One survey found that military personnel have higher credit card debt and fewer tangible assets than their civilian counterparts.¹
While the financial situation of military personnel and their families mirrors the general population in many respects, heavy indebtedness and mismanagement of credit cards may be especially acute issues for service members.
Of course, military families face unique challenges, such as deployment to conflict zones, overseas assignments and the constancy of change, making personal finance even more critical.
Money Tips to Consider
- Take Full Advantage of What’s Available
- The Thrift Savings Plan is one way to save for retirement and a Roth TSP is now available.
- The Savings Deposit Program allows eligible personnel serving in designated combat zones to invest up to $10,000 and receive a return up to 10%.²
- Saving in a Roth IRA may be a good idea if you receive tax-free combat-zone pay. This allows you to deposit tax-fee income and take tax-free qualified withdrawals in retirement.³
- The Post-9/11 GI Bill covers the full cost of in-state tuition, up to 36 months.
- Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance protects your family with low-cost life insurance.4
- Set Goals—Like any mission, success begins with articulating goals you want to pursue.
- Establish a Budget—A budget provides the financial discipline that may help you control spending impulses that can lead to greater debt levels.
- Pay Yourself First—Determine how much money you need to set aside to reach your savings goal, deduct this amount from your paycheck, and attempt to live within the limits of what remains.
- Establish an Emergency Fund—Uncertainty marks the life of military families, so be sure you have an emergency fund that allows you to be as prepared as possible for these changes.
- Control Your Debt—Indebtedness is one of the enemies of financial independence.
As you think through your financial goals, remember, taking action today is your first and most important step.
- The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), 2017
- The Savings Deposit Program is a benefit offered to eligible personnel serving in designated combat zones. The guaranteed rate of return is subject to change.
- To qualify for the tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings, Roth IRA distributions must meet a five-year holding requirement and occur after age 59½. Tax-free and penalty-free withdrawal also can be taken under certain other circumstances, such as a result of the owner’s death. The original Roth IRA owner is not required to take minimum annual withdrawals.
- Several factors will affect the cost and availability of life insurance, including age, health and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality and other charges. If a policy is surrendered prematurely, the policyholder also may pay surrender charges and have income tax implications. You should consider determining whether you are insurable before implementing a strategy involving life insurance. Any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.