As a police lieutenant, I am very connected to the health and welfare of my employees.  This morning I received a call about an employee who is mentally breaking down because he is drowning in debt.  He is facing several high dollar bills, to include uncovered medical costs.  I have received several phone calls from our Employee Assistance Unit about employees who need help getting back on their feet financially.  It’s no secret that debt is a big part of our lives.  Fortunately, this is a monster that we can control – if we create the right habits.

  1. You Need A Budget – Seriously!

You may quickly get tired of hearing me say, “you need a budget” but I can’t help it.  A budget is the key that will unlock your freedom from financial stress.  By giving yourself a game plan at the beginning of the month, you can control where your money goes.  Rather than wondering where it all went at the end of the month.  For more information, I encourage you to refer to my related detailed budget article, Budget Isn’t a Bad Word.

  1. Put Your Money Where Your Value Is

As police officers, we spend a ton of money on junk.  I know, because I have done it (and still continue!).  Between our fast food meals and coffee, it’s amazing if we ever have any money left over.  A friend of mine recently discovered he spent over $5,000 on Starbucks alone last year!  Needless to say, he was a bit shocked.

Most of the money we spend during the day is out of habit rather than on things we value.  My friend knew that $5,000 was excessive.  In reality, a large portion of that money could have been spent on things that added more value to his life.  It’s about using a budget to prioritize what is important to us, and delegating our money to go there first.

  1. Put Your Foot Down On Debt

You and I are stubborn, type “A” people.  Few people can tell us we are wrong because, let’s face it, we are always right.  That is, until we are wrong – and it’s usually very wrong.  I’m going to give you the opportunity to change your own mind because I know you’re the only one who can do it.  If you have debt in your life, it’s up to you to say “NO” to debt.  Refuse to borrow and to be another statistic.  Today is the day you start living within your means and spending less than you make.  When you’re ready, there are several free sources to help you through this journey (The Debt Payoff Playbook).

  1. Use Cash When You Shop

Have you tried a cash-only budget?  Using cash will quickly cause you to associate spending with pain!  If you have a problem with overspending, try taking out cash each month and putting it towards your designated categories.  For instance, if you have a $500 food budget, take out that amount in cash at the beginning of the month and refuse to spend more than that.  Once the money is gone, it is gone!  Spending with cash is painful because you actually see the money leaving your person.  Swiping a credit card is much easier and doesn’t hurt as much – until you get the bill.

  1. Pat Yourself On The Back

As you work to right your financial ship, reward yourself for small accomplishments.  It is important to set reasonable financial goals for you to achieve.  When you reach them, make sure to celebrate!  Just don’t reward yourself with more debt.

As police officers, we have enough stress in our lives.  Our finances should not be one of our regular stresses.  It is certainly possible to get out of debt and live without financial stress.  The first step is for you to make the decision that you have had enough.  You work too hard to be this broke!

Keep at it my brothers and sisters, I am proud of you.  If you need any more information, you can find me over at my blog, Arrest Your Debt.

Stay safe!

-Ryan