As a reservist or National Guard member, people often think you have the best of both worlds. But when it comes time to weather a deployment financially, you probably don’t think so.
There are certain advantages to being activated, and there are definitely some disadvantages.
Ideally, your financial situation is steady long before activation or deployment comes down the line. You have a budget, you have a savings account, you have a handle on your debt or are debt free.
For some families, the activation may bring a steady paycheck for the first time in a while. For others, it’s a decrease in pay from a civilian job. Either way, a little bit of planning and budgeting can make it more comfortable.
Gather the information
The first step in this process is to get as much information as possible. Ask questions! Crunch numbers, look at the budget. Start with your new income, some of those things to make sure you include are:
- Housing allowance
- Family separation
- Hazardous duty pay (and other special pays)
- Any compensation from your civilian job
Then you want to look at any ways you can cut out expenses. I know, this sounds a lot like a basic budgeting lesson — and it is!
- Ask your civilian employer if reducing or eliminating your healthcare is an option since you will have Tricare options
- Check with your credit cards and loans to see if the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act may apply to reduce your interest level on any debt
- Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, help, or even just for an extension on payments if you need them
Make a plan
Now that you have the information, you can make a plan. Some families may decide to rent their house for a year and live with family to remove a payment. Moving into a smaller place temporarily may also be an option. Reducing expenses to make up the difference, or to save for post-deployment should always be forefront in the conversation.
If you need help with a budget or a plan, ask! So many people have been through this before, and are willing to share their experiences and advice. Ultimately, you have to make your own decision as a family as what your finances will now look like.
Don’t be afraid to change the plan
One thing to keep in mind is that throughout the transition and deployments things can change. As a family, we give ourselves a buffer throughout any transition. You may discover that two months into this deployment you are spending half of what you budgeted on groceries. Win! Throw that extra money towards savings or debt. You may also discover that your child or pet care needs are higher and you need some extra money in that category, so you have to reevaluate.
Deployments are hard. Finances are hard. But communication and planning can make both of these things very doable. Good luck — you’ve got this! Read comments