Managing finances can be tricky for anyone, but doing so tends to be particularly tricky for service members. Members of the armed forces and their families can receive a number of financial benefits during deployment. However, these benefits often vary depending on a service member’s location.
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While these benefits may change, payments for your car, childcare, and credit card often stay the same. But should benefits decrease, service members can find themselves behind on payments, harming their credit and finances. To keep your finances stable and avoid harming your credit, read on for financial management tips when entering deployment.
Stick to Your Before-Deployment Budget
Typically, troops receive deployment benefits during that deployment. While these funds can be tempting to spend on little treats, you should reserve them. Stick to your pre-deployment budget, saving the extra benefits you get for emergencies or paying off other debts in advance.
Doing so will make it easier to return your budget to normal. It can also help you achieve greater financial stability. You can do this through paying down other debts or creating a greater savings account or emergency fund.
If you currently don’t have a pre-deployment budget, create one. Consider all the bills to maintain while abroad, as well as your current income. It also helps to pretend deployment benefits don’t exist when creating your budget to get a more reserved budget.
Online Bill Pay
One of the biggest struggles for military personnel abroad is making payments on time. When payments go unpaid, they often fall into delinquency. To give yourself a better chance at making on-time payments, sign up for online bill pay. No matter where you are, you can manage your accounts and bills. You can also better manage the allocation of your money.
If you have a spouse at home, be sure to keep in touch about financial matters. Often when service members are abroad, they focus on catching up and enjoying light matters through email, chat, or Skype. However, it is also important to make time to discuss finances when you have the chance to connect.
Talking with your partner about finances helps you stay in the loop, like knowing about any last minute purchases. These can include any looming purchases, such as home or car repairs, that you need to include in the budget. This will prevent any surprise purchases.
Contact Relief Organizations During Emergencies
If you find yourself in a financial crisis, do not be afraid to seek help through a relief agency. The armed forces know how straining service can be on service members, money and otherwise. Therefore, a number of relief agencies exist under each branch to prevent members from complete financial ruin.
If you find yourself struggling with mortgage or credit card payments, don’t let yourself be overwhelmed. If you do, you could dig yourself into an ever bigger hole. So ask for help! Receiving financial assistance presents a much better option than agencies repossessing your car or foreclosing on a home. The following support organizations will help soldiers in their time of need:
- Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
- Coast Guard Mutual Assistance
- Army Emergency Relief
- Air Force Aid Society
Budgeting and borrowing money can also pose some questions, so don’t be afraid to educate yourself. Learning basic money skills is crucial to achieving and maintaining financial stability with ease. The following organizations offer courses in money management, and some even offer higher education and personalized help:
- Military OneSource
- Personal Financial Management Program
Don’t lead yourself to financial ruin simply due to your deployment. Avoiding the situation is no excuse for missing payments, or allowing your bank account to go into the red. In the end, it is the service member’s responsibility to maintain financial stability. But luckily, the government and VA recognize the strain on military members and their families. Take advantage of the numerous support programs and agencies dedicated to helping military members avoid bad finances.
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