Military families have a unique set of financial challenges from frequent moving to lengthy deployment to financial scams that target their families. With a little planning, military families can secure their financial futures and face these challenges head on. Kiplinger’s and the Council of Better Business Bureaus have created a “Field Manual” to help military families develop financial strategies for these challenges. Be sure to check it out and learn about strategies to give you a financial edge.
Here is some information on a few of the topics:
Financial Strategies to Avoid Scams
Military Families are particularly at risk of being the target of financial scams such as predatory lending, identify theft, and affiliation fraud. You can protect yourself by being vigilant about checking your accounts and pulling your credit report. You can even put an active-duty alert on your credit report to have creditors take extra safety measures before extending credit in your name. Also, be wary about companies that are trying to sell you something using their affiliation with the military. Check with your base’s Community Service Office or the Better Business Bureau to be sure that these companies are legitimate.
Military Benefits for Credit Repair, Housing, and Education
Providing service to your country does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Use these military benefits to your financial advantage. Using them will help you get ahead and create a better future for you and your family.
Using the Post 9/11 GI Bill for education expenses
- The GI Bill can pay for four academic years of public college.
- It can be transferred to your spouse or children based on your years of service.
- It can qualify you for extra support through the Yellow Ribbon Program for private school or graduate study.
Credit Help, Interest Rate Deductions, and Other Rights
- For those who qualify, mortgage payments or other loans can be reduced to 6% while in service.
- This could offer great relief and help you pay off more of the principal instead of just interest, especially with credit cards. This is a great benefit for military families who are trying to repay debt.
- Other special rights are available to military families who face an unexpected move. You may qualify to terminate a lease or a cell phone contract when deployed or relocated.
Investment Options and Financial Planning
Use a variety of financial strategies when preparing for retirement–don’t make the mistake of just relying on a pension. Many people don’t serve long enough to qualify, and pensions don’t typically provide enough to cover expenses after retirement. Look at other options that may give you more total savings.
Thrift Savings Plan
- Use the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which has benefits similar to a 401(k). The money you put in is tax-free, but you pay taxes when you withdraw.
- Start early. The longer you invest money, the larger your savings will be when you retire.
- Use a Roth IRA for tax-free withdrawals in retirement. This is a good option for people in the military, because their tax-bracket now is probably lower than it will be later, minimizing the tax they pay.
- The Roth IRA has a $5,000 yearly contribution limit but offers penalty-free withdrawals if you need to take some out before retirement.
- Double tax savings: If you earn tax-exempt combat-zone pay and put it in your Roth IRA, that money will never be taxed.
Other topics covered in the manual include:
- Saving Strategies
- Financial Fraud
- Pre and Post-Deployment Strategies
- Real Estate
- Return to Civilian Life
- A Collection of Financial Resources for Military Families
In-depth information about these financial strategies is available in the “Financial Field Manual: The Personal Finance Guide for Military Families” here. The guide was created by the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine.