Welcome to the military family! Getting married is fun and exciting. As newlyweds, you'll spend a lot of time getting to know each other in a new setting. You'll learn more things that you love about your spouse and a few things you'll learn to love. Military marriage adds a layer of adventure and unknown, which often leads to hard conversations. Over the years, you'll become a pro at navigating decisions about finances, relocation and career choices.
The best part about a military marriage is that you don't have to do it alone. You and your spouse have an amazing support system ready to offer advice. As a spouse of a retired service member, one of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to schedule a conversation about expectations every time something changes in your life. Unmet expectations are a big drain on relationships.
How and Why to Have Tough Discussions about Money
Many of our parents taught us to avoid money discussions. It was rude to ask what people made or spent on things. But if we don't talk about money, how will we learn? Discussing your financial goals and spending habits will help you work together to build a household budget. You may discover one of you is a spender and the other a saver. You can discuss your joint income and expenses and determine what you want to save for together.
Scheduling these challenging discussions, instead of springing them on each other, can avoid an argument. Many married couples have regular financial meetings, working together to plan and achieve their goals. These discussions, which have the potential to get heated, can help you learn more about your spouse, which will help the longevity of your marriage.
Why Do You Need Insurance as a Newlywed?
One of the discussions you may have is about insurance. It's tempting to skip this topic, because the military offers life and health insurance. However, before you know it, it will be time to consider a reenlistment or career change, and you'll need to learn about civilian insurance.
Starting an insurance plan young gives you some advantages. You can lock in premium pricing on policies when you are relatively young and in good health -- which is always cheaper than if you wait to purchase coverage. Life insurance outside of the military-provided policy is important for a few reasons.
First, you can customize the coverage to what you need for each spouse. The Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI) covers the service member up to $400,000, and the Family Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (FSGLI) only covers $10,000 for children and $100,000 for the spouse. (Note that the maximum amount of SGLI coverage available to servicemembers is increasing to $500,000 on March 1, 2023.) Both policies expire after separation, FSGLI immediately and SGLI 120 days after. You'll want to make sure you have a plan that supports your family in the worst-case scenario, which starts now.
How Much Coverage Do You Need?
When discussing insurance coverage with your new spouse, you'll have to consider a few areas of your current financial situation. As your financial -- and family -- situation changes, you'll want to make sure your coverage matches your needs. It's a good idea to reevaluate your coverage needs regularly. Here are a few questions to answer to help you determine what you need.
How much will it cost to pay off your current debt?
When you combine individual and joint debt, how much does that total? Think about credit-card debt, student loans, vehicles and your mortgage. You'll need at least this much in coverage to pay these off.
How much will the funeral and burial services cost?
Most people only think about these costs after they happen, and they can add up quickly. If your service member dies on active duty, their survivor receives a death gratuity and SGLI payout to help cover those immediate costs. But that may not be enough. Travel expenses quickly add up if you are not living near family or where you'd want to have a service.
How much money does each spouse make?
How will you offset the lost income if your expenses require both incomes? Consider additional costs like retirement fund contributions and college savings.
How much do you need to replace household contributions?
Many people underestimate exactly how much money it would take to replace the duties of a parent. Child care is the most prominent and expensive, particularly if one spouse stays at home, but what else would you need to outsource around the house in your spouse's absence?
When you add up all of these expenses, you'll quickly see how much insurance you need and whether what you have is enough. With the right company and policy, you'll be prepared for the worst and focus on living your best lives together.
Get the Coverage Your Family Needs
FSGLI, TSGLI, VGLI, SGLI ... the long list of acronyms and bare minimums may not be enough to cover your family's needs. Explore life insurance options with our free tool, which compares rates and matches you to the coverage you want.