It is easy to think about the financial benefits of deploying, with various extra pays and tax-free pay. However, it is important to make sure that you are financially organized before you go. Even if a deployment isn’t in your immediate future, take these steps to make sure that you are prepared when it happens:
- Build an emergency savings fund. The fund should contain three to six months of living expenses. Include at least $2,000 extra to deal with car repairs, plumbing leaks and other unexpected bills.
- Deputize a trusted friend/family member. Ask someone back home to handle paying bills and other tasks. A power of attorney may be required.
- Create a record of accounts. Take a copy with you when you deploy. If you’re married, make sure both spouses’ names are on all accounts. If you’re single, provide the information to a responsible friend or family member entrusted with power of attorney.
- Eliminate rent and utilities. If you’re single, you may be able to put all the possessions you leave behind into storage, eliminating rent and utilities. If that’s the case, you should consider maintaining rental insurance to protect your belongings.
- Set up automatic deposit, investments and bill payment. For bills that can’t be auto-paid, investigate a bill payment service that will allow you to pay them online from anywhere you have Internet access.
- Prearrange any loans your family might need. Don’t be afraid to ask for lower interest rates that recognize your service to your country. (The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2004 may qualify you to receive a lower interest rate on mortgages and credit card debts and protection from eviction for late rent payments. Plus, you may be able to delay civil legal actions including bankruptcy, foreclosure and divorce.)
- Save receipts. Set up a folder to hold receipts and financial and legal documents in your absence.
- Update life insurance, beneficiaries and wills. This may include investigating special dismemberment benefits available on your life insurance policy and reducing or eliminating coverage on autos that won’t be driven while you are deployed.
- Remember traumatic injury protection. Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance now includes coverage called traumatic injury protection, which can help you and your family if you suffer a traumatic injury.
- Notify creditors and other financial institutions that you are being deployed. Provide them, as well as your stateside deputy, a way to contact you with problems.