If you are like most military families, bills, money and finances, in general, are fresh in your mind. Most military families have credit card debt, mortgage payments, large grocery bills, auto loans and countless other bills and expenses required to support and raise a family.

With that in mind, the end of the year presents a great time to reflect on the last 12 months and think about how you can make things different and better in your life going forward. Why not take that opportunity to consider a plan for a better financial future?

Where are you feeling the financial pressure?

Sometimes it’s easier to neglect or push away the thought of listing problems. However, facing them will help you begin discover ways to alleviate the pressure and move forward in 2019. Do you have looming financial issues or past debts that keep coming back to haunt you? Or, are things a bit less tricky for you, but you can’t seem to move to the next phase of life, like purchasing a new home?

Regardless of where you may be feel the strain, begin making a list of the financial pressures that are weighing on you right now. Your list might contain the following:

  • Living outside of your means, i.e., more bills than money to cover the expenses
  • Credit card debt: Feeling overwhelmed, can’t make more than minimum payments
  • Issues with spouse overspending
  • Wanting to purchase a home, but can’t save enough for the down payment
  • Pressure to purchase gifts/toys for the holidays
  • Looming tax debts
  • Overdraft bank accounts and late fees
  • Transportation or car problems
  • Medical bills or medical issues preventing you or your spouse from working

Here are some tips to getting started on a better financial journey:

Get started now

Depending on your specific financial circumstances, you’ll want to get started early in planning for 2019. If your finances are in good shape already, planning for 2019 may be relatively less complex than those who may be facing bigger financial challenges. If that’s you, keep in mind that you aren’t alone. Many of our clients are bombarded with credit card debt, student loan debt, medical bills and more.

Regardless of your current financial condition, planning early can save yourself time and money in the long run. Get started as soon as you can and start devising a plan of action to turn things around.

Determine your spending habits

Until you know how much you are spending and what your money is being spent on, it will be challenging to develop an actionable plan that will work. Start by making a list of things throughout your day you are spending money on and begin compiling a list of your bills and expenses throughout the month. Don’t neglect the little things and begin to tally total amounts spend on entertainment, going out to eat, purchasing music, clothing, and of course, large expenses like rent, car payments and household expenses.

Create a budget

We have resources available here on our website for creating a budget. Remember to include extra money for unforeseeable financial issues that may arise, like getting a flat tire, or purchasing a new hot water heater. Financial issues will arise from time to time and having an emergency fund in place is necessary.

Find ways to cut expenses and learn ways to resist the temptations to overspend and get back on track and stick with your budget.

Couple saving money

Reach out for help

When financial circumstances become too much to deal with, it’s often best to reach out to a family member, counselor, friend or a financial professional for help. Financial pressures and the strain of managing finances can be hard for military families, in addition to the stresses of military family life.