This post was initially published on MilMomAdventures.
Finances in every family can be a contested subject. But, let’s be honest, military pay can be difficult to understand. That first glimpse of an LES is enough to make you cross-eyed. Good news, though! There are military-friendly budget tools and military-specific organizations that get it, and they’ll help you get it too.
Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society
Through Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS), you can make an appointment for you and your spouse to sit down with a financial counselor and create a budget. Bring a copy of your spouse’s LES and any other income information, and this free service will help you draft a budget. They can print it out to you or email it to you. If they email it to you, you have their formulaic Excel sheet to plug in your numbers in the future. You can find a complete list of NMCRS locations on their website, and — yes — they have overseas locations too!
Budget for Baby
This program is put on by NMCRS, and it is an amazing opportunity to learn about how to adjust your budget for a baby. This is a must-do for first-time parents. They will walk you through expected costs for a new baby and how to best use your funds to cover those costs. They also give you a budget worksheet to do with your spouse. Need more convincing? They currently give you a baby swag bag filled with a handmade blanket or hat, onesies, formula, coupons, and more when you take a class. You can register for an upcoming Budget for Baby workshop at your installation’s NMCRS office, but you can get more information on their website any time.
Personal Financial Management Program
Not every base has one, but the big bases usually do. These offices are staffed with personal financial management specialists who can provide one-on-one financial counseling in addition to classes on money management, basic investing, and credit and debt management. With the changes to the retirement system in fiscal year 2016, to include the Blended Retirement System (BRS), you can expect to find classes covering the changes (depending on where you’re stationed). These offices also have a budget worksheet available on paper or as an Excel version. You can use the Military Installations page to locate a financial counselor near you. Just select “Personal Financial Management Services” in the drop-down box under “Select a program or service,” and type in your installation’s name.
Military and Family Life Counselors
This program is mostly for big-picture family readiness and resilience, but they do have tools for budgeting. To find a financially-savvy Military and Family Life Counselor (MFLC) near you, hop back to Military Installations and select “Family Center” from the drop-down.
Military OneSource houses a ton of important information on budgeting, how to smartly borrow, and it simplifies the BRS. If you want to talk to someone in person, Military OneSource has a couple of confidential options for you, including referral to a local face-to-face financial counselor, an over-the-phone option, or via video chat. A call to 800-342-9647 will connect you with a consultant who will connect you with a financial counselor. You can also call them any time you just need a military-related money question answered quickly (ahem…moving, special pays, taxes). The Military OneSource call center takes calls 24/7, so you can call any time, even from overseas. If you are calling from overseas, check out the special dialing instructions based on where you’re stationed.
How do you budget — Excel sheet, apps, pencil and paper? Let us know what works for you and give a shout out to your favorite military-friendly budget tool!
Photo Credits: Miscellanea Photography