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6 money tips for military families and Navy Seals

Before spending, focus on your true priorities and how to achieve them.

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It’s official, I’m addicted to the History Channel’s eight-part drama about the lives of Navy Seals, “SIX“. After watching two episodes of this edge-of-your-seat action drama, I experienced feelings of worthlessness and self-deprecation.

After all, these guys risk their lives in dangerous circumstances to protect our freedom and what am I doing of value – writing investing and financial management articles?

Then, the Seals come home to family drama and difficulties. And to add to their stresses, pay for an entry level Navy Seal is a paltry $22,992 per year for entry level Special Warfare Operator Third Class.

Despite the low starting salaries, they do receive special payments for:

– Jump pay

– Dive pay

– Demolition pay

– Hostile fire pay

– Family separation pay

So, if a Master Chief Special Warfare Operator with an E-9 pay grade qualifies for all the bonuses and special payments, the Navy adds $6,981.72 to the basic monthly check of $4,635 for an annual total of $139,400. Yet, he’s still risking his life every time he goes to work.

While bemoaning my worthlessness to my husband, he suggested that I write about their situation and offer strategies for their financial well-being.

I can’t begin to understand the stressors of being in a Navy Seal family. Yet, if you keep financial troubles away, you’ll have one fewer thing to worry about.

Practice these financial action steps for Navy Seals to secure your family’s future.

Automate investing for tomorrow

You don’t need to be an investing wiz to realize that if you put money into your low-cost retirement plan, you will protect your families financial future.

Uniformed service members have access to one of the best retirement plans in the world, The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The management fees are just $.25 for every $1,000 invested and you can invest in low-fee index mutual funds or a target-date or lifecycle fund (L fund). The lifecycle fund invests your money more aggressively while you’re younger and becomes more conservative as you approach your retirement date.

Most service members won’t stay enlisted for the 20 years required to receive a pension. So, your retirement funding is on you.

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Don’t even think you can’t afford to invest in your TSP because you can’t afford not to!

If you have the money from your paycheck automatically transferred into your TSP when you’re younger, you won’t need to worry about your finances later.

Earn 10% on your savings while in combat

This isn’t a typo! The DoD Savings Deposit Program (SDP) was created to give service members in combat zones the opportunity to build their savings. During each deployment, you can deposit up to $10,000 and earn up to 10% annually. You can’t close the account until you’ve left the combat zone and your money continues to earn interest for an additional 90 days after you’re returned home or to your permanent duty station.

6 money tips for military families and Navy Seals

After returning stateside, invest the money for the future or place it in an emergency savings account. Source

A safe ten percent return is almost impossible to earn today. This is an opportunity to jump on immediately if you qualify.

Consider this money as shelter from financial hardship for your family.

After returning stateside, invest the money for the future or place it in an emergency savings account.

Implement smart money strategies

A key component of financial management is setting up financial safety nets. That means you’ll need savings account for those unexpected emergencies. When your wife’s car needs new brakes, she has the cash to pay for them without putting the bill on credit, to be paid for later. Keep approximately 3 months expenses in the “what if” fund. When you take money out, replace it immediately.

Don’t worry that you won’t have anything left for spending after funding retirement, “what if” and SDP savings plans. The secret is to automate these payments into the distinct accounts and spend what’s left.

If you don’t see the money, you won’t spend it.

Keep your taxes low

Learning about tax strategies can maximize your take home pay.

As long as you’re in the military, you can maintain a legal residence in one state, even if transferred to another. This is great if you’re stationed in a tax-free state such as Florida or Texas.

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Maybe your wife has a home-based business. If so, she can deduct many expenses from your family tax return and reduce your total income taxes. If not, starting a small side hustle is a great way to make extra cash when not shuttling the kids to their events.

Practice smart spending habits

There are countless ways to develop and maintain smart spending habits. Navy Seals and their families might enact a “do not spend” week or month. Another tip is to make a list before shopping, every time. Then, if it’s  not on the list – you don’t buy.

But, the best money strategy is called mindfulness. When related to spending, mindfulness means that before spending, focus on your true priorities and how to achieve them.

If financial security is important, then financially competing with the Jones won’t get you there. When your neighbor splurges on an electric car for her daughter, stop and consider if buying your Olivia the electric Mercedes is more important than the calm of financial well-being.

Pay off debt

You know that debt is stressing you out. You understand that you should pay it off, but you continue to put it off. Yet, the more you ignore the debt, the worse you feel.

Use that anxiety to propel you into action.

Create a debt-slashing plan. There are more than enough get out of debt strategies and apps on the internet. The key is not which plan you choose, but sticking with it, day-by-day. Start today, and tally up your debt. Then, check out an online calculator or debt reduction tool and get started.

By removing financial stress from your lives, Navy Seals, military members and your family’s can boost your well-being.

Thank you to all service members and your families for your tremendous sacrifices for our country.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS is a former investment portfolio manager, author of Personal Finance; An Encyclopedia of Modern Money Management and How to Get Rich; Without Winning the Lottery. Friedberg is a former university Finance and Investments instructor, and publisher of BarbaraFriedbergPersonalFinance.com and RoboAdvisorPros.com. Her work has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, Yahoo! Finance, GoBankingRates, The Huffington Post and many more publications.

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