Numerous moves can be a common part of military family life and they have their good points – you get to see new places and meet new people – and their not so good points – it can be financially draining.
To help you stay ahead of the game, here are some financial tips for when you’re packing your Dodge Dart and getting ready for a PCS (permanent change of station.)
Keep Your Spending Flexible
Unemployment is a big problem for military spouses, but telecommuting jobs are lessening the burden for many who have frequent PCSs. There are organizations, such as the Milspo Project, which offer advice and encouragement to military spouses who wish to start their own business; another good way to avoid unemployment. The thing to remember if you don’t find a job straight away at your next station is to adjust your spending accordingly. Don’t make the mistake of not planning for the fact that you may not find work immediately and not changing your lifestyle. You may have to get used to living on one income for a while.
Consolidate Your Retirement Accounts
If you have been in stable employment throughout numerous PCSs, you may have multiple retirement accounts throughout one or several states. It might be a good idea to consider consolidating them so you can invest them more efficiently. Or think about rolling them over into an IRA.
Make the Most of Tax Breaks
Members of the military service are allowed to maintain legal residence in on state even though they have been transferred to another. This is beneficial if you live in a tax-free state, such as Texas or Florida, and are then you get stationed to another state where your income would otherwise be taxed. As a military spouse, you can also maintain your state of residency, even if you have to move.
Make the Most of Housing Breaks
Military personnel move often, and usually with little notice. However, this is compensated with a few perks, such as access to Veterans Administration loans (one of the only ways to get a loan without making any down-payment) and a tax-free housing allowance. You can find out more about these here.
Keep the Bills Under Control
Getting deployed can throw your finances out of kilter, especially if the person being deployed is the one whole usually handles the finances. If you’re a civilian spouse and you’re staying at home while your partner is stationed away, you need to go over the household finances together before deployment, so that you know when the mortgage payment is due and when the utilities need paying.
If you’ve just moved to a new city and you’re looking for a new job, make the most of any available resources. Use job search engines and check Craigslist daily. Sign up for job alerts in your field and location. Make sure you’re readily available for interviews. If you’re having difficulty finding employment, be prepared to take a temporary or seasonal job.
What are your tips for getting by as a military family?