Before you deploy, you’ll want to set time aside to coordinate your financial obligations and plan your financial readiness. It may seem overwhelming, but the Real Warriors Campaign’s latest article, “Preparing Your Finances Before Deployment,” provides practical money management tips to help you organize your funds before you leave and maintain financial readiness while you’re away. Tips include:
■Choose a financial observer. To help you manage your finances while deployed, choose someone like your spouse, parent or other responsible person whom you trust, to oversee your finances.
■Establish a power of attorney and draft a will.
While you’re deployed, it may be necessary for someone to make decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney will allow you to legally grant a selected individual to act on your behalf. Also, draft or update your will to ensure your property is handled as you intend in case of death. For assistance preparing your power of attorney or will, contact the legal office on base or use the U.S. Armed Forces Legal Assistance locator to find legal help near you.
■Update your record of emergency data and life insurance. Your safety during deployment is important, but it’s also essential to make arrangements for your property and benefits to be transferred in case of serious injury or death. Before you deploy, review your Record of Emergency Data to make sure it’s current. This is used to contact next-of-kin, designate a beneficiary to receive certain military benefits and identify an individual to coordinate funeral arrangements. Also, update your Servicemembers Group Life Insurance form, which identifies the legal beneficiary for your payment in case of death.
■Understand your entitlements. You may be eligible for extra pay through deployment entitlements, so check with your unit administrative section or visit Military OneSource to learn more.
■Establish a budget. Although you may have extra income during a deployment, you and your family should try to live on your pre-deployment income by keeping a spending budget. For help developing a budget, complete a Military OneSource Financial Management Plan. Or visit MyMoney.gov for other budgeting tools such as a daily spending diary, monthly payment calendar and a spending plan worksheet.
■Pay your bills on time. While you’re deployed, you’re still accountable for financial obligations at home. To stay on track and avoid late payments, set up automatic bill payments prior to deployment. Your bank, credit union or other financial institution can help you.
■Create a savings plan. Deployments are an ideal time to start saving by getting in the habit of setting money aside to prepare for unexpected financial challenges. See if you’re eligible to take advantage of savings programs like the Defense Department Savings Deposit Program and Thrift Savings Plan.
■Communicate. Communication with your spouse or financial overseer while you’re deployed is critical to staying informed of your financial readiness. Establish a communication plan before you deploy so you can discuss how bill payments, major purchases and other financial decisions will be handled.
■Know your rights. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers a wide variety of protection and financial relief for active-duty service members, including activated members of the National Guard and reserve, during deployment. Contact your nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program using the military legal assistance office locator to see if the act applies to you.