Preparing for Deployment: Eight Tips for Your Finances
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You're already serving your country. Now, serve yourself by ensuring your finances are in order before you deploy.

As a servicemember, you undergo rigorous training to ready your mind and body for military service. If you're preparing for deployment, you'll also need to ready your wallet. "When you're in the military, you can be deployed anywhere in the world," says Steve Beres, Vice President of Service Members and Veterans Affairs Manager at Regions. "But it doesn't mean all of your bills stop."

Before you ship out, shape up your finances with these eight tips:

1. Update your estate plan

Before you deploy, create an estate plan to protect your family should something happen to you. Create or update a will, and update the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement accounts, which legally supersede your will.

2. Name a financial power of attorney

When you're deployed, you won't be able to sign loan documents when your spouse needs to repair or purchase a new vehicle, refinance your mortgage, or write a check for the damage when your son hits a baseball into the neighbor's window, for example. So naming a financial power of attorney (POA) — someone who has the legal authority to handle your finances while you're gone — is critical. Speak to your local Judge Advocate's (JAG) office or a qualified attorney to determine the best POA for your situation and objectives.

3. Increase your savings

In case of a financial emergency, such as unexpected medical expenses, you need the funds to cover it. Before you deploy, try to save enough money in an emergency fund to cover at least six months' worth of expenses. Also, consider enrolling in the military's Savings Deposit Program, which allows deployed servicemembers to invest up to $10,000. The program guarantees a 10 percent annual interest, compounded quarterly, on savings deposited while you are deployed and for up to three months after you return.

4. Automate bill payments

If you don't pay bills while you're gone, you could lose your car, utilities may be shut off, and you may significantly damage your credit. Setting up automatic bill pay with the bank that receives your direct-deposit military pay will ensure that everything gets paid in full and on time. Make sure you're able to monitor your balance, though, to ensure you have available funds.

5. Set up mobile banking

You may not have Internet access where you're going. If you do, mobile banking can help you keep tabs on your money, move funds between accounts, and initiate transfers if you need to send cash to a family member. Download your bank's app and set up mobile banking before you deploy to ensure you can access your account.

6. Consult the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act affords numerous protections to servicemembers to ease the legal and financial burdens they face when they're deployed. Among SCRA's protections are provisions that reduce the interest rate on debt incurred before you entered active duty, allow you to break the lease on property you rent, cancel an automobile lease, and avoid or delay home foreclosure. Review these protections, so you can seek relief where it's offered. Also know your rights and benefits under the Military Lending Act (MLA), which includes an interest rate cap, no prepayment penalty, and other protections.

7. Review your insurance policies

If you have insurance on your car, home, or other property, talk to your insurance agent. Providers may be willing to adjust your policy and premiums while you're deployed.

8. Protect your credit

Help protect yourself from identity theft while you're away by contacting each of the three major credit reporting bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — and asking them to put an active duty alert on your credit report. This tag requires businesses issuing credit in your name to take extra steps to verify your identity. Active duty alerts last for one year and can be renewed to match your period of deployment.

Between the mission in front of you and your family back home, you'll have a lot of things on your mind while you're deployed. But if you take the time to plan before you leave, your finances can be less of a worry. Learn more about Regions' commitment to members of the U.S. military and their families.

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This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Information provided and statements made by employees of Regions should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal, or tax advice. Regions encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation. Information provided and statements made by individuals who are not employees of Regions are the views, opinions, or positions of the individual who made the statement and do not necessarily reflect the policies, views, opinions, and positions of Regions. Regions makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented.