This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All opinions are 100% mine.
About a week after dropping my husband at the white bus (which I loathed), a pit fell into my stomach.
He left for another 7 month deployment, and I realized I had no idea how to access and pay his upcoming car insurance bill. I knew it was due soon, but the bill went directly to his email. It was unknown how long he would go without access to personal email. Through the stress of deployment prep, we completely overlooked the car insurance bill conversation.
Considering the stories I’ve heard, this was pretty minor.
Several years ago, I tragically learned about a service member who left for deployment without activating his SGLI. His wife and family were left without that benefit after his death.
Or the time I learned about a spouse who did not have access to a joint bank account before her service member’s deployment. When their washer and dryer both broke down in the same week, she was left scrambling to find the money to cover the expense.
9 Money Conversations to Have Before Deployment
These stories may leave you with your own pit in the stomach, but there is good news. All of these situations are completely avoidable with a few straightforward conversations and some basic planning before deployment.
1. How much money do you really have?
It’s important to lay out the facts–all of them. Financial transparency is one of the most powerful things you can do for your relationship. Whether you’ve got a hidden trust fund from great grandma or a mound of credit card debt from college, you’ll want to come completely clean in case something happens to either one of you.
2. What will be your agreed upon budget and savings plan?
Now that you know how much money and debt you have as a couple, you’ll want to consider how you’ll manage that money moving forward. One place to turn if you need financial advice is Navy Federal Credit Union. Since they work specifically with military families, they understand the challenges surrounding deployment.
Here are just a few of their services that can help:
- MakingCents, Navy Federal’s online resource for financial education.
- Navy Federal Financial Group, which provides tailored financial plans for members individual needs.
- Marriage and money advice to help you determine a financial strategy.
3. Do you both have access to a joint account?
Having a joint bank account is especially important during deployment. This allows you both to see transparently how much money is coming and going. If putting all your money flow into the joint account makes your stomach turn, you can absolutely keep only a certain amount there.
Just remember you’ll want a savings emergency fund in case any unexpected expenses occur like a broken appliance, costly car repair or family emergency where you’d need to buy last minute plane tickets.
If you aren’t sure where is best to do your banking, I highly recommend Navy Federal for your checking and savings accounts.
- Navy Federal has a variety of fee-free (Yes!) checking accounts that also earn interest.
- Navy Federal ATMs are conveniently located in grocery stores, 7/11’s and military bases across the country.
- Their Mobile Banking App makes it easy to do your banking online, including depositing checks.
- Plus, they are the credit union for the Armed Forces.
4. Are your financial account beneficiaries updated?
This is so important that both you and your spouse update the beneficiaries on all your accounts before deployment. You absolutely want them up-to-date. I know this may sound crazy, but I’ve known situations where service members inadvertently left their ex-spouses as account beneficiaries after life circumstances changed.
5. Are your wills and power of attorney updated?
Before deployment you’ll want to talk about your wishes and how you’d like decisions (especially financial ones) made on your behalf. This goes for spouses too. You just never know what can happen. Visit your local base legal office for advisement and they’ll walk you through the process step-by-step.
6. Is your SGLI updated?
Remember if the SGLI is not activated, you cannot receive this benefit. Furthermore, if the correct and intended beneficiary is not filled out correctly, you cannot receive this benefit.
If you and your service member aren’t sure the status of SGLI, you can contact you local Personnel Office to make sure the paperwork is correct and you are paying the monthly insurance amount. It’s always wise to double check this information is correct before deployment.
7. Do you each have account numbers, passwords and payment due dates?
If you’re married, it’s likely you have utility, loan and credit card bills that need to be paid monthly. You’ll want access to account numbers, passwords and payment due dates for everything needed to keep your home and life financially running during deployment. You’ll also want to think of a place to safely store this sensitive information.
8. Will you create a LES release for the military spouse to access?
If your service member is concerned that he or she will be out of communication for long periods of time, he or she can create a LES release for you to access that information. This can help you see how pay is broken down and if anything is missing.
9. What accounts can you set to automatic bill pay to avoid late payments?
While this is not necessary, it is a nice option to consider. Setting up automatic bill pay can help make sure everything is paid on time–every time. This can bring a huge sigh of relief during an already very stressful time.
If you’re with Navy Federal Credit Union you can set up automatic payments with Bill Pay through your online banking account.
This is a small list of important money conversations to have before a deployment. There are more conversations that could be added. What money conversations are important to you before deployment? What are some money conversations you missed in the past?