Military families face unique challenges that the average civilian family may never have to think about. The frequent moves, whether it be across the country or across the continent, put a special burden on the finances of military families. No matter where your family is located, a healthy budget is key to financial stability.
Whether your family is facing deep debt, low savings, changing financial circumstances or anything in between, these tips can help you navigate those issues to find your perfect budget.
Debt Goes First
If you’ve been researching budgeting, you may have already learned the first step is to pay down all your debt. That’s definitely easier said than done, but it’s the truth. Accumulated debts, especially if they’re growing, can impact your credit score, making relocating and applying for new apartments even more of a headache than it already is. The sooner you pay off your debts, the sooner you’ll have more breathing room in your budget (and more weight off your shoulders).
Budgets should be made with debt repayment as a priority. Sit down and look at an expense that can be cut to make way for a monthly debt repayment above the minimum. Even if that’s only a spare $20 or $25 more per month, every little bit will help your family on their way to financial freedom.
If your family has found itself deeper in debt than what you feel your income can conquer, IBMSECU’s Financial First Aid webinar can help pull you from the depths of a debt crisis. You’ll learn how to take action, work with creditors and prevent future crises. Debt repayment is too crucial to your financial health to drown in a crisis.
Save, Save, Save
Saving when money is already tight can feel like an oxymoron. It’s difficult to rationalize saving for 5, 10, or 50 years down the road when current bills are fogging your mind. Nonetheless, saving is important at every step of your family’s financial journey.
To help make savings feel like more of a real, worthwhile investment, reframe your mindset when it comes to putting money aside. When paying the month’s bills and debts, think of that month’s savings as another bill to pay. This puts it at the forefront of your mind that you’re actively allotting a portion of your check to savings, rather than what’s left at the end of the month. When budgeting for lifelong financial security, saving should never be an afterthought.
Budgets Aren’t Static
Military families are constantly on the move and their budgets should adjust accordingly. Moving to a city with much lower rent costs? Allocate more money to repaying debts or your savings and see your owed balances decrease. Heading to an area with a higher cost of living? Change your budget accordingly, looking at where expenses can be reevaluated. iTHINK Financial’s Budgeting Charts are a handy, free tool to help you visualize where your money is going and where it needs to be.
Budgeting isn’t always easy, but it’s a necessity for any family, military or not. iTHINK Financial has lots of tools and resources to help you put these tips to good use and create your family’s perfect budget. Learn more about what a healthy budget can do for your family’s finances here.