Joe Freeman

The countdown to the fiscal cliff seems ominous. Will we go over the ledge? What happens when/if we do? What about the debt limit, sequestration, tax hikes or tax cuts?  The uncertainty coming out of Washington is enough to make to make your head spin.

The policy debates and news reports are raising many questions from military families and veterans. Those who have bravely served defending our freedom are possibly the ones who stand to lose the most if there is sequestration, tax hikes, budget cuts, or even a government shutdown.

It has been years since the policymakers in Washington have agreed to a budget, setting a very poor example for the rest of us who have to stay within one. There is a continuing resolution that funds the government through March 27, 2013, but as that deadline approaches, the debates over government spending on the military and defense as well as tax policies will resurface once again.

Cuts in veteran’s benefits or jobs, or the slashing of defense budgets have the potential to create an additional burden for service members and their dependents. However, amid all these uncertainties there are things that can help us all be better prepared for whatever solution (or compromise) Washington decides to implement. It’s something military personnel are very familiar with: planning/preparation/discipline.

It is never too late to get your financial house in order. In fact, that’s exactly what Washington is trying to do right now. It isn’t easy to balance a household budget, much less one the size of the federal government.  But if we take the lessons learned in military service and apply them to our own credit cards and check books, we will be in a much better position to deal with whatever compromise is ultimately reached.

Military families and veterans have unique concerns about managing money in these uncertain times, especially when a spouse could be half a world away. The dilemmas are real, but with the right planning, preparation, and discipline one can get ahead of the game.

Joe Freeman

Joe Freeman is President, Pioneer Services, a Division of MidCountry Bank. The company has provided award-winning financial education and financial services to military families for more than 25 years.

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