Being a post-military family we, much like many other families I’ve spoken to, live on a single ‘income.’ This is particularly due to my husband’s disabilities. Others may have two incomes, but not enough to cover bills, food, various essentials AND put money away in savings. Or their incomes may be inconsistent and unstable. Income is not the only financial challenge post-military families may have to endure.
U.S. News published an article in 2012 addressing the financial challenges veteran and military families face. It talked abut 5 challenges military and veteran families face:
Deployments can put a strain on finances. Regardless if the veteran is single or has a family during this time. My husband has talked to me a few times about the difficulty of trying to manage finances while he was deployed. Placing utilities on hold or canceling them altogether, finding storage for belongings and maneuvering any challenges with housing.
2. PCS (=Moving every few years)
Moving every few years puts a strain on finances. Think: new area, new house, different places to go shopping-it sucks when you go from having 10 different options to go grocery shopping down to 2-3 options. New utility bills, different taxes, finding new drapes- Yes. That’s really a thing. It literally seems like we ended up with 20 different sets of curtains and drapes in 20 sizes over the last 20 years. Why can’t every house in the world just have the same window sizes?
3. Balancing the career of the spouse
Moving every few years may restrict the spouses career choice(s). That’s if the spouse has the chance to make a path for their own career. Overseas PCS is the worst; unless you happen to a native to whatever country the military decides to send your spouse to. In my situation, I have a scarce work history. This makes it very difficult to find, establish and keep a career as a spouse. Military/Veteran spouses are bad-asses. We are like the ace in the deck of cards– versatile, not always taken seriously and totally amazing when we do get the chance to show off our skills!
4. Finding a financial adviser who understands military benefits
Many of us, especially us younger folks, don’t necessarily seem to seek out financial advisers. Who cares about Roth IRAs, Group Life Insurance, Stocks and Thrift Savings Plans? Having said that, for those of us who do want to seek financial advise; it can be difficult to find one who understands military benefits.
5. Transitioning out of the military
This is probably one of the greatest challenges military families will face. From personal experience, transitioning from the military lifestyle into the civilian world has been one of the most difficult things we’ve faced as a family. It sucks. I’m not going to sugar-coat anything here. My husband’s discharge was relatively quick and we weren’t prepared for it at all!
Yet another article from Care2 addressed the medical and social problems veterans face:
6. Unemployment rate
The most recent numbers show an increase in unemployment among veterans. And looks like it hit the post-9/11 and Gulf war vets the most. That’s not even addressing the potential underemployment many veterans and their families face. We have personally struggled with this for over 8 years now. When my husband did get a job, he wasn’t able to keep it for very long; because of his disabilities. So the last few years, his disabilities have gotten worse and his ability to work is practically non-existent.
7. PTSD, TBI, or a combination of the two
TBI and PTSD have been dubbed the “signature wounds” of war. If your veteran has been diagnosed with either one, or both, you may very well understand the complications that comes with it. Doctor’s appointments, missed work, employment challenges and reckless spending habits can all contribute to financial problems.
8. VA Backlog
Even though the VA backlog has dramatically improved over the last few years, there are still over 70,000 claims part of the backlog as of 08/13/2016. This does NOT include claims in the Appeals process though. The backlog was one of the main reasons we ended up (technically) homeless twice. With an estimated appeals backlog of over 150,000 cases in 2015 alone, it’s easy to see why some post-military families may be struggling financially!
Although, these articles are a few years old, they address so many issues we’ve personally faced. And from what other caregivers and spouses and I have discussed over the last few years, these issues are still relevant. Yes, statistics may show that homelessness among veterans has dropped significantly. But that does not take away the very real housing challenges many post-military families face.
We’ve listed a few financial challenges post-military families may face.
Now, how can we fix this?
What can we, as spouses and caregivers, do to ease the pain?
Whether you have a single or a two person income, one of the best ways to ease the financial pain is the same thing the military drills our veterans about religiously!
Be prepared at all times to face these challenges.
We are currently in the process of becoming debt free ourselves, after years of crazy spending habits. And we’ve learned the hard way that shit can easily hit the fan- fast and hard!
Our service members train and prepare for every possible negative outcome and hurdle. They often times start to prepare before they even attend Basic training. Physical Training, AIT (Advanced Individual Training), multi-state exercises, TDY (Temporary Duty), weapons qualification, and the list goes on and on!
If there is something to train and prepare for, the military will do it!
So, how do we prepare for financial life after the military?
I will tell you from personal experience that overspending may very well be one of the biggest threats to our ability to properly prepare. I am so guilty of this. Even with limited income, I still find myself spending money on things that may be more than what we need. This happens especially with food. I buy coffee and tea when I’m out, so I’ve made it a habit to budget about $25 per month for this expense. However, that’s $25 I could use to pay down a bill.
The point is this:
Know your way out!
Know your exits!
Know exactly what you need to do to prepare yourself for the worst case scenario . Only you can determine what your personal worst case scenario is. And if you’re close to or already right in the midst of it, reevaluate and then recalculate your situation. Then adjust fire!
Prepare for the worst and never give up!
Check out my take on how to save $1,000 with just two easy steps!
Do you think this list is fairly accurate? Please feel free to comment or email me.
Disclaimer: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please view my disclosure policy.