As you know, many couples experience a degree of separation during their marital career. This is especially the case for many people who are serving with the armed forces. So, if you are married or have long term partner and think you’ll experience a period of separation, here some pointers you might consider.
1) Get separate accounts. Or at least get an account that you each primarily manage. Distance and erratic travel schedules make it harder to stay integrated when you’re together but living apart. Separate accounts help keep you flexible when managing your money. For example, one of you may receive a check, but might be unable to hand it over to your significant other because of the physical distance involved. Or if your partners schedule is erratic, you might have to take over paying a bill or so.
BTW, the accounts don’t have to be separate, they can just have “primary management” – e.g. you primarily use one account, but your partner can also get access to it. This takes no extra time and gives you lots of options in case something goes wrong.
2) Get your accounts linked on online. Managing your money is a lot easier if you can move it around. Miel and I are constantly transferring money to each other for a ton of crazy reasons. The best way to facilitate this processes is just to have your banks linked to each other via on-line money transfer. Most retail accounts will let you do this for free. Definitely look into this.
3) Get power of attorney. There are tons of different kinds of power of attorney, but you should at least be able to take charge of financial matters if your loved one gets hurt or lost. This involves going to a lawyer and plunking down like $50 – 100 to draw up the paperwork. Do it.
4) Make a master account spreadsheet. We have an excel sheet that’s got all of our accounts, log in information and passwords – everything is one place. That way if push comes to shove either partner can access the accounts to take care of business.
When you are finished compiling all your accounts, password protect the heck out of this sheet and keep in a separate part of your computer that is password protected also. Excel lets password protect worksheets. Also consider getting cryptainer, which lets you partition your harddrive with some really powerful free encryption. The security issue should not be taken lightly. A nigerian hacker broke into my neighbors email account last week you so want to be super careful with this info – no kidding.
5) Talk for Free: The internet is your friend. Being apart is a drag, but its even harder to maintain your relationship if you have to pay an arm and a leg to talk. If both of you have access to a computer and a good internet connection you really don’t have to pay at all. Get an internet telephony service that allows you to talk for free. We recommend skype. Invest in a set of headphones and a webcam. With a good connection its like speaking with someone in the same room.
Also, if your schedule permits it, block out some time for each other. Your marriage is as important as your work or recreational activities so make the time to be with each other. We have biweekly video conference meetings and email nearly every day.
Hope some of this helps.