Veteran Connection: Mastering Your Money Monster (Part 1)

October 29, 2015      |      Posted on Posted in Total Well-Being
Veteran Connection: Mastering Your Money Monster (Part 1)

Money is often the catalyst for creating stress in the lives of transitioning veterans. These simple tips can help to alleviate some of the burden money can create. Not having a good financial plan in place can make the Money Monster run wild!

Excel at Excel

Learning how to use an Excel spreadsheet will be your first line of defense against the Money Monster! But don’t let your inexperience with that program hold you up – a simple piece of graph paper will work too. But once you’ve taken the time to learn the program, an Excel spreadsheet provides the perfect platform for creating and managing a budget – yes, the dreaded “B-word.” A budget can and will be the best defense for a great financial offense. As the great budget guru David Ramsey has said, “Give every dollar a name!” By deciding a category for every area of spending and then determining the amount dedicated to that area, you have essentially given your money an identity. Here are some suggested categories for designating your money for your budget, or if you hate that word, your financial plan:

    • Groceries


    • Gas


    • Vehicles


    • Mortgage/rent


    • Car Payment


    • Car Insurance


    • Elec/Gas


    • Water/Trash


    • Cable


    • Phone/Internet


    • Cell Phone


    • Taxes


    • Student Loan


    • Pets


Budgeting: Bread vs Basketball

The above list has your basics to consider as well as some extras that deserve your attention. Obviously, necessary expenses like groceries, mortgage/rent, and gas need to be prioritized. Meeting one’s basic needs for survival deserve the most financial attention, but setting aside for life, even if it’s the smallest amount in your budget, is important too! The rightmost column of the list, including fun, gym, vacation and spend, all warrant consideration. If you don’t budget for just one “fun” something a month, you might end up defrosting that frozen credit card from your freezer to splurge. Let me relate the example to a diet: if you deny yourself of all of the things you love to eat for a long period of time, you might eventually gorge on all of the things you’ve been deprived of, and then you’ve created a diet disaster! Also, the category of spend needs a little love too. This is a set amount of monthly money, kind of like an allowance, that you are allowed to spend on whatever you want. You just have to keep it to an amount you can afford. And if that X-Box is what you want and you’ve only allotted $50 a month to your spend category, then you’ll have to be prepared to save until you hit the amount. Also, saving can have a lasting positive impact on your financial psyche.

This Veteran Connection blog is by Rebecca Meyer, a valued contributor for ACI’s Employment Assistance Program and SOAR Student Assistance. A champion of veteran’s causes, she teaches classes for transitioning service members for the Department of Labor, recruits for unique educational and employment opportunities for Upper Limit Aviation and volunteers for USMC Life as a base ambassador. She also volunteers her time to help veterans with their resumes, interview skills and job search. A veteran herself, she is also a spouse of an active duty Marine and stays busy supporting her husband’s career all while raising their 3 year old daughter. Rebecca can be reached on LinkedIn For more information about ACI’s veteran employee/student support and other services, contact ACI at