Managing your money can be a challenge at the best of times. As a military spouse, your money struggles may be even more significant. However, with these important tips you can transform the way you manage your money and make it easier to cope with the impact a new duty station has on your spouse’s income, what type of duty your spouse has been assigned, and more.
Tip #1: Choose Your Job Carefully
As a military spouse, you know that you may need to pack up and change duty stations at any moment. This means finding a new job quickly. While some states offer reciprocal licenses for professions such as nurses and attorneys, others don’t. You can’t always guarantee a job at your new duty station.
If possible, consider one that will easily transfer like providing childcare, or a job that you can take with you: freelancing or another telecommuting position. This simple strategy will help ensure that your income remains consistent you have to change duty stations unexpectedly.
Tip #2: Build a Move Fund
Military moves can often come with little warning. In some cases, you may need to be able to pay out the cost of the move yourself and wait for reimbursement. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you may find yourself scrambling to pay the bills on time while planning for a move! Try building a move fund that you can easily access if orders come through unexpectedly. This will help decrease your overall stress and make the entire process easier.
Tip #3: Have Access to All Your Spouse’s Financial Information
During a deployment, you’ll need to be able to take care of all of the financial needs of your family. Make sure that you have access to all of your spouse’s accounts, as well as relevant information about the bills (including which ones are paid automatically and when they’re deducted from of your account).
Tip #4: Plan for Retirement
Your spouse may have substantial retirement benefits, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll have them! Make sure you build your own retirement accounts and have your own plans in place for retirement. Even if you’re a stay-at-home spouse, you can open an IRA in your name.
Tip #5: Develop a Solid Understanding of Military Pay
How does deployment pay really work? How will your spouse’s income change when you change duty stations? What allowances are you getting on your check to help cover cost of living in a specific area, and how does that change if you live on base versus off base? Developing a strong understanding of these concepts will help you make better financial plans no matter what changes are made.
Tip #6: Prepare for the Little Things
You know all about the big expenses of a military move … the movers, travel and lodging expenses, finding a new house, and starting new utilities … but, have you considered the small expenses? Prepare to decorate your new home. Example: You may need to purchase blinds and curtains that fit new windows.
Keep in mind that some things may be broken in transit, no matter how hard you try to keep them safe, and will need to be replaced. Consider things like spices and other dry goods … these may be ruined by excessive time in hot warehouses.
Prepare for the little expenses that add up fast when you have to handle a military move, so that you aren’t blindsided and scrambling to pay for them.
Tip #7: Develop a Transition Account
Is your spouse planning to stay in the military until retirement or planning to not re-enlist*? Before either happens, you’ll need a solid transition account: money that will help you during that transition period. Consider details such as how much money your family will need if it takes several weeks or months for your spouse to find a new job, relocation expenses if you plan to move back home, and more.
If you need more help with your finances, check out Marine Federal Credit Union’s free financial checkup. This simple step can substantially improve your overall financial outlook and make it easier for you to make key financial decisions.
*Products offered by MFFG are not on deposit at the credit union; not NCUA-Insured; not insured by any federal government agency; not guaranteed by the credit union.
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Information appearing in this article is obtained from sources we believe are reliable. The information may not be a complete statement of all available data and is not guaranteed as such. Marine FCU is not responsible for the contents of this article and advises its membership to investigate claims before following the information provided.