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Controlling Debt


Digging out of debt can feel like a huge challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Commit to your financial freedom by gaining a better understanding of your debt, then create a plan to work toward paying off what you owe.

Paying off debt

Set goals and commit to them so you can pay down your debt, rebuild your savings and gain control over your finances.

  • Figure out how much you owe. Write down how much you owe to each creditor. This can help you visualize a plan for paying off your debt.
  • Focus on one debt at a time. Start with the credit cards or loans with the highest interest rate and make the minimum payments on your other cards. Or, start with the debt you can pay off the quickest if you need the boost of satisfaction that comes from wiping a loan off your books.
  • Put any extra money toward your debt. It’s tempting to splurge when you get a tax refund, work bonus, cash gift or other unexpected money. Instead, put it toward your debt. Even paying half of it toward your debt can help make a difference.
  • Embrace small savings. Consider giving up your daily latte habit. Or cancel a couple of streaming services. Even an extra $20 a week can put a dent in your debt over time.

Controlling your debt

Controlling your debt starts with creating a budget. Having a plan and setting goals can help lift you out of debt and keep you from falling back into it.

  • Create a realistic spending plan. Figure out how much money you have coming in each month and how much you need for necessities and discretionary items. Also, factor in how much you want to save. Determine what you can pay toward your monthly debt payments.
  • Avoid the debt trap. Debt traps happen when you spend more than you earn and borrow money to make up the rest. Falling into debt traps may leave you feeling as though your financial situation is hopeless.
  • Save for the future. The earlier you start planning for retirement, paying for your children’s college education and other saving goals, 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.

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Free personal financial management counseling

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. If you don’t live near an installation, you can still receive free personal financial counseling through Military OneSource.

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The Sen$e App

The Defense Department offers the free Sen$e app, full of personal finance information for service members and their families. It’s available via the Apple Store and Google Play.

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MilLife Learning offers free courses in personal financial basics.

Resources, benefits and support services for controlling debt

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