By the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program
If you’re one of the thousands of National Guard and Reserve members who have been deployed, you’ve made personal sacrifices in the service of your country. Your financial health, however, doesn’t have to be one of them.
Finding your “new financial normal” post-deployment takes time and attention. As you adjust to your return to civilian income and the end of deployment benefits, you may be unsure how to best manage your money moving forward.
The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program can help you develop a blueprint for reaching your financial goals after coming home. Try some of these five money smart tips from Yellow Ribbon experts:
1. Check Leave and Earnings Statements (LES). You are responsible for ensuring that you are paid what you earned while deployed—and that you don’t receive any deployment benefits by mistake once you are home. Contact your Finance Office if you detect any errors in your LES so these mistakes can be rectified as soon as possible.
2. Resist the “Urge to Splurge” by Establishing a Spending Plan. Your return to civilian life brings with it financial temptations that you may not have encountered during your deployment; it can be hard to say no to the idea of rewarding yourself for your service with an impulsive—and expensive—purchase. Prepare yourself to resist these impulses by establishing a budget of income and expenses and stick to it.
3. Start Saving. Once you’ve established a spending plan, don’t forget to put money aside to build up your savings. Keep 3-6 months of your expenses in an emergency account in case something unexpected occurs, like a leaky roof or needed car repairs. You’ll want to plan for your future by setting up a long-term savings account. If you put money into a Savings Deposit Program (SDP) or Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) while you were deployed, you might consider using that money to open a long-term savings account.
4. Evaluate Insurance Plans. Now is a great time to take another look at your insurance plans. Instead of simply restarting policies you may have put on hold during deployment (such as auto or rental insurance), ask for quotes from other providers to make sure you are getting the most for your money. Compare the healthcare benefits offered through the TRICARE Reserve Select Program to those offered through your employer. You can get help from one of the Transition Assistance Advisors (TAAs) who are available to veterans in every state. Find yours through the TAA Program.
5. Take Advantage of Free Financial Counseling for Service Members. Making financial decisions can be daunting, but as a returning Service member, you are entitled to free financial counseling. Contact Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 for financial counselors in your local area who can provide advice and help navigate issues. Get in touch with your local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center, if you think you need to file for federal and state tax extensions.
When you return home, don’t forget to make financial planning a priority. For more information on personal finance for Guard and Reserve members, join Yellow Ribbon at an event near you. Search and register for upcoming events at www.yellowribbonevents.org.
Learn more at www.yellowribbon.mil
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored.