Practical financial management for new recruits to the armed services

May 03, 2019
Taryn Lee-Johnston

Starting a new job can be an exciting, not to say nerve-wracking, experience for anyone, especially if it is your very first job (or at least your very first proper adult job).  Joining one of the armed services can be particularly emotional, particularly if it results in deployment far away from your family and established social circle.  On the plus side, working in the army can offer excellent financial rewards so here are five tips to make the most of them.

As soon as you apply to enlist, start tracking your spending rigorously

Having a clear record of where your money is going now can be a great help when it comes to working out how to budget your army pay so that you meet your essential expenses, save a little and still have enough left over to enjoy yourself.

As soon as you have been accepted review your current spending

When you join the armed services, accommodation, of some form, will be provided with the job.  The exact form of this accommodation may vary, for example, you could be living in a private room in a barracks or sheltering in a tent during an operation in the desert, but you will be provided with a place to live.  As the previous sentence indicates, however, this will be where the armed services need you to be rather than where you choose.  If you are currently living in rented accommodation, you will not only (presumably) need to give up your accommodation, but remember to cancel any services you use (and pay for) in connection with it.  If you are currently living with your parents, then you may want to look through your spending and see if any of it relates to services which not be of any benefit to you while you are in the armed services.  This could be services which are restricted to your local area, or services which you will now get for free (membership of your local gym, for example, would probably fall into both categories).

Consider selling possessions you will not use but need to insure

While it might be tempting to keep a car for when you are in the UK and able to use it, you have to weight this convenience against the cost of insurance.  If you do decide to hold on to a car, you may be able to lower your premiums by looking at options such as paying annually (even if you wait until after you have received a few month’s pay), choosing a higher excess and/or agreeing to have a “black box” fitted.

Remember to update any financial providers with your contact details

While snail mail may seem an antiquated means of communication in the 21st century, financial services companies do, generally, require their customers to provide them with a physical address, which, for armed services personnel will typically be a BFPO address, which must be given in the correct format, including postcode.  You will need to update all of your financial providers every time you move.

Make sure to pay all bills on time

If you have financial commitments, such as credit cards, you need to make your payments on time just the same way as you would in any other job.  If you set up a direct debit, this will be done automatically.  Alternatively, if you make manual payments, then remembering to send the money as soon as you are paid regardless of when the payment is actually due, will ensure you don’t forget or, even worse, forget and spend the money on something else.

Bonus tip

In addition to the financial rewards associated with joining the armed services, you may also find that you have opportunities for professional/vocational training.  Making the most of these opportunities can not only help you to develop your career in the armed services but can also be of benefit when it comes time to make the move back to “civvy street”.