How To Make A Budget (For Junior Enlisted)

Published by Goooooose on


I don’t know if you all have experienced this, but when civilians find out how much I make, they tend to look at me with a little bit of pity. I find it hilarious. What I neglect to tell them is something that we all already know: all of our basic living expenses are paid for.

You might think, why would I need to budget if I don’t have any bills? Can’t I just buy what I want and figure it out later? Technically speaking, you can. In fact, if you don’t have a house, car, or any other expense, you could get by on a lot less.

But, most of us will do one enlistment and get out, and you’ll want to have some money saved up when that time comes. I’ll be posting about how to save money in the future, so stay tuned for that. Below I’ve outlined how to create a budget, and also included mine.

Taxes

Taxes are already taken out of your paycheck. You should get a statement detailing how much you paid in taxes (among other things), so you can get that monthly number and write it down on a piece of paper

Start With The Bills

As an unmarried, junior Marine, you shouldn’t have too many expenses. Unless you have college debt, or owned a car before you joined, your only fixed expenses should be a phone bill and maybe some subscriptions. Take a piece of paper and write down the exact amount you pay in bills each month.

Things You’ll Need

This part of the budget is different for everyone. Some things you might include in this section are:

  • Hygiene items (shampoo, deodorant, period supplies, etc.)
  • Cleaning supplies for field day
  • new uniform items
  • New civilian clothes

I budget out a small bit of money every month for these things, even if I don’t use all of it. For example, I might not need any new clothes this month, but I can save that money to buy some appropriate clothing for next season.

Savings/Retirement

This is a big one. Saving and investing is an exercise in delayed gratification. I might not go out to eat every night, but I’ll have a lot of money saved up when my enlistment is done. That way, I won’t have to worry about getting a job right away.

I shoot to save at least forty percent of my post-tax income, and you should too. Of the money that I save, ten percent goes into the TSP, ten percent goes into a savings account, and the remainder goes into another investment account. I highly recommend you contribute to the TSP. You can find more information here.

Fun Money

This is the part where you budget for going out on the weekends and blowing off some steam. You can choose to include food in this category, or split it up into activities and going out to eat. Don’t make this more than twenty percent of your income. It’s important to go out and have fun, but there’s no reason to blow your whole paycheck on booze.

Optional:

These are some categories that you might want to budget for depending on your priorities. This will be different for everyone, so make sure to really think about the things you want to do.

  • Travel
  • Car
  • Internet (like barracks WiFi)
  • Hobbies
  • Charity (highly recommend)

My Budget

  • Taxes: $400/month
  • Phone bill: $100/month
  • Disney+: $8/month
  • Hulu: $6/month
  • Hygiene & Beauty: $30/month
  • Barracks Supplies: $5/month
  • Clothes: $40/month
  • Savings: $100/month
  • TSP: $100/month
  • Roth IRA: $150/month
  • Trading Account: $400/month
  • Fun Money: $300/month
  • Travel: $400/month

=$2,039/month

Everything left over from that will go into my trading account as well. This is structured in a way that even an E-2 can follow it.


I hope this was helpful to you all, happy budgeting! Did I miss anything? Hit me up, or post in the forum!

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Goooooose

Hi! I’m the developer of this online community. I’m a Marine currently stationed in Japan, and I decided to finally actualize my dream of creating a space just for female service-members (including those that are looking to join).
Some of my hobbies, other than web development, are 
-Carpentry
-Scuba diving
-Hiking (recreationally)
-Investing
 
I hope to grow this into a far-reaching community, and that starts by engaging with members. Feel free to hit me up on email and I’ll make sure to get back to you.