When your spouse leaves on a military assignment, these tips for managing money can help you continue onwards towards your financial goals.
No matter how you and your military spouse divvy up financial tasks, your to-dos are likely to change when they’re deployed. You’ll likely be the main manager of your family’s finances, so it’s important to plan ahead. Follow this guidance before and during your spouse’s deployment, so you can feel financially secure while they’re gone.
Before military deployment
1. Adjust your financial goals: Sit down with your spouse and go over your current goals. Your financial situation is likely to change since military members receive additional pay and allowances depending on the duration and location of their deployment. This gives you an opportunity to get ahead on your goals. Consider putting additional funds towards paying off credit cards, vehicle loans, home renovations, etc. You might even consider consolidating debts so you can work towards paying off multiple loans with one payment.
“During deployments, I have to have a strong financial mindset, as it’s 6-8 months of tax-free money,” said U.S. Bank Digital Banking Lead Amanda Gregory, who has a spouse actively serving in the Navy. “The most important thing you can do before deployment is communicate a plan. “We talk before he leaves about strategy —this time, we’ll pay off credit card debt, pay off a car, home project. Do what works for you.”
2. Create a military deployment budget: Making a budget you and your spouse are both comfortable with is important to do before they leave, especially if they’re being deployed somewhere where they’ll be hard to reach. Decide together how you’ll allocate your money. Will any of your normal expenses change? Is there anything you want to put more or less money into? Keeping an open line of communication now will help you make decisions later on.
“There are all sorts of [budgeting] templates out there, but I just write everything down on paper,” Gregory said. “Creating budget, checking in on it, asking, ‘are you on track to hit those goals you set before deployment?’ You must communicate to know what your goal is during this time frame.”
While your military spouse is deployed
1. Keep an emergency fund: If you already have an emergency fund, consider whether you want to add to it while your spouse is deployed. Is there any emergency that would be more expensive without your spouse there, like paying a repair person for something they would normally fix? If you don’t have an emergency fund, consider using some of the extra money coming in from your spouse’s deployment to build one.
“When my husband leaves, everything breaks! Think about it before it happens,” Gregory said. “Make an emergency fund a target for you, or at least have a credit card for emergency purposes. Communicate, again — what’s the plan in case of an emergency? You can’t always talk to them in the moment, so you should talk about it ahead of time.”
2. Avoid overspending later by saving now: The first few weeks after your military spouse returns from deployment is an exciting time. However, the temptation to celebrate can cause you to spend beyond your budget. Consider setting aside any income from Family Separation Allowance, Combat Zone Tax Exclusion, Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pays or Hardship Duty Pay for a special trip together. Your installation travel office may offer post-deployment deals that include special rates on travel, hotels and excursions.
Learn more about how U.S. Bank supports the military and their families.