Association of Military Banks of America

National Financial Awareness: Saving While in the Military

By Amy Miller, AFC®

August is home to National Financial Awareness Day (August 14, 2023) and is a time to review finances, make plans, and take steps toward a healthy financial future.

This article will focus on another aspect of financial awareness – Saving while in the Military.

Many service members may struggle to make ends meet. Frequent moves, deployments, and increased spouse unemployment are just a few of the unique challenges that military families face. Often these challenges can make it difficult to save money. However, small amounts can add up and make a difference in someone’s financial future and overall financial wellness.

Here are some tips and ideas for saving more successfully during military service.

Contribute to the TSP – Thrift Savings Plan

The Thrift Savings Plan is the Federal government-sponsored retirement savings and investment plan that works similarly to a private employer’s 401(k). Service members can determine the amount that is contributed each month and the investment type or fund(s) that they participate in.

Buy U.S. Savings Bonds

U.S. Savings Bonds can be a safe and affordable option for setting money aside for long-term goals. U.S. Savings Bonds earn competitive interest rates that are adjusted for inflation every six months. There are no fees charged to purchase and bonds can earn interest for up to 30 years.

Interest earned is exempt from state income taxes and federal taxes can be deferred until the bond is cashed in or reaches the end of the 30-year interest-earning period. Cashing the bonds out within 5 years of opening will result in the loss of up to 3 months of interest.

Military members can purchase U.S. Savings Bonds by establishing a TreasuryDirect account and then setting a discretionary allotment on mypay.

Take Advantage of Saving While Deployed with the SDP – Savings Deposit Program

The Savings Deposit Program was created to allow members serving in certain combat zones and receiving Hostile Fire Pay the opportunity to grow their savings. Service members can deposit up to $10,000 and earn 10% interest annually, compounding quarterly, while serving and up to 90 days after departing the combat zone. For questions about SDP, contact the Helpline at 1-888-332-7411, 580-5096 DSN, or by emailing

Getting Started

Here are a few tips to get started saving for the future:

*Evaluate Your Current Situation:  Start by reviewing current savings balances and contributions to any retirement accounts along with expenses, debt, and spending. Determine what amount of savings is possible.

*Set Goals It’s important to set goals that align with what you want to accomplish in the future.  

*Make A Plan Having a written plan has proven to be effective in helping to stay focused on priorities and achieving goals.

*Automate Setting allotments or auto transfers is an easy way to stay on track.

*Review and Adjust It’s important to review and make changes to budgets, goals, and plans regularly. Savings abilities and needs change with time and life experiences and require adjustments. 

For those needing assistance and guidance, free financial counseling is available through Military and Family Readiness Support Centers found on military installations and through Military OneSource.

AMBA, in partnership with the VA, offers Veterans a free counseling session as a benefit of the Veterans Benefits Banking Program.  Learn more here.