My name is Allison Mecadon and I’m a Youth Coordinator with the Virginia National Guard Youth Program. My husband, Tom, is an M-Day Army National Guard Member (an M-Day member is one who performs weekend drill, but is not on full-time duty).

Tom just got back from a 1-year deployment to Afghanistan and before that served a one year ADOS tour (Active Duty Operational Support) at Ft Belvoir.

It’s important to note that these varying statuses – ADOS to AGR (Active Guard and Reserve) to M-Day – are typical for the National Guard and create the big financial challenge of having to budget on incomes that can vary greatly from year to year.

Prior to Tom’s deployment, we set three goals (and saved in this order):

1.    Fully fund a six- months-worth-of-expenses emergency fund
2.    Save to purchase a truck with cash
3.    Save to have money for a down payment on a house.

We also wanted to save for retirement so we planned ahead and set up automatic transfers into ‘named’ accounts:  i.e. emergency fund, truck account, house account and our ROTH IRAs.   We also maximized the Savings Deposit Program by putting the first two months of my husband’s paychecks from his deployment into a SDP account.

After his deployment, Tom followed up with his civilian employer to get credit for his military time towards his pension.  He also arranged to pay back into his civilian retirement account in order to take advantage of the cash match during the time that he was deployed.  During this time, we checked our credit reports regularly and took advantage of the free credit report offered through the Military Saves campaign to prepare for buying a house.  With all of this planning and preparation, we were able to purchase Tom’s dream vehicle, a Ford F-150, with cash and to put down a 20% down payment on our new home when he returned from his deployment. 

Military Saves has been helpful in supporting us in our goals and plans.  We make it a point to read the Military Saves e-newsletter each month: the savings tips and information we receive serve as reinforcement and motivation.

Tip of the Day

  • Shop around for auto and homeowners' insurance: Before renewing your existing policies, check out the rates of competing companies whose annual premiums could be several hundred dollars lower. 

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Army Col. George Fields, the Chief of Intelligence, or G2, has been teaching a free "Managing Your Money" class here in his spare time. More than 400 students have attended his six week-long class to learn more about increasing their own finances.

"All I did was sit down and listen to a guy one day who showed me what he was doing" said the colonel as he explained how he became interested in what he calls, "becoming financially free."

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