Top 5 Crucial Money Moves to Make Before a Deployment
Deployments are already stressful enough on a family. You don’t want to add financial woes to it. A deployment is a time to get your financial house in order. You can ease some of your family’s worries by making sure that you’re financially ready before the deployment starts.
Here are five moves you need to make before a deployment to ensure that your family’s finances are squared away.
Review Your Family’s Monthly Budget
Things are going to change when you deploy. Your family’s monthly expenses might go down with your service member gone. Or, you might find yourself not wanting to cook a lot more nights and eating out more.
You probably also receive new benefits and entitlements such as hazardous duty pay. There may be more disposable income every month, and every dollar is needed at home. You should update your monthly written budget and put this new money to work by paying down debt, building up your emergency fund, or increasing contributions to your retirement accounts.
You’ll want to take a look at your budget before a deployment and make sure that you have everything wired tight. At the very least, go back over it after the new deployment allowances kick in.
Set All Your Bills to Automatic Payment
Automatically paying your bills will ensure that you don’t miss a payment and ding your credit score. Setting up the automatic payments can also be helpful if your spouse who stays at home isn’t the primary bill payer in the family.
Update Your Will
This is a mandatory step at most military installations on their pre-deployment checklist. But, a lot of service members skip the step if they already have one.
Remember that you should update your will when you have new life events such as getting married, the birth of a child, the death of a guardian such as your parents, or something major like that. So, it’s worth digging out the will from your fireproof safe and having a look at it now that a deployment is coming up. Do you need to update it?
Know Your Account Logins and Passwords
If you’re like me, I’m the primary financial planner of the family. But, when I go away on deployment, the financial duties of the family fall on my wife’s shoulders.
She has to know exactly how to log in to every account we have. There are some accounts that aren’t joint in both of our names. These are individual accounts. There have been a few times where I’ve called her from remote locations trying to help her to log into an account for a bill that she needs to pay or an investment to double check. You need to make sure that you’re ready and able to login to all of your family’s accounts before the deployment starts.
Get the Right Powers of Attorney
It’s often a nightmare to get new ones made and mailed home from down range.
Now more than ever, financial institutions seem to be a gun shy about powers of attorney. They’ve been burned by the general power of attorney since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq started over a decade ago. Now more than ever you need a special power of attorney to do a lot of functions. Which means the families now have five or six different specials powers of attorney to do all the functions they need to complete.
Make sure that you check with your financial institution about whether they accept the general power of attorney or if you need a specific special power of attorney for the financial activities that you want to take. For example, selling or registering a car often requires a special power of attorney that specifically lists the VIN.
You can take a little bit of worry off your family’s plate before a deployment by making sure that your finances are in order beforehand. Deployments are already a trying time for families. You don’t want to make it needlessly worse.
Do not wait until your service member leaves to realize that you don’t know how to log into an account or know where all the accounts are located or don’t have the proper powers of attorney. You can take several crucial financial steps before the deployment even starts.
About the blogger
Hank Coleman is a major currently on active duty in the U.S. Army and a freelance writer who focuses on personal finance, investing, and retirement. Hank holds a master’s degree in finance and runs the popular personal finance blog, Money Q&A. His writing has been featured on sites such as AOL, The Motley Fool, Military.com, Seeking Alpha, and many others. You can also follow him on Twitter @MoneyQandA.