Ah yes, there’s the sun! Finally after a long winter, it’s time to open the windows, breathe in some fresh air, and renew our lifestyle by eliminating clutter. Many of us take to cleaning out our garages, closets, toys, winter gear and more, but have you ever considered spring cleaning your finances?
How about this year, instead of just downsizing your physical belongings, you also remove financial clutter, review your annual budget and, as a result, experience gains? Sounds like a wise idea doesn’t it? But where do you start?
7 Ways to Spring Clean Your Military Finances
They say that 7 is a lucky number, and we’re not suggesting you go to Vegas and lay your paycheck down on a table. No, instead, here are seven practical steps you can do right now to eliminate wasteful spending.
Consolidate debt — If you have multiple student loans, credit cards, or bank notes, look into debt consolidation. Oftentimes your interest rate can be lowered, and life becomes more simplified with fewer payments. Here are some helpful debt consolidation resources.
Develop/review your annual budget — Each month you will have fixed expenditures such as rent, a mortgage payment and a car payment. Other costs will vary like your utilities, gasoline and grocery bill. Does this sound a bit complicated? Not sure how much to estimate or allow each month? No worries, here is an easy budgeting template and tips to help you get started.
Track spending — Take a look at your bank statements. Just how much are you spending on your favorite lattes, fast food, video games or music downloads? Are these items truly necessary? Once you put together a charge here and a charge here and add them up over time, you may be surprised. Look at what you can reduce and eliminate from your purchases.
Cut out mindless subscriptions — Do you remember when you signed up for that great trial run of a product a few months ago? Did you remember to cancel it? Oops. They’ve been deducting money from your account every month and you didn’t even notice until right now while reading these words. You aren’t alone, but jump on it today so that you can avoid hemorrhaging money. Here is a great resource on how to save money on subscriptions.
Establish new revenue streams — It isn’t just about saving money, it’s about earning money as well. Many families rely on just one military paycheck, but if you have the desire and ability to bring in more income, look into work on or around base, take your skills online through freelance work, or develop your crafty side and start selling your handmade jewelry, baked goods, etc. Just think — if you start now, you could have some extra fun money in time for summer vacation!
Reduce waste — Get into the habit of being green to save both energy, resources and your money. Unplug devices when charging is complete or when they are no longer in use, turn off lights when you leave the room, and purchase faucet aerators and low flow shower heads to reduce water usage. And although the weather is changing, keep in mind that the recommended thermostat settings are 68 degrees F in winter and 78 degrees F in summer.
Engage in no-spend weeks — This is a pretty exciting idea because when you look at it, it’s all too easy to spend money online without leaving your home. But if you properly plan and have all your grocery shopping done, cars gassed up, etc., you can easily take a week off of spending. Plan your meals (no eating out), have a date night at home, and instead of going out for a movie, have a family game night with your favorite board games. You’ll be amazed at how a little bit of planning and creativity can set you up to spend nothing, and enjoy what you already have.
We all know what goes into these military paychecks — a lot of hard work, dangerous work, moving, time apart and more. Don’t you deserve to make your money work for you? This is exactly what Navy Federal Credit Union wants to give back to our service members.
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