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Easing Financial Burden During Deployments

Easing Financial Burden During Deployments

Source: By Barbara A. Eastom-Bates for LIFELines

When you walk through the door, without even seeing the orders in your hand, your spouse knows immediately and asks, "Six months or 12?" Deployments are a fact of military life and, whether it's your first or your 10th, they rarely go off without a hitch. By the time D-day arrives, the household appliances and family car will have formed an alliance to break down, a broken limb will be stalking one or more of your children, and the family dog will be playing "Terminator" with the pizza delivery driver (here comes another trip to the vet). While some stresses of deployment are unavoidable, others can be minimized or avoided altogether with a little careful preparation. One of the more important aspects of pre-deployment planning is deciding how to handle finances while you're away. Pre-deployment Budget Planning During deployment, life as usual will stop for you. But responsibility for financial obligations, unfortunately, will not. Until deployments become an accepted excuse for not paying bills, advance financial preparation is vital to preventing bounced checks, overdrawn accounts, and unwanted "special attention" from your command. Work together with your spouse to establish a budget, determining how money will be spent. This includes deciding whether you or your spouse may go on major shopping sprees while you're apart. You can get a good estimate of your deployment expenses by reviewing past expenditures. If this is the first time you'll be shipping out, consider meeting with a financial counselor from the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) for assistance. Be aware of any unexpected changes occurring in your standard pay. Married Sailors and Marines who receive commuted rations pay (comrats) in lieu of chow hall benefits should plan for its deduction while they are deployed. Reserve families may need to adjust for changes in pay from civilian employment to that of active-duty service. Mad Money If you buy a great keepsake in Japan and your spouse can't pay the bills in North Carolina, there's bound to be trouble. Consider opening a secondary account for discretionary deployment funds to avoid misunderstandings with regular household money. Access to Accounts If your spouse will be conducting transactions on any accounts, make sure he or she is listed on the account or possesses a valid power of attorney. Single Sailors and Marines may wish to authorize a trusted individual with a limited power of attorney to act on their financial behalf, if needed. If You Have Financial Problems If debt is a problem, temporary refuge may be found in the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940, which, among other benefits, requires creditors to lower interest rates on any debt acquired before entering military service. Reservists are also eligible for this protection while on active duty. Despite the best of preparations, the most unexpected things can and do go wrong during deployments. Make certain your spouse knows where to turn for help if necessary. You may pre-authorize the NMCRS to assist your spouse in the event of the unexpected. NMCRS provides financial counseling, interest-free loans, grants, and referral services at no cost. With the right planning, worrying about finances can be one less concern you and your spouse must face during the stress of deployment. With that out of the way, you can concentrate on the important things — like a job well done and the countdown till the day you return.

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