Preparing for deployment probably should start before you receive your orders, especially for the household’s finances. Because financial preparations are crucial for proper deployment readiness, a few basic guidelines should be considered.
- Plan for the unexpected. If possible, start building an emergency stash of funds three to six months before deployment. Any number of unplanned expenses might come up during deployment – car repairs, doctors visits, etc. – so it’s wise to start stocking away an emergency fund for a rainy day.
- Organize your bank accounts. Set yourself up for a smooth transition by making sure your accounts are in order, from checking and savings accounts to credit cards, car loans, etc.
- Create a list of all accounts and where they’re held. Then notify all financial institutions that you’ll be out of the area or country.
- Ensure that both you and your spouse or family member knows where all important documents are kept.
- Make sure all appropriate parties can access all accounts.
- Keep sensitive account information in a secure place where it can be easily updated.
- Sign up for online banking to keep track of your finances. Many institutions, like SAC Federal Credit Union, include account alerts so you will know if your account changes.
If you don’t have time to add your spouse or family member as a joint account holder, consider establishing a power of attorney so that you or your spouse or family member will have the authority to make decisions on each other’s behalf.
- Have a plan of action. Look at how you handle your finances now and how you’ll divvy up responsibilities during the tour of duty. Decide who will be responsible for what and work together to make sure whoever is at home will have access to everything they need to keep household finances running smoothly. Setting up automatic bill pay or creating a separate account to be used for bills are good ways to stay organized while away.
- Scout out the cash situation. Will you or your partner have access to an ATM while deployed? What is the exchange rate where you or your spouse is headed? Find out ahead of time so you’ll know whether you need to plan on wire transfers or other means to get a supply of cash.
- Verify debit or credit card access. Talk to your financial institution to make sure you’ll be able to use your debit or credit card while deployed, especially if you or your spouse is headed overseas. Some card processors have fraud prevention measures in place that may prevent cards from being used overseas or over a specific dollar limit unless given notice ahead of time. Additionally, some countries may not accept debit or credit cards at all, so be sure you check before you leave so you can plan accordingly.
Do you have experience handling finances while you or your spouse was deployed? What do you wish you had known? Share your pointers in the comments!