Building Foundations

What is Budgeting

*This article is for information purposes only and not intended as legal advice

Soldier welcome homeBudgeting may seem complicated, but it is a remarkably simple concept that is sometimes challenging to implement. Budgeting is a plan. It very simply comes down to looking at what is being spent and comparing that to what is being earned to make sure you don’t run out. From there, breaking down needs and wants, tracking dollars spent, and making adjustments are important parts of the process.
So where do you start? You must understand how you spend money so that you can know what adjustments, if any, need to be made. At the beginning of the month, write down what you think you will earn and spend. Include all the “little” things like a stop at the coffee shop or convenience store. Then, throughout the month, write down your actual spending and compare this to your actual income. Are you making more than you spend?
Whether you are earning more than you spend or whether you are spending more than you earn, there is an opportunity to review your expenses and look for opportunities to save money. If you went to the coffee shop 10 times during the month, can you find the opportunity to only go weekly (4 times) as a special treat? Did you head to the commissary with a list, or did you wing it and end up with a lot of grocery items you didn’t need? Sometimes it is the little things that add up, and you can identify those things through closely tracking your spending through your budget.
Don’t delay – if you do not have a budget, start tracking your spending today. You may find you are spending on things you really can do without, and may find a bit extra cash to allocate to the “extras” you have been wanting and the financial security you need.
For more information and resources on budgeting, specific for members of our  military, visit:

Basic Budgeting

*This article is for information purposes only and not intended as legal advice

Soldier in kitchen on cell phoneUnbelievably, budgeting is not rocket science.  But it is a skill that takes some dedication to keep on track. The true nature of budgeting is knowing what you are earning, what you are spending, and keeping both of those things in check.
The first step in budgeting is to figure out how much you are earning.  Take into account all sources of income coming into your household. Make sure you are using the total amount of your income after taxes.
After income is determined, expenses need to be listed. It is recommended you write all your expenses down, including the extra stop at the commissary for the items you forgot off your list and the weekly splurge on coffee. Only by listing ALL the expenses you incur during the month, can you really get a true picture of how your finances look.
Next, compare the two lists. If your income is greater than your expenses, you are ahead. But, if the number is less than zero, you are spending more than you are making. This can be a problem. Either way, do you have opportunities to make changes to your spending habits? Are there any other things that you spend money on that you did not write down?
At this point, this is a great time to find ways you can make different decisions to save money, or you can validate that you are making the right decisions when it comes to money.
For more information on budgeting, check out this resource on making a budget:

Building Credit

*This article is for information purposes only and not intended as legal advice

Soldier Building CreditCredit is the backbone of a solid financial future. While cash or checks are great ways to make purchases, they are not always practical or safe. A credit card may be a good way for you to start establishing or reestablishing credit.
Why do I need good credit?
Credit really is the core concept to many things in life. Routine items such as utilities, renting an apartment, employment, and of course, getting a loan, are all dependent on your credit rating. Not only does credit serve as a basis for these decisions, how much you pay is also dependent on your credit rating. The better your credit, the better your rates will be.
How to establish credit
Start small. A small credit card that you can use to make purchases, then pay off right away will demonstrate your responsibility and begin to establish your credit history. In addition, buying items online, making travel arrangements, security, budgeting, and emergency funds are all reasons to carry a credit card.

A few key tips while you are establishing your credit with a credit card:

  1. Do not exceed your limit at all costs.  It is best to only charge a maximum of 30% of your credit limit.  So, for each $100 of credit limit, keep your purchases to under $30.
  2. Pay your balance in full every month by the due date. If you cannot pay the full amount, make sure you have a plan to pay it off as quickly as possible.
  3. Don’t be tempted to open multiple credit cards. One or two cards is plenty to help establish your credit history.

Building and rebuilding credit will take time and discipline, but with the right tools and the right financial partner, you can begin to build a brighter future.

Tools & Tips

This resource center connects you to various banking and military resources to help you understand and manage your personal finances while enlisted in the military. Check back often for updated content.

Defend & Protect

You work hard to defend our country and we want to work hard to help you protect your finances.Here you will find information on fraud and other means to protect all that is important to your financial well-being.

Free financial literacy for active military and veterans:

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