Budgeting can be a serious problem as a military spouse. Here are just a few ways you can budget wisely on a military income.
Being in the military is a family commitment. Although it may be your spouse who puts on the uniform, it’s the both of you and your children who take on the ups and downs of military life together.
One of the challenges you may be faced with is figuring out how to make ends meet on a military income. When one of you is in the military and the other is focused on raising a family, the possibility of creating a second stream of income is slim. You often have to be mom and dad while somehow finding a way to always pay the bills on time.
It’s a lot to handle, but it’s not impossible!
Use these tips to help you become a master of military income budgeting.
- Figure Out How to Save on Your Mortgage
One of the biggest monthly expenses most families have is their mortgage. However, not all homeowners realize that they may be paying more on their mortgage than they need to.
You can choose to refinance if you already have a mortgage. This reduces the amount you pay monthly, but it will extend how long you have until you pay off your house. It may increase your interest rate, too.
There’s also the possibility of negotiating a deal with no down payment when looking for a house. This leaves more money in your pocket to put toward monthly mortgage payments and to get yourself in a position where you won’t have to refinance.
- Consider Living on Base
Another way to save on paying a mortgage is to just live on base!
Living on base is one of the best things you can do to save money and enjoy military life as a whole. It puts you in a community of other military families who understand your hardships and are there for you during your struggles.
This offers a place where you feel secure beyond just finances. You can ensure your kids will be in a safe neighborhood here and that you’ll easily be able to make strong connections with other families.
Plus, it’s typically easier to move from base to base when relocating than having to move from one civilian home to another. Keep this in mind if you think your family is going to be in the military long-term as your spouse progresses in rank and continues to serve the nation.
- Get Every Penny Possible Out of Deployments
Sometimes, serving the nation means getting deployed. It may be something you have a bit of time to plan for or it may come out of the blue. You and your family need to have your finances in order either way.
Military income during deployment isn’t exactly the big bucks. It does offer a bit of financial supplementation, but not necessarily enough to live off. You can, however, figure out ways to get a higher military income during deployment.
You just have to sit down with your spouse and research different special pays that your family may qualify for. Remember to take note of which are taxable and which are non-taxable as you do so.
If you still find yourself in a moment of financial stress while your spouse is away, keep in mind there are special resources and laws to help you. These can keep your credit in good standing and help you express your financial needs to banks and lenders you may owe money to.
Additionally, if you ever need to send money to your spouse while they’re away, it’s smart to learn about ways to do so with no or minimal fees. This gives them more cash in hand and you more peace of mind.
- Take Advantage of Free Resources
Here’s an interesting thought: budgeting wisely doesn’t always mean saving and spending the money you have. Another part of budgeting is figuring out what free resources are available to you and utilizing those instead of cash/credit.
As a military family, you have more free resources than you think.
The GI bill gives you the financial security to send your kids to college or to go back to school yourself. Between the base and the VA, you have access to free counseling services, free or low-cost medical services, and more.
- Assess Your Spending Habits
Even with all the military resources mentioned above, don’t be surprised if you have to put in a little extra work to make the most of a military income. Take the time to sit down and assess all of your spending habits.
Identify the most important costs you have each month — like a mortgage and home bills, groceries, gas, and medical expenses. Then, look into how much you’re spending on entertainment and miscellaneous costs. This gives you a better understanding of where all your dollars are going, which is crucial for smart budgeting.
- Find Ways to Cut Costs
Once you know where all your money is going, you can start figuring out ways to keep it in your pocket. Maybe it’s time to be a little more eco-friendly in your home to save on water and electric bills. Maybe this is a good sign that you should look into buying cheaper groceries and eating out less.
These are small, simple spending adjustments that make a big difference. They can significantly add up and stretch your dollars a lot further than you may have thought they’d go!
- Save Now for Emergencies Later
The final piece of the budgeting puzzle is to save. You never want to find yourself in an emergency and not have the expenses to cover it. This means it’s up to you to start saving now for whatever may happen in the future.
Saving doesn’t have to be a huge responsibility though. Simply putting away as little as $50 or $100 each month can be a good start. As you get better at budgeting with a military income, you can add more and more to your savings over time.
Making the Most of Your Military Income
As difficult as some aspects of being a military family are, it really is an incredible experience as a whole. It gives you a newfound sense of pride in your country and in your husband. It makes you a stronger wife, mother, and person as a whole, too.
With this in mind, it’s easier to face the challenges of a military income or a last minute deployment or issues with the VA. If military budgeting is what’s been giving you a huge headache lately, use these additional tips to help make ends meet.