Taking part in the program is a wise choice for those serving, Montanaro says, provided they don't go chasing after a similar return on their money back home.
"Going from 10% to half a percent will be a shocker," he says. "Don't look at the savings rates you are going to get now. Compare it to what you got in SDP and [you might] decide that's just not good enough, that you have to do some risk-type investments. You don't, all of a sudden, want to be in an inappropriate investment if the markets happen to tank and you need that money. But it is human nature to be earning 10% and want to keep earning that 10% back."
If the deployed let go of managing household finances, they should be prepared to share those duties upon moving back home.
"One of the things for me when I came back was that, by necessity, while I was gone my wife was taking care of the business at home of paying bills and doing all the things you have to do on a day-to-day basis," Montanaro says. "When I came back, my inclination was that we would just go back to our normal roles, but that wasn't the case. I never got it back. There are bound to be some challenges in terms of who does what and who is responsible for things on the financial front."
Montanaro warns that the excitement of coming home can lead to a bit of a spending spree. Returning soldiers need to maintain some restraint so they don't demolish their family budget because of their well-warranted enthusiasm.
"There can be a real tendency upon return to try to make up some of that lost time," he says. "That can manifest itself in terms of spending. 'Hey, the kids want this latest hot gadget, they should have it because I'm back and I want to make everybody happy.' Or, 'We're going to take this big trip because we didn't get to take a vacation together last year.' That desire to make things right and make everybody happy could present a challenge in terms of staying on track with your family's budget."
Similarly, the thrill of being back could lead to big decisions and purchases -- deciding to have a child or add to the family, for example -- that might make more sense a bit later in life.
"There is a perspective they have coming back that life is short and it could push them down a path where they might make decisions that, financially, aren't as well thought out as they should be," Montanaro says. "There needs to be a cooling-off period."
-- Written by Joe Mont in Boston.
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