Unlike many people in the civilian world, military families can count on regular paychecks and stable housing situations. While this is definitely positive, military life can be stressful. It can be difficult to manage a household budget with a low service member salary. New service members should take advantage of all the military has to offer. Families should do all their shopping at the Exchange so they don’t have to pay tax on essentials. Most Exchanges have nearly everything a family could want or need.
Although most military families are not wealthy, service members and their spouses tend to be good credit risks. Before applying for credit cards, it’s important to read these personal finance tips for military families. In general, families should not buy anything on credit they cannot afford to pay off in one cycle. Of course, if the credit card has very low or no interest, it might make sense to carry a small balance. Depending on credit cards to cover everyday expenses is a huge mistake and should be avoided at all costs. Families who get overextended on their credit cards or personal loans should seek assistance from a credit counselor right away.
Debt can cause stress and when that is added to all the other stress military households have to face, it could be detrimental to the family. Too much stress could lead a service member to make mistakes they wouldn’t otherwise make. It could also lead to problems at home that might be able to be worked out if the spouses were in a better frame of mind. It’s always best for everyone to avoid excessive debt and live within their means. This is even more important for military families.
Some families have an opposite but equally stressful problem. Receiving a lot of money from an accident settlement without a plan of how to manage that money could also cause problems for a family. Investing the maximum amount allowed in the Thrift Savings Plan can help ensure the money isn’t used to purchase things that can’t be transported when the family has to move to another state.