Military families face many obstacles as they serve their country. Financial demands often exceed income, because of frequent moving costs, deployment, and other constraints. On-duty military and their families face obstacles not experienced by civilians.

Over two million Americans serve in the military and about 173,000 are deployed outside the country. U.S. military families carry higher debt balances and have 16 percent less assets than the civilian population, according to recent study.

Reasons for High Military Debt

Many factors contribute to military personnel’s higher debt, including:

  • Unexpected expenses can come out of nowhere
  • Relocation moves are expensive
  • Spouses experience frequent employment challenges

A family emergency or a new assignment may force military families to borrow money. For example, relocation may require taking out a quick loan for household basics like beds or pots and pans.

Short-term loans are typically expensive with high fees, interest rates and penalties for missed payments. Revolving credit carries high interest and minimum payments that can spiral the cost of the original loan.

How to Avoid Getting into Debt

Living within a budget requires managing every penny spent. Here are a few suggestions about controlling spending:

  • Create a tight, realistic budget and follow it
  • Track expenses by saving receipts and keeping a ledger – smartphone apps can help
  • Save any extra income to help cope with the unexpected

Debt and Your Military Career

The military frowns on debt and can withhold security clearances in some instances. Questions may arise about a service member’s readiness. A challenge to a service member’s ability to fulfill duties can hamper one’s career.

If you are in the military and overburdened by debt get advice from a qualified attorney who can help protect your rights.