Working in the military and in a company is not quite the same.
It’s been hard to transition from serving the country in the military to making money in a regular company while supporting my family.
People remind me of the benefits and other items that I am entitled to as a veteran, but balancing finances can be challenging at times.
When I was first deployed, my wife and I decided to put starting a family on pause, because we were trying to discover the best way to manage our money.
However, we ended up having a beautiful baby girl not long after my second deployment.
I decided to stay with my family and not re-enlist after my third deployment.
A couple of years ago, this was tough on us due to the recession.
My wife and I both work a mid-wage job and strive to pay off our bills each month.
Through this process, I found discipline for managing our spending and finances through the same values we were taught and drilled in the military.
I decided to put my experiences in the military to good practice and apply it to budgeting my money.
Make A Plan:
The first on the list is to come up with a strategic plan of clearing up any debts you have or in some cases plan to avoid ever having to pay off debt.
It is always difficult in the beginning, but eventually you will form the habit of watching out for deadlines and be smarter about how you use your money.
This only comes with you setting a goal for yourself and following through with it.
You can take it easy in the beginning, but realize which kind of debt you want to avoid at all cost.
Credit card debts are among the worst as banks implement high interest rates as you prolong paying off the credit card bills.
You can also easily avoid credit card bills by paying with debit cards or even better, keeping cash in your wallet.
It is always easier to spend money with a card rather than cash itself.
In the military, we would have to report back to our superior, but back at home I am my own authority and have to take full responsibility for every decision I make, as it is up to me to come up with the plan and follow through with it, to see that I reach the goal I had set up initially.
The next thing that comes hand in hand with my first point is to make good judgment calls.
We were trained to have good response to actions and be able to make split second decisions in life or death situations.
Whereas my actions out in the field affects my teammates, my actions here at home will affect the well-being of my family.
Start from setting a good foundation and realize that the only way to carry on with a stable and debt-free life is to discipline yourself.
Set a weekly budget and make sure that you’re not translating all your paycheck in that budget.
Always be ready for surprise expenses, so perhaps set aside 20% for emergencies and another 10-15% for savings.
Look at the trend and see if you can adjust your budget lower at the end of each month.
Every purchase has become important to me, whether it is a cup of coffee or a new car.
There are a lot more things I have to give up as I sacrifice these conveniences for my wife and daughter.
It is a matter of discipline and awareness now, as only those who can manage to discipline themselves are the ones who will get somewhere in life.
Our financial stability does not only come from my own efforts.
My wife plays an eminent role in motivating me and instilling confidence in me to become better.
She is a team player and she helps out by cooperating with my financial plans.
The same comparison could be made with my experiences in the military.
My team members and I put our unfaltering trust in each other knowing that in times of crisis we will have each other’s backs.
My wife and I work out our budget together and are explicit about our long term goals as well as satisfying our immediate needs.
Budgeting your finances does not come easy.
You have to create a game plan, follow your plan, and be responsible for the outcome of your execution – no matter if it’s good or bad.
You are responsible to yourself and your family.
John is an Operation Freedom War veteran.