When your soldier deploys for a lengthy period, normality goes out of the window for a while, and so can your financial health if you’re not careful. So how can you manage your money well while they’re away? AFF’s money & allowances specialist, Claire Hallam, has some handy advice…
Before they go
If you’re not earning a wage yourself, make sure that you’re able to access money. A joint bank account is an obvious way, but if you’d rather not go down that route, there are other options. You could set up a standing order or direct debit for a regular amount, or your soldier could give you temporary access to their account. Speak to your bank or building society in advance.
Calling companies about things like utilities, broadband and phones can be a pain if you’re not the main account holder. Set up a password or get authorisation to discuss details so you can sort any issues directly. The last thing you want is no Sky TV for a few months because the provider won’t speak to you as the account is not in your name.
Make sure you know where all important documents are kept such as car and life insurance. Put them all together in a safe place. Ensure that your soldier has updated their will and checked that their nomination form is current.
When your soldier is deployed you may want to visit your family for support. If you’re eligible, Concessionary Travel for Families is an allowance to enable you to travel to see them. The number of journeys that can be claimed varies depending on certain factors so ask your soldier to speak with the unit HR admin for details.
It’s tempting to spend money on days out and treats to compensate for your soldier being away but be careful not to overdo it. Look out for events and discounts offered by the unit welfare team and don’t forget that, as spouses and partners, you can get a third off journeys with an armed forces railcard.
You can also sign up for the Defence Discount Service to get money off many products and services.
Whilst it may not be a hot topic in the few moments you get with your soldier during a long-distance Skype or phone call, it’s still important to talk about money and keep the lines of communication open, particularly if you’re finding it difficult to manage.
Your soldier may receive extra money at the end of certain deployments. Armed forces advice service, MoneyForce recommends: “This is a great chance to pump up your money fitness, so in these situations it’s important to make the most of this opportunity and use your money as effectively as possible.” There are some great tips at moneyforce.org.uk.
When returning from deployment for certain operations or assignments, you can claim council tax relief. Your unit HR admin will have more information. For further guidance on allowances, visit discovermybenefits.mod.gov.uk or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org