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There are a million things to think about before you are deployed, and one of the most pressing is money. The Department of Defense has stated that military servicemen and women cannot be combat-ready when their finances are not well-managed. Not to mention, if you are financially responsible for others, you want to make sure your family is financially secure while you’re away. As part of your pre-deployment preparedness, create a financial checklist to help make the process easier.
Take a Financial Inventory
Create a list of all of your savings, checking, investment, and loan accounts, including due dates. List the names and phone numbers for all of the financial institutions that hold your accounts. (Whether it is paper or electronic, make sure to keep your list is a secure area). It is also a good idea to include any insurance policies and contact information for those policies; don’t forget to include insurance products you purchased in connection with loans.
After you make your financial inventory list, determine who else has access to the accounts. For example, your Marine FCU checking account may be a joint account, but your Marine FCU credit card associated with the same account could be an individual credit card. If you have friends or family that will be helping you with your finances during deployment, it’s important to know what information they can access and what accounts they can use.
Determine if you need a Power of Attorney
If you feel that someone needs access to your accounts in your absence, you may want to consider a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney gives another person, called an Attorney in Fact (AIF), authorization to act in your name. The document must be specific regarding the access you want to give to the AIF. Powers of Attorney can be very helpful during periods of deployment. If any unforeseen situations arise involving your finances, your AIF can make inquiries and decisions on your behalf while you’re away. It’s always a good idea to speak to base legal before issuing a Power of Attorney, though, to ensure you understand the risks and benefits. You are responsible for anything your AIF does in your name, so choose someone you trust.
Simplify Things by Consolidating Your Debt
To lighten the burden on yourself, your spouses, or anyone who may be assisting with your finances, consider consolidating your bills where possible. It’s also a good idea to close unnecessary or seldom used accounts to avoid potential fraud/account take-over.
Set Up Automated Payments
Set up recurring, automatic payments on things like the mortgage, auto loans, credit cards, utilities, life insurance, etc., to avoid delinquent payments and other problems. MFCU@home bill-pay service can assist with this. For some of your creditors, MFCU’s bill-pay service can even receive the bill and schedule the payments for you. And if you have access to your mobile device while you are deployed, you can review and manage your bill-pays from the app.
Take Advantage of Special Savings Opportunities
These are savings programs that allow service members who are stationed in a combat zone for a minimum 30 days to deposit either tax-deferred funds or funds that earn above-average interest. Take advantage of the opportunity to grow your money while you’re away:
The SDP (short for Savings Deposit Program) will earn money deposited (up to $10,000) ten-percent interest annually.
The TSP (short for Thrift Savings Plan) is like a 401K, but for active service members. Like a 401K, money deposited is tax-deferred.
Marine FCU also offers a Deployment Club Savings share to help you save money during the length of your deployment.
Place an Active Duty Alert on Your Credit Report
You can do this by calling just one of the three credit reporting bureaus, since they’re required to notify the other two for you. Doing so means businesses will be required to take extra steps before granting credit in your name. (Keep in mind though that this could prevent your AIF from receiving credit in your name while you are away). Active duty alerts last for one year and can be renewed to match your deployment period.
Prepare for the Unexpected
While nobody wants to consider the potential for serious injury or death, all of us need to prepare for the unexpected. This is especially important during times of deployment. Make sure you have a will in place and your family and/or attorney knows how to access it.
These are just a few things to consider when you are preparing for deployment. Schedule a free Financial Checkup to learn about other opportunities or assistance available to our military. Taking the time to get your financial life in order before your deployment will remove one large worry from your mind, freeing you to devote your full attention to your main job — serving your country!
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