Military Family Finances--It is Deployment and Holiday Times
Fall has just arrived in most of the country and you have either just recently become connected again after a long deployment; or a member of the family just left for a long one or you are in the middle of one that seems to be lasting forever! And here comes the holiday season--the wonderful time of family, gifts, travel and many other good times!
But your family is separated or just got back together and the rest of the world certainly does not understand the stresses involved in those events! Certainly, not many do. Well if that isn't enough for a military family let's add the planning for a family reunion for the holidays or a well deserved vacation! But... how much do we spend for all of the travel, gifts, hotels, nights out, meals on the road, etc., etc.
I think this was one of the most challenging discussions for my spouse and I during many years of military life. We wanted to be at the events and we wanted to give gifts too but sometimes the pressures just made it a tough time--and then came the bills. Many find themselves deeper in debt or paying for the purchases for several months with lots of interest payments on those credit cards. Sometimes shopping or gift giving is a salve for our wounds as well.
So how do we find the right answers for controlling our spending and coming to agreement while deployed or just returning or maybe even getting ready to leave? First, the key word is agreement. Military families need to be ready to discuss finances before they become "issues"! And it is always better to discuss these in person before or after the deployment if possible. We have some great articles on MilitaryAvenue for financial planning and tips. One from USAA's June Walbert addresses the conflicts that couples sometimes find themselves in and it is an easy to listen to video.
Its hard to discuss something as mundane as spending when you are involved in combat operations or running a household by yourself. But if this discussion is impossible then think about last year. What did we spend and was it a reasonable amount? Did we end up in debt? Set a reasonable budget and stick to it. Agree to something for each category for the holidays, from travel to gifts.
With a plan in place the holidays are more apt to be fun, relaxed and bring great memories for the entire family with smiles and cheer all around! Best Wishes for a great fall and holiday season from the team at MilitaryAvenue!