Deployment is often a difficult part of military life for service members and their families. Consider these eight tips for a smooth deployment and return.
1. Review the policies, benefits, and beneficiary information for your financial accounts. This includes your insurance, investment portfolio, military benefit package, and more.
2. See if you qualify for tax-free or hazardous duty pay. Every little bit helps, and you can use this extra cash to build up a savings account, emergency fund, or pay off outstanding debt.
3. Know your rights with the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA). If you took out a loan before you were called to active duty, you could qualify for a rate cap as soon as you’re activated. This also applies to members of the National Guard and Reserves.
4. Make use of allotments and other forms of automatic bill payments for the costs you’ll need to cover while you’re away.
5. Consider legal matters like power of attorney and your living will.
6. Be prepared for your reduced pay by reviewing all the items you spend money on and creating a budget. This includes developing a spending and savings plan and organizing your debt. Your plan may include consolidating debt, reducing discretionary spending, and even getting rid of unnecessary services.
7. If you were able to save money while deployed, pay off what obligations you can. Then, depending on your cash flow needs, pay down either the debt with the highest interest rate (so you’ll pay the least interest), or the debt with the highest monthly payment (giving you extra cash each month).
8. Check your savings to see if you have a solid emergency fund worth about six months of expenses. If you don’t, work on building that up. If you do, divert some of the money to a longer-term savings option, like your Blended Retirement Plan.
Deployment comes with many extra challenges and stressors. By being prepared and following these tips, you can limit the added stress that comes with financial challenges and focus on your other priorities.