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Determining a Military Family’s Monthly Expenses

Part of the A Family’s Guide to the Military For Dummies Cheat Sheet

You should review your finances any time your family starts on a new career path, and the military is no exception. Know how much money you really need to purchase essentials for your family — food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and insurance. Most of these required expenses are provided by, or supplemented by, the military. The following is a list of the types of expenses incurred by a typical military family.

  • Shelter:

    • Home mortgage or rent

    • Utilities: electric, gas, water, sewer, trash pickup, and basic telephone service

  • Protection: Life, disability, homeowners, renters, health, and auto insurance

  • Healthcare/medical and dental care

  • Prescription drugs

  • Childcare

  • Savings: minimum of 10 percent of gross income

  • Food:

    • Groceries: basic essentials only

  • Clothing and clothing maintenance

  • Basic hygiene:

    • Personal: toothpaste, deodorant, haircuts

    • Household: laundry detergent, toilet paper

  • Transportation:

    • Automobile loan or lease payment

    • Auto maintenance

    • Gasoline

    • Other: tolls, parking, public transportation

  • Legal requirements:

    • Real estate and property taxes

    • Child support

    • Alimony

    • Other debts: school loans, personal loans, credit cards, and so on

You won’t find an expense category for dining-out, entertainment, subscriptions, health club memberships, summer camp, birthdays, charitable contributions, cable television, or mobile phones. These types of expenses, although very common and convenient, are discretionary expenses.

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