Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on March 3, 2003. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Prepare financial matters before military deployment
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- With the threat of war looming and thousands of Mississippians being called to military duty, experts encourage families to plan ahead for their financial obligations during a deployment.
When making financial preparations, consider current salary, lifestyle and financial responsibilities.
"The first thing to consider is whether or not the spouse staying at home is comfortable paying bills and taking care of other financial obligations. If they're not comfortable with that, we recommend setting up allotments, direct deposits and automatic bill payments," said Keesler Air Force Base deployment expert Master Sergeant John Lowe.
Another option is to set up automatic transfers with utility, cable, telephone and other service providers. This means funds will automatically be deducted from a specified banking account when the payment is due.
Lowe said being prepared for a deployment is an important responsibility for members of the military.
"Preparing ahead alleviates stress, which allows the member being deployed to focus on the mission instead of having to worry about the family back home," he said.
By reviewing past income and expenses, families can prepare a budget that will allow them to have the things they need while the military member is away from home.
"The best money management system for any family is the one that works," advised Mississippi State University Extension Service family resource management specialist Jan Lukens. "Some families benefit from more detailed record-keeping, while others can keep up with financial matters with more informal methods."
Key to any good money management system or budget is understanding.
"It's very important that both of you understand the system you have so you both know what to expect," Lukens said, emphasizing that budgeting does not necessarily mean cutting back on spending.
"Budgeting doesn't have to be perceived as negative; it can actually be very positive," she said. "Keeping track of income and expenses can help you achieve your goals and maintain the lifestyle with which you are comfortable."
Keep important documents in a booklet or file in the home, and make sure both spouses are familiar with the contents. Contents should include:
- Power of attorney documents, which allow the spouse at home to handle the deployed spouse's financial matters during the deployment;
- A net worth statement listing all assets and financial liabilities of the family;
- The family's budget statement;
- A household inventory, such as a room-by-room list describing all household items;
- Personal and professional directories, which list key people who would need to be contacted in the event of a crisis, both personally and professionally;
- An important document inventory, including wills for both spouses, power of attorney documents and other legal documents, titles to property, deeds and records of financial assets. List not only the information, but also where the documents can be located, along with contact names and phone numbers.
"These are the types of things everyone should consider because we don't know what will happen to us," Lukens said. "This is especially important for families who are experiencing a life change, such as deployment. They need to have a handle on their financial matters in the event that one spouse is unavailable or even lost to the family."
Review financial obligations and make arrangements in advance for any loans that may be needed. The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act of 1940 aids military families in lowering interest rates on various loans, including mortgages, credit cards and school loans.
Forms available from military base financial managers can help get interest rates down to 6 percent or lower. Some bases also provide one-on-one budget counseling for military members and their families.