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Transitioning out of the military can be tough on some service members’ bank accounts. But a careful approach to finances can make a world of difference.
When we purchase an item, we know why we are buying it and how it will be of use. But when we put money into savings, we may not have any idea of how we’ll use it. Perhaps that’s the biggest problem for us millennials: We believe more in today than tomorrow.
Why is it important to save money?
Imagine that tomorrow you fall seriously ill or have a major accident and face a huge medical bill as a result.
Saving money is crucial simply because we have no idea what the future holds.
If you don’t have savings, you won’t be able to handle unexpected expenses. The main purpose of having a significant amount saved up is to be ready financially for any big expense the future might surprise you with.
With that in mind, here are 5 tips to help you build up that savings account!
1. Have (or get) a source of income
If you aren’t financially independent and rely completely on pocket money and gift cash, then no matter how hard you try, you’ll never lead a financially secure life.
But with a good source of income, you can structure your finances exactly the way you want. So find a job that suits you and plan your savings and expenses with full freedom. With a fixed amount of money coming into your pocket each month, you can easily decide how much you want to save and how much you want to spend.
2. Make a Budget
The next big step after having your own income is to make a workable, flexible budget. There are two excellent options. The first is the 50-20-30 budgeting rule, and the second is backward budgeting.
The 50-20-30 rule is the simplest of the two. With this method, you dedicate 50 percent of your salary to your day-to-day expenses and all other basic expenditures, such as utility bills, groceries, transportation costs, rent, and so on.
Next you pull 20 percent from your salary for your savings. You can open a savings account and get this 20 percent automatically redirected to it from your checking account on your payday. The remaining 30 percent is for you to enjoy. You can dedicate this amount to casual and luxury spending, or you can add it to your savings. Maybe even invest that money!
The second option (my personal favorite) is backward budgeting. With this method, you set aside a specific amount — as much as you want — for savings as soon as you receive your paycheck. Then you figure out your spending from the amount that’s left.
The best way to use this type of budget is to itemize your probable expenses for the month. After you set aside your desired savings amount, see if what’s left will cover your expenses. If it will, good — you’re home free. If it won’t, then assign every dollar that’s left a suitable purpose. Even factor in all your planned luxury expenses. If you’re lucky and have extra cash left, put it into your savings straight away.
3. Be Careful With Credit Cards
Try to use these cards only for justified purposes. I‘m guilty of making poor financial decisions. Because I made nearly every purchase with plastic, I incurred a good amount of credit card debt. But I’ve grown wiser, and now I’m keeping my credit card usage in check.
Check out online debt repayment calculators to see how much you can save on your debt payments if you are someone like me who owes money on his credit cards.
4. Plan Vacations in Advance
Vacations are meant to be memorable, so plan them properly and save enough money to make that a reality. Always plan long vacations at least a year in advance, and start saving by cutting down on costs with a frugal lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean you need to forgo fun until you go on your vacation. You can take some great, inexpensive staycations!
5. Be Mindful of Living Expenses
If you’re moving out of base housing this year, beware the hidden costs associated with renting. You’ll also have to account for many additional expenses and most likely need to change your lifestyle.