Managing your money, saving and being financially secure is important to everyone. Military life brings specific challenges that can make balancing budgets particularly difficult. Army&You spoke to the team at MoneyForce, a website and training programme that provides customised support to help you and your soldier plan your finances better, both while you are living the Army life and once you leave. Here’s what they advise…
Be strict. Ask yourself, do we use our TV subscriptions as much as we thought, or would a Freeview box do? Do we need these insurances, are there gaps or are we duplicating? The key is to be realistic. Are you using your gym or club membership enough to make it worthwhile? Once you’ve decided which contracts you really need, make sure you are getting the best deal.
There are specialist sites that make this easier for utilities, home insurance, mobile phones and car insurance. Check out the benefits of combining your phone, TV and broadband, as this could get you a much better deal. Don’t be afraid to shop around – this can take time, but it’s worth doing.
Don’t spend what you don’t have and avoid running up debt on credit and store cards. The last thing you want is to be in the red and have to pay interest on debt. Use the MoneyForce budget planner to see how much money you have left after your expenses.
Interest and charges quickly add up, so make sure you pay at least the minimum amount to avoid incurring lots of additional fees.
Check the interest rate on your savings. These days, interest rates are low, while inflation is higher so money held in bank accounts or even tax-efficient cash ISAs is unlikely to be keeping pace with inflation. If you’ve got your emergency savings sorted and are saving for the longer-term, ask whether you can afford to take a little risk and invest some into a stocks and shares ISA, which has the potential for greater growth. Bear in mind this can go up as well as down and may be worth less than you invested depending on how it performs. Whatever your decision, make sure that any money you do keep in savings accounts is getting the best possible interest rate.