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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): The Top 10 List for Personal Finance for Any Situation

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Top 10 List for Personal Finance for Any Situation

Okay, so I'm OCD about personal finance and all things that surround it. I just enjoy crunching numbers and reading about what's best for our money. If you are not like me, and don't like reading everything under the sun about personal finance, just follow this simple list, and you'll be set for life. You can continue these tips even in today's economy.

  • Pay yourself off the top. Set up an automatic payroll deduction that invests the money in good growth stock mutual funds (index funds work well), before you ever get your paycheck. The market WILL go back up, and if you are 50 years and younger, you'll retire at a much better position than what you have today fortunately.
  • Shoot for 10-15% of your income off the top. Divy out what you need to spend on necessities every month (housing, food, utilities, transportation). 10-15% should be left over. If not, you either need to cut expenses or get a better paying job or work extra hours delivering pizza (as an example).
  • Try to max out your IRA every year. To me, this is "free" money, ie tax-free interest. Take advantage of that.
  • Understand your military spouse's LES and get familiar with all the entitlements that you are due. You have got to be able to look at that statement and understands what it says. I can't tell you the number of times ours has been just plain wrong!
  • If you have kids, start looking at college savings ideas when they are young. Mostly recommended as the biggest bang for your buck, college 529 plans. Compare the different plans out there. Some have high fees and others don't allow you to pick which investments they choose. I've heard that the Utah plan is one of the best deals out there, and no, you do not have to attend a college in that 529 plan's state.
  • Make sure your stock mutual funds have low turnover rates and that they invest in different market sectors. DIVERSIFY in the different sectors and parts of the economy. Stick with mutual funds and not individual stocks.
  • Forget savings bonds and have grandma contribute to a 529 instead. Savings bonds were a noble effort after WWII, but now earn just a pittance of a return. Also stay away from pre-paid college plans. You'd make more money for your child in a regular mutual fund than prepaying today's rates for college.
  • Don't buy a house for just a few years if you move around a lot. You won't get your money back when it's time to sell, especially now. If you must buy, then you'd better have a plan in place to rent it out and have someone you trust (and pay) to manage the thing. If you run the numbers, in most markets, it just does not pay off to purchase a house if you are only going to live at that location for a few years.
  • Make sure your mortgage is not more than 25% of your take home pay, after taxes. And when looking at your potential mortgage payment, be realistic on what your additional expenses would be with that new home, to include insurance, property taxes and other monthly expenses. When we compared mortgage offers with our last house, we only budgeted $300 extra for these items...with the volatile housing situation of the last few years, it ended up being $600 extra..and who knows where it will go this year...hopefully down! Always overestimate!
  • Realize that the turtle wins the race and not the hare. Be patient. Don't look what the Joneses are doing, and stick with the basics above.
Oops, almost kept going. So that's the top ten. Keep that in mind, whatever you do with your money, and you WILL come out on top. What is your top money mantra?



Blogger Alexa said...

We have a 529 with USAA and it is invested in the Utah plan. Our state just changed it's rules regarding 529's - contributions can be deducted from your state income taxes - so that's something to look at also.

October 24, 2008 at 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Debt Settlement Lawyers said...

My top money mantra is to make savings, whatsoever merge amount that it could be managed every month.

November 17, 2010 at 9:14 AM  

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