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Building Financial Wellness as a First Responder

Date:Sunday October 22, 2023

One way to maximize the money you earn as a first responder is to develop your financial wellness. This process involves getting to know the ways that saving money, spending carefully, and investing in your future can increase the power of those same dollars you receive in each paycheck.


Here are three great steps to take, whether you’re already very well-versed in financial wellness or just getting your toes wet.


Rein In Unchecked Spending With a Budget: Most of us know if we’re probably spending more than is sustainable in our lives, but even if it feels like there’s nowhere to cut back, a budget can help. Rather than spending until your paycheck is gone, a budget helps you decide ahead of time how much you are willing to spend on each category, from food to rent to utilities. When one category goes over, another has to be reduced, which helps you to manage your money rather than feeling like it is taking over your life.


Find Small Pockets to Save, Then Save Increases or Overtime: The most important step you can take toward financial wellness is finding some way to save money, even if it is as small as sizing down your coffee purchase and putting the extra 50 cents in a piggy bank, to start. A great first goal for your savings is to create an emergency fund, or a savings account you only dip into when circumstances are sudden and dire, to keep you from going into debt for those unexpected bills.


Allocate Savings to Knock Out Debt or Reach Your Goals: As you grow your savings, remember that part of the reason to save is to be able to reach goals over time. For some, that’s paying ahead on student loans or knocking out some credit card debt that has been costing you a lot in interest payments. At other points in your life, those savings can help you purchase a car, a home, or fund your retirement plan. It’s worthwhile to save, and it’s easier to do when you have a clear goal in mind.


When Financial Details Get Complicated, Seek Resources and Help: Financial information is often complicated, but giving up and ignoring it means you don’t get all the benefits that come with things like investing in the market or creating a plan for paying for your child’s college. When things are complicated, look for resources online and representatives from financial organizations who can help you, especially services that are non-profit or not selling anything.


Resources For Financial Wellness as a First Responder:

  • Everyone has a different money question, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has specific resources for many of them! Just search this page for the topic you’re thinking through, from saving more to managing debt.
  • If you want one-on-one coaching, some organizations offer free or inexpensive financial coaching, such as the Yellow Ribbon Network. Make sure that you know if any fees or commissions are part of your arrangement with any financial advisor or coach.
  • The Department of Labor offers a guide to preparing for retirement that helps employees  look through options one by one.

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