How to Save Money While Deployed
By Ryan Guina
Posted in Credit Cards
One of the financial benefits of being deployed is being able to bank some extra cash if you play your cards right. Obviously it depends on the financial obligations you have before you deploy, but the opportunity is there. Deployments cover virtually all of your living expenses, giving most military members the opportunity to save a lot of money while deployed. Even servicemembers who support family back home can benefit from the tax free deployment pay they receive while deployed.
Here are some tips that can help you save money while deployed. Some of these tips require a bit of advanced planning while other actions can be initiated during or after your deployment. These are general tips, so be sure to tailor them to your specific situation.
Saving Money at Home
Individuals who live alone prior to deployment can benefit from the following money saving tips.
- Lower Car Insurance Expenses. Contact your car insurance agent to request a reduction in premiums. If your vehicle will be parked and not driven (at all) by anyone else, most insurance companies will work with individuals who will be deployed. By putting your car on a vacation policy you may be able to greatly reduce your monthly premiums. I was usually able to cut my premiums in half when I deployed because no one was driving the vehicle while I was gone.
- Shut off utilities. If you do not live in an area that experiences extreme temperatures, you could save a few hundred dollars a month by turning off your utilities. If you rent, be sure to check with your landlord to determine if there are any rules restricting an individual from turning off utilities. Clean out the fridge, prop open its door unplug it. Of course, leave the smoke alarms intact, but feel free to shut off everything else.
- Rent a storage unit. An extreme measure (but one that can save you big) is to pack up your personal belongings and place them in storage. You will have storage fees but save a bundle on rent. Note: This may be against DoD policy; I never did it, but knew several people who did.
Save Money by Reducing Interest
- Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act is a piece of legislation is in place to protect deployed military members from collection actions that may be taken against you while you are unable to respond. This Act may make it possible to break your rental or lease agreement for a car or apartment without penalty. It may also allow you to reduce the amount of interest you are required to pay while deployed, delay legal proceedings, and other financial and legal benefits. Becoming familiar with the benefits in this Act can save you thousands of dollars.
- Transfer credit card balances. Contact your credit card company to request a lower interest rate (some companies, such as USAA do not charge you interest on your credit cards while you are deployed). If your credit card company won’t decrease your interest rates, then consider transferring your credit card balance to a card with a lower interest rate. Always read the fine print to ensure you are not paying more in fees to transfer a balance than you will save in reduced interest.
Pay off Debt Early
A great way to save money in the long term is to apply additional payments to your current financial obligations. Paying down credit card balances, car loans, other debts and even your mortgage can be fairly easy with the additional income you will likely be earning during deployment. These actions can quickly reduce your debt and make it possible to apply your money to other financial goals.
Ryan served a tour in the US Air Force and is the primary author and editor of Cash Money Life. He also runs the military money website The Military Wallet.