Life in the military has never been easy, and it never will be. Beyond the obvious physical toll, personal commitment, and willingness to put your life on the line, every military member makes great sacrifices when it comes to his or her family.
One place nobody should sacrifice, however, is when it comes to securing a stable future for his or her family. This responsibility extends into many areas, and in our modern world, financial security is among the most important. Without solid footing, it’s hard to stay above water ó let alone get ahead.
So it is every spouse and parent’s duty to do all he or she can to improve their finances and manage their money well. There can be a lot of complicated paths to take, and it’s easy to get confused and lost in the details. But the following three pieces of advice can help guide any military family to a brighter tomorrow.
Think Long Term
From technology to food to entertainment, we live in a society of instant gratification. The convenience is nice, but over time, this “now now now” mentality alters our thinking and expectations. Waiting becomes difficult ó especially when it comes to finances. You need to resist temptations and invest money for the long term. Retirement funds, specifically Roth IRAs and 401ks, offer incredible financial terms. Take advantage as soon as you can.
Other market investments can be great as well, but you mostly want to think about extended horizons. No matter your specific strategy, try not to second guess a move and sell low just to buy the next big thing every other week. You will do much better to find a stable vehicle, put your money there, and let time and compound interest do the work. This way, investing becomes a lot more of a sure thing rather than gambling on a dream.
2. Use Your Resources
Being in the military offers some great benefits. You would be wise to take advantage of everything at your disposal ó especially when it comes to your bank account. USAA is a great example. As a leading financial institution that caters to military members, veterans, and their families, the company offers a wide range of excellent services and products. Beyond the savings and checking accounts, you have access to credit cards with excellent reward programs and various insurance options.
Other resources from other organizations include professional development, networking, and mentorship. While these may not be purely financial in nature, they can help you advance in your career and start earning more income. And that will make everything regarding money easier in the years to come.
3. Maintain Perspective
There is a reason that those who are deployed receive R&R at regular intervals. This isnít a reward for difficult service. It is primarily seen by commanders as a necessity. Even the hardest, well-drilled and disciplined grunt needs some downtime to recharge his or her batteries.
The same goes for everyone in their day-to-day life. No, an office job may not be a battlefield. But if you canít find some time to relax and unwind, whatís the point of it all? Even though you want to keep your eyes on the prize when it comes to your financial goals, remember to enjoy yourself as well.
Definitely focus on your finances and work to secure your future. But you can also go overboard with frugality and become obsessed. Time is a limited resource while you will have more opportunities to make more money down the road. Donít go crazy and splurge on some decadent trip way above your means. But keep it reasonable and allow your family to get away from it all once in awhile.
Putting a Priority on Financial Security
Military members can be gone for months ó or years ó at a time. Their service forces loved ones to worry about their safety. They might have to move around a lot and uproot the household. Thereís no doubt about it: Serving is so hard on families. Itís really more of a shared sacrifice than an individual one. For this, they all earn our eternal thanks.
But for all military members, it’s important to make sure you also earn some financial stability as well. Starting thinking long term, use all the resources available to you, and donít forget that there is a need to balance fiscal discipline with relaxation. If you can put it all together, that will be the key to getting ahead. That is how you really can find financial security.