Deployment can be a stressful time for military service members and their families. There’s a lot of emotional anxiety that comes with being separated from each other for extended periods of time and the dangers that may be faced.
With all of that going on, as well as the stress that continues throughout the deployment, the last thing you need to worry about is finances. It’s important to get things in order as much as possible before deployment to make it easier to manage from a distance.
Thanks to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), there are a few things that will make life a little easier.
- Service members in active duty are eligible have their loans and credit cards capped at 6 percent interest. These must be debts you incurred prior to entering active military duty. You’ll need to notify your lender in writing and provide a copy of your military orders.
- You have the ability to break your lease without additional penalty if you’re called into active duty. You’re also eligible for certain protections that may prevent a potential eviction, even if you’ve fallen behind on your rent.
So, what do you need to do before and during deployment to manage your money? Here are a few things you may want to consider:
Manage Your Credit Score
Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion allow you to place a freeze on your credit with an “Active Duty” alert. If you’re single and no one will be using your credit cards while you’re gone, you should consider this option to protect yourself from identity theft while you’re deployed. The same goes for your bank accounts. You can place your accounts on “Deployment Alert” so that your bank can monitor any activity and safeguard your accounts.
Sign Up for Online Bill Pay
Getting all your bills and having access to your accounts to pay them online will make life a little easier and keep you from getting hit with fees and extra charges. For the bills that are the same amount every month, you can set those up to pay automatically from your bank account while you’re gone. Just choose the day of the month you want the payment sent. Set up as many of your payments in advance so you have less to think about while you’re gone.
Another way to manage your budget is by taking advantage of pay allotment options offered by the military. This will automatically set aside money for specific uses. You can set up allotment funds to take care of insurance, loans, mortgage or rent, child support, and payments to dependents.
Maintain Your Pre-Deployment Budget
Deployment usually means deployment benefits, a little extra money coming your way. While it may be tempting to spend it on things you want, paying off debt or putting it aside for an emergency is probably the better option. Adding it to your monthly budget will just make it harder to return to your pre-deployment budget when you return home.
If you have family at home, catching up on the day-to-day life that you’re missing is fine. But stay in touch about financial matters too. Keep in touch with your spouse about any unexpected expenses, repairs, and any other financial matters so that you can discuss them together and decide how they should be handled.
Deployment is stressful enough. Help reduce the stress you’re already feeling by managing your money before and during deployment. It’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about while you’re away.
If you need personalized advice and one-on-one guidance, consider speaking with a debt and budget counselor. Counseling is free and available 24/7.