Getting ready for an extended deployment involves long hours of preparation for the service member in their military unit and around the house. The service member packs their individual gear, packs up the unit’s equipment, endures long hours of medical preparations & immunizations, receives extra equipment that they will need overseas and finishes the training necessary so they can accomplish their mission. Around the house, things are just as busy. Repairs are made, extra trips to the home improvement store for water softener salt, garage sales to sell unneeded home items, and pre-buying children’s birthday gifts so both parents can pick them out. Sounds like you are ready to go! Not so fast!
One of the areas that most people easily forget about are copies of all the financial, legal, insurance and other vital documents as well as other information that makes day-to-day life happen efficiently and effectively. Every deploying service member, even unmarried ones, in my opinion need a Book of Knowledge for deployment.
BOOK OF KNOWLEDGE LOGISTICS: The Book of Knowledge should be a large, durable three ring binder with clear document protectors to place information and copies of important documents. Write what goes in each individual document protector on a small mailing label and place the label in the lower right hand corner of the document protector so you can find items quickly while. Another best practice is to have a folder to place new or replacement items for the Book of Knowledge in a central location so they do not get misplaced. Use colored dividers of a higher card stock paper to separate each area in the Book of Knowledge.
Here are 10 areas to include in your deployment Book of Knowledge:
AREA 1 – Primary Web Account Information and Websites. This should have all of the websites, usernames, and log on information for the websites and apps that you use to manage all of your financial, investment, insurance and other information. Don’t forget about other seemingly mundane items such as the various programs to pay for children’s school lunch programs and daycare.
AREA 2 – Important People & Contact Information. This should be name, phone numbers, email, and address of people that are important in your life. Friends and relatives are a must, but then teachers, lawyers, investment counselors, auto insurance, life insurance, home repair professionals, and more. Use a phone call log and see who you called in a three month period and emailed as a start point.
AREA 3 – Monthly Financial Information. This should be all of your banking, loan, and other financial information that you use every month. You should also have paystubs with contact information. Major bills with contact information are also critical. Don’t forget about automatically paid bills. You want to have a list of when income comes in from where and a list of when bills go out to which person and the amount.
AREA 4 – Annual Budget Allocation & Compliance. Budget allocation with budget tracking to see where you are meeting, missing, and doing better than your budget allocation is critical during an extended deployment. Tracking your budget progress is critical here so a budget area does not get outside of its allocated amount. There are lots of electronic aids in this area that can help track and report results.
AREA 5 – Legal Documents. This is for Will’s, Power of Attorney, and any other finalized or working legal documents.
AREA 6 – Auto Insurance. Copies of auto insurance cards (at least two copies in the vehicle!), copies of policies, and information on your vehicle such as make, model, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and a copy of your vehicle registration.
AREA 7 – Life Insurance. Life insurance documents for everyone in the household. Make sure that all contact information and beneficiary information is up to date.
AREA 8 – Retirement / Investment Information. Financial investments are another area to ensure goes according to plan while you are gone. A centralized location for investment statements, 401K, IRA, Roth IRA’s and others add to peace of mind as well as tracking your progress.
AREA 9 – Other Areas of Importance. You can have house rental information, receipts for sales and large purchases such as a house or boat, or items for a future loan in this section.
AREA 10 – Items to Be Discussed. Questions will always arise. Have a central area so when a service member calls home, you can go instantly to that area to get questions answered and determine a plan of action for the item.
The entire purpose of the Book of Knowledge is to reduce stress during a deployment. The Book of Knowledge is ideally a tool for families to track, to discuss, and to plan their financial day-to-day as well as life financial plan during what can be a time of seeming upheaval. Have a safe deployment!
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Chad Storlie is the author of two books: Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. An adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.