Military families constantly face financial troubles, with one-fifth of the military spouses being unemployed and 67% of the spouses in the workforce being underemployed. A whopping 40% of military families face financial troubles one way or another. Many move every two to three years because of a lack of affordable housing and payment of mortgages.
Whatever military stage you are in, either a recruit with a long-standing military career or about to retire, managing finances will trouble you on top of transitioning to civilian life and health issues. Although you may get a steady paycheck monthly, you also receive monthly bills. Moreover, these bills may increase due to increasing taxes, interest rates, and inflation.
For this reason, sound financial planning is highly crucial. However, being an active military member, the best part is getting free access to financial counseling and planning classes to help you be smart with money and efficiently manage your income and expenses. Keeping these things in alignment, we have listed some essential tips and tricks to help you overcome your financial troubles.
Take Advantage of Trust Funds
Asbestos trust funds refer to companies that declared bankruptcy to pool resources for those affected by asbestos exposure. It is especially beneficial for veterans with mesothelioma who are eligible for a significant amount owing to the severity of the symptoms.
They may also receive Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation and health care benefits. Even if a service member passes away due to mesothelioma, the family is eligible to file for compensation, which can even go up to a million dollars, to cover all financial and non-financial damages faced by the veterans and their families due to the exposure and the subsequent illness.
Devise a Plan
Before making any financial decisions, you must first plan your finances. Lay out a plan including a household budget, bills, and an investment roadmap to help you achieve your short-term and long-term financial goals. It also includes setting aside a certain amount each month as your savings. You can also open a savings account and earn a certain percentage on it each month.
After saving up enough, you must first pay off all your debts before they increase over time because of the time value of money. Next, review your monthly household expenditure and measure it against your income. Finally, you may have to cut down on certain subscriptions or other luxury items that you can live without until your financial situation stabilizes.
Always keep a backup emergency fund in case something unexpected happens. In addition, start saving up for your kids’ college and retirement funds as soon as possible. Additionally, you can consult a financial advisor, lawyer, nonprofit organization, financial planning firm, financial expert at your military installation, or the Military OneSource Program funded by the Department of Defense.
Benefit from Tax-Free in and Tax-Free Out
The government will not deduct taxes from your income if you are in a tax-free combat zone. If you save your earnings in Roth IRA, all your earnings and contributions will be duty-free. In this way, you get double tax benefits.
For example, if you contribute $5,000 this year, you may receive $5,500 the following year. In addition, if your spouse is unemployed, you can contribute on their behalf too. The more you contribute, the higher the gain you can expect.
Take Advantage of Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
The SCRA (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act) provides unique additional benefits to service members, including a 6% cap on interest rates if you take out a loan before beginning active duty. In addition, it provides the right to military personnel to postpone their foreclosure, eviction, help with income taxes and civil court matters, default judgment protection, holding the right to terminate a lease on a house or automobile, and protection of ownership of small business assets, or phone service.
Other benefits include life insurance, protection from repossession of property, voting rights, and professional liability insurance. However, these benefits are contingent on order for Permanent Change of Station (PCS) or a 90-days deployment or more.
Get Help finding a Job as a Military Spouse
The Spouse Education and Career Opportunity (SECO) department of the DOD (Department of Defense) program offers viable employment opportunities to military spouses in line with their skills and experience. It also offers training programs to help them develop skills in demand.
You can develop high-in-demand skills through this program to expect a higher payout. However, even if you possess the skills, this program ensures the appropriate job placement for your spouse.
Learn About Low-Cost Investment Opportunities
Active-duty US service members can get Help from the Thrift Savings Plan to invest in low-cost US treasury securities, domestic and international stocks, and other lifecycle funds for short-term and long-term returns. This year’s contributions amount to $20,500, with an additional limit of $6,500 if you are 50 years of age or above.
You receive a 1% payback each month if you do not contribute. For example, if you contribute 3% of the cap, you will receive a 3% return, adding 5% in the next 1%. However, your spouse is not eligible for a TSP unless they are government employees or service members.
Use Available Housing Resources
The SCRA mentioned above also helps service members with getting affordable housing schemes. These include tax-free land housing, with the advantage of taking out Veterans Administration (VA) loans. In addition, it lets you borrow money with zero down payment without private mortgage insurance.
Therefore, if you face trouble paying your mortgage, you are eligible to qualify for military hardship. It applies if you receive PCS orders, are injured, or are currently on active duty. After becoming eligible, consult with the National Resource Directory to access housing resources for the military.
It is no wonder that military service members face financial troubles during and after service for several reasons. Nevertheless, there are ways to get around it. Before you delve into saving and cost-cutting strategies, you must plan. You must know your options and how you can avail military benefits and see if you qualify for those benefits or not. If you get asbestos exposure, you can file for a claim of asbestos trust funds.
Know how you can get an income tax benefit from Roth IRA and your yearly contributions return. Additionally, consider low-cost investment opportunities with the US treasury securities and stocks. Take advantage of the SCRA that provides multiple benefits to military families, including affordable housing, loan repayments, and housing resources. Consult the SECO to get employment as a military spouse. Once you have all the available options in front of you, you must then plan wisely. Be smart about balancing short-term and long-term investments, savings, and current earnings.