Get the app
Get the app

Join millions of investors on Stash

Investing, simplified

Start today with as little as $5
Get the app

Talk Money to Me: Military Money Coach Helps Spouses Save

May 12, 2017

  • Don’t let regular deployments cause family budget chaos
  • Rather than spending, build momentum by investing
  • Take advantage of military services for financial assistance
3 min read

Life in the military doesn’t always move in formation.

Known as the Military Spouse Coach, Krista Wells often works with clients who are in the midst of a career transition: After all, active-duty military families relocate 10 times more often than civilian families (they do so, on average, every 2 to 3 years). This can make it tough for the people left at home (spouses and/or children) to find continuity of any kind.

“[Spouses] might have had jobs but no career direction,” says Wells, a therapist, coach and speaker based in West Hartford, Connecticut. “Some of my clients have moved so much, and have so many gaps in employment that I say their resumes look like Swiss cheese.”

While figuring out work is vitally important, conversation often turns to equally profound questions about “health, wealth, or relationships,” says Wells, who is herself married to a Marine.

Squad(ron) goals

In honor of Military Appreciation Month and Military Spouse Appreciation Day, we asked Wells to share the four financial questions that you should be asking yourself, no matter what you do for work.

Be strategic

Many military families start out on relatively small incomes, says Wells. “But there is real power in a consistent paycheck if you’re smart and if you have your spouse on board.” 

Deciding to save the $100 that you’d otherwise spend on alcohol can be transformative, if you put it in a mutual fund.

“It builds momentum: All of the sudden, you have $150,” she says. “Then, all a sudden, you have a nest egg.”

Get the intel

Regular deployments can be tough on a couple.

“It can become a big, negative cycle, especially if you don’t have an eye on planning,” says Wells. “He could come home with a mentality of ‘I want to be rewarded,’ and go out and buy a car you can’t afford.”

Active-duty military families relocate 10 times more often than civilian families

It’s an example that shows that the financial challenges faced by members of the military are universal: So many of us, at every age and income level, struggle to know what to spend and what to save.

A lot of time people will say, ‘I have the money in bonds,’ or ‘I have a 401(k),’ but they won’t necessarily know what that means—what the interest rates are, for example,” says Wells.

Continuously review your accounts—and your spending.

“Sometimes, the more you make, the more you spend,” says Wells.

Strength in numbers

There are loads of available resources to help you answer this question, both on and off duty. Military families can go to their base for help. 

“Ask, who do you have to help me understand pre-tax savings?” suggests Wells. “Or to help me understand my health care?”

Active-duty families and veterans alike can also contact USAA (the United States Automobile Association), which provides a range of financial and banking products for military families.

Earn your R&R

Money may be tight, but you can have a great Christmas—you can even go to Disney World, says Wells, who recently returned from traveling there with her husband and four kids.

“It’s about finding the balance of what you want to spend and what you want to use—and knowing that you can still put money into your savings and 401(k),” she says.

For Wells, there’s one sure sign that you’re in over your head: “If the fear of the credit card bill is greater than the fun of seeing the joy in your children’s eyes,” she says.

“The frustration shouldn’t override the fun.”

By Sarah Robbins

Next for you
Stashing While Serving: Military Stashers Are Saving Beyond Their Years

Investment Profile

Bonds Worldwide

An International Bond ETF on Stash

Learn more
Explore more articlesChoose a topic to learn more about
social media love and money politics Careers budgeting

This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, represents an assessment of the market environment as of the date of publication, is subject to change without notice, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice or opinion. Stash assumes no obligation to provide notifications of changes in any factors that could affect the information provided. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice regarding any issuer or security in particular. The strategies discussed are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation to purchase or sell, or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. There is no guarantee that any strategies discussed will be effective.

Furthermore, the information presented does not take into consideration commissions, tax implications, or other transactional costs, which may significantly affect the economic consequences of a given strategy or investment decision. This information is not intended as a recommendation to invest in any particular asset class or strategy or as a promise of future performance. There is no guarantee that any investment strategy will work under all market conditions or is suitable for all investors. Each investor should evaluate their ability to invest long term, especially during periods of downturn in the market. Investors should not substitute these materials for professional services, and should seek advice from an independent advisor before acting on any information presented. Before investing, please carefully consider your willingness to take on risk and your financial ability to afford investment losses when deciding how much individual security exposure to have in your investment portfolio.

Past performance does not guarantee future results. There is a potential for loss as well as gain in investing. Stash does not represent in any manner that the circumstances described herein will result in any particular outcome. While the data and analysis Stash uses from third party sources is believed to be reliable, Stash does not guarantee the accuracy of such information. Nothing in this article should be considered as a solicitation or offer, or recommendation, to buy or sell any particular security or investment product or to engage in any investment strategy. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. Stash does not provide personalized financial planning to investors, such as estate, tax, or retirement planning. Investment advisory services are only provided to investors who become Stash Clients pursuant to a written Advisory Agreement. For more information please visit www.stashinvest.com/disclosures.