Financial wellness in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic is something that many Americans are struggling with on a daily basis. For military families, financial stress can take even more of a toll. According to a NFCC study, nearly 9 in 10 active service members worry about their personal finances. This problem should be tackled and addressed head on. At Hope For The Warriors, our goal is to help military families find hope during stressful times. Through our team of incredible resources, we are excited to share some of our tips on how you can cultivate financial wellness long term.
Monitor Your Credit Score
Although your credit score may not seem as important as other financial factors such as your savings, it is one of the most looked-at figures when it comes to making big purchases. For example, buying a home is a huge commitment and investment, and most lenders will require you to have satisfactory credit in order to receive a loan. Whether it’s a VA loan or another option, you’ll want to consider what credit score is needed to buy a home and what improvements you can make. Even if you only need to make minor improvements (or none at all!), understanding your current credit score will give you clarity for those big purchases. Regularly monitoring your credit score won’t negatively affect your score and is a simple, free step toward bettering your financial well-being.
Create a Budget
Creating a budget is a financial practice anyone can undergo that will improve your financial health and allow you greater structure when it comes to your finances. Be sure to include debt payoffs and retirement contributions to your budget and take into account all of your necessities, including rent, utilities, and food.
Once you’ve laid out your monthly income and expenses, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how much flexibility you have for spending on your wants or where your pain points are, and where you can be cutting down. Keep careful track of your spending and notice any necessary adjustments you and your family should be making. If you need additional help writing out your budget, be sure to check out our budget sheet.
Make a Plan Toward Your Debts
Although it may seem easier to go with the flow and pay off your monthly minimum balance, paying off debt is something that should be planned out carefully. You’ll want to ensure you pay over the minimum amount owed each month, have a plan for how much you will put toward your payments, and when you expect them to be paid off.
Having a thorough understanding of how this will be accomplished will give you peace of mind and improve your financial well-being in the long term, as you’ll know exactly how much debt you’re in and your plan of attack. This method will leave you with the skills to stay ahead of your debts and leave you more financially knowledgeable in the future.
As the tried-and-true saying goes: consistency is key. Sticking to a range in how much you spend per month and what that spending goes toward will leave you with structure and confidence in your financial habits. Try to stick to a consistent budget and spending plan for the first few months after creating it. This process will allow you to have mistakes at first and make you more aware of your spending. Once a few months have passed, if you find that adjustments to your budget are necessary, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly what needs to be changed, which will allow for a smoother transition to your updated budget. Allowing yourself to get into a cadence and giving your budget a chance will prove to be more successful than letting your budget go by the wayside and making frequent changes.
Creating financial stability for yourself and your family is a gratifying feeling. It’ll leave you with a sense of accomplishment and confidence for the future. Changing your financial habits is no small feat, and at Hope For The Warriors, we’re here to help. To learn more about our services to military families, including financial workshops and scholarships, visit our services page.