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Managing Financial Challenges During Deployment

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro/Released

Source: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro/Released

Balancing the demands of deployment with financial obligations can be stressful and challenging. Using the following money management tips and resources while you are deployed can help you keep your financial health in check and prevent financial-related stress that could eventually lead to debt, relationship challenges or psychological health concerns such as depression or substance misuse.1

This is the second article in a three part series that helps you manage your finances throughout the deployment cycle. If you’re deployed and want to put your finances in order, it’s not too late! To get started, read the Real Warriors Campaign article, “Preparing Your Finances Before Deployment.” Many of the suggestions and tools highlighted in this article can still be useful in preparing your finances while deployed, including selecting a financial overseer, understanding entitlements, establishing a budget, paying your bills on time, creating a savings plan and developing a communication plan with your financial overseer to maintain awareness of your financial health.

Follow Your Financial Management Plan

Before you deployed, you and your family may have created a financial plan to follow while you’re away. If not, you can still create a spending plan. Although you may have extra income through deployment entitlements, you and your family should aim to live according to the spending budget established before your deployment. By sticking to a financial plan, you will be able to save money for emergencies or pay off credit cards and other debt.

If you exceed your monthly budget, get back on track as soon as possible. To help you recover from overspending, try these tips:

  • Re-evaluate your original spending plan and identify the reason or reasons for exceeding it. By determining the cause for overspending, you can help your family recover and prevent it in the future.2
  • Develop a new spending plan and be sure to account for any debt incurred from overspending.
  • Download “Getting out of Debt, A Step by Step Guide” [PDF 926.6KB] from Military OneSource for additional information and resources on recovering from debt. The guide provides a four-step process to reducing your debt, including: making a commitment to fix your debt problem, stopping debt spending, making a spending plan and paying down debts on a monthly basis. The guide also provides information on support resources and understanding bankruptcy and credit records.3

For one-on-one assistance with budgeting, contact your home installation’s Personal Financial Management Program (PFMP). PFMP counselors can help you readjust your budget, develop a repayment plan to eliminate debt and contact creditors to coordinate a repayment strategy. These financial specialists often work through Army Community Services, Airman and Family Readiness Center, Navy Fleet and Family Services and Marine and Family Programs. To contact a PFMP counselor at your installation, visit the MilitaryINSTALLATIONS database, select the Personal Financial Management Program and enter your installation name or postal code.

Track Your Bill Payments

You may have set up automatic bill payments or asked your spouse, a family member or other trusted individual to serve as your financial overseer and manage your bill payments. Each month, you should log-in to your automatic bill pay or check-in with your financial overseer to make sure your bills are paid on time and in full. To help you monitor bill payments, keep an ongoing checklist of your bills and track when payments clear.5 For information on arranging automatic bill payment and notifications, contact your bank, credit union or other financial institution. During deployment, you are still responsible for paying your bills back at home. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, you are required to meet your financial commitments in a timely manner.4

Stay in Touch

While you’re deployed, be sure to communicate with your spouse or financial overseer about your financial health. Follow the communications plan that you and your family or financial overseer established before deployment or set up a plan now. Together, you can address financial decisions or challenges while you’re away and maintain awareness of your financial health. Communication about financial matters will help ease financial stress and allow you and your spouse to stay in control of your financial health and future.

Seek Help in Financial Emergencies

If you are experiencing stress because of financial difficulties, resources are available to you and your family. Non-profit organizations exist for each service branch to assist with financial emergencies. You may be eligible to receive debt help, money management advice and emergency financial assistance in the form of grants and interest-free loans through the following organizations:

Get Additional Help Managing Your Finances

If you find that you are experiencing stress due to financial concerns, several resources are available to help you find assistance.

  • Military OneSource offers financial counseling to assist with basic money management and savings plans, as well as dealing with debt and financial emergencies. For service members and their immediate families unable to attend in person counseling, Military OneSource will provide telephone consultations. For further information, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or visit the Military OneSource Money Management webpage.
  • Personal Financial Management Program (PFMP) is offered by each of the services and components to help service members successfully plan their financial futures. The PFMP provides classes, one-on-one counseling sessions and additional guidance to you and your family about topics such as consumer rights, debt liquidation assistance and financial stability. The program can also assist you with coordinating with emergency relief organizations for financial assistance. To locate a PFMP near you, search the Military INSTALLATIONS website for “Personal Financial Management Services.”
  • VeteransPlus provides free, confidential financial education counseling to service members and veterans to encourage financial discipline and prevent you from experiencing the negative consequences of financial mismanagement. For more information or to join VeteransPlus, visit www.veteransplus.org or call 888-488-8767.

Reaching Out Is a Sign of Courage and Strength

Stress is a common reaction throughout the deployment cycle for warriors of every service and component. If you’re experiencing stress related to financial concerns, don’t hesitate to contact the Psychological Health Resource Center through the Real Warriors Campaign Live Chat or by calling 866-966-1020 or emailing resources@dcoeoutreach.org. Trained health resource consultants are available for free 24/7 to help you find resources on resilience, recovery and reintegration.

Additional Resources

Sources

1VeteransPlus Program,” VeteransPlus. Last accessed June 18, 2014.
2Personal Financial Readiness,” Air Force Personnel Center. Last accessed June 18, 2014.
3Getting out of Debt, A Step by Step Guide," [PDF 926.6KB], Military Saves. Last accessed June 18, 2014.
4Personal Financial Management Programs for Servicemembers,” Military OneSource. Last accessed June 18, 2014.
5How Service Members Can Stay Fiscally Fit During Deployment," Military OneSource. Last accessed June 18, 2014.

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