During the recent election cycle, there’s been a lot of talk about veterans, their families, and how they’re treated by the government and the Veteran’s Administration once they get home from combat and try to get on with their civilian lives. It’s good that the plight of military veterans has finally made the news because military families are suffering. There might be many health and retirement benefits that come with being in the army, navy, airforce, or marines, but there are also a lot of problems, especially for female spouses left at home. According to a study by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, more than 90 percent of wives said that they were either underemployed at home, or they were overqualified for the jobs that they were doing. What’s more, once veterans get home, thanks to a life in the military, they earn 38 percent less than their civilian counterparts in regular jobs.
According to Michael J Meese, the chief operating officer of American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, a charitable organization that offers financial and insurance services to military personnel, many civilians find it difficult to understand some of the difficulties facing the families of veterans. Many people think that because military families get a steady government paycheck every month that they are financially secure. But in reality, with so much time in the field, many military families don’t get the chance to think about how to best spend their money. Most veterans are away from traditional sources of financial advice, like other family members, for extended periods of time, Meese says, and this means that they don’t always have the help of families to decide what is worth buying and what isn’t.
Then there’s the problem of having to move all the time. It is difficult for spouses of military personnel to develop their own amazing careers because life attached to the military is so demanding. Spouses regularly have to move close to military bases where there aren’t always opportunities for gainful employment. According to data from the Institute for Veterans study, even spouses with PhDs found it hard to find work, with employment in that category running at a whopping 16 percent.
It’s worth pointing out that once one spouse is deployed in operations, it’s up to the other to manage all the finances by themselves, including making all the necessary payments on time. Often, this responsibility falls to the wife, who has to suddenly work out how to manage a massive boost in their monthly income. The responsibility of running the home, including looking after the kids, falls on the spouse who is left at home.
In the past, this stress, as well as the fact that one spouse is always on active duty, has led to a spate of military bankruptcies. But thanks to modern financial support and better information, this sort of thing is a lot less common.
Be Financially Smart
Part of being financially smart is creating a budget building credit when installment loans online present themselves, and saving for the future. It’s a good idea to be skeptical when you see offers that are too good to be true, like offers things like mortgages, car repayments deals, and credit cards. And it’s worthwhile keeping tabs on exactly how your stress levels are affecting your spending habits. You don’t want to become dependent on retail therapy.
Build Up A Rainy Day Fund
Young military families tend to suffer most when they find themselves living on the edge, always relying on the next paycheck to meet their financial obligations. One way to make life a little less stressful and to achieve financial security is to build up a rainy day fund, a fund that you can use when some major expense you didn’t expect pops up. Random expenses, like buying a new refrigerator, traveling across the country or responding to a family emergency come up a lot more than you would expect. Military families only need to save around 1/12th of their monthly incomes for three years, according to the Huffington Post, to build up enough savings to fill a 6-month emergency fund.
Make Salary Increases Work For Long Term Goals
With a spouse as a serving member of the military, you’re entitled to benefit from annual cost-of-living increases as well as increased pay for long service and promotions. But this extra money shouldn’t go towards funding a lavish lifestyle - at least, not yet. Instead, it should be put into achieving your long term goals. It’s worth discussing with your partner, therefore, exactly what those long-term goals are. It could be things like buying your own home, paying for college tuition or leaving the military and starting a career in some other field. If you put at least half of all the raises that you get into long-term savings, then you’ll reach your financial goals rapidly.
Protect Your Family For Less With Military Associations
Newspapers and magazines devote a lot of page space to stories about how dangerous it is to work in the construction or the manufacturing sector. But they regularly neglect to talk about how dangerous it is to work in the military too. Because work in the military is so dangerous, it’s a good idea to get life cover from organizations like the Servicemembers Group Life Insurance. Currently, this pays out $400,000, and the Death Gratuity pays an additional $100,000.
For some families, however, this might not be enough. So it’s worth checking with tools, like life insurance calculators, to see whether you are in need of additional coverage. Some non-profit organizations do provide extra cover for families that are concerned.
Make Use Of “Special Pay”
The military knows that its troops take enormous risks, every day that they are on active operations. So it’s only right that the army compensates soldiers for the time when the put their lives on the line to protect their country. Combat zone pay, as well as certain tax exemptions, can help build up the extra funds needed to establish your financial security and boost your long-term savings. Extra pay can also help with moving expenses, especially when you want the family to be near to where you’re working if you’re overseas. Also, look for opportunities to sell unwanted stuff for extra cash and live with relatives rent-free while your other half is out on active duty,
Look For Savings Around The House
Once a spouse is on active duty, it’s the job of the other to make sure that costs at home are kept to a minimum. One good idea is to get a phone contract that you can pause while they are away and resume when they return. Another idea is to sell the second car, while they’re not using it. You can also do things like move into a smaller house, as well as find an apartment with lower rent while there aren’t so many people at home.
Life for military spouses can be tough emotionally, never knowing what might happen to the person you love in a combat zone. The good news is that there is not plenty of free support on offer through the internet. Things like Spouse Link, Veterans United, and this website are great resources for those who need support.
It’s also possible to get financial support through the US Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes program, where you can make use of their career advice, as well as child care resources.
Find A Transition Career
Thanks to the internet and the incredible development of communication technologies over recent years, getting a career that allows you to travel all over the globe has never been easier. Military spouses are finding opportunities in things like virtual assistant services, copywriting, web development and a host of other transferable skills.
Recently, Michelle Obama launched her Joining Forces initiative, designed to help boost military spouse employment. The goal of the project is to make it easier for wives to find jobs in a range of high paying industries so that they can boost their personal incomes while staying mobile while their husbands are out in the field. At the moment, the initiative is focusing on areas such as health, education, medicine, and information technology. It’s also looking into skills that are ideal for jobs where spouses can telecommute to work, doing their jobs over the internet in their own time. There are now a bunch of job boards available that list flexible jobs, including sites like FlexJobs.
Take Advantage Of Resources
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that there are a bunch of financial resources available to military personnel. Every military service in the country has its own “Relief Society” - an organization that provides financial assistance to those who are in need. If you are on a military base, you should also be able to find a counselor trained in dealing with problems that military families often face, like staying out of debt. Then there’s also the Department of Defense Military OneSource, which is a resource that helps military families plan their tax affairs.