A Guide to Creating Your Financial Deployment Book

July 17, 2020
By Col. (R) Mark D. Troutman, PhD., CFP® and W. Kirk Taylor, CFP®

Unforeseen events and the disruptions that accompany them are part of life. The COVID-19 pandemic is proof of this statement. And while Yogi Berra admonished us that “… it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” military professionals know that this truth should not be an excuse to not be prepared for a crisis.

Anticipate change and prepare for it. If you live in the military community long enough, you will experience the change of deployment, and the stress that it places on the business of running your personal finances. COVID-19 has reinforced a lesson we know by heart – get your house in order before you deploy, because it is tough to do so once you are downrange.

To that end, we suggest creating a “Deployment Book.” Gather all the information essential for anyone to run the home and finances in your absence. Make it as comprehensive, yet brief and informative as possible. Think about what kind of reference tool would be of use to you and your family.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Start with a template that provides structure, and then personalize it to your circumstances so that it works for you. Include a copy of your budget and a list of your financial assets and liabilities. 
  • List individuals and groups that provide assistance in managing your finances and running your house. Gather their essential contact information such as the individual’s and/or company’s name, website, address, phone number, usernames, passwords, and the like. 
  • Organize your Deployment Book and provide descriptions related to processes. Write a short section that describes how you pay your bills each month, get your children to school, and other essential life functions. 
  • Update your Deployment Book as needed; it requires maintenance. We recommend maintaining an update schedule, whether it be once a quarter, once a year or after a major life event. Word documents with spreadsheets make updating easier. Be sure to clearly identify the most recent versions of all related documents.
  • Make sure you have multiple copies, in different formats, readily available in various locations. Back up your digital copies and properly file paper copies. 
  • Safeguard this sensitive information by adding passwords to digital copies and keeping paper copies in locked drawers or filing cabinets. Make sure that your passwords are updated regularly and that you leave a copy of them with trusted parties.

In our next column, we will discuss specific information to place in your Deployment Book. Done well, your Deployment Book will be a rich and useful resource. Its immediate value will be the peace of mind that comes from knowing that those whom you care for can “keep calm and carry on” in your absence. You will also find that the information you gather in your Deployment Book is invaluable when called to PCS and “deploy” to a new home station. Finally, having a process and update schedule in place, will allow you to plan better for all future events.

The pandemic caught many (military and civilians alike) off guard and left their loved ones scrambling to keep the family finances in order at a time when they were also left to take care of children and/or parents. So, stay safe and make the most of this opportunity to plan for the unexpected.

Col. (R) Mark D. Troutman, PhD., CFP® is EVP of Strategic Education International and consults to West Financial Services. You may contact Dr. Troutman at [email protected]

W. Kirk Taylor, CFP® is Vice President at West Financial Services in McLean, VA. You may contact Kirk with questions at [email protected]

West Financial Services, Inc. (“WFS”) offers investment advisory services and is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). SEC registration does not constitute an endorsement of the firm by the SEC nor does it indicate that the firm has attained a particular level of skill or ability.

Certain information contained in this article was produced by the third party sources to which they are attributed in the article and neither the authors nor their employers have independently verified the accuracy of this information. The authors are not affiliated with, and have not been compensated by, third parties sources with respect to publishing this article. The information provided is for informational purposes only and should not be deemed as legal, tax, or investment advice, a recommendation of any particular strategy, approach, product, concept, or, a recommendation to purchase or sell any specific security. While the information presented herein is believed to be reliable, no representation or warranty is made concerning the accuracy of any information presented and no representation or warranty is made as to the future profitability of any account or strategy. Where such sources include opinions and projections, such opinions and projections should be ascribed only to the applicable third party source and not to WFS. 

This article previously appeared in The ROCKET Newsletter, published by The ROCKS, Inc. which is a tax-exempt non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) comprised of ROTC and Military Academy Cadets, active duty, reserve component, commissioned officers and active duty or reserve component warrant officers and Department of Defense GS12 and above civilians. The organization was formed to provide mentorship, professional development and social interaction to strengthen the officer corps. In addition to the R.C. Cartwright Scholarship Fund, the "Leadership Outreach" program provides the opportunity for teams consisting of ROCK members to visit Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to provide professional career development guidance to ROTC students. To learn more about The ROCKS, Inc., go to https://www.rocksinc.org/.

This article previously appeared in the Union Reporters Newsletter, Union Times. To learn more about Union Reporters, go to https://unionreporters.com/.