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Whether you’re single or married, have children or don’t, just joined the military or you’re on your second contract, you have to keep your finances in order. Your military career and happiness depend on making sure you don’t have to be stressed out about money. Here are some of the ways you can keep your financial house in order if you’re in the military.
Have Budget Meetings With Your Family
If you have a spouse, you need to sit down every month (preferably twice or three times a month) and talk about the budget. Of course, you will need to have a budget you create together to work from. It can be a difficult thing to blend your finances if you were both used to spending money the way you pleased before you were married.
It’s important to look at the short-term, but also discuss where you want your finances to be in five, ten or even twenty years. Make sure you discuss the monthly budget and how you are on track to reach the goals you have set for your financial house in the future.
Does Your Spouse Work? If so, Use One Income for Expenses Only
If you and your spouse both work, don’t combine the incomes to create your budget. This is very dangerous, as employment for a military spouse can be difficult. The income of a military spouse should be treated as savings of money to pay off debt. It should never be used to pay bills or take on new bills.
When the spouse in the military gets deployed or your family has to move, it could make it difficult for you, the military spouse, to keep your job. If you’re not counting on that income to pay bills, it will make life much easier.
This is Tough, Don’t Use Credit Cards at All
You will be tempted to use credit cards for things you think you need, but you really don’t need. Credit card debt is a killer for your budget and your financial goals. You want to avoid any type of debt as much as possible, as it will cause more problems than it will ever solve.
Have a Monthly Budget You Stick to
Your monthly budget should help you keep track of all the bills you need to pay, how much you spend on things, such as groceries and gas and how your monthly income breaks down. Tracking everything in a budget sheet makes it much easier to see where your money is going, how much you can save and how you can make adjustments to increase your savings.
If Necessary, Minimize and Downsize
It’s not uncommon for new military recruits to want what they want and want it now. This is dangerous and should be avoided. However, if you’ve already gone through this period, it may be time to minimize what you own, downsize to the things you really need and eliminate anything you don’t need. You don’t need to keep up with the Jones or try to impress others. A smaller home and less stuff means you won’t have as many expenses to deal with in your budget.
There are several things you can do to ensure you keep your military financial house in order. It becomes a team effort once you’re married, but even if you’re not married yet, a budget will help keep you from stressing out about money all the time.