Financial Resources for Military Families

Kiplinger's Financial Field Manual and Military Finances Special Report help answer many of the personal finance questions surrounding military life.

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This is Military Saves Week, so instead of answering a question today, I'd like to highlight a new resource that provides a lot of answers on issues of interest to military families. We're proud to announce the publication of our Financial Field Manual: The Personal Finance Guide for Military Families, which will be distributed to military bases throughout the world. It also lives on as the Military Finances Special Report.

This new resource focuses on some of the unique financial challenges that service members face, as well as the special benefits that help them save for the future and protect their families. My husband has been an Army surgeon for 17 years, so we've experienced many of these issues firsthand. Not only have we had to prepare our own finances for three deployments and several moves but we also learned how to make the most of special savings opportunities, tax benefits, education programs and legal rights for military families.

The Financial Field Manual covers all of these issues. On saving for retirement, for example, it answers your questions about how, as a military family, you can make the most of low-cost investments through the federal Thrift Savings Plan; how to benefit from a special program for deployed service members that guarantees 10% annual interest on savings; and how to get an extra tax break from a Roth IRA while deployed. The guide also explains how to transfer your GI Bill benefits to pay for your kids' college, get a no-down-payment mortgage, deal with a required move when your home is worth less than your mortgage, reduce state income taxes, avoid scams that target military families, and take advantage of the special protections that can cap credit-card and loan rates for some service members.

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I frequently receive questions from military families -- even service members while they are deployed -- and I was happy to include many of their questions in the Financial Field Manual, as well as their strategies for dealing with the financial challenges of military life and the steps they've taken to make the most of the special benefits.

I hope our Financial Field Manual answers many of your questions, and I hope you'll continue to write to me with any follow-up questions about your finances or with strategies you'd like to share with our readers.

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.