While there are a plethora of programs available to help military families save money, it seems like more and more families are struggling to make ends meet. This is a shame as the families who sacrifice the most to protect our country should not have to worry about finances. It does not matter if you are enlisted or an officer, here are some money-saving tips every military family should know.
1. Do Not Spend It All
Compared to what most active duty service members can make in the civilian world, military pay grades are highly competitive – especially as you claim the ranks. However, there is a trap when it comes to paying in the military. It is effortless to spend it all. This is a common trap that younger service members fall into as their room and board expenses are nonexistent, and many have no experience in managing their finances.
But it does not need to be like this, and the first step is to start saving money from the first paycheck you receive in the service. After all, you disciplined drilled into you in basic training, and you should apply the behavior to your money. Start by setting aside as much as you can. Maybe that is 10 percent, or maybe it is 25 percent of your earnings in a savings account. This money can lay the foundation for financial freedom down the road.
If you are not sure where to start, then check out this article from Qapital on 15 proven tactics to help you save money.
2. Have a Plan
Failing to plan is planning to fail. You have probably heard this one before, but it is true. When it comes to your family’s financial future, having a plan could be the difference between being able to retire comfortably and having to struggle when your time in uniform is over.
As such, sit down and think about your financial goals and what it will take to get there. This includes things like buying a house, having kids, or another major decision. While things might not always work out according to your plan, having one will allow you to see where you stand and then make corrections as needed. So, if you want to save money, have a plan.
3. Pay Yourself
This might sound redundant, but when you get your paycheck, you should make a list of who or what gets paid, starting with yourself. If you want to save money, you need to allocate how much money you need to handle your expenses, how much to put in your savings accounts account, and then how much you should keep for discretionary spending. Doing so will give you peace of mind to know that you have enough money on hand when you need it.
4. Choose Your Credit Cards Wisely
Several credit cards are better for military families. If you are not sure how to find these cards, then start with your local credit union. Other options include cards from Capital One and the USAA.
As with our liberties, freedom is not free, and in the case of credit cards, you need to make sure that you use the cards judiciously. Always try to pay off the full balance, and if you cannot, then you might want to rethink the purchase altogether.
5. Take Advantage of the GI Bill
Getting an education is one of the best investments you can make in your future, and the GI Bill is one of the best ways to get an education without going into debt in the process. Beyond this did you know that you can get college credit for many of the classes you take during your military training – as such, you should apply for credit for these classes as well.
Back to the GIL Bill, the benefit can be worth up to $69,000, which can go a long way to helping position yourself for life after your time in service. By the way, if you are married, then you can also apply for GI Bill incentives for your better half as well.
6. Use VA Loans
One of the best things the VA offers for active and separated military families are the loan programs that can be used to purchase or refinance a home. Many of these loans do not require a down payment, and this means that you can invest almost nothing to get the home of your dreams. So, if you are eligible for a VA Loan, then you want to take advantage of the program.
It is no secret that healthcare is prohibitively expensive in the U.S. Still, one of the perks for military families is that you can get access to free healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Doing so will not only save you money but will put you in touch with some of the best doctors in this great country of ours.
8. Use Military Discounts Whenever Possible
Military discounts are free money. As such, you avail yourself of every discount you can find. Doing so will save you and your family a tremendous amount of money.