Managing the family budget while your spouse is away can be challenging, but it is manageable. Prior to deployment, sit down with your spouse and calculate your monthly expenses with regard to these topics:
Utility Bills: Look at utility bill statements from the past year and take an average of these expenses. This should give you a pretty good monthly estimate.
Long Distance Bills: Opportunities to call will vary depending on the spouse's duty location, but you should be able to decide how much of your budget should be set aside for long distance calls.
Rent Or Mortgage: Usually, this will be a fixed cost, although, if you have an adjustable mortgage rate, your house payments may go up (or down) slightly. Rent may also change if you do not have a lease.
Monthly Living Expenses: Calculate your average monthly expenses for groceries (less one), gas for the car, clothes, entertainment costs (such as video rentals, dining out, other purchases).
Monthly Payment To Creditors: Total up things like car and home equity loan payments, credit card payments, or bank loans.
Savings: Try not to get behind in putting money aside each month for your savings account. Less one family member in the house, you may find that you can actually save more. Use your family's savings as a "last resort" for covering unexpected expenses.
Don't forget to include things like car or homeowner's insurance bills, because they may catch you off guard near the end of the year, just when you thought you were "in the black."
Remember that you must also figure out the potential expenses of the family member on deployment. Here are some things to think about:
- Family Separation Allowance (FSA)
- Rate Changes
- Longevity Pay Increases
For various reasons, your spouse may be required to extend their deployment. There are policies in place to provide you with compensation during their deployment.
Consider signing up for direct deposit (if you haven't already done so). Direct transfer of money into your account can speed up your ability to cover bills. Also consider opening separate checking accounts to ease confusion over who is writing checks and when they are written.
Set credit card limits for you and your spouse. Limits will help prevent you both from adding to your credit card debt (if you have any). Also decide who will be using which cards during your spouse's deployment.
Make sure that your checking and savings accounts are in the same bank so funds can be transferred easily.
The pay allotments that the military can set up for you can be a real plus by automatically setting aside money for specific use. Listed below are some typical allotments:
- Dependent Allotment (D)
- Bond Allotment (B)
- Contribution Allotment (C)
- Home Allotment (H)
- Savings Allotment (S)
- Insurance Allotment (I)
Car problems can be very aggravating if you don't know who to contact to remedy them. Here are some suggestions for the spouse on the home front:
Make certain you have the name of a trusted mechanic or automotive garage where you or a friend have taken a car for service. Repair costs can mount rapidly if you simply select a repair shop out of the phone book.
Be sure to keep a record (the refrigerator is a good place) of the correct type of battery, tires, oil, etc., for the car.
Keep track of when automotive registration, insurance, emissions inspections, or oil changes are due.
Know what to do or who to call if something in your home breaks down. Untested plumbing, roofing, or repair contractors can be very costly.
Before your spouse leaves for deployment, give your home a security check inside and out. This should include testing (or installing) smoke alarms, and checking door and window locks, as well as outdoor lights or motion detectors (if you have them).
If a move is expected during deployment, discuss the process for moving your household goods.
Review your homeowner's or renter's insurance policies.
Learn more at the Military.com Deployment Center.