Above all, spend less than you earn. You will never be able to reach a comfortable standard of living if this rule is overlooked.
Many new Recruits get excited when they earn a steady paycheck but most of them do not know how to manage their money properly. Monthly bills add up quick, so first you have to take note of your average cost of monthly bills. (Cell phone, car payments, car insurance, gas, Internet, etc.) These payments end up taking up the majority of your check and that’s why it’s important to be aware of your recurring costs. 6-12 months after graduation is the most vulnerable time.
Track your spending for the first few months in order to get an idea of how much money you bring in, how much you spend over a month, and how much you save. After doing this, you will be able to have more freedom to spend money on other expenses such as eating out, clothes/jewelry for your girl, beer, (etc.)
You should have an emergency fund for any unexpected expenses that need to be handled in a short amount of time (Unexpected travel, car repairs, hospital expenses). This should be about $1,000-2,000 that you have sitting in the bank only for emergencies, not alcohol and strippers.
Make sure you start to save money for bigger payments in the future and sense of security. Saving up a down payment for your first house, maybe you want to buy a car, vacation, but overall you want to build a solid foundation of wealth so you don’t end up paying off several loans that build up your debt.
Avoid paying off too many loans at a time. Once you have your basic budget in place, try to stick with it for a while in order to build up some liquidity and eliminate the risk of being in debt. Debt can significantly affect your financial prosperity as well as get you in trouble with your branch of the military. If you can’t afford something at the moment, save up and have a solid payment plan before you go borrowing money for a new mustang. Even though you got a new car you’ll be paying it off with an interest rate you can’t afford. Save up for two years then buy the car. Above all, be patient with your large purchases.