The summer is often a time of transition for military families. These can include kids changing schools, spouses changing jobs, or even a service member’s deployment. Regardless of which of these applies to you, there are actions you can take today to soften the landing associated with these types of changes.
Here are four tips to help you prepare for summer changes:
Re-evaluate your budget.
The family budget is the cornerstone of financial independence. It is what enables us to control where our hardearned income goes so that spending isn’t by happenstance. Review your expenses and estimate how they will change within the context of your new circumstances. Will costs of schooling for your children change? How will your utility bills be affected? What about local and state taxes? If moving, will you rent or buy? Similarly, consider your income. Will you be entitled to new allowances or pay? Will your housing allowance change? Factor these changes in and assess how your income and expenses compare. In addition to covering expenses, be sure to set aside funds for short term emergencies and long term financial goals. If your budget allows it, this is also a great time of year to plan some well-deserved R&R for you and your family. But even there – budget and stick to it!
Locate, review, and secure important documents.
Military service creates many unique, important records – awards, promotions, relocation orders, records of service (DD Form 214), and more. In addition, personal events create even more documents that we may need for future transactions. During transition, it is critical that we know where all of these are located because you may need them for financial and legal transactions. More importantly, we should confirm that they are safely stored in transit. Consider a fire-proof document box and always have a backup such as a secure digital vault. At a minimum, your document library should include the following: marriage and birth certificates, DD Form 214 (Record of Service), wills, powers of attorney, life insurance policies, VA claims awards, and trust documents.
Review your family’s protection.
Most servicemembers opt in to the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance Program (SGLI). This term type of coverage provides an excellent benefit to those in the Service. However, this coverage ends when you leave service and it may not be sufficient coverage if you have a spouse and/or children. If you or a family member are changing work status, deploying, separating, or retiring from the military, it is highly likely that your life insurance needs have changed. Don’t leave your loved ones unprotected. Moreover, don’t neglect coverage for your spouse. Even if he or she is a stay-at-home parent, the financial impact of a loss could severely affect your finances when you consider the value of the services that parent provides to the household. Finally, for any policies you do have, be sure that the contact information for you and your beneficiaries is current. And, verify that the beneficiaries on file are still correct. For example, marriage, divorce, or having children may be reasons to change a designated beneficiary.
Do your homework.
If you are moving, whether across town or around the globe, be sure to learn as much about the community you’re moving to before you get there. In addition to some of the budget items already discussed, you’ll want to learn about neighborhoods, schools, and activities available to you and your family so that you can assimilate quickly into your new environment. Most installations offer relocation information. In addition, check reputable military and veteran focused organizations. Many of these offer relocation information as a service to their members, all available on line for convenience and accessibility.
Summer is a great time of year for military families. It provides opportunity to bond through many activities, whether hosting a backyard barbeque or taking a family trip to the beach. With some advance planning and a little research, you can minimize the negative effects of a military-induced transition and have a great season.Read comments