This post is brought to you by My Military & Money App. All opinions are my own.
I don’t know if you knew this, but I was a Navy wife…twice. I married the first time when I was 19, the day after my then-fiance graduated from boot camp. I was 20 when we moved in together while he attended A-School. I was barely out of my teens and trying to manage a house on my own. Things got even tougher when he changed ratings and was sent several states away…alone. I had to stay in Maryland. So not only was I a young Navy wife with no clue how to balance a check book, I was pretty much on my own financially and tying to make it on my husband’s E1 salary. I had friends to help with everything else, but the money was on me. When the car broke down, we had to borrow from the Red Cross to pay for repairs because we didn’t have a single extra dime. I pretty much lived on Ramen noodles and generic boxed mac and cheese.
Flash forward to my second marriage. Rich was stationed in Japan and I went to visit. I ended up staying and we got married in the base legal office. I was 23. Financially, once we got married, we were in a better position than my first marriage. Japan has one of the highest cost of living allowances and we were living in base housing. Theoretically, we should have left there after two years with at least some sort of decent savings. We didn’t. Sure, we managed to pay off all our bills and come home mostly debt-free, but I look back and wonder “where the heck did all that money go?”
My Military & Money App: Helping Young Military Families Better Manage Money
Here’s the thing: a very large percent of military families start young. As you can see, I had two marriages before I turned 24! If infertility hadn’t held me back, I would have had at least one child by age 25. With the vast majority (72%) of military members being under age 30, that’s a lot of young families that are, let’s face it, ill-equipped to manage money properly, at least in the beginning. Factor in frequent moves (as little as every two years, but commonly every 4-5 years), relatively low pay when you’re living state-side (cost of living allowances help in high-cost areas, but that allowance is depleted fast if you live off base) and constant deployments, and you can see why it gets difficult to manage money.
My Military & Money App, a joint effort from McGraw Hill Financial and BBB Military Line, wants help service members and young military families better manage their money. The app offers:
- Tools to help you create a balanced budget, manage your credit card dept and actually start a savings plan.
- A fantastic introductory video training series that guides you in all three of the above. Learn how to dig yourself out of debt, build a budget and make credit work for you.
- Tips and info on a variety of financial situations, like saving for your retirement, dealing with deployment and buying a home.
- An optional reminder function that prompts you to revisit your financial plans each month. If you don’t like push notifications, you can always turn this off.
- Access your information when you’re away from Wi-Fi by emailing it to yourself from the app. This is great for those who deploy to areas that don’t exactly have a great wireless network.
While I think all of those are vital to successful money management, the retirement planning is really a major plus. Military members often join young, do their 20 years and get out, often before they even turn 40. The military pension helps a bit, but it’s not enough to live off of alone. I know many military members who had trouble finding jobs that fit what they learned in the military. So a good retirement savings is essential to help get you through those first few years of being a civilian.
Other places to Connect with My Military & Money:
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My Military & Money App Twitter Party
Want to learn more about My Military & Money App? Come join us at a Twitter party on October 1st from 1-2pm. Follow hashtag #MyMilitaryMoney and RSVP here. In addition to learning great information about the app and military money management, you’ll also have a chance to win some fantastic prizes!
Do you know any service members who could use an app like this?