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In any family, managing finances and budgets is a top priority. Developing specific goals and creating a plan to help you achieve those goals can help you know where to get started and take action. Here are a few tips to help you manage your military family budget and take control of your finances.
Take Advantage of Low-Cost Retirement and Savings Plans
Investing money in retirement and savings plans while you have access to some of the lowest-cost programs available is one of the best ways to spark beneficial financial behavior. Options like the Thrift Savings Plan present you with a multitude of money-saving opportunities that will help you strengthen your finances now and in the future.
Know Where Your Money is Going
To budget your money wisely, keep a sharp eye on exactly where it's going. Items like subscriptions, memberships, coffee, etc., can add up quickly. Using a service such as Mint.com as a military family budget planner can help you set budgets and receive alerts if you go over your allotted spend. This way, you can decide whether your spending habits align with your financial goals and adjust accordingly (if necessary).
Maximize Your Military Family Benefits
As a service member, you have access to military benefits that can save you money and help you make financial decisions. These benefits include tax-free housing allowance, education benefits, tax breaks, and specialized loan rates. Familiarize yourself with the resources available to you so you can take full advantage of these benefits.
Set Specific Goals and Timelines
Simply intending to save money will not yield the desired results. Having specific goals with hard deadlines will help you decide exactly what you need to do and how much you need to save each week to stay on track. This action plan will provide you with something concrete to reference when you need motivation or a reminder of your goal.
Treat Your Savings Account Like a Bill
If you look at your savings account as something to add to when you have the luxury of extra money, it will grow at a much slower rate than if you look at it as another bill. Just as if you are paying your rent or car bill, you should decide on an amount (based on your plan) and make adding that amount to your savings a priority.
Make the Most of Your BAH
One of the major benefits available to you is BAH or Basic Allowance for Housing. Make sure to do your research and make the most of this allowance by choosing the best option for you and your family. For example, with Lincoln Military Housing, you receive access to 24/7 maintenance services, babysitting programs, family activities, community and recreation centers, and deployment support services. Take the time to weigh the features and amenities of each option, as this can play a huge role in your family's quality of life as well as in the money you end up saving.
Use the tools and resources available to help simplify and streamline your plan. Once you take control of spending and saving patterns, you'll be able to create a more stable financial future for you and your family to make military life easier.
Related: Understanding changes to your BAH will help make your life easier. Here's the latest from the DoD.