By Barbara O’NeillWhy should service members start a savings program before they are deployed?The simple reason to save part of a service member’s military paycheck as early as possible is because “time is money.” The sooner money is saved, the sooner compound interest can work its magic by earning interest on interest. Also, by saving money in advance of a deployment, service members will be able to contribute as much as possible to the Savings Deposit Program (SDP) as soon as they become eligible. Deposits that are proportionate to a service member’s unallotted pay, bonuses, and allowances can be made by cash, check, or money order in $5 increments or by allotment.Deployed service members can invest up to $10,000 in the SDP and receive 10% interest, compounded quarterly for as long as they are deployed and for up to three months after they return from a combat zone. The 10% return far exceeds the return on traditional bank savings accounts or credit union share accounts and is especially valuable on a larger sum of money (e.g., $10,000 of principal versus $2,000). For more information about the SDP, see saveandinvest.org/FinancialBasics/Saving/P124359.Browse more military personal finance blog posts and webinars by experts.Follow Dr. O’Neill on Twitter!This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network Blog on May 13, 2013.