Managing your family finances can be a challenge, especially when your spouse is deployed. This section is intended to help you budget and money plan, so the time apart isn't as stressful as it could be. Careful planning and positive communication are the keys to a healthy financial relationship.
If you don't know how to manage a chequebook, learn now. Don't wait until you have financial problems to learn how to reconcile your bank statements. Your local CAB, NPFS or RM Welfare can help. Also, if you are both using chequebooks make sure you both have a book with adequate number of cheques in each.
Make a Budget
Your budget should contain bills that you pay every month, such as mortgage or rent, loans, insurance, phone bill, etc; as well as other payments made that are not monthly. This will help you have an understanding of your expenses and assist in deciding how much spare cash you have for non-essentials. The links below can help with budgeting, and if your maths is a little rusty, there is also a budget pro forma that does the calculations for you.
Web site: Consumer Credit Counselling Service Budget Advice
Web site: Personal Budget Calculator
You need to decide who is going to take responsibility for monitoring the statements. If they just lie around unopened either at home or on ship, by the time they are checked it could be too late to save you from disaster.
Agreeing Spending Limits
Once you have agreed a budget you can now decide how the remainder is used. For deployed sailors and marines spending sprees can be a great temptation as goods can be very inexpensive in some countries. It is easy to go wild and leave your partner with insufficient funds at his / her end for items like food or rent money! Honest communication is necessary here to achieve a realistic personal fund for both your needs.
One way to achieve this is either to:
Plan Early and Often
It's best to agree these things before the deployment. Communication is often at a minimum and phone calls can be costly (a £200 phone bill won't help your situation) and you may not hear from your partner by phone or E-mail for several weeks. A lot of damage can be done during that time. Talk before you deploy, and be fair to each other. You both need to understand your money and agree on a plan of how to use it wisely.
Power of Attorney
If you are likely to be involved in the buying or selling of a house while on deployment, it might be worth considering giving 'Power of Attorney' to your spouse or solicitor. This will enable documents to be signed on your behalf and help speed up the process. Equally, if you have joint accounts it may be a good idea to have it set up so that either of you have authority to speak to the bank or building society: for example, if the cards are stolen it would be useful if either of the account holders could advise the bank rather than relying on the first named or the signature of both of you - a process which can cause an unacceptable time delay if one of you is deployed.