Finances in every family can be a contested subject. If your military family member has the potential to deploy, you both should be aware of pay and how to modify your budget when necessary. Let’s be honest, military pay can be difficult to understand (When I first looked at an LES, I was very confused by all the boxes). Good news! There are military specific organizations that can help you in building a budget.
- Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS)– You can make an appointment for you and your spouse to sit down with a financial counselor and make a budget. Bring their LES and any other income information, and this free service will help you make a budget. They can print it out to you or email it to you. Best part if the email it to you is that you have their formulaic excel sheet to plug in numbers to in the future. Check this link to see if there is a location near you.
- Budget for Baby – this is put on NMCRS but this is an amazing opportunity to learn about how to adjust your budget for baby. This is a must do for first time parents. They will walk you through expected costs for babies and how to best utilize your funds to cover those costs. They also give you a budget worksheet to do with your spouse. An awesome perk? They currently give you a baby swag bag filled with a handmade blanket or hat, onsies, formula, coupons and more when you take a class.
- Personal Financial Management Program – Not every base has one, but the big bases usually do. These offices are staffed with personal financial management specialists who can provided one-on-one financial counseling in addition to classes on money management, basic investing and credit and debt management. With the changes to the retirement system to an offering of The Blended Retirement System, there are also classes offered on this (base dependent). These offices also have a budget worksheet in paper and excel version. Utilize this link and select “Personal Financial Management Services” to see if there is a financial counselor near you.
- Military and Family Life Counselors (MFLCs) – This program is mostly utilized to assist families with balancing deployment and reintegration, they also have tools on budgeting. To find financially-savvy MFLCs near you, click here and select “Family Center”.
- Military One Source – This website lists important information on budgeting, how to smartly borrow as well as the blended retirement system. If you want to talk to someone in person, use this link to see if there are counselors near you. If you are prefer a telephone counseling session, you can call them at 800-342-9647. If you are calling from overseas, click here to learn how to call from your specific country.
BONUS for Tax Time: Whether we like it or not, tax time is coming – tomorrow is March…and April is close to follow…so preparing for tax time now will take the last minute stress out of it! Another layer of potential complication for military members and their families is tax time. Maybe you and your spouse have different state taxes to file and federal, and state laws are frequently changing. Check out VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program). These individuals are trained by the IRS and the Department of Defense to understand how to navigate tricky tax situations, and do your taxes for free! Thank goodness for people who want to do taxes! VITA is located at bases CONUS and OCONUS.
How do you budget? Do you use an excel sheet? Apps on your phone? Tell us in the comments!