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Why is there always so much month left at the end of the money? We know you look forward to the 1st and 15th like it's a fantasy draft and you've got first pick. But wondering whether or not you're going to be able to buy groceries by the end of the month is one game we're not here for. Here are 5 easy ways to save, military edition:
1. Take advantage of discounts
We know your work is supposed to speak for itself and that humility is one of the key attributes of service.
We also know there are a lot of organizations and companies out there that want to support the military and aren't sure how to do it other than offering a discount. Ask with every transaction you make if there's a discount. Turns out that 10% off a few times a week adds up pretty quickly.
Also, call your service providers (cell phone, internet, tv, even your credit card companies) and ask if you can get a military rate. Navy Federal Credit Union has a great list of discounts available that come with being a member. Do your homework to see what companies offer military discounts. If yours doesn't, see if they'll match a competitor's program.
We know it's hard to shout your service from the rooftops, but if these companies want to help you by honoring your military experience with a rewards program or money off each month, it's okay to let them.
2. Don't outsource
We love outsourcing as much as the next guy. But take a hard look at everything you're spending money on for someone else to do and see if you could DIY at a cost savings. Take the guard off your clippers and cut your own hair and enjoy cutting your costs by several hundred dollars a year. Mow your own lawn, change your own oil and utilize the base hobby shop to fix that broken alternator.
Have an expensive repair looming at your house and really can't swing the cost? Watch a YouTube video on how to fix it. Whether it's repairing a phone screen, a dishwasher or a leaking pipe, the wonderful experts of the internet can often save you lots and lots of cash.
3. Shop at the commissary
On average, commissary shoppers can save around 30% on items than if they were shopping for those same needs in town. The commissary private labels (Freedom's Choice, HomeBase, Top Care, Tippy-Toes and Full Circle Market) are an even larger savings. And, you don't have to pay sales tax!
4. Pack your lunch
According to HowStuffWorks, taking the extra five minutes to pack a lunch (especially with your Commissary-sourced food!) can save you upwards of $1500 a year.
That's several months of a car payment, an emergency or vacation fund or just some extra cash. And leftovers really are better the second day - promise.
5. Check your subscriptions
It's easy to sign up for apps with recurring costs or streaming services that appear to be a bargain, but those easily add up over time.
Try annualizing your spending. It's easy to justify $10/week for an app, but can you really justify $520 a year on it when you could feasibly get the same functionality for free?
"Subscription expenses can start to pile up if you don't keep track of them," said Clay Stackhouse, member acquisition manager at Navy Federal Credit Union. "It's important to have a budget where you can keep track of your monthly expenses so you know exactly how much you're spending and on what."
We know budgeting is tough, especially when there never feels like there's enough to go around. Take the pressure off yourself, utilize these tips and leverage some of the free resources provided by Navy Federal Credit Union to help you maximize your savings and your financial confidence.
This post was presented by Navy Federal Credit Union.
One of the incredible benefits of military life is the occasional influx of money, a la bonuses. Whether you're re-enlisting or about to ride on that tax-free train, it's time to talk about what to do with that extra scrilla.
Here are 6 things to do with your bonus:
1. Have a strategy
Just as you came up with a method for making your bed the fastest in the barracks and nailed down how many minutes it takes from being horizontal to being in formation, you need a plan for what you're going to do with the extra money. The best way to accidentally spend it on Ubers and pizza and six packs without even realizing it, is to let it sit in your checking account without a solid plan. Bonuses are an excellent opportunity to establish or update your financial health. Not sure what to do with all that green? Ask a financial advisor to help you. Many of the larger institutions, such as Navy Federal Credit Union, offer financial counseling services.
2. Pay off that debt!
So you booked a trip to Bali right after basic when you had 72 hours of leave and bought all the things there, including round-trip airfare for that girl you met on the beach that had always wanted to see New York. Or, maybe you bought the truck with the options you couldn't quite afford and you still have 93 months left on your payment plan. We're not judging. Paying off debt, especially that of the high interest and unsecured varieties is an excellent use of your money. By paying that off now, you're saving so much in the long run by not having to pay interest.
3. Invest in a Roth IRA
Do future you a giant solid and invest the cash in something that will grow as much as those muscles after a good Crossfit workout. How about a Roth IRA? With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes now and withdraw the funds tax-free when you retire. Wins all around.
4. Invest in a 529 or ESA
It seems like every week we're reading a different headline on the changes to the GI Bill. Maybe your kids will get it, maybe they won't. With ever-changing rules and politics always at play, the GI Bill is about as assured in 18 years as your 1-year-old getting that soccer scholarship. It's always good to have a back-up, so investing in a 529 plan or an Education Savings Account (ESA) for your little Beckham or Hamm isn't a bad idea. Learn more about the plans, here.
5. Create or establish an emergency fund
Hard to believe the military would ever give you short notice that instead of moving across the state, you're moving across the world, but alas, here you are trying to figure out how to ship a pet across the Pacific on your own dime. And, you know as well as the next person that as soon as you deploy, your car is going to break, a kid is going to break an arm, your appliances are going to blow, and so is that tiny extra stash of savings you had. Emergencies happen. Whether it's flying your whole family home for a funeral or paying for the unexpected out of pocket, putting your extra money in a separate account just for these types of occurrences is a great use of your cash. #Life happens, be ready for it.
6. Treat yo'self
You've paid off your debt, you have a nice little stash o' cash and you're feeling good about your financial future. Well, boo, treat yo'self. Maybe you don't book the first flight to Sin City, but invest in the photography class you've always wanted to take. Or finally take that family vacation (look kids, Big Ben!) you've been putting off until you were in a better spot. Whether you're splurging on Hamilton tickets or a monster truck rally, taking a little of your money for yourself is well-deserved.
No matter how you use the extra cash, Navy Federal Credit Union can help you reach your financial goals and meet all your financial needs. It's their mission to put you first. Let them.
This post sponsored by Navy Federal Credit Union.