Congratulations on your marriage! As your adventure begins, take a moment to watch this video on the “three C’s” of good marital finances – communication, coordination, and of course commitment!
As a newly married military couple, here are a few immediate tasks you need to take care of as you begin your new life together:
- Enroll in DEERS – Add your new spouse and any dependent children to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) to qualify for military benefits. This needs to be done together and in person at the DEERS office. Here are the steps:
- Obtain an original copy of your marriage certificate. This is NOT the same as your wedding license or the certificate you may have signed on the day of your wedding. In most places, an official marriage certificate is issued by the clerk’s office in the city, town, or county where the wedding took place.
- Obtain birth certificates and Social Security cards for your new spouse and any dependent children.
- Take all paperwork with two forms of identification, one of which needs to be a photo ID to the nearest DEERS office.
- Get military ID cards for your new spouse and any dependent children age 10 and older at the installation ID facility.
- Visit the finance office and update your new marital status. Married service members are entitled to a higher Basic Allowance for Housing.
- If your new spouse is foreign-born and will be applying for U.S. citizenship, check with the Military Personnel Section Office to learn about potential reimbursement of associated expenses.
More “to-do’s” after your “I do’s”
- Memorize your Service member’s Social Security number. Many benefits are tied to this number so it makes life easier if you know it by heart.
- If you or your spouse change your name, update your driver’s license and Social Security card and make any necessary changes to legal documents, like a will or power of attorney. Get tips for creating an estate plan with our learning guide.
- Have your new spouse familiarize themselves with your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES). Ensure your LES reflects your updated marital status.
- A military spouse may find job opportunities with the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program. Also, each branch of service has programs on the installation to support military spouses with employment opportunities. Learn more about these programs at MilSpouse Money Mission.
- Explore grants, scholarships, and other educational benefits with the My Career Advancement Account Scholarship Program (MyCAA).
- Know which retirement system is applicable to your Service member.
- Legacy Retirement System (Legacy)
- Blended Retirement System (BRS)
- Understand the military’s health insurance program – TRICARE
Communication is the key to any good relationship, so don’t let that good advice stop when it comes to talking about money. Here are a few resources to help you and your spouse get started and align financially.
Building a solid financial future together begins with aligning your financial priorities. Having financial goals that you can both work toward will have a greater chance of success. Use the Goal Setting Worksheet to turn your dreams into SMART goals, help you prioritize, and create an action plan to reach your goals.
Talking openly about your finances early can help reduce stress and promote financial contentment. Coming together to devote some time to money conversations now can save countless uncomfortable situations later. Have a discussion with your spouse and consider the following questions:
- Who will pay the bills? Will this mainly be one spouse’s job? What happens if there is a deployment?
- How will you track expenses and stay on budget?
- Will you keep bank accounts separate, open joint accounts, or some combination of both?
- How will you handle existing debt?
- How much will you save and invest?
Creating a budget is a key aspect of financial security. As you develop goals and combine finances, be sure to make a solid budget for your household. To stay on the same page and ahead of surprises, review it often and as life happens.
It’s critical to set aside money in a separate account to save for emergencies. Even if you can only add a little each month, like $10 or $20, every little bit helps! Flat tires, broken appliances, and all other unexpected expenses are just a way of life, so it’s best to start setting this money aside as soon as possible. It will help you avoid using credit and the added interest expense.
Learn more about how to create an emergency fund with our learning guide
The military provides healthcare coverage through TRICARE. Coverage options depend on your military status and location. Active Duty and certain Guard and Reserve spouses and family members have two plan options: Prime or Select. Other Guard and Reserve spouses and family members are covered under TRICARE Reserve Select. TRICARE Reserve Select requires continuous regular payments to stay enrolled. Irregular drill pay can cause your family to be dropped until the next open enrollment period. Make sure you understand your coverage.
If you have civilian coverage, it’s important to coordinate benefits between TRICARE and the other provider because TRICARE typically becomes the secondary coverage. Make sure to review your policy deductibles, co-pays, prescription coverage, and in-network and out-of-network care.
Property insurance includes:
Auto coverage: Make sure that you have adequate auto insurance and revisit your coverage with every permanent change of station (PCS) move and deployment.
Home coverage: Homeowners insurance provides coverage to help offset financial burdens if your home or possessions are stolen or destroyed.
Renters coverage: Don’t overlook renters insurance, which covers you if your possessions are damaged or stolen while renting a property.
Each family has unique circumstances and needs, so carefully review your coverage in each of these areas and ensure that your level of protection is appropriate.
Life insurance can be a difficult topic to discuss, especially when you’re just starting a marriage, but getting ahead can help you feel comfortable that your spouse and family will be taken care of.
Your credit report and credit score have a big impact on your financial life —and it’s important to know how to handle credit and manage any debts you and your spouse may have or acquire. A credit score between 300 and 850 is what lenders consider when offering terms on a loan.
Income taxes change once you are married. Everyone’s situation is different, so it is best to meet with a tax professional for guidance. For additional help, visit Military OneSource to access free MilTax services.
As you join in union with your new spouse, it’s important to update your estate plan including your will and power of attorney.
Here are some trusted military community resources you can use for support throughout your marriage:
- MilSpouse Money Mission has financial information and resources specifically for military spouses.
- Military OneSource has resources and information to help understand benefits, get relationship help, find financial support, and more.
- Military and Family Support Centers and Personal Financial Managers are on each installation and provide guidance and support for many challenges facing military families. Additionally, many installations offer new MilSpouse orientation.