Early last March, my USAA military advocacy coworkers and I were halfway through a MilSpouseFest event in Killeen, Texas, when our leadership team at USAA directed us to return home to San Antonio immediately. The pandemic had arrived.
If you’re not familiar, MilSpouseFest is an event that unites military spouses from communities across the country. It’s a celebration, a way to say thanks, and an opportunity for spouses to network, make new friends, relax and have fun. That day, I had embarked on an effort to tap the collective minds of the 200 or so attendees for tips on how to empower military families to take control of their finances. These are the folks taking care of business on a day-to-day basis, and I knew they would have great practical advice.
I look forward to getting started again, but in the meantime, I thought I would pass along a few of the gems that were shared that day. I’ve grouped suggestions using the following five common themes that popped up repeatedly.
1. Work both ends of the budget. I say “budget,” and you think _____. I expected that beyond “ugh,” images of cutting back, cutting out or being frugal would pop to mind. I was surprised at the number of spouses who suggested working the other half of the budget: income. Whether it was finding a job, working a side hustle, or looking for