Preparing for deployment makes all the difference

Being away is no time for financial calamity

By Ken Swarner on December 18, 2020

Life in the military is about being ready for deployment. You may be duty-ready, but don't overlook preparations on the home front, especially when it comes to your finances, says Carmen Hamilton, a branch manager with Harborstone Credit Union. That includes having or updating essential legal documents, organizing your finances, creating a family care plan, and designing a contingency plan in case things change. Get organized and prepared for your sake and your family's.

Here are the essentials:

Get your paperwork in order.

Don't let deployment paperwork preparation slip off your radar before you leave. Getting your legal affairs in order beforehand will reduce some of the stress when you deploy and gives you more control when you are away.

Top of the list? Hamilton recommends a power of attorney (POA). But that doesn't mean signing your life away.

In cases where full trust may be questionable, POAs can be tailored to just cover those things you trust someone else to do in your absence. You can spell those out and put time limits in as well. Hamilton said places like Harborstone will need a POA that is legally prepared and notarized before they'll communicate with your representative. POAs can be handled by your unit's JAG team.

Other paperwork you will need to gather include the names, account numbers, and contact information for bills and other creditors.

"Sometimes on deployment, you have a limited amount of time to communicate back home, so you don't want to waste that time trying to track down information," Hamilton suggested.

Finally, you may consider establishing a personal line of credit to cover anything unforeseen.  Hamilton said roughly $2,500 to $5,000 in emergency funds should do, and that can be something to have on-hand just in case. That needs to be set up before you go, but only takes a day or two to establish. If you don't need it, there is no cost associated, but it can provide a sense of relief knowing it is there.

Organize your finances.

During your deployment, you may be eligible for military pay entitlements such as a family separation allowance or combat pay. This is an ideal time to save money, pay off debt, or just tidy up your finances, Hamilton said.

Your bank or credit union can set up a savings plan with you, and as your paycheck lands in your account, they'll automatically move some into your savings to help you meet your savings goals.

This will rule out the chance of accidentally spending that extra money, and it will keep you disciplined towards meeting your goal, Hamilton added.

Need help as you prepare for deployment? Harborstone has Money Management Coaches who will sit down with their members and collaborate on ways to manage your finances to reduce stress in your life. Schedule an appointment today at

Military Onesource contributed to this article.