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Financial resolutions are something a lot of families experience, even military ones

2 minute read

Debt knows no bounds — it does not see race, sex, or even annual income. Anyone can experience debt, even the families that serve in the military.

The vast majority of middle-class military families — like commissioned officers and senior non-commissioned officers — are planning to improve their finances this year, according to a survey from First Command Financial Services. Respondents had at least a $50,000 annual household income.

Among the top resolutions for military families this year include:

  • Cut back on excessive spending: 36 percent
  • Get out of debt: 33 percent
  • Improve credit score: 29 percent
  • Keep track of financial activities: 28 percent
  • Learn to budget responsibly: 27 percent

While these families are making at least $50,000 a year, 74 percent of respondents are worried about defense downsizing and spending. This might be the main reason they’re worried about their finances, as many families are expecting to feel the brunt of defense cuts.

When it comes to resolutions, military families are on par with other Americans. One-third of military families are struggling with credit card debt and almost the same amount are going through high debt levels and don’t believe they have enough savings. Bad spending habits, or spending without a budget, is also a major problem.

How you — and military families — can stick to financial resolutions

More than a third of Americans made financial resolutions for 2017. Most want to save more, some want to spend less, and a few want to pay off debt.

Making resolutions are a lot easier than keeping them, and that’s not just for financial goals, it’s for any goal! So how can you make a goal and hit it?

For starters, your goal should be realistic. Don’t set something that you know you will never achieve. Make sure it’s something reasonable and attainable. Think about it: what are you money plans for the next six months? A year? Five years? Do you want to make a big new purchase? Are you saving for a house? Do you want to stash away more cash for retirement or a child’s college fund? Once you start with a realistic goal, you can outline your ways to hit that goal.

Next, start tracking all your expenses. This is to see exactly where your money goes. Sometimes having a line-item of expenses can show you that maybe you’re spending a lot of money at coffee shops or office lunches. Maybe you’re still paying for a gym membership you don’t use. Regardless of the leaks’ source, you probably have some! Tracking your expenses will help you make a realistic budget. If you’ve noticed that you spend $25 a week getting your daily caffeine fix at the coffee shop around the corner, maybe you treat yourself to one a week and pocket the change. Drink your joe at home or at the office to save!

After you’ve been monitoring your progress, make sure your budget changes to match your spending. Did you cut out those office lunches? Make sure the money you would’ve spent on those meals are going to an online savings account, a retirement account, or another investment account. Remember your spending may change and fluctuate, so it’s OK to be flexible. Your budget should never be set in stone but rather, a fluid, moving document. If you hit your goal, celebrate! But make sure you set a new financial goal and work just as hard toward that one. There will never be a time where you won’t need to evaluate and re-evaluate your money.

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About the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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