Financial planning for military families stressed about money

What to Do When You’re Stressed About Money: Financial Planning for Military Families

Are you feeling stressed about money? About spending too much? About how much kids cost? About not having enough for today’s bills? About not having enough for future bills? Perhaps you feel like you have too much debt or don’t save enough or don’t make enough money to save. Stressing about money comes so easily, and it’s one of the most prominent military family challenges. According to a 2021 survey: 

  • Over 75% of military and veteran families carry debt
  • Nearly 40% reported having less than $500 in an emergency savings account
  • Over 80% indicated their finances have caused at least some stress over the past 12 months

So, if you’re feeling stressed about money as a military family, you’re not alone. But you also don’t have to live in a stressed-out state forever. I’ve found the best financial planning for military families begins with your mindset about money. Keep reading to learn my best tips that serve as a starting point for financial help for military families. 

Why Do Military Families Struggle Financially?

Many factors combine to create a complex web of financial challenges for military families, highlighting the need for increased support and resources. While the cost and frequency of relocation play a role, they are generally minor factors. The primary challenge lies in the inadequate compensation received by service members. Despite being financially savvy and frugal, many military couples and families find it difficult to maintain financial stability due to their meager wages. Having children adds additional expenses, all contributing to feeling stressed about money.

Additionally, a significant portion of the younger military population grapples with financial literacy. These individuals often lack the necessary support or knowledge regarding finances, savings, and credit card management, which leads them into debilitating debt. The alarming statistic that 75% of military families are in debt is likely an underestimate. Financial concerns are a top worry for nearly 9 in 10 active service members and 84% of spouses or partners. However, discussions around these financial hardships remain limited, making it even more challenging to address these problems effectively.

3 Steps to Help You Stop Feeling Stressed About Money as a Military Family

The key to relieving money-related stress is to adjust how you think about financial planning for military families. I’m not talking about strategies to budget better or save more money. While those are important, it’s essential to change the way you think about money so you can approach those strategies with less stress. Let’s dive in. 

Step 1: Change How You Think About Money

If you’re having money problems, your lower brain is going to tell you to stress about it. But thinking stressful thoughts about your money problems isn’t going to help you solve your problems. So, the first step in stressing less about money is to think about money in a less stressful way. To do this, you must remove the emotion and drama from your thoughts about money. 

Money is very simple. It’s just numbers. It’s just math. It’s just information. We are the ones who attach the drama, the emotions, the heartache, the stress, the worry, and the pain to money. We do this when we’re working from a scarcity mindset, which is why it’s essential to develop an abundant mindset about money. 

While changing how you think about money won’t make all your problems suddenly go away, it will put you in a better position to solve your problems.

Step 2: Create Emotions Conducive to Problem-Solving

Once you change your thinking to put yourself in a better mind space to solve your problems, it’s time to guide your brain to create emotions conducive to problem-solving. For example, when I approach money thoughts, conversations, or issues I need to solve, I think thoughts that create emotions like… 

  • Confidence 
  • Discipline
  • Abundance

I think thoughts that tell me I am…

  • Capable
  • Optimistic 
  • Good at problem-solving

When my lower brain offers me “drama” around money, I respond like this…

  • “I understand why you want me to go there, but that doesn’t help me solve my present or future problems. So, I’m going to create a low-drama feeling around money.”

It’s okay that dealing with money is challenging. The key is to remind yourself that you will figure it out. You will get that bill paid. You will find a way to provide for your family. These optimistic thoughts might not always feel true at the moment, but thinking them will help you get creative to solve immediate financial fires.

When you’re putting out immediate fires, sometimes you have to do it in ways you don’t prefer. For example, you may have to borrow money to pay a past-due bill. Or you may have to go into further debt to solve a “now” problem and tackle lowering your debt once the fire is put out. But once the immediate problem is solved, you can go to work on the bigger picture of your money problems and put into place solutions that will decrease future fires. 

Step 3: Free Yourself from Guilt and Shame Around Money

The last step in changing how you think about financial planning for military families is to free yourself from guilt and shame around your money issues. When we’re filled with guilt and shame about how we spend our money or how much debt we have, it can be hard to make the sacrifices that need to be made and work the way we need to work to earn more money. 

We tend to be very hard on ourselves, especially when we compare ourselves to other people: how they spend their money, save their money, and how much money they have. How they never seem to have any troubles with their bills or get fees at the bank. 

I want to challenge you that you’re making all of it up. Because you don’t know if that’s the truth. There is a very good chance that a lot of the people you’re looking at either used to have trouble and figured it out or still do and are just hiding it really well. Most people, even confident, responsible adults in your life, make mistakes and accounting errors and get a negative balance at the bank. We are all human. 

You are seeing the best in other people because you’re looking for it. And you’re seeing the worst practices in yourself because you’re looking for it. So give yourself grace, love, understanding, and space to solve your problems without guilt or shame. Remind yourself that other people have good and bad going on too. No one in your life has it all figured out. 

Once you change how you think about money and create emotions conducive to problem-solving, you’ll stop feeling so stressed about money. And when you spend less time stressing about money and get rid of the shame and guilt you feel, it’s actually easier to do the things you know you need to do to solve your money problems. You’ll begin to feel empowered and capable of conquering all the military family challenges you encounter regarding finances. 

Looking for Financial Help for Military Families?

There are two types of financial help for military families. If you need monetary resources to put out financial fires in the present, I encourage you to reach out to organizations that can help, like Operation Homefront and the American Red Cross, who can help you get in touch with your Military Relief Aid Society, or click here to access your service relief organization’s website directly. 

If you want help changing your mindset around the military family challenges that come with finances, that’s where I come in. As a life coach for military wives, I can help you learn how to change the way you think and approach challenges to reduce stress in every area of your life. Learn more about my military spouse life coaching services today, and schedule a free consultation to get started.


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