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Preparing Your Finances for Military Deployment

Preparing Your Finances for Military Deployment

Are you preparing for deployment but aren’t sure how to get your finances in order before you go? A little preparation can go a long way as you put measures into place to cut out needless expenses, ensure your bills are paid on time and protect your credit. Taking a few steps now can make money management easier while you’re away and will give you peace of mind.

Create a power of attorney (POA)

Ensuring that all of your legal documents are up to date and accessible to your loved ones is fundamental to your deployment preparation. This starts with a power of attorney, a legal document that gives another person (your “agent”) the authority to act on your behalf in financial, property and other matters in your absence. Designate someone you trust implicitly since they will have authority over any financial issues that may arise during your deployment.

Other legal documents to bring up to date include your will and your living will, the document that details medical directives in case you are seriously injured or ill.

Understand the SCRA

If you are unfamiliar with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), you may want to learn about it now, as you prepare for deployment. The SCRA is a federal program intended to ease legal and financial burdens on military personnel and their families during times of active duty. It provides protections for active-duty Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps service members, reservists and members of the National Guard.

Under the SCRA, you may qualify for reduced interest rates on your mortgage, car loan, credit card debt or student loans (debt must have been incurred prior to your active-duty status); certain eviction protections; delay of civil court actions and more. The SCRA also has provisions for suspending or canceling your mobile phone service as well as internet or cable contracts if you relocate for at least 90 days to a location without coverage.

To find out more about the SCRA benefits and protections you may be entitled to, see the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Overview, or contact your unit or installation legal assistance office.

Automate your finances

Setting up automated payments for your regular bills — mortgage or rent, car loan, utilities, etc. — with the bank that receives direct deposit of your pay can ensure your bills continue to be paid on time each month. Automating regular deposits to your savings account can help you continue to build your wealth while you’re deployed. If you will have internet connectivity where you’re stationed, you may also be able to keep tabs on your bank accounts through your bank’s online banking or mobile app.

Dollar Bank’s Online and Mobile Banking tools, for example, can enable you to use your mobile device to set up automated payments and deposits, monitor your bank activity and balances, transfer funds between accounts and more.

Use the DOD savings deposit program

The U.S. Department of Defense offers this savings program to help service members deployed in designated combat zones build their savings faster. If you qualify, you can deposit up to $10,000 into your Savings Deposit Program account and earn 10% interest annually.

Establish separate checking accounts

If you have a spouse at home, you may want to consider opening individual checking accounts, as well as a joint account, so that you can each manage your money independently while having the joint account for home or family purchases and expenses. Otherwise, you will need to communicate every time you spend, which will likely be inconvenient or maybe even impossible while you’re deployed. Compare checking accounts and choose those with tools and features that make the most sense for your needs.

Protect your credit

To help minimize the risk of fraud or identity theft while you’re deployed, the three major credit reporting bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — offer an active-duty alert, which is intended to make it more difficult for unauthorized individuals to open accounts in your name. It encourages lenders and creditors to take extra steps (calling you, for example, if you will be reachable by phone) to verify your identity before opening a new account in your name or making changes to your established accounts.

You can contact any of the three bureaus to have the active-duty alert put into place at no charge. That agency will share your request with the other two bureaus, so that the alert appears on all three credit reports. The alert will remain in effect for one year. You can renew it as long as you remain on active military duty.

Check in on your insurance policies

Make sure your life insurance policy is up to date in terms of beneficiary designations and coverages. You may also want to talk with your insurance agent to see if they recommend any coverage adjustments to save you money or to ensure that any unattended property or vehicles are sufficiently protected while you’re away.

Dollar Bank can help you open checking or savings accounts, automate your payments and more before you’re deployed. Visit your local Dollar Bank office, or call us at 1-800-242-2265. To learn more about the benefits you can receive through Dollar Bank's Military Banking program, visit Dollar.Bank/MilitaryBanking.

This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. Any reliance on the information herein is solely and exclusively at your own risk and you are urged to do your own independent research. To the extent information herein references an outside resource or Internet site, Dollar Bank is not responsible for information, products or services obtained from outside sources and Dollar Bank will not be liable for any damages that may result from your access to outside resources. As always, please consult your own counsel, accountant, or other advisor regarding your specific situation.

Posted: March 13, 2023