What are the 5 top budgeting tips for military families? Get strapped in and take notes. Military families face a unique set of challenges when it comes to budgeting. Just like anybody else, they may end up with credit card debt, auto loans and other bills. However, military families often face unique moving expenses more often than civilian families.
It’s important to track spending, eliminate debt and prepare a real budget if you’re in the military. Here are some tips to help set up the right type of budget for today and for the future.
Keep Track of Spending
The first rule of any budget is to track your spending. If you don’t know where you’re spending your money, it’s very difficult to figure out how you can make adjustments for the better. You should write down every penny you spend or log it in a spread sheet on your computer. Once you have a full month of spending tracked, you’ll have a basic idea of where your money is going and how to adjust.
Account for Non-Monthly Expenses
Budgeting for monthly expenses are rather easy as you know what you will need to pay with each paycheck as it comes in. However, non-monthly expenses, such as oil changes for your car, vet bills if you have any pets or anything else happening less frequently than once a month, can become budget busters.
Instead of waiting until the month the expense will hit you, make sure you account for it every month. Saving a few dollars a month towards your next oil change will make it much easier to deal with when the time arrives.
Create an Emergency Fund
Think of an emergency fund as your own insurance policy. You want to create it before you start worrying about any debts you may owe (outside of the regular payment, of course). Start with a mini $1,000 emergency fund, which should be cash you keep in a safe within your home. Once you have paid off all of your debts, you can expand your emergency fund to cover 3 to 6 months? worth of bills.
You may have debts from moving or from spending on credit cards when you were a bit younger in the military. Often, military families use credit cards when they move and it can add up.
The best thing you can start to do is pay off the debts you have. Start with the one with the smallest balance and put everything you can (outside of your regular budget and regular monthly payments) towards it until it’s gone. Then, roll over the amount you’d normally pay towards the debt to the next one until you have paid off all of your debts.
Let the Military Benefits Help Your Budget
As a member of the military, your family gains many significant benefits including free healthcare and many discounts. Instead of trying to spend a ton of money on entertainment, maybe look for military appreciation days at area attractions, which may be free or heavily discounted for military members and their families. There are several other benefits you may find for your family, depending on where you are stationed.
Make sure you have a budget you use every month and set your family up for success. You don’t have to struggle just because you’re a military family. With the right budget and plan in place, you can save money, pay off debt and know where every dollar is being spent.