Service members facing deployment can find themselves coming into quite a deal of money, especially when they are not faced with normal costs and worries, and for some, figuring out how to balance the money can be challenging.
Four soldiers sat down to answer some questions about how they handled their deployment money, and what they wish they would have known before they left.
Q: What is the craziest thing you purchased after a deployment?
Sgt. Maximilian Boudreaux (native of Detroit): “I went and bought a car right off the lot. I bought it, I think it was seven or eight thousand dollars, I was so young and dumb, I didn’t even check to make sure it was in good condition. I just saw it, liked the color, liked the model, liked what it was, and I went to the bank and took the money out of the account, gave it to the guy, and drove off the lot that day with the car. At the time I thought it was worth, looking back, I can see how stupid I was.”
Sgt. Rodney Roldan (native of New York): “A log cabin, in up-state New York. They were selling it for like $8,000 and it was on like five acres of land, and I wanted a getaway from New York City. I sold it eight years later. I regret it now, I have to shoot all of these horror films and stuff like that, I wish I still had that place.”
Q: Did you have a plan on how much you wanted to save or spend after deployment? What do you wish you would have known before your first deployment in regards to your finances?
Boudreaux: “I wish I had a plan, it probably would have saved me a lot, but unfortunately I just didn’t. I wish I would have known to save and maybe invest in something like rental properties or started my own business, and maybe I wouldn’t struggle like I do today, maybe even have bought stocks or something.”
1st Sgt. Rodney McClinton (native of Chicago): “I always had planned on saving, but I wish I would have known ways to grow money for myself.”
1st Sgt. Dan Ashby (native of Minnesota): “I didn’t have a plan to save, and I wish I would have known how to save.”
Q: Do you think people prefer to spend their deployment money or save it?
Boudreaux: “I think people spend it, I know people that start to spend it even when they are still on deployment.”
Roldan: “I think both maybe. I think some people prefer to spend, some save. I think it comes with experience. Depending on the type of deployment, if you have a really horrific one— I know some people they end up with problems, and they don’t want to deal with it so they pump their money into things, maybe as a way to block themselves, or some people make a big purchase to reinvent themselves. This all goes way back to the 1940’s, like in WWII, like when a lot of the sailors, soldiers, and marines got back, a lot of them started biker clubs, no seriously, a lot of those motorcycle clubs were started from returners from war. I know in New York, a lot of the sailors and soldiers went into the theater, so they would kind of put their experiences to use and apply it to something else, so they could forget about what happened over there. People are likely to make a big purchase just to change their life or start something new.”
Rodney/Ashby: “Most people understand that they have a death benefit for their family, so soldiers will have that thought, instead of saving for their family now.”
Q: What was your favorite purchase after a deployment?
Boudreaux: “I went to school before I joined the Army and was deployed, so I paid off all of my student loans. Paying off the debt was probably the best feeling in the world.”
Roldan: “My favorite purchase was in 2014, I used most of the money to buy equipment for my production company, and open it. Before I went into broadcasting for the Army, I’ve been doing TV/film acting since 2005, and while I was doing that I was always interested in doing behind the camera stuff as well. So when I went to defense information school in 2013, they taught as little more about lighting and filming, editing, so I started practicing a lot of that on my own. So when I went on deployment, and aside from news stories, I did a couple of documentaries out there. I didn’t want to have anything get in the way of me wanting to shoot something, like if I wanted to do a film or documentary, I didn’t want to have to rent equipment from somewhere or hire people to do it, I wanted to do it myself—a one stop shop with everything. I have my own contracts, my own equipment, the rights to do this and that, so that was one of the best investments.”
Ashby: “My wife’s wedding ring.”
McClinton: “A really great digital camera.”
Q: Do you think that coming back from deployment, the money can be a positive thing?
Roldan: Yes, I think so, any time you spend money on the economy it’s a positive thing. That the thing that people forget, I’m not against saving money, but what really excites an economy is when people are spending money.”
Q: What advice do you have for soldiers deploying for the first time in regards to handling their finances?
Boudreaux: “Find something to invest in. I’m not saying it has to be rental properties, it could be a small business, something, find something to invest in because that will last a lot longer than a pair of jeans or a nice car. It’s all about that longevity, it’s all about keeping the money growing.”
Ashby: “A financial advisor can be a good thing, and just always remember that mom and dad know what they are talking about.”
McClinton: “Save…save…save…and invest in something when you get back.”
For more stories about budgeting, saving money, and other financial interest stories, check out http://news.jrn.msu.edu/series/money-2017/