, get on daycare lists if you have small children.
  5. Join the local spouse Facebook pages. They will give you the DL on stuff to do, places to live, work, etc.
  6. Prepare for a LONG flight. Traveling with kids is always a nightmare from which you can’t wake up, but this is worse. You cannot have enough kid entertainment and Benedryl (j/k).  We were on a plane for 10 hours with an 18 month old and an hour before we landed my husband literally said, “we’re not having any more kids.”
  7. Shipping a second vehicle can be stressful. We sent my husband’s Jeep from Georgia to Hawaii for $2000, which was cheaper than buying a second car here. However, there are lots of awesome “lemon lot” options on the island for cheap cars. We used a company we found on google and they had a truck pick the Jeep up at our house and take it to the boat in California. We didn’t have to do anything. It took 2 weeks to get to Oahu.
  8. Prepare yourself for a long hotel stay. You may get a house right away, but we were in the hotel for over a month and we did not pack accordingly for that. If you get a house before your HG arrives, you can get loaner furniture from housing. Fair warning, it’s basically patio furniture, but it works.

 

I hope this list can help my fellow spouses plan accordingly for their adventure to Hawaii! Aloha y’all!

PCSing Checklist

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It can be intimidating when you find out you’re being stationed somewhere new. Even more so, for those of us who have kids. Because of this, I decided to create a checklist of all the things to do when arriving at a new duty station.

 

  1. Housing. Are you planning to live on post or off? If you’re planning to live on, call the housing office immediately when you get orders. Some places will let you sit on the waiting list before you actually arrive. If living off post, decide if you want to rent or buy. If you need help deciding, see my other post on the pros and cons of buying. If you are planning to buy, it’s best to set up your loan prequalificaton and paper work before you leave your current location. This way all of your documents can already be in and you don’t have to worry about it as much in transit. Also, contact a realtor and let them know you’re coming so they can start getting listings together.
  2. Transportation. You won’t be able to make any other plans until you set up your transportation. Are you going to drive? Are you OCONUS and require shipping a vehicle? Do you need a flight? If you are shipping a car make sure you don’t have any recalls on it immediately. Also, consider how you plan to transport your pets and what the out of pocket expense will be to you, if any.
  3. Movers! In some areas, the moving companies need as much notice as possible. We had a friend wait until the last minute and we ended up having to meet his movers for him after he had already reported to the next post.
  4. Finance. Visit finance and make sure you understand how your lodging assistance is processed. (TLA or TLE for Army) Do you need a government travel card? Do you know the rules of how to use it?
  5. Kids. If you have young kids call the Childcare Centers ASAP. If there is a waitlist, many places will let you go ahead and get on it before arriving.
  6. Job. If you’re a working spouse, look into the job market in the area. Update your LinkedIn to that location and make it searchable. This way the jobs may find you before you even apply.
  7. Network with other wives! Get on the Facebook pages for the area and start asking questions. Ask about good areas to live. What’s fun to do? School? In general, wives love to help other wives.

 

Comment on the Post with your Pro-Tips!

If you need help getting prequalified for a home loan, I can help! Just contact me on here or through my work website. https://www.thefederalsavingsbank.com/bankers/christina-baker

Using Your VA Loan

 

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The VA loan is an awesome tool available to military members. But, buying a home is a scary and confusing process for a lot of us.  What follows  is a quick rundown what the VA loan is and how you can use it.

Lifetime Access

You can use it more than once! Although, you do get the best deal the first time you use it.

0% Down

Traditional loans typically require a buyer to provide at least 3 to 5 percent of the homes
price as a down payment. For many first-time home buyers, supplying this amount of money upfront may not be feasible. The VA Loan does not require a down payment. Another big plus is that there is no mortgage insurance required.
Refinancing
VA Allows up to 100% cash-out refinancing for currently owned homes.
VA Streamline Refinance

Veterans with current VA mortgage can refinance to a lower rate without appraisal or employment verification.
First Time Buyers
The best financing available for first-time home buyers.

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Buying vs. Renting

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When it comes to buying vs. renting the choice can be hard. It really depends on your personal finances and what your goals are. Here are some quick pros and cons to consider.

Renting/On post Pros

  • No paying for your own maintenance
  • Free yard care on post
  • No monetary commitment when you PCS aside from deposits.

Renting Cons

  • Rental payments may increase when you renew lease
  • Landlord approval needed for any
    changes
  • No capitalization; your money
    disappears forever
  •  Rental is temporary

Buying Pros

  • Excellent tax deductions for your mortgage on interest paid
  • Mortgage payments could be fixed Decorate and make changes, without
    prior approval
  • The value of your property may increase
    over time
  • Your house will become a home, not a
    temporary living situation; you are not at
    the mercy of a landlord
  • Rental income when you PCS

Buying Cons

  • May not sell immediately when you PCS
  • Having renters can be good or bad
  • All maintenance is on you

Talk to your family about which pros are most important to you!

*All opinions on this site are our own and do not constitute legal advice.

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