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Consumer Watch: Cut out the clutter before PCS season heats up

Apr. 28, 2011 - 04:23PM   |   Last Updated: Apr. 28, 2011 - 04:23PM  |  
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If you're moving this summer, here are three words you should consider: Purge, purge, purge! If there are things you've outgrown, don't need or don't want, don't drag them with you to your next duty station.

Get rid of them.

It makes sense in so many ways — financially, environmentally, and in just plain simplifying your life.

If you're close to your household goods weight allowance, those few extra boxes of books and clothes could boost you over the limit and cost you money, since you have to pay to ship pounds in excess of what the government allows. Here are some options:

Throw it out. If it's trash, put it where it belongs.

Pass it on. Rather than moving that bulky outdoor play set your kids no longer use, for example, pass it on to another military family. Or check with your base chaplain or local churches or synagogues outside the gate to see if they know of a family who might be able to use it.

Lots of families pass along their plants to neighbors when they're not able to transport them.

Have a big yard sale, perhaps teaming up with your neighbors. Some installations have been holding monthly yard sales as the permanent change-of-station busy season approaches, which makes it easy for families.

Visit your installation's thrift store or consignment store, or a similar store outside the gate. You receive a percentage of the selling price, and the rest of the proceeds from on-base thrift shops go to causes such as scholarships for military children, a military relief society or other charitable efforts.

Some installations have shops where you can donate items to help military families in need.

Consider selling items on eBay or Craigslist. The fledgling military classified site, www.sargeslist.com is just a few months old but is gaining momentum. Buyers can browse for items by installation, so your unneeded item may be just the ticket for someone moving to your area. And you might find something you need for pennies on the dollar at your next installation.

Donate your items to a local charity, such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill. You can generally drop off things such as clothes and books, but check for hours of operation. If you want to deduct the donation on your taxes, make sure you get a receipt.

Some charities will send trucks to pick up certain items, such as furniture, but they may require advance notice, so give yourself enough time before your move to schedule the pickup.

Not only might you pick up a few bucks or a tax deduction for selling or donating items, but you might avoid having to pay extra if you're over your weight limit.

May case lot sales If you're moving this summer, you may not want to stock up on bulky items at your commissary's case lot sale. But if your move is behind you, check out www.commissaries.com to find out when the case lot sale is coming to a store near you — just click "Case Lot Sales" under "Shopping" to see when your store is having its sale.

While commissaries generally offer savings of about 30 percent, these case lot sales, held in May and September, provide savings of 50 percent or more.

Just make sure you have space to store what you buy, that you'll be able to use everything before it expires ... and that your car is big enough to get your purchases home! Summer exchange catalog If you need some tools to help you enjoy your summer while staying closer to home — such as grills and patio sets, for example — check out the 36-page Outdoor Living Exchange Catalog for eligible exchange customers in all branches of service.

Prices are good through July 5, and officials have emphasized "value pricing" as more people tend to "staycation."

Patio sets range from $199 to $399, and gas grills range from $69 to $499, for example.

The catalogs are available at all main exchange stores and online at www.shopmyexchange.com; www.mynavyexchange.com; www.usmc-mccs.org; and http://www.cg-exchange.com/">www.cg-exchange.com.

Questions? Comments? Email staff writer kjowers@militarytimes.com?subject=Question from ArmyTimes.com reader">Karen Jowers at kjowers@militarytimes.com">kjowers@militarytimes.com.

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