It’s easy to read the business headlines and get out of synch with the basics. For example, military members might be fearful from contributing to the Thrift Savings plan because of stock market volatility. Others might think that because inflation is likely in the near future, they should go out and spend money now, or borrow money now to buy everything they want.
These are very dangerous choices. Now is a great time to return to fundamentals of financial planning.
1. Budget wisely. How much do you spend each month in restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, and other discretionary ways?
2. Pay yourself first. Put 10-15% of your income away for retirement either in Roth IRAs, the TSP, or other tax advantaged accounts.
3. Spend wisely. Consider a used vehicle, avoid a long term lease, carefully consider purchases, and avoid impulsive decisions. Carry cash and avoid credit cards whenever possible.
4. Pull your credit report. You can go to annualcreditreport.com and get your report for free. If it contains errors, report them right away.
5. Get adequate life insurance if you need it. If someone depends on you for their basic needs, you need life insurance. For many, SGLI is enough, and comes directly out of your pay. If you’ve been in the military more more than 10 years, you may additional coverage. I recommend you contact USAA for more information about their insurance products.
6. Learn more about taking care of your money. Pick up a book like Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” to get a good understanding of the principles.