Personal Finance

A nitty-gritty guide to making a budget

| August 27, 2014

Mortgage payment, $765. Utilities bill, $90. Unexpected car repair, $110. Extra money at the end of the month, $0.

If you constantly wonder what happened to your paycheck, coming up with a budget may eliminate some of the guesswork and change that $0 figure into something a bit larger.

But developing a budget means you have to know exactly how much money you have coming in each month and how much you’re paying out toward bills and other expenses. Although this task takes some time and effort, the result may be better control of your finances.

The Steps:

1.   To create a budget for the future, you have to examine your past. Start by looking back through your check registers for the last year. Make a list of all the places your money went — mortgage or rent, utilities, phone, cable TV, food, insurance, taxes, entertainment, car and home repairs, and so on.

2.   Make a list of all your income sources.

3.   Write down all your deposits over the past 12 months.

4.   Write the monthly payment next to each expense category. For variable expenses such as food and utility costs, find the average cost over a certain time period. For semiannual or annual expenses, divide by six or 12 to get a monthly cost.

Develop a budget based on these figures, comparing them to your actual expenses over the next few months. If there’s a difference between the amount you budgeted for an item and the amount you spent, adjust your budget or find a way to reduce spending for that item.

This article was reprinted from a First Command Financial Services publication.

Building Your Retirement Game Plan: Tax diversification (Part 5 of 5)

| August 25, 2014

The subject matter of the final installment of this 5-part series is a bit more “taxing” than the previous four parts. That’s because it addresses the importance of taking into account the potential impact of taxes on your retirement income through a process known as “tax diversification.” Just as investment diversification is a way of hedging one’s bet about which markets or individual investments will perform best – or worst – in the future, tax diversification is a way of hedging one’s bet on possible changes in tax rates and laws.

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Building your retirement game plan: Healthcare and long-term care (Part 4 of 5)

| August 20, 2014

The days of retiring and living out your golden years, paid for by a small pension and supplemental Social Security payments, are long gone. Today, Americans who reach the traditional retirement age of 65 can expect to live another 18.6[1] years, which means they will spend a great deal more than they might expect – especially on the skyrocketing costs of healthcare and long-term care.

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Building your retirement game plan: Where to retire? (Part 3 of 5)

| August 18, 2014

One of the most important decisions you’ll make in regards to planning your retirement is where to settle down. It’s a decision that will not only affect your pocket book, but it can have an enormous impact on your emotional, physical and social wellbeing as well.

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Building your retirement game plan: When should I start taking Social Security? (Part 2 of 5)

| August 13, 2014

As you approach an eligible retirement age, it is increasingly important to fine-tune your financial plan to your specific retirement situation – especially in regards to your Social Security benefits.

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Building your retirement game plan: Managing your retirement expectations (Part 1 of 5)

| August 11, 2014

In the United States today, folks far too often put off saving for retirement until they are on the cusp of leaving the workforce—with no plan and little savings to show for a lifetime’s worth of work.

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Military families spending more on back-to-school shopping

| August 6, 2014

Military families plan to devote more dollars to back-to-school shopping than they did last year, even as widespread concerns about sequestration and defense downsizing continue to prompt many of them to curb everyday spending, according to the latest findings of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.

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Sorry, you’re not covered…

| August 4, 2014

These are the four words no one wants to hear when they call their insurance company to file a claim. Unfortunately, this phrase is spoken all too often in the following situations:

Under-insuring a home.

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Property insurance tips for deploying servicemembers

| July 28, 2014

As you prepare for deployment, you need to think about how to protect your assets while you’re gone. Many of you may have a spouse, relative or a roommate to help you take care of your property while you’re deployed.

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Family on road trip to beach

Protect your home while on vacation

| July 22, 2014

Many families are looking forward to a late summer vacation. But, before you shut that front door and secure the garage for the last time in two weeks, make sure you take care of the following 10 steps to protect your home while you’re on vacation.

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