Maybe you were born with the ability to make the most of every penny. That would be a great skill in a military family, with so many potential financial challenges.
Or maybe you’re a work in progress. Managing finances has many parts, and military life adds twists and turns. Families grow military movements arrive, the cars break down…. and things don’t always fit into a military family’s budget.
Whether you’re new to military life or a seasoned pro with plenty of PCS moves and deployments under your belt, check out the new MilSpouse Money Mission. Created by the DoD Financial Readiness Office, it answers many of your questions, including some you might not have realized.
You don’t have to become a finance whiz in a day. This program gives you the ability to find the information you need, when you need it, one bite at a time.
Too often we don’t know of a particular resource available to military families that could really help solve a problem. It’s all part of personal finance — tapping into resources that can help ease the financial burden. Example: There are many employment resources for spouses, such as a program (MyCAA) that can help some spouses with financial reimbursement for courses that further their career opportunities. There is a program that reimburses certain costs associated with obtaining a new certification or license in an occupation following a PCS move. Information on eligibility and how to apply can be found in Military OneSource’s Spouse Employment and Career Opportunities Program.
And MilSpouse Money Mission directs you there, from different directions.
Some examples of offers:
* Short video clips featuring military spouses titled “What I wish I had known….” on new parental resources, investment, building up an emergency fund, employment resources.
*Sections for various life stages and topics: new spouse, new child, Thrift Savings Plan vesting promotion, pre-deployment, post-deployment, PCS, continuation pay, transition. These also include short clips featuring military spouses who have been through it. Air Force spouse Jeremy gives you four quick tips for preparing finances for deployment — like visiting legal departments to make sure both spouses have power of attorney; ensure you know where important documents are and what login credentials are for online accounts; make sure you have adequate life insurance coverage for both spouses and set financial goals to work on while deployed.
* Timely information, such as how to protect your finances during this COVID-19 pandemic, and resources for members of the military community in need, whether due to the pandemic or other reasons.
*Information on how to calculate your debt to income ratio and steps to consider when deciding to borrow money, including calculating the cost of the loan over the life of the loan.
*Information on topics ranging from Money Ready 101 to Money Ready 401, with explanations, videos, articles and blogs, financial calculators and quizzes.
*A supportive and motivational social media community, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.
Whether you’re new to balancing a checkbook or a dedicated saver, you should find something to help consolidate your finances. Take a quick tour of the site. Familiarize yourself with it and you’ll come back when you need reliable information on a certain topic, such as what to consider when considering a big purchase.
You can go step by step, at your own pace, with opportunities to delve deeper into the topics.
Military OneSource has a long history of providing online resources on a variety of financial topics relevant to military life, but this expands resources and provides an additional resource for military spouses.
DoD officials recognize that spouses are often the financial director of the family, taking the reins of family finances to ensure continuity because service members are away most of the time.
If spouses aren’t involved in family finances, they should be — and not just when the member is deployed.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for over 30 years, and co-authored a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families”. She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Florida and Athens, Ga.