By Meghan Northcutt, AFC®, FFC™ Candidate
Have you ever been to a financial education class or sat in a financial counseling session? If so, take a few moments to reflect on what your thoughts and motivations were on that day.
A few days after the class or counseling session, did you think anything like “Is this really going to work?” or “That sounds so neat. I wish I could do that.”? Here’s the great news; you absolutely can make it work and you don’t even have to take my word for it.
I had the pleasure of connecting recently with an Army National Guard family in Indiana; let’s just call them the Dedicated family because their dedication to the things they learned in the financial education class really paid off. SFC and Mrs. Dedicated have been married for five years of his nearly 13 year time in service, and they have three sons—ages 11, 5, and 1. They have paid off a vehicle, all their credit card debt, and nearly all student loans on top of remodeling half of their home, saving for a belated honeymoon to Hawaii, and creating an emergency fund!
This family is definitely not immune to the unexpected emergency. For reasons beyond his control, SFC Dedicated’s pay was sent late, affecting the family’s monthly income. Oftentimes one can pinpoint when financial troubles begin; this period of time triggered the start of the financial difficulty the family began facing. They were a one income household with mounting bills with Mrs. Dedicated getting ready to bring a new baby into the world. The following three years, SFC Dedicated bounced between unemployment and Title 32 orders. However, that did not stop them.
When I inquired about how they were able to accomplish so much after experiencing hardships, I was told that they had a lot of discipline. After attending a financial education class, the Dedicated family decided it was time to get serious and find out where exactly all of their money was going. They created a budget and a plan to get out of debt. Within that plan, they targeted one debt at a time; when one debt was paid, they took that money and applied it as an extra payment toward their next targeted debt. In 2014, SFC Dedicated deployed which allowed the family to use some of the extra money during deployment to remodel their home.
Are SFC and Mrs. Dedicated stopping now? Absolutely not! They are expecting the student loans to be paid off this fall and anticipate setting up investments in the near future. Their goals now include being debt-free before their children are in college, traveling, buying land, and building their dream home.
When I asked Mrs. Dedicated for one piece of advice she could share with military families around the world, it was very easy for her to answer. “Do a monthly budget every month before the month starts.”
*I want to thank this amazing family for taking the time out of their busy schedule to share their success in hopes of motivating other military families to seek assistance, get started, & never give up! I genuinely hope that you continue to have all the successes that you seek, and I appreciate that you have allowed me to share your story with our readers.