By Darrel Baxter, Fort Rucker Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program Financial CounselorDecember 7, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- There are several reasons why you should have a budget. Many people associate having a budget with having tight restrictions as if you are on a diet. A budget is not meant to be that way, it is a tool that helps you to better manage your money and achieve financial goals that you have for you and your family.
For those who already use a budget, you understand the benefits that it can bring to you and your family's financial situation. For those who don't have a budget, I recommend you develop one or find one that works for you. A budget can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. As you prepare to transition, you will need to prepare for the changes that will come to your finances and way of life that you have been accustomed to for perhaps a few to many years while you served. Having a budget in place prior to your transition will make things a lot smoother for you and your family.
Below are some of the benefits of having a budget.
1. Helps you control your money. You know what money is coming in and what money is going out. You tell your money where to go, what to do and when to do it. You are tracking what is going on with your money and you are not confused about what happened to your money. You are in charge.
2. Helps you to live within and below your income. Without a budget, you may find yourself trying to live above your means, which can lead to financial hardship for you and your family. A budget helps keep you from overspending, and staying within your budget. It can keep you from trying to live like the Joneses.
3. Helps you achieve goals, it will help you to achieve both short and long-term goals that you may have, for example saving for a house, car, a vacation or getting out of debt. Having a budget in place allows you to keep things in order and directs your money where it needs to go to achieve the goals that you have set.
4. Helps you to save money for multiple reasons: emergency funds in case of an unexpected event or job loss occurs and you need to pay for something or cover expenses for a few months; you can allocate what you will save for retirement funds for when you plan to retire and don't plan to work anymore; and college funds, for young children to have money for college when they graduate from high school.
5. Helps you to identify where you may have bad spending habits. It is important that you know where your money is going. When you lose track of your spending, your money can go places that you had no idea it was going. You can adjust your spending to make better use of your money.
6. Helps to reduce financial stress. You may have heard that financial problems are a big cause for family and relationship problems. A budget can help you to achieve the financial peace that is beneficial for both you and your family. You don't have to worry about the late nights thinking about how you are going to make it to the next pay date because you don't know where your money is going or have enough to cover the expenses.
If you already have a budget, continue to use it and put it use. It will be beneficial to you as you prepare to transition. If you don't have one, it is recommended that you create one or find one online that works for you and easy for you to understand. You don't want to find yourself in a situation where you are unprepared financially.
Start a budget today to get a head start on being financially prepared for your next step and future. There are multiple resources on line that can assist you with developing a budget.
Also, when you schedule your SFL-TAP workshop you will be provided a budget worksheet that you can use. I recommend you develop a budget as soon as possible, don't wait.