Last week I talked to Jennifer Hemphill of GotHarmoney? to learn more about her life as a military spouse. She shared with us great information such as the lessons she and her husband learned while building a life together in the military and how she managed to build a solid career for herself along the way. Now, Jennifer has even more great advice to share - this time on how to save money when you move away.
When it comes to life in the military, the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. While there are benefits - a chance to live all around the world and explore a variety of cultures that many don't have access to in a lifetime - the unknowns can be tough to deal with. Especially when it comes to your finances. Most people have an "emergency fund", or a savings account set aside for unexpected events like a home or car repair. But how can you build an emergency fund large enough to handle the uncovered costs of a military move?
Plan Ahead As Much As Possible
If you're already on the go for a new location, then this tip isn't as relevant to you right now. However, if you're not due for a move for awhile, now is the time to start planning. Even a PCS that was meant to last for several years can suddenly come to an end, so the more money you save as soon as you can, the better.
The best way to save for a moving fund (or any kind of emergency fund for that matter) is to set up an automatic withdrawal to go from your checking account into this savings account each month. Then make sure this savings account isn't used for anything else. Any other savings you have, such as emergency, education, or retirement funds, should be separate. Having separate savings accounts will allow you to use and replenish your moving funds as necessary without taking away from your other goals and vice versa.
Be Wary of Purchasing a Home
When Jennifer and her husband moved to a location they thought they'd be in for awhile, they decided to buy a home. Unfortunately, they had orders to move sooner than expected and had to resort to renting the home out until they could sell it. This happened to them not once, but twice.
Don't fall into this trap. No PCS is truly permanent and in a tough economic climate a home is difficult to sell. Jennifer and her husband got out of the situation okay, but their savings accounts (and stress level) certainly took a hit. It can be tempting to buy a home though - as Jennifer herself would tell you. Many view renting as a financial drain while buying is an investment. But just like with any investment, don't put the money into it unless you have that money to potentially lose.
For the Military Spouse - Freelance for Extra Money
It's not easy for a military spouse to hold down a career when moving every few years. However, there are more and more opportunities for military spouses to build careers and even earn extra income on the side. Whether you're looking for one or both, look to the military community and resources on base for opportunities.
You might even find that your hobby or new hobbies could turn into extra income. For example, Jennifer knows many military spouses who earn extra income doing photography, selling jewelry through websites like Stella & Dot and Lia Sophia, or getting into direct sales network marketing. Be creative and you just may find a way to carve out some time for a personal hobby while earning extra money to help with moving costs and other financial goals!
Moving even once can make a serious dent in anyone's finances. By following these tips and using available resources, you can be sure to take on each move you have to make in the military and maintain solid financial standing while you do.