Money woes can lead to stress in other areas of life, not just your wallet. In the second installment of a three-part series on financial fitness during various ages and stages of one’s Navy career, guest blogger Stacy Livingstone-Hoyte, AFC, provides Sailors in their 30s with a few self-care tips to get a head start on achieving financial freedom. –NavyNavStress Note
With each passing decade of our lives comes the realization that the future will happen, our older and wiser selves become more of a reality, naiveté is shed (to some degree) and we are more acquainted with life’s responsibilities, obstacles and opportunities ahead. As you developed a sense of financial freedom in your twenties, you may have done things to secure your future such as setting up an emergency fund, automating deposits for your monthly savings and thinking twice before making purchases. Your thirties are a prime time to build upon that foundation now that you’re more established in your career and have a better sense of your personal, professional and family goals. Like in your twenties, keeping an eye on the future is vital so that you’re not jumping into life-changing financial commitments, living outside of your means or piddling away the progress you’ve achieved so far.
Here are a few tips to help on the road to financial wellness:
- Stick to your savings. Whether you built a cushion in your twenties or are just now getting around to it, consistent saving is one of your biggest wealth-building allies. Allocate and do your best to stick to saving ten to fifteen percent of your earnings for both short and long term goals such as retirement and/or transition from military to civilian life, major purchases, emergency savings, moving expenses, etc. Rather than saving whatever you have left over at the end of the month, pay yourself first to stay on track. P.S. – if you haven’t yet developed a budget so that you have a better roadmap for spending, debt reduction and saving, it’s time to get on it! Check out budgeting resources from Military OneSource here.
- Avoid the wealth effect. Making more money from bonuses, tenure or advancement does not mean that you should spend more. Challenge yourself to live on your previous take-home pay to reap the benefits of additional savings in order to meet your goals. Be wary of the temptation to “keep up with the Joneses” by impulsively using new money to reward yourself with luxuries. Having a financial plan for any new money can help you fund your next steps wisely rather than blowing through your gains without anything to show for them (besides a new tech gadget). If purchasing a bigger or newer car or home, or funding a vacation is a goal that you’re working toward, include savings for these milestones into your new money plan. You may also opt for using new money to increase your emergency fund, long-term savings or pay down debt.
- Prepare for transition. Many military members start a second career in their thirties—or are preparing to in their early forties—and must face new financial realities in terms of pay and benefits. Familiarize yourself with the new Blended Retirement System, which takes effect in 2018 and offers the option of a monthly annuity or lump sum plus reduced monthly annuity pay. Check out these infographics for a quick overview of the new system for active component and reserve component Keeping your transition from service in mind when making money decisions can help you stay ahead of stress down the line. Even making modest adjustments to your lifestyle—such as cutting back on buying lunch or making more meaningful strides to quit smoking (to benefit your health and wallet)—can help you pad your savings in the event that you don’t immediately re-enter the workforce.
While you may have been more of a risk-taker in the past, now that you’re a little wiser with a few more years under your belt, take a close look at your assets to ensure that your security isn’t on the line. Checking your credit report regularly through annualcreditreport.com (the only authorized website for free credit reports), reviewing your insurance coverage so that you can adjust based on your needs and find the best rates, and exploring ways to diversify your investments are wise money moves for this chapter in life. As always, continue to consult with your local Fleet and Family Support Center, Command Financial Specialist, Military OneSource personal financial counselors and local installation resources for specific guidance when you need it. For more tips, check out the resources below:
- Military OneSource Investment Calculators: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/financial-and-legal/personal-financial-management-and-taxes?content_id=286437
- Military OneSource Retirement Calculators: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/financial-and-legal/personal-financial-management-and-taxes?content_id=287081
- Expanded Credit Protections for Service Members and their Families: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/financial-and-legal/personal-financial-management-and-taxes?content_id=293448