The military’s a special way of life. There are unique circumstances that the civilian world doesn’t deal with, like deploying and temporary duty.
Sometimes those situations can make it difficult to keep your financial life on track. But, there are some perks to serving in the military that can help get you to where you want to be with money.
Here are 5 financial tips for military couples.
Get It For Free
Use all the free resources available to you. Things like getting your wills and powers of attorney through legal services at no cost.
Use the free tax services on military installations, Military OneSource, or TurboTax. There are even free concert and event tickets for military Servicemembers and veterans at VetTix.
By taking advantage of these opportunities, it enables you to keep your costs low or use the money in other areas of your budget.
Use The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)
Saving for your future self should be a priority. A way to do this is to take advantage of the TSP, the government’s version of a 401k.
It’s a great way to invest and save for retirement. A TSP account is set-up through the military’s MyPay (their payroll). An important note: once you elect to start the TSP, a password is mailed to your address.
Make sure your address is up-to-date with your branch of service, or you won’t be able to log into your account at TSP.gov.
Take Advantage Of The Savings Deposit Program (SDP)
The SDP is only available during deployments to combat zones, but it’s an opportunity you’ll want to take advantage of if you’re eligible.
This program allows you to deposit a total of $10,000 into a savings account that will earn 10% interest (compounded quarterly.)
The SDP is a chance to get ahead by making money on your savings—with no risk.
Make A Budget
Creating a budget is the basis for good money management—it helps keep your spending on track. A budget shows all the funds you have coming in and going out each month.
When couples take the time to make a budget, it will make handling money easier. Budgeting keeps your finances organized and make sure you’re both are on the same page on how you’ll spend money.
Have An Emergency Fund
Let’s be honest—transition’s a major aspect of military life. There’s the moving, deployments, marriage, babies, and training to name some.
These changes can cause unexpected financial events. An emergency fund helps protect from these potential money problems. A fund for emergencies is 3-6 months of your living expenses.
Money set aside for the potential problems life throws at you, is like having your own insurance policy.
Lacey Langford, AFC® is a personal finance blogger, speaker, and money-life coach. Langford blogs at LaceyLangford.com where she shares her passion and insights on all things personal finance.
She is the founder of Sage Services, LLC a boutique money-life coaching business specializing in the unique financial world of the military. She helps others create the money life they need and want. Check her out on Snapchat: FinanceLacey.
If you haven’t already, set up some time during your next money date to sit down and make sure you have enough life insurance to cover your family’s needs.
It may not be a fun thing to think about but as a couple with kids we knew we needed to review all of our finances this year to make sure the big things were taken care of.
If your family situation changed since the time you’ve bought a policy, re-calculating your needs can be significantly helpful to your loved ones.
Finding the Right Number
Every family is different, but in general when you’re trying to calculate how much coverage is enough, there are a few factors to look at:
Grieving: Losing a spouse/parent is life altering and your family needs time to grieve. If you don’t already have savings to cover the time off from work, you may want to include that with life insurance coverage.
Final Expenses: Do you have a general idea of how much your final expenses would be? According to the Federal Trade Commission, average costs can include casket (slightly more than $2,000 on average), embalming, cemetery plots, hearse rental, and more. Cremation is cheaper, but still have costs.
Financial Assistance: Do you want to leave money for your spouse and/or children to cover debts and help with future expenses?
Whatever amount you two come up with, please make sure you each understand each other’s view.
Getting this done now when you’re both in good spirits and health will make a distressing situation a little less painful.
Getting Life Insurance
If you’re young and in good health, you’ll be surprised at how cheap term life insurance premiums are.
Better to get it now to take advantage of lower premiums than waiting. As you get older it can get more expensive (still an affordable option my opinion though).