Those who serve our nations’ well being and security, those who fight the hardest in all conditions, those for whom we can dream peacefully – they are the nation’s armed forces. And, of all the things that cause the most stress for our military families, finances is #1.
Some have painful credit card debts to deal with. Some have hefty mortgage payments to make. Or some believe their financial situation is worsening day by day, and they just can’t figure out what jobs they can apply for once their duty is fulfilled to help support their family, and pay down their debt. Frequent PCS’s, TDY’s, and deployments don’t give them enough time to think about their savings and debt payments. But still, at the end of the day, debt is a debt, be it in a normal family, or in a military family.
Tips To Help Military Families Tackle Debt
So, what can the spouse do to tackle debts easily in a military family? Being debt free is a wonderful feeling, but having enough savings for emergencies, and even retirement, is bliss. You may need to make a few lifestyle changes to save more money, than you usually do.
Use the SCRA to your Advantage
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act was passed in 2003, to help military families ease out the pressure of personal finances and debts. If you believe that your family is not getting enough benefits, and/or the creditors are violating the SCRA rules, then you are most welcome to contact a lawyer, and sit down to surface the various options you have.
I can only speak out a couple of rules as directed by the SCRA:
- All loans and credits taken out, prior your spouse joined forces, will be reduced to a flat 6% interest rate on them.
Though you need to qualify for this 6% cap, still if you believe that you are not entertained well by your creditors then you can sue them.
- A lender cannot make a foreclosure on a mortgage taken out by a military during the tenure of the military’s duty.
The creditor requires a court approved license and order, and it is very difficult to get an order approved against a military’s property for foreclosure.
But if you are contacted by any collection agency regarding debt payments, then you can send the agency a validation letter, and then have a talk with your lawyer if you really need to pay off the debt. The FDCPA has laid out its own rules to limit the actions a collection agency can take to collect debts. Violating the FDCPA is really a big deal, and you will be compensated a big amount if the agency is proven guilty.
Budget, Budget, Budget
This is a big game changer. Here are a few things you should do to control finances and budget:
- Rarely use credit cards, and avoid impulsive expenses. Using credit cards means you are borrowing money, with interest! Instead, have those cards ready for emergency expenses.
- Put money in a savings account. Read this post on How to choose the right bank and financial products for military families
- Follow the backward budgeting. First, set aside your savings amount each month on your payday, and then pay your bills with whatever’s left.
Author Bio: Andy Masaki is a blogger and financial content writer associated with the Oak View Law Group. After gaining several experiences related to money in his personal life, he now finds solace in providing people with financial advice and other debt payoff strategies.