Tips for Savings around the holidays

Here are some ways you can save while you are on a TDY/PCS/Deployment, my husband and I used these techniques and the last deployment we saved pretty good. It is always good to save because you never know when you will have an emergency. The rule is trying to save at least 3 months’ worth of salary.  

The first savings I recommend is automobile insurance. We had three cars on my husband’s last deployment, so what I did was I called USAA, and asked them to change my coverage to where no one was driving it and it was parked in the garage. It was simple, I called them up and they actually suggested it for me. They were pretty reasonable and I got a quote over the phone and it saved me about 50% on a six month premium. That is big time savings and your vehicle is still covered from damages while it waits for you to return.

The next savings I used was with our cell phone plan.  While you are on deployment or even if your solider PCS to a overseas duty station. Cell phone companies will allow you to suspend your accounts and services, I know with Verizon you can do this online. Now you can’t break your contract but you can just suspend the service and take the plan off while the solider isn’t home to use it. 

The third tool was being smart on which phone card to use and how often to use Skype. It is very important to stay in touch with your family and friends while on deployment. Take advantage of Skype and all phone cards. Now you will need to do your research on which cards are reasonable and which cards will eat minutes you might have to play around with a few but if you use Skype (calling from computer to computer) you can avoid these overseas calls. My husband and I have saved a ton on Skype, we both have smart phones that allows us to download the app onto our phone so we “technically” don’t have to be at a computer (but it does work better) when you are on a DSL/Cable connect versus a 4G connection. 

We always start contributing to a retirement savings plan, such as a Roth IRA or the government’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The concept of “out of sight, out of mind” works amazing for anybody that is trying to save.  We had it set up where each of us was depositing $100 a month into my ROTH IRA and my husband had $100 going into the TSP. 

One thing to be careful of is spending money at the PX in Iraq or Afghanistan. You would think that being overseas that you wouldn’t have a chance to really spend any money. That’s not true. The truth is that there are PX’s (Post Exchanges) readily accessible to any soldier.  There you can buy electronics, snacks, magazines, books, etc. 

So my last piece of advice is when you get home from a deployment don’t go crazy on buying new cars, motorcycles, boats or trucks.  I knew a soldier who had reenlisted while were overseas and received a $20,000 tax free bonus.  All of which was gone in the first month of being home!  More importantly, learn from the examples of those who fell into financial traps and avoid those situations.


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