3 Steps to Take Control of Your Money

Military Saves Week: Starting Small and Thinking Big

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FAST FACTS: According to the results of the 2018 Military Spouse and Family Survey, most people (nearly 82 percent) don’t feel prepared for an unexpected financial emergency, and 78 percent are concerned about lack of long-term savings.

February 25 through March 2 is Military Saves Week, part of the DoD's Financial Readiness Campaign. To support this initiative, we have three simple steps to help you take control of your money. The organization’s motto is “Start Small, Think Big,” and these tips will help you do just that.

STEP 1: MAKE A PLAN

Keep it simple. Budgeting boils down to basic math. Take your total earnings after tax and retirement contributions and deduct your expenses. If the amount you spend is less than the amount you earn, you can start allocating the extra money toward savings.

If you’re in the red though and spend MORE than you earn, you’ll need to rethink your budget. Your first step is to look for ways to cut costs. You can easily track and manage expenses in Google Docs, iWork, or an Excel spreadsheet. Once you’ve created a monthly balance sheet, you can start to see the big picture. You’ll know where your money is being spent, and where you can cut back.

Be sure to make informed decisions regarding the Blended Retirement System (BRS). Saving money isn’t just about rainy day funds. The sooner you start thinking about retirement, the better prepared you’ll be once you get there.

STEP 2: SET UP GOALS

This is where thinking big comes into play. It’s important to have goals so you know what you’re working to achieve. Long-term goals may include:

  • Build up an emergency fund
  • Save for a down payment on a car or house
  • Pay off all debt, including credit cards, loans, and mortgage
  • Save enough to go on vacation
  • Effectively fund retirement

Short-term goals may include:

  • Set money aside for the holidays as you go along
  • Handle medical costs not covered by TRICARE or private insurance
  • Make home improvements
  • Have a getaway weekend
  • Buy a new phone 

STEP 3: SAVE AUTOMATICALLY

It’s simple and easy to set up an allotment in myPay on the DFAS website to automatically transfer money from your checking account to a separate savings account on a fixed schedule. Each time you receive a paycheck, a small portion will go into savings.

There are also programs and apps that automatically round up every purchase and put the spare change into a savings account. For example, that cup of coffee that costs $1.89 after tax? Consider that $2, and the extra 11 cents goes into savings automatically, just like a digital piggy bank. These days you can even find apps like Acorns and Stash to help you invest your small change.

Remember: Start small to think big. Every dollar counts toward reaching your financial goals.

To learn more about how to manage your money smarter, visit Pioneer Service’s award-winning Learning Center

GET SOCIAL

Wondering how you can keep up with other events and activities throughout Military Saves Week? Follow @MilitarySaves on Twitter, “Like” the Military Saves Facebook page, and use the hashtag #MSW19 to join the discussion.

For more information about Military Saves Week, visit MilitarySaves.org.

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