I wrote a concise, $5 book summarizing this site. You can buy it here. I track all of my investments with Personal Capital.
For many situations, yes. Taking a pay advance when you PCS is a great way to help yourself out get ahead financially and stay out of debt while you PCS. There are many costs associated with a PCS, not all of which are reimbursed.
A pay advance is a 0% loan to your present self from your future self. You can usually get a month’s pay (BAH + Basic Pay, no BAS or incentive pays usually) advanced to you (with the taxes taken out) and then pay it back over the next 12 months. It’s a fairly painless process that can usually be accomplished through your online finance office or in the finance customer service area on one form. If you only take a month’s pay out and repay it over 12 months, you don’t even need a commander’s signature: it’s automatically approved.
The repayment is taken directly out of each paycheck, so you don’t need to worry about being late on a payment. If you are taking out a month’s pay and paying it back over a year, each paycheck won’t decrease that much (usually less than $200, for most pay grades).
This can be a good option if your PCS coincides with a pay raise from either BAH increase, time in grade pay increase, or a promotion. Because of the pay raise, you’ll still be living on close to what you were making previously, but have you’ll have a few extra thousands of dollars in the bank. This can be perfect for getting your emergency fund started, paying down high interest loans so you can move towards debt freedom, or just to meet your savings goals.
Many people are opposed to accumulating debt in any form and generally I agree with them. Paying down high interest credit card debt, student loans, and car loans are a great way to create more cash flow every month and to start building a solid financial foundation. The pay advance is a great way to get access to a good amount of cash at 0% interest and then quickly pay it back over a year.
The #1 Website I Use to Achieve Financial Independence Faster
I have investment accounts all over the place. To keep track of all of them in one place I use Personal Capital. It combines all of my accounts, shows me where I may be overpaying in fees, and provides beautiful charts showing my overall asset allocation and performance.
I use Personal Capital to track my Roth and Traditional TSP, Vanguard IRAs, banking accounts, SDP, and my Betterment taxable account, all in one place. It's free, secure and presents me with a one-stop dashboard so I can see all my money on one site.
Read my full review of Personal Capital and see how easy it can be to manage your investments in one place. Trust me, once you try it, you'll love it.
P.S. - If you have over $100,000 of assets and a 401k, you really need to run the Personal Capital 401k Fee Analyzer.