The InDependent Wellness Summit is our free, annual online event for all military and first responder spouses – past, present, and future. Learn more about the program here.


When I first heard there was going to be an interview on finances, I was eager to hear all about it. And what better person to hear from than the “military finance expert,” Lacey Langford. Lacey’s words were highly relatable and articulated well as she reflected on money management in the military lifestyle in her interview on Day 3.


Lacey reflects that more often than not, military spouses are managing the finances and shares an analogy of a financial staircase. The first step is a checking account. This step covers the necessities of life: mortgage, bills, etc. The second step is a savings account. This covers saving for a specific goal or for unpredictable expenses. The third step is a money market account, where you have a higher minimum balance but also receive higher interest rates, such as in CDs, IRAs, and retirement accounts. 

Lacey touches on the Family Service Member’s Group Life Insurance Plan (FSGLI). The FSGLI is an automatic benefit. It is only $4.50 a month for a military spouse under the age of 35 to receive $100,000 should they pass away. If a military spouse is the primary caretaker for their children, then the service member would need assistance to help with the kids. This plan would provide that assistance. “Sometimes military spouses think, even though I know it’s not true, you know it’s not true, that maybe they aren’t working. Yes, you are actually working your butt off. You’re picking up a whole household very frequently, moving it, and re-establishing it in a new community. All of the time. And managing the whole household, you’re taking care of your children, you’re managing finances, you’re doing all of these things. And so you are earning a living, and your earning power needs to be replaced. And that’s where that one hundred thousand dollars is going to come in.” 

Next, she speaks about the Survivor Benefit Plan, also known as the SBP. This plan is defaulted for a retired service member who is receiving a pension. The military spouse receives a portion of a veteran’s retirement pay should the service member pass away. Children can be added to the plan if desired and will remain eligible as long as they are DEERS enrolled dependents. This plan benefits the surviving spouse; therefore, only the spouse can opt out of the plan. 

Lacey shares how the Post 9-11 GI bill (an education assistance bill) is transferable to both spouse and children. If you give one month’s benefit to your spouse and children, it opens the door to maneuver the amount you want to distribute after retirement. “Versus, if you never put them down to receive any benefit, then you really don’t have a say, it’s irrevocable, so you’re not going to be able to go back later and change your decision.” Advice is given to add the spouse and children while still active. 

Towards the end of the interview, Lacey offers many words of wisdom, such as, from day one, when you join the military, you should start planning your exit strategy. Military spouses can also plan their exit strategy. Lacey reflects on how it’s easy to lose your identity as a military spouse moving from station to station. However, it’s important to plan what to do after the children start kindergarten and more time is available. “Just because you have a baby on your hip doesn’t mean you can’t be planning for world domination.”

If you’re planning to start a business, know that it is like having an imaginary friend, and you have to budget for how much you’re going to invest in starting up. Entrepreneurship can be very stressful, but you can’t quit. You must keep executing and always try to get better. Keep in mind the sales aspect and the behind the scenes part, such as paying bills, hiring marketing sources, etc. Find balance in paying for entrepreneurship and acknowledge the time consumption running a business will require. 

“Don’t put off your future and make the service member, their future be on a pedestal. So part of that is saving into an individual retirement account at a financial institution that you can move everywhere with… so you can contribute to the IRA each month. But then, if you do get a job and the employer offers a retirement account, you have the ability to contribute to that as well. But at a minimum, military spouses should all have an IRA.” 

Lacey Langford

Lacey shared her thoughts on how military spouses can “discover you.” She expresses the importance of knowing that you matter and that there are a ton of resources to help you. Speak to others to get their perspective and story on something you’re interested in pursuing. If you don’t go out and try new things, you won’t know what you’re really about or what you really enjoy. “You have to try things and do things, be ok with failure, and don’t worry about what other people think. What is working for you and your family goals, and discover who you are, That’s what you should focus on.”

This is Day Three of the InDependent Wellness Summit: Rediscover You, presented by the USO. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! If you missed the recaps for Day One and Day Two, find the links below.


ABOUT CARESSE

Caresse Molina is a veteran spouse, mom of two, and registered nurse. Her passion is to live empowered by focusing on the things we can control instead of what we can’t, starting with ourselves. She loves moving her body and challenging herself to grow each day. Her hobbies include dance, weight lifting, yoga, reading a good book, and speaking on deeper levels. Caresse is a staff writer for InDependent.


OTHER IWS23 RECAP ARTICLES:

Radical Intimacy and Disaster Preparedness: Recapping Day One, Session Two of the 2023 InDependent Wellness Summit

Laughter, Stress Relief, and Self-Care: Recapping Day Two, Session Two of the 2023 InDependent Wellness Summit