Plan for Financial Readiness Before Deployment
Financial stability is vital when it comes to personal and family readiness, especially during deployment. Setting a financial plan is particularly important for members of the National Guard and Reserve, who also have incomes from civilian employment. Planning a budget appropriately can help prevent stress and protect against financial and emotional difficulties. When preparing for a deployment, consider the following tips to help improve your financial readiness before you leave, as well as after you return home.1,2
Calculate Your Net Worth
Understanding your net worth provides a general overview of your financial health that is an excellent starting point for any financial planning activity. Your net worth is simply what you owe subtracted from what you own. Calculate your net worth by creating a list of all your assets (what you own) and all your liabilities (what you owe). Also, if you commit to doing this year after year, you’ll have a simple tool to see if you are moving forward financially.
Understand Your Income and Expenses
The next step is to add up your household’s total yearly income (after taxes) and total expenses from the previous year. After you determine these two numbers, subtract your total yearly expenses from your total yearly income to find out your disposable income. Understanding how much disposable income you have will help you plan for extra costs that may arise during a deployment, like additional childcare.
Protect Your Savings
First, calculate how much savings you have. Savings can included money that has been diverted from your paycheck into a 401k, IRA or other retirement account, as well as any money you have put into a savings account at your bank. In an ideal world, you would aim to save 15 percent of your income each year. Even if you can’t afford to save 15 percent of your yearly income, it is important to put some amount of money away each year in case of an emergency or additional spending needs brought on by a deployment.
Give Your Family Access to Accounts
It's important to make your spouse, parent, caregivers of dependent children or close relatives a joint account holder on your financial accounts, so that they are authorized to make any needed changes, deposits or withdrawals while you're away. Remember that joint account holders will also need their own online access to financial accounts and policies.
Protect Your Property Before Deploying
Make sure your insurance policy is up-to-date before you deploy, and let your insurance company know if your home will be unoccupied while you are gone. Make sure you have adequate coverage for your valuable personal property, and if you plan to put your belongings into storage, consider protecting them with renter’s insurance. You can also check with your auto insurance carrier to see if storing your vehicle or removing yourself as an operator can reduce your auto premium.
Establish Life Insurance
Life insurance can be a difficult issue to discuss, but giving your loved ones financial security can help put your mind at ease. The Service Members' and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance policy offers coverage up to $400,000 — this is likely to be adequate for many families. However, members of the National Guard and Reserve with higher incomes or multiple dependents can buy additional coverage if they need it.
Reaching out for Need Based Grants
ReserveAid is a nonprofit organization that provides emergency financial assistance to military families with a member of the National Guard or reserve currently deployed or who has returned from deployment within the past 12 months. To learn more about ReserveAid, apply for financial assistance or read letters from grant recipients on the organization’s impact, visit ReserveAid.org.
Get Additional Help Managing your Finances
Financial stress can lead to emotional difficulties. If you find that you are experiencing stress because of financial issues, several additional programs and resources exist to help Guardsmen and Reservists seek assistance.
Military OneSource offers a wide variety of calculators, booklets, audios, videos and articles in its Money Management section. Users can access financial management resources for areas such as budgeting, savings and dealing with financial emergencies. For further information, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.
Personal Financial Management Programs offered by each of the services and components are designed to help Guardsmen and Reservists successfully plan for their financial futures. Personal Financial Management Programs provide classes, one-on-one counseling sessions and additional guidance about topics including consumer rights, debt liquidation assistance and financial stability.
MyMoney.gov is the U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission’s resource for informing all citizens about the basics of financial management. Guardsmen, Reservists and their families can use the MyMoney.gov Web site to find detailed information about buying a home, balancing checkbooks, investing in retirement funds and other financial decisions that can improve their financial readiness.
Reaching Out Is a Sign of Courage and Strength
Stress is a common reaction throughout the deployment cycle for warriors from every service and component, including members of the National Guard and Reserve. If you’re experiencing stress related to financial concerns, don’t hesitate to contact the DCoE Outreach Center at 866-966-1020 or through Real Warriors Live Chat. Trained health resource consultants are available for free 24/7 to help you find resources for resilience, recovery and reintegration.
- Military.com’s Finance page
- National Resource Directory’s Money Management and Financial Counseling page
- Discuss deployment planning issues in the National Guard and Reserve forum on the Real Warriors Message Boards.