Back to Family

Deployment budgets

Managing through the financial ups and downs of being gone

Pre-planning what could go wrong financially will alleviate the stress when it does during a deployment. Stock photo.

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Deployments are never easy on a family. Throw in some financial distress, and things can easily go sideways.

But it doesn't have to be so hard, especially when you plan for potential pitfalls in advance, according to two money experts with Harborstone Credit Union, Sarah Ballard and Nicole Elliott.

"It's all about sitting down as a couple before a deployment and making some plans," said Elliott, VP of Member and User Experience for Harborstone.

Ballard, a Money Management Coach and Joint Base Lewis-McChord spouse, agreed.

"Knowing what you'll do in advance if something comes up during a deployment relieves a lot of stress."

Here are some tips Ballard and Elliott suggest.

Discuss bills beforehand. Knowing what bills will come during deployment, how much they are, and how you'll pay them is key. A deployment is no time to figure out a budget.

Don't overspend. Often extra money rolls in with deployment pay, among other things, and there is a tendency to want to spend it. Wait until the deployment is over, or agree in advance how much goes toward savings and bills and how the remaining amount should be spent. Arguing is the last thing you want to spend time doing when you're on opposite sides of the globe.

Build emergency savings and pay down debt. Experts at Harborstone remind their members that having cash on hand to handle emergencies is super important for stress relief. Paying down debt is also better than buying new luxuries.

None of these are considered fun. However, debt beyond your means, or not being able to cover a water heater that goes out unexpectedly, is stressful and arguably much less fun to discuss when your partner is overseas.

"These bumps in the road always seem to happen when the service member is deployed," Ballard remarked. Having a discussion about what might happen, and coming to an agreement on how those decisions should be made, also cuts down on miscommunication and arguments.

"Sometimes you also can't get ahold of the other person," Ballard said from experience as a military spouse. "There is more peace of mind when you know that how you are handling things back home is supported by the other person."

Other ways to manage money during deployments include getting paperwork in order. It's important that the partner back home can sign important documents, such as powers of attorney. Also, look at your will. While it is the last thing you want to think of and it may sound morbid, it's important to have just in case. And finally, have a plan if the service member's signature will be needed; know how to handle legal issues should they arise.

Another tip is to sit down with a Money Management Coach, such as Ballard, at Harborstone in advance. They are equipped with all scenarios of these money conversations and can help you get prepared. As an added bonus, many Harborstone Money Management Coaches are military spouses, like Ballard, and know the questions that often come up. Schedule your appointment today by visiting


Read next close

News Front

Eight thousand vaccines on base and counting

comments powered by Disqus