By Stacy Livingstone-Hoyte
Time can be your greatest ally when it comes to managing your finances. Simply put, the more time you have to save and invest the better! Today’s savings and investments will reap the benefits of compounding interest (i.e. the interest your money earns just keeps on growing) give you a sense of control and prepare you for life’s emergencies, twists and turns.
Time, if used wisely can help you earn lifelong benefits. Here’s how to start now:
- Shape Up: Get your spending plan in order. Know your numbers; what comes IN (gross and net income) and what goes OUT (savings, debt, living expenses). Also know the dates of the month that your cash/income arrives and when it goes out (due dates and scheduled automatic payments). This way you know exactly where you stand. Be aware of how underweighted (not enough to make the bills) your money supply may be or if you have surplus income (left over at the end of the month). A simple calendar based budgeting method would suffice. Set spending limits and use them to manage family and relational financial expectations.
- Pay Yourself First: This tried and true principle will help you to create and achieve the discipline needed to save and invest. Designate your own bank account as a vendor to be paid each time you receive money.
- Invest Automatically: What isn’t seen cannot be spent. Doing this will ensure that you do not forget to save. Use the allotment feature or bank transfer option to keep up this rewarding habit. Better yet, OPT OUT to have a debit card for the account where your savings will accumulate or delink the savings account from your check card.
- Split Your Next Raise: Choose to divide your next Military pay raise (i.e., 50/50, 75/25) between your savings/investments and living expenses. Count all new pay raises and longevity increases as NEW/FOUND MONEY and try to maintain your standard of living on what you earned before that NEW/FOUND MONEY. The same concept should apply to bonuses and tax refund money.
- Know What Others Think About You: Your borrowing and financing relations are based on one thing; the information in your credit report and your score. So take advantage of getting your federally mandated free credit report from each of the “big 3” once annually. Only borrow if you have to, credit is an extension of trust, never free money.
- The Future Will Happen: Yes, a lot of uncertainty lies ahead; so give yourself and family the best chance of future financial success by making a plan and involving your household members. Additionally, start putting money aside for real retirement and always accept/never refuse/take advantage of FREE MONEY from employer retirement matching contributions. Plan out your financial life mentally, then on paper, then take action steps to ensure a lifetime of financial security.
About the author
Stacy Livingstone-Hoyte, AFC® has served at the Fleet & Family Support Center, Millington, TN as a Financial Counselor since Nov 2009. As part of her efforts to meet the ‘Mission Readiness’ goal of the U.S. Armed Forces, Stacy has been a valued and prolific contributor to our blog.
Thank you Stacy! We all wish you ‘Fair Winds and Following Seas’ in your new endeavors.