Maybe you were born with the ability to squeeze the most out 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. There are many parts to managing finances, and military life adds twists and turns. Families grow, military moves happen, cars break down…. and things don’t always fit into a military family’s budget.
Whether you’re new to the military life, or a seasoned pro with plenty of PCS moves and deployments under your belt, check out the Defense Department’s new MilSpouse Money Mission. Created by the DoD Office of Financial Readiness, it answers a lot of your questions — including some you might not have realized you had.
You don’t have to become a financial whiz in one day. This program offers you the ability to drill down to find the information you need, when you need it — one bite at a time.
Too many times, we don’t know about a particular resource available for military families that could really help solve a problem. That’s all part of personal finance — tapping in to resources that can help ease the financial burden. Example: There a many spouse employment resources, like a program (MyCAA) that can help certain spouses with some financial reimbursement for courses that further their career opportunities. There’s a program that provides reimbursement for some costs related to getting recertified or relicensed in a profession following a PCS move. The information on eligibility and how to apply is on Military OneSource’s Spouse Employment and Career Opportunities program.
And MilSpouse Money Mission points you there, from various directions.
Some examples of offerings:
*Short video clips featuring military spouses titled “What I Wish I’d Known….” about new parent resources, investing, building an emergency fund, employment resources.
*Sections for various life stages and topics: new spouse, new child, promotion Thrift Savings Plan vesting, pre-deployment, post-deployment, PCS, continuation pay, transition. These also include some short clips featuring military spouses who have been through it. Air Force spouse Jeremy gives you four quick tips for getting finances ready for deployment -- such as visiting legal services to make sure both spouses have a power of attorney; making sure you know where important documents are and what the login credentials are to online accounts; making sure you have adequate life insurance coverage for both spouses, and setting financial goals to work on during the deployment.
*Timely information, such as how to protect your finances during this COVID-19 pandemic, and resources for those in the military community in financial need, whether it’s because of the pandemic, or other reasons.
*Information on how to calculate your debt-to-income ratio, and steps to consider when you’re deciding whether to borrow money, including calculating how much the loan will cost you over the life of the loan.
*Information on topics starting with Money Ready 101 through Money Ready 401, with explanations, videos, articles and blogs, financial calculators and quizzes.
*A social media community of support and motivation, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest.
Whether you’re a newbie at balancing a checkbook or a dedicated saver, you should find something to help shore up your finances. Take a quick look around the site. Get familiar with it, and you’ll come back when you need some reliable information about a certain topic — for example what to consider when you’re thinking about making a big purchase.
You can take it a step at a time, at your own pace, with opportunities to delve deeper into subjects.
Military OneSource has long offered online resources on a variety of financial topics pertinent to military life, but this expands on the resources and provides one more pulled-together resource for military spouses.
DoD officials recognize that spouses are often the chief financial officer of the family, taking the reins of finances in the family to provide continuity because service members are gone so much of the time.
If spouses aren’t involved in the family finances, they should be — and not just when the service member is deployed.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of 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, Fla., and Athens, Ga.