Deployments can cause a lot of disconnection between you and your spouse. It can be REALLY tough to communicate due to factors like opposite schedules and communication restrictions. Unfortunately, some couples get off track with their finances during this time because of the inevitable difficulties. Still, you can combat those headaches with a little planning and communication.
Make a Plan
The first thing that you need is a good plan. What does a financial plan look like? You should map out who will deal with what responsibilities. Establish things like:
- Who will monitor the bank accounts?
- Who will make the car payments and rent payments?
- Who will set aside cash for personal spending?
Essentially, look at each facet of your expenses and figure out who will be monitoring what. If you don’t, things will inevitably get lost in the shuffle. This can result in missed payments and other financial stressors. If you’re not dealing with a deployment yet, you can prep for your financial wellness by being as organized as possible. Then, when deployment time comes, it will be easier to make the transition. You should also ensure that the proper power of attorney documents are established for the stateside spouse to complete financial tasks when they come up.
Normally, my husband and I talk about our budget every week. It helps us stay on track because we know what to expect. That quickly changed when he went on an assignment overseas. During the few times that we could talk, we didn’t really want to talk “money.” So, we communicated about monetary expectations and parameters before he left.
Because he was stationed in a remote area, we decided that I would handle all of the bills, savings and financial planning for the duration of his assignment. We created a budget to stick to – this eliminated many questions and gave us a map of our needs and goals. Then, when questions or changes came up, we discussed those.
Without a budget, you’re left guessing. This can result in financial disorganization and can create stress in your relationship. Set a budget to help you establish boundaries. This will give you a roadmap of how to keep things on track. If you need further assistance, visit a financial counselor on your installation, learn more about financial counseling on Military OneSource or call 800-342-9647.
Disagreements and surprises will inevitably come up. Work through those together and use them to help you set boundaries and future expectations. Open communication can solve a myriad of problems.
If something isn’t going according to the plan, you MUST communicate with your partner about it. This can look different for every couple. Here are some ideas to get you thinking about what might work best for you:
- If you can’t talk over the phone much, create a weekly financial recap email for your spouse to review at his or her convenience.
- Review the budget together once or twice a month – talk about where you did well and where you could change.
The bottom line? Every couple’s deployment financial plan can look very different. If you need to meet a couple of times a month, do that! If one person can handle all of the finances during deployment, then so be it! Just make sure that you remember the basics: Make a plan, set parameters and communicate. If you and your partner have those three key factors established, you’re on track to keep things in check.