By Lila Quintiliani, AFC®
Military Saves Assistant Coordinator
Communication & Outreach

Gauging physical health can be fairly straightforward: there are a number of yardsticks, such as blood pressure, body mass index, and cholesterol levels, which are used to judge how healthy a person is. But when it comes to financial health, it can be trickier.  Many people fear looking into their personal finances.  And not everyone knows what “financially healthy” looks like.  But there are some basic steps to triaging ones financial health:

Calculate Your Net Worth

Add up all your assets.  How much is your car worth? Do you have a house or valuable personal property such as jewelry or antiques? How much do you have in the TSP or other retirement accounts? How much do you have in savings?  Now subtract all your liabilities.  How much do you owe on your auto loan? Do you have credit card debt?  Student loans?  The amount you have left is your net worth. SaveandInvest.org has a Net Worth Action Plan to guide you through the process.  America Saves has a personal wealth estimator that can help.  You should evaluate your net worth each year.  If you have positive net worth, then you are moving in the right direction.  If you have negative net worth, then you may want to reassess your goals and your spending plan.

Create Your Spending Plan

Many people dislike the word “budget,” but a budget is really just a spending plan; which is nothing more than a map for your money.  If you don’t already have a budget, it may be necessary to track spending for a few weeks to see what expenses you have.  Military OneSource has a detailed Financial Management Plan that can be filled in once you have a good idea of expenses.  SaveandInvest.org also gives advice on how to Start a Spending Plan. If you have more expenses than you have income, then you may want to reduce expenses and/or increase income.

Monitor Your Spending Plan

A spending plan should not be stagnant – its “vital signs” should be monitored periodically to make sure that everything is going smoothly.  Are there large surpluses each month or large expenditures on discretionary items (eating out, shopping, entertainment)?  Then try putting more toward savings or accelerate debt payments or loan payments.  Did someone get a raise or a new job?  Then see if it’s possible to keep the same level of expenses and increase savings. 

Even if your finances are in “stable” condition, it doesn’t hurt to periodically review your financial health.

Want help saving? Take the Military Saves Pledge.  Then visit www.MilitarySaves.org for tips on saving, reducing debt, and planning for the future.

 

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Guest Blogger | March 14, 2014

    Shop around for auto and homeowners' insurance: Before renewing your existing policies, check out the rates of competing companies whose annual premiums could be several hundred dollars lower. 

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