Service members and their families often cite finances as one of their most significant stressors — even more so than deployments and personal relationships. In honor of Veterans Day and Military Family Month, the American Bankers Association has highlighted six tips to help military families manage their money and improve their financial well-being:
- Contribute automatically to the Thrift Savings Plan. As a Federal employee, you have access to one of the finest retirement plans in the world: the Thrift Savings Plan. Be sure to have automatic contributions withdrawn from your paycheck.
- Plan for deployment. Before being deployed, have a conversation with your family about managing the household budget. Consider granting power of attorney to your spouse should the need arise to make urgent financial decisions while you’re gone. Check if your bank has pre-printed forms you can use to set this up for your bank accounts. Military personnel also receive additional funds while deployed. Decide on the best use for that extra cash, whether it’s to pay off debt or make additional contributions to your Thrift Savings Plan.
- Meet with your banker before active duty. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers all military personnel entering active duty a variety of financial protections. The SCRA covers issues ranging from interest rate reductions to limits on debt accrual. Ask your banker about the key provisions of this law and how they can benefit you.
- Set up automatic bill pay. Whether you’re stationed stateside or overseas, automatic bill pay will give you and your family one less thing to worry about each month. This can be particularly helpful during deployments in regions where internet access is unreliable and mobile banking isn’t an option.
- Consider housing options. With mortgage rates continuing at low levels, homeownership may seem like an obvious choice for housing. However, service members need to consider all of their options. Frequent relocations and deployments can make owning a home challenging and expensive. Renting may be a smart option for short-term assignments. Decide what’s best for your family and your finances.
- Consult a financial advisor. Schedule a visit at a Personal Financial Management Program office, located in your military and family support centers. You’ll receive free one-on-one financial counseling and gain access to a wealth of additional educational resources to help you manage your money.