This is a guest post, written by Heather Lomax. Check the bottom of this post for her bio.
Do you know the terms of your life insurance policy? Are you confident in your bank’s ability to handle your money? And have you set up a monthly budget?
When you’re taking care of a family or managing a household, the answers to these questions should always be in your back pocket in case of emergency. However, it becomes even more important when your spouse is deployed overseas and suddenly you’re alone with all these payments. That’s why you two need to discuss all the ins and outs of your financial situation well before the day comes for your spouse’s deployment.
Have Budget Meetings with Your Spouse
Before deployment, make sure you’re on the same page as your spouse and compare finances. Do you plan to work while your spouse is overseas? How do you plan to allot bill payments? Do you and your spouse have emergency funds in your savings accounts?
Depending on your answers to these questions, you’ll have to rely more on government aid or budget more money aside per month with your spouse away. One benefit is to take advantage of the Savings Deposit Program (SDP). It is eligible to those in the armed forces serving in combat zones and pays 10% on all funds deposited in the first year served in the combat zone.
Keep in mind that with one less person in the house, you’ll also save money on things like food and gas. Balance out these factors well before the deployment date, and you’ll run into fewer issues down the line.
Discounts, Discounts, Discounts
Taking advantage of discounts can also help you budget, and fortunately, there are a lot of benefits to being a military spouse. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers active duty service members exclusive benefits like reduced interest auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards. Many auto insurance companies are also willing to cut payments significantly for your spouse’s stored vehicle.
Staying on a military base also has its perks; the stores boast competitively priced items to those found in town, and everything is tax-free. Combine these savings with coupons, and you’ll be able to reduce spending significantly while your spouse is away.
Set Up Direct Deposit with a Reliable Bank
Unfortunately, not every bank is going to be sensitive to the unique situation of being a serviceman or woman. With your spouse outside the country, you’ll want to know that there will be a few issues as possible with their accounts while they’re away, or if problems do arise, it can be easily handled.
Federal credit unions like Navy, Andrews, and Air Force are some of the best financial institutions for servicemen and women. And USAA isn’t just a popular option for insurance, but they also offer checking and savings accounts as well. Whichever bank you decide on, just make sure you request electronic statements to better keep track of bills and finances. And finally, get yourself listed as a joint account holder so you have the authorization to receive account information and make any necessary changes.
Designate Power of Attorney
While it’s a difficult thing to consider, it’s a necessity; combat zones are dangerous, so there’s always the risk that something could happen to your spouse. With this in mind, having power of attorney is extremely important so there will be a smooth transfer of assets.
Your spouse should also have another friend or family member lined up just in case you end up extremely sick and can’t handle legal matters.
Invest in Life Insurance
Another thing to consider with the high risk of a military career is the importance of a good life insurance policy. If your spouse hasn’t purchased life insurance, now’s the time. Even a $50,000 policy can at least cover the expenses of a funeral and other incidentals, so even a small amount is well worth the investment.
Fortunately, the U.S. military offers active service members of all ages coverage of $400,000 for only $27 per month, with the choice of adding group disability coverage. Be wary, however – if you need supplemental coverage, ensure that the plan covers combat-related death because many will not.
Deployment is a stressful time
But you and your spouse don’t have to make it harder by failing to prepare your finances. While the number of bills, assets, and policies might make your head spin, you both can easily check these tasks off your list with a little teamwork. And by setting up a safety net while they’re away, you’ll keep the bills paid on time and know that your household is in good hands for the day they return.
Heather Lomax is a media relations specialist and a contributing writer for Challenge Coins Ltd. She writes for a variety of military lifestyle blogs, discussing best approaches to dealing with deployment and navigating life as a military spouse.