Saving for Life’s Challenges during Military Saves Week

By The USAA Educational Foundation

No life is without challenge, that is for sure – but military life often includes its own unique challenges. No matter your rank, branch, age or location, there is at least one universal truth: the unexpected is expensive.

Cars break down, pipes burst and air conditioners seem to have a knack for calling it quits on the hottest day of the year. It’s just how things go. And no matter how much you wish the mythical money tree in the back yard was real, unfortunately, it is not. There is one thing that will always help though: a diligently monitored and nurtured savings account.

You should always have a savings plan and what better time to become financially prepared than during Military Saves Week?

Here are five ways to get started with saving for life’s challenges, courtesy of our interactive Command Your Cash Microlearning Center:

Know your “why”:

Motivation, or lack thereof, can be the deal-breaker of one too many life goals – don’t let your military family’s financial security be one of them. To avoid giving up on your savings account, or simply using it as a second checking account, you need to know why you’re saving. Here are some compelling reasons to save: 

  • Emergencies/unforeseen circumstances – medical emergencies, unexpected family situations, car repairs, etc.

  • Debt-prevention

  • Major purchases

  • Down payments

  • Retirement

  • Education

  • A rainy day fund

No matter the “why,” and despite the possibility that your “why” may change over time, having a savings account, or even multiple accounts, is something you will thank yourself for now, and later.

Bust the myth that savings is hard:

Saving isn’t the hard part - it’s giving up the other things for which you would have used the money instead. A great way to make this happen is to pay yourself first so the money isn’t available to be used for other things. Another great tip? Have a clear head about what you want, need and can actually afford.

Look past what your coworkers and friends do with their money and make savings a priority. Know what works best for you and your family, and again, pay yourself first.

Know the rules of effective saving:

Saving can’t be summed up into just five rules – there’s no way! Right?

Wrong. Throughout Military Saves Week, familiarize yourself with the following rules for easy savings success:

  1. Save now – work past those barriers, and start the habit.
  2. Save, or invest, 10-15 percent of your gross pay.
  3. Save first – don’t save whatever’s leftover.
  4. Save separately – label your accounts for their intended purposes.
  5. Save automatically – out of sight, out of mind.

Know the difference between saving and investing:

Say it with us: “Save for the short-term, invest for the long-term.”

As we’ve mentioned, your savings accounts are the perfect place for major purchases and emergencies because you can withdraw from them at any time. You won’t earn much on them, but that’s ok because it’s all about access. Investing, on the other hand, involves setting aside money in accounts or funds that could earn a lot more money over time but, due to their volatility, aren’t something you should plan to tap into in the short-term.

Military members: don’t forget to take advantage of your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for long-term retirement saving!

Get smarter about money!

Knowing what you need to do and understanding why it’s important are only part of the savings battle. You also need to understand how things work in the world of personal finance.

Your next step, then, is to learn about other money topics like building your credit, managing your debt, making major purchases, planning your retirement and controlling your spending over at!

The USAA Educational Foundation is a leading nonprofit provider of free, objective financial education and readiness training for military service members and their families. The USAA Educational Foundation does not endorse or promote any commercial supplier, product or service. Visit USAAEF online at


Tip of the Day

  • Written by Tammy G. Bruzon | January 26, 2017

    If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of tax time scams: @MilitarySaves

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