January 17, 2013
by Justin Melquist
As you prepare to deploy, there are several things you can do to save money while you are away. Although you are busy with pre-deployment training and mentally preparing yourself and your family for the long absence, taking a small amount of time to get a financial plan together can pay off in a big way.
Below are some things to consider.
· Establish an emergency fund. Make sure you have enough money in a savings account in case that dishwasher stops washing or the lawnmower stops mowing. Although this is an important consideration for all servicemembers, it is especially important for those who have dependents back home.
· Make a plan to pay the bills. It’s important to leave the necessary account information with those who may be taking care of the finances. Missing payments will incur delinquency fees that can add up quickly and your credit score could take a hit. The best way to prepare is to make a list of all of your bills and when possible set up auto pay through your financial institution’s bill pay. Make sure you fill out a specific power of attorney at your installation’s legal office in order to ensure the person who is helping you out back at home has the power to do so.
· Lose the lease. Per the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), “Active duty service members who receive military orders for deployment, for at least 90 days, may terminate their property lease.” If you are single and have no need for a residence while you are gone, consider terminating your lease. In many cases, you will continue to receive your BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) payments. The SCRA also gives certain protections against evictions, mortgage foreclosures and repossessions of property.
· Turn off that smart phone. All major wireless providers allow you to put your account on hold during a deployment. When you return, your contract should start back up right where you paused it. It’s definitely worth the twenty minutes you’ll spend making a call to your provider.
· Call your auto insurance provider. Most insurers have vehicle storage coverage that you should take advantage of. If your vehicle will not be driven while you are away, you should change the status to ‘stored’ in order to save a whole lot of money on your premiums. Speaking from experience: make sure you disconnect your battery before storing your vehicle. Batteries are pretty expensive these days.
These are just a few ideas on how you can trim your bills prior to heading out to defend our freedom. Spend a little time to make a plan and you will see how much you can save. Once you have a little extra cash in your pocket, you free yourself up to take advantage of the many investing benefits that come with a military deployment. In another post, I will discuss the incredible investment opportunities servicemembers have available to them.