Take control of your finances by gaining a better understanding of your debt and how to work toward paying off what you owe. Create a plan now and commit to your financial freedom.
Seven steps to controlling your debt
- Figure out how much you owe. Write down how much you owe and the creditor, which may help you visualize a plan for paying off your debts.
- Create a realistic spending plan. Figure out how much money you have coming in each month, and how much you need to spend on necessities and discretionary items. You also have to factor in how much you want to save. Use these amounts to create a spending plan that works for you and your family.
- Prioritize your discretionary income. Once all your bills are paid, how do you spend your money? Using the guidance of your spending plan, determine how much of your discretionary income you should put toward paying off your debt and how much you can afford to spend on things you want but don’t need.
- Avoid the debt trap. Understanding debt traps can help you avoid debt cycles that may leave you feeling as if your financial situation is hopeless.
- Focus on one debt at a time. Start with the credit cards or loans on which you are paying the highest interest, while making the minimum payments on your other cards. Another approach is to start with the debt you can pay off the quickest, with the strategy being to allow yourself some “wins.”
- Make good use of any “found” money. While it can be tempting to spend your tax return, cash gifts, etc., on things you want, consider putting at least half of this money toward paying down your debt.
- Save for the future. From planning for retirement to paying for your children’s college education, it’s important to save for the future. And the earlier you start, the better.
Money management resources for military families
There are numerous programs and services available to military families to help promote better money management. Know and use those resources.
- Each branch of the military service offers a personal financial management program to help service members and their families successfully plan for their financial futures. You have free access to a personal financial manager or counselor, and to free classes offered on your installation. Visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to find the Personal Financial Management Program on your installation.
- If you don’t live near an installation, you can still receive free personal financial counseling through Military OneSource or take classes on financial topics through MilLife Learning.
For additional resources aimed at helping you improve your financial well-being, check out the Office of Financial Readiness and the Department of Defense’s free Sen$e app, available via the Apple Store and Google Play.