Romance & Money
Special Issues for Military Families
Surviving financial hardship
Vanessa in Jonesboro, Arkansas:
"My fiancÃ© and I are getting married in two weeks. At the end of June, he and
his reserve unit will ship off to Iraq for an undetermined amount of time. While
he is gone, he will not receive salary from his regular job as a
telecommunications project manager, but they will keep his job open for him
until he returns. Since it appears things are coming to a close in Iraq,
hopefully he won't be gone long.
However, I am concerned about keeping our collective heads above financial water
while he's gone. We will have less than half our normal income. His salary was
$65,000.00, mine is only $20,000.00. His military pay is close to mine. This is
a huge financial hit for a young couple that hasn't started saving yet.
What can I do to cut costs and protect our credit in the absence of the
additional $45,000.00 that we've grown so accustomed to? HELP!
I admire your pro-active concerns about your credit and financial situation.
In your question you donâ€™t reveal any particulars, so I will start with some
First, if you have a wedding coming up, and not a simple justice of the peace
marriage, pull all your friends and family together and spend a day on the phone
calling the guests. Plant the seeds of patriotism. We all wonder what we can do
in times like these. Supporting our troops and their families is paramount in my
Let them know that since your loved one has been called to serve, there will
be a money tree (giving opportunity) at your reception. No gift of support will
be too small. This is an old tradition that got lost somewhere in our
politically correct (yet often financially inept) society. In my opinion there
is no more appropriate gift for a young couple just starting out than money.
Now, stash whatever you receive in a bank account for emergencies only!
Other than that, there are five additional things you should do:
Jointly decide what your monthly goals are while your spouse
is away. In other words, develop a plan, and work the plan. Without honest
communication and short term goals, you never will reach your long term
Between whom there is hearty truth there is loveâ€¦
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Put away your debit card. Itâ€™s too easy to
use. Carry only the amount of cash you need to spend. You will know this
amount by creating a livable budget. See my past columns section and
click on â€˜monthly budget worksheetâ€™ to get started.
Record your daily and weekly spending habits in a notebook
that you carry with you at all times. This includes; gasoline, coffee, gum,
and pantyhose. Everything!
Restructure all debt while rates are low.
In addition to the mortgage and credit cards, refinance auto loans. Take a
look at all debt, and reduce the interest you pay. Since you are not yet
legally married, have your spouse reduce his interest rates before he leaves,
or have him leave you with a notarized "power of attorney" to do this for him.
Some companies will accept this. Some wonâ€™t. All you have to do is call the
creditors and ask them to lower the rates. Then ask them if thatâ€™s the best
rate available for you. Check out other companies with 0 percent on loan
balance transfers. BUT be aware of what other charges may be involved, and
when that rate will adjust to something higher. Weigh the proâ€™s and cons of a
balance transfer carefully.
Then put your credit cards in a safe deposit box, or the
equivalent, and use them ONLY when absolutely necessary.
I will add one more thing: if you own property jointly or have joint debt,
be sure he has a life insurance policy that names you as
beneficiary, and visa-versa.
The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your
Kin Hubbard (1868-1930)
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