The dawning of a new year always feels so optimistic, so fresh, and so full of opportunity. We start with exciting new goals, shiny new gadgets and gear to accomplish our goals, and maybe even accountability partners to nag us when we start lagging- which often happens about mid-January. As military families, we have extra complications that can make our lives tricky to navigate when it comes to resolutions- TDYs, unaccompanied tours, geobaching, PCS, childcare shortages, and the list goes on. This year, consider making some of these money changes to your budget to help you prepare for the next move, crisis, or even finally start that overdue retirement fund.
- Create a budget. Budgets can feel overwhelming and boring, but they can also be a great tool to leverage your dollars. Military, veteran, and retiree pay saw some changes with the start of 2023 and it’s worth looking into any potential changes in household income to better plan what to use it for.
- Start saving. Many different experts and advisors will give varying opinions on how to save money- retirement accounts, investing, high-yield savings, paying off debt, shopping used or secondhand, etc. One thing is certain, finding ways to stretch dollars in your spending, and putting the extra to good use, is paramount for saving money.
- Leverage your spending. Whether you have a bank that allows you to “round up” each purchase and put the change into savings, or if you prefer to use credit cards to earn monthly points, learning to leverage your spending can make a big difference in making your money work for you. For example, if your credit card offers 4x points on groceries, and you average $1,000 per month on groceries, at the end of one year you’ll have spent $12,000 but earned 48,000 points. Those points can be converted to cash rebates, redeemed for prizes, or even used to book travel. Please note that carrying credit card debt and paying interest is the opposite of making your money work for you, so be sure to only charge an amount that you can pay in full when the bill comes to avoid interest charges.
- Purchase wisely. As consumers, we purchase goods and services every day, and while quality and price are often linked, more expensive does not always mean better. Take a look at the priorities in the budget and decide which areas get a vote- i.e. your dollars. If purchasing a $6 coffee every day is your one vice to feel pampered, then build a budget that allows for that. But, if you need to choose between $40 per week in coffee or $40 per week in groceries, then it will be trickier to make those numbers work. Perhaps it’s possible to skip the value meal at a fast-food place, and instead opt to share one meal’s fries and drink with an extra entrée on the side, or share a meal at a restaurant, or shop sales, or look for store brands. Whatever you’re purchasing, do the hard work of setting up your budget and finding your best deal, then carry on with confidence.
- Talk with a financial expert. Whether you reach out to one of the many free resources at your local military installation, follow social media accounts/ influencers, or talk with professionals at your bank, be sure to get input from the experts on what the best steps are for your busy family. If you’re looking for a place to call home with your banking, check out one of our partners, Navy Mutual for all your banking needs.
Protect your family and your future. Navy Mutual’s financial support gives you stability when your family needs it most. Providing high-quality, low-cost life insurance and annuities, as well as the service and education you need to understand the benefits for you and your loved ones.
Here’s wishing you a Happy New Year as you start taking steps toward the goals you have this year, and build a financial foundation that supports you along the way.