Nate and I have struggled for years to come up with a basic money management system that works for us and our home, and we've gone through a lot of tips and tools in the process.

family struggling to juggle it all

Living in San Diego, the military lifestyle has a huge impact on the finances of most of our peers and we've gotten a lot of use out of resources that our government makes freely available. We've recently partnered with McGraw Hill Financial as advocates for increasing awareness around basic money management for service members, as well as for families in general. Here are our favorite resources and tips for those young people who – like us – are inexperienced but have a steady income and want to put it to the best use.

Basic money management tips based on what is taught to our service members and military - planning for the future and understanding a budget

An Intro to Basic Money Management

  1. Set a tangible goal. When you know exactly what you're working towards, it's amazing what you can achieve – from paying down debt to increasing your savings or finally going on that dream vacation. We hadn't really saved for anything before buying our first home, but I was surprised how quickly it became a reality after we set our minds to it.
  2. Understand the basics of budgeting. Track where your money goes monthly in order to control your financial well-being. Our monthly budget checklist can help.
  3. When you have a surplus, automate your savings. We use ScholarShare to manage a 529 college savings for the boys, contributing money automatically each month so we never forget. The same can be done to contribute to an emergency fund or even pay off a little extra towards your mortgage each month.
  4. Don't let terminology be a roadblock to investments and future planning. Kiplinger's Financial Field Manual walks through real estate investments and benefits such as Roth IRAs. You can also learn about everything from investment scams to asset allocation in A Salute to Smart Investing.

toddler looking worried

As your family's grown, how have you invested time into basic money management?