A basic budget should be a part of everyone’s financial planning, regardless of deployment status. A carefully-planned budget helps ensure you have enough money for your daily living expenses as well as for your long-term savings goals.
Basic Budget vs Deployment Budget
To create a budget you need to know three things: your sources of income, how much you need to spend, and how to make the difference between the two a positive number. Whether you are an active-duty family or have been called to active duty from a civilian or reserve job, you will likely have many changes to both your income and spending during a deployment.
Use the spreadsheet below as a starting point for your budget. Tab 1 is for your normal non-deployment income and expenses. Tab 2 suggests some of the changes you may experience during deployment, such as a change in civilian pay, change in military pay due to family separation or danger pay, and changes to daily living expenses as the family at home balances additional maintenance or child care costs.
Balance Your Budget
If the result of your budgeting is a positive number (surplus), stick to your budget, review it each month to make adjustments as needed, and stay on track. Use the extra money for additional savings, to pay off debt, or for additional expenses you may incur throughout the deployment (an extra care package to your loved one!).
If the result is negative (deficit), adjust right away. Don’t immediately assume you have to give up something or get a new job. Here are a few ideas to look at:
Check your income. Are you receiving all your military pay and allowances? There can be a delay in payment if you’ve recently had a change in assignment.
Are you claiming the right number of exemptions on your W-4s for withholding?
Are any monthly payments/deductions about to expire?
Consider turning a hobby into income.
Use your military benefits, facilities, and services.
Swap talents and babysitting with friends, neighbors, and coworkers so you can all save money.
Reduce or refinance a debt so you pay less interest.
Request a deployment/reunion event for your group.
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Terri Barnes collected her best Stars and Stripes columns in her award-winning book Spouse Calls: Messages From a Military Life. Deployment, reunion, moving, motherhood, friendship, and more.
Military Life: Stories and Poems for Children is a collection of original stories and poems that touch on many aspects of military life from a child’s point of view. From moving to making new friends, deployment, homecoming, patriotism, and tender family moments.
Deployment Journal for Spouses: Memories and milestones while my loved one is deployed by Rachel Robertson is a personal journal for anyone who has a loved one deployed with the military. Gentle journal writing prompts and inspirational sayings guide you through deployment and homecoming.