By the end of 2010, 15 million Americans were unemployed. An astounding 1.5 million people went bankrupt, up 20 percent from 2009. Start now and apply your military discipline to managing your money.
Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

Military Financial Fitness

By the end of 2010, 15 million Americans were unemployed. An astounding 1.5 million people went bankrupt, up 20 percent from 2009.

As military, you don't have to worry about unemployment; but it's easier than you may think to let your budget go awry and end up in bankruptcy court.

Start now and apply your military discipline to managing your money, something most people don't pay attention to. Software like Intuit's Quicken and Microsoft Money are useful tools for managing your personal finances. But studies showed that though millions of people bought these money management software packages, only about 10 percent of the people actually used them.

The time is now to use your own smarts, and become your own best money manager.


Even though the military allows you to do so, it's not wise to live a lifestyle where you must take advances on your military paycheck.

Still, if you must do so, and avoid payday loans and lenders at all costs. Fees on payday loans can far exceed even the highest credit-card interest rates. And there are legitimate loans available to help military service members, from reputable companies like Pioneer Services, lenders who understand and serve the military community. If you must take a loan, do your due diligence and find a bank or lender who supports military members.


Just because you have the option to indulge in credit-card spending doesn't mean you should. Don't use credit cards to live above your means.

And transferring high credit card balances to a lower annual interest rate is not the answer; it can only be helpful if you use it as part of your plan to pay the balance off. If you find that you are constantly transferring credit card balances, it can signal a larger money-management and self-control problem.

Current credit-card legislation requires lenders to print on each statement the amount of time it would take to pay off the bill by only paying the minimum, and how much you'll ultimately be paying after interest. If you notice that it will take you 10 or more years to to pay off your bill, and the item you purchased will, in the end, cost you tow or three times as much, you are using your credit cards recklessly.


The number-one cause of bankruptcy in America is medical bills, accounting for 62 percent of all bankruptcies. Even more disturbing: 78 percent of those people had health insurance, just not enough.

As military, your TRICARE health insurance benefits offer better medical protection than most private employer healthcare plans. Still, the best medical plan is to stay healthy; eat well, exercise often, and lead a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you're also saving some money every month to build a cushion for an unexpected medical downfall.


From bigger houses to faster cars to the latest technology widget, life is filled with shiny temptations. But when the luster wears off, you are left with the bill. Of the 181 million people with credit cards in America, more than half of them carry a balance. Next time you're tempted by an impulse item, wait 24 hours. Do you want this item more than you want the debt it carries? If so, at least make sure that before you make a big purchase, you've got the cash to back it up.


The higher your education, the higher your pay, right? Not always.

If you need a student loan to supplement your extensive GI Bill benefits, maybe that college degree will just end up paying you back in disappointment, debt and stress instead of future income. Look at the degree you're pursuing to find out if it will measure up: what's the average salary after graduation, and, using that salary, how long it will take you to pay off your loans? Investing in education is wise, if you spend your money intelligently. Check your GI Bill benefits; before you choose a private college over your state college, one which may exceed the GI Bill benefits you have access to, look into the future and make sure first that it will add up financially in your favor.


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