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I love this time of year. I was also pretty excited to dust off this article. I wrote it a few years ago in an effort to connect the 4th of July and financial security. As we emerge from the pandemic, the connection seems all the more real and relevant.
Summer, again means baseball, vacations and what will be a blowout celebration of Independence Day. My sense is that there’s just a bit of pent up energy that will – or depending on when you’re reading this – was released.
So let's channel some of that momentum, frame it in the struggles of our forefathers, and talk about five ways you can declare your financial independence. Moves which may improve your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Is there a tyrannical ruler in your life? For many, that dictator is money — or more accurately, debt. Credit card bills, student loans or medical expenses can make you feel like you don’t control your own destiny. Take charge of your finances and provide guards to your future security. How? Create a budget. Use prudence to limit your spending and “find” money to pay off debt by cutting back or cutting out. Leverage the lessons of the pandemic to boost your efforts. As challenging as it has been, some of the spending adjustments you made to cope can be leveraged to help you dig out. Let everyone in your household have a voice about your financial goals, and convene regularly for money talks as you chart the path ahead.
Mobile devices put an unbelievable amount of financial information in the palm of your hand. Whether you’re budgeting, receiving reminders to stay on track, reviewing your portfolio, calculating where you stand with your goals or researching your insurance needs, take advantage of the information, tools, calculators and reviews at hand to create a better future.
Multiple stimulus checks and a propensity for caution have resulted in skytrocketing savings rates and savings balances. As you reset and chart the path forward it could be time to take the longer view. If you’re only putting money away for long-term goals in short-term savings vehicles, you risk losing ground to rising prices or what is technically called inflation. That’s an important consideration, because if that’s the case, your money won’t have the same purchasing power in the future that it does today. Inflation worries have been a top financial news headline this summer. Historically, stocks or stock mutual funds have outpaced inflation, but, of course, you can also lose money with stocks. Other inflation-fighting investments are available. The U.S. Treasury’s I Bonds address inflation by providing a guaranteed return that is based, in part, on inflation. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) or mutual funds that invest in TIPS are designed to protect you from inflation, but unlike I Bonds they can fluctuate in value and you may lose money. The bottom line? Check out your portfolio and ensure your investments are aligned with your long-term goals and your plan accounts for the silent killer, inflation.
Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams — they knew starting over would not be easy. But they took the opportunity to reinvent the country and ran with it. It was a chance to set things right. A PCS gives you that same opportunity. And as much as moving is a pain in the tail, I’m sure a lot of folks are excited about the sense of normal a real PCS season brings this year. But, like establishing a new nation, it requires a well-thought-out plan and some discipline. Use your PCS – and our emergence from the pandemic – as a reset button for your finances and start making choices with an eye on the long-term financial freedom.
Capitalize on the resources at home.
The government of this great United States of America offers you free access to one-on-one financial counseling and classes on your installation’s military and family support center. Accept this providence and use it to your benefit. Military OneSource offers the same and having access to help is definitely something that will let you pursue more happiness.
Make your move towards financial independence today.
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