Many people are under the misconception that military personnel have it made, financially. However, they live paycheck to paycheck just like everyone else does. They have the same bills and expenses as civilians, plus some. Low ranking military personnel have it the hardest because they aren’t paid as much as higher raking non commission officers. This is when budgeting is very important.
There are aspects of military life that directly affect a serviceperson’s finances. For example, relocation is a regular occurrence when you are in the military. These orders come and you need to be prepared to go. If a serviceman or woman is supporting a family, childcare and other expenses also come into play.
Living from paycheck to paycheck is hard for anyone. Yet, for military personnel there are things that can be done to make sure that your home and family are provided for; while saving money. Here are a few budgeting tips to use to make your income count!
Income and Expenses
There are changes that can be made when you look at your income and your expenses. You know what you are bringing home each month, so that amount is pretty set. What you need to look at is how much you’re spending each month. Of course, car notes, rent and some others are fixed so they should be easy to calculate. Look for expenses that you can control, like your electric and water bills, or your grocery bills. Using coupons to shop and shopping at the commissary or exchange is great way to shave money off your grocery bill.
This may be difficult to do but you should pay yourself every pay period. Commit to putting a percentage of your pay into your savings, even if it’s only 10% percent of your income. Banking with your Military Federal Credit Union is also recommended. Since they are geared towards military personnel, they may be able to offer you beneficial services, such as low fees, great interest rates, and Christmas clubs.
Put Your Benefits to Use
Don’t let your military benefits go to waste. Medical bills are some of the highest bills that anyone can incur. For medical reasons, use your military facilities and services. If there are services that aren’t covered and you have to go elsewhere, find out if they offer discounts to military personnel.
Discounts and Deals
There are thousands of companies that offer military deals and discounts but don’t advertise it! Whether you’re shopping for groceries, clothing, or dining out, inquire about military discounts. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save by simply asking. You should also get into the habit of suggesting that those places that don’t offer military discounts do! Inform them of how much more business they would get if they did.
Military Community Support
Get to know your military community. This can be extremely helpful on so many levels. Different military personnel have training in different areas but this is true about people in general. You may be able to form a group of people that offer support in the form of babysitting and home repair services, carpooling and so much more. You never know what your neighbor or fellow service person can do, unless you get to know them and ask.
Avoid Pay Day Loans
Pay day loans are not always a good thing and should be avoided, if at all possible. The extremely high interest rates can only serve to put more of a financial strain on you. These “short term” loans are designed to create a trap that can lead to excessive debt by allowing you to borrow against a future paycheck. Keep in mind that anything can happen within a 2 week period that may prevent you from being able to pay the loan back. You will then have exuberant late fees on top of the ridiculous interest rates that they are charging. If anything, you will benefit more by taking out a long-term loan with low interest rates from your credit union.
Military life isn’t as financially easy as people who aren’t in the military may think. Because of some of the factors that have to be weighed in, it may actually be more difficult. Learning to budget properly is a good way for military families to have a good life and relieve some of the financial strain. Living paycheck to paycheck doesn’t have to be so hard.