We Need to Be in Control, but Why Don’t We Control Our Money?

As police officers, we constantly need to be in control. If we are not in control, bad things can happen. We attempt to mitigate these risks by preparing for the worst case scenario. I carry two flashlights on my belt because, “two is one.” I also carry a backup weapon in the event my primary firearm malfunctions. With all this job preparation, why do most of us ignore our money problems?

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(Photo courtesy pasja1000)

The other day I was walking through the precinct parking lot and I was amazed by all the lifted trucks and expensive vehicles. I know many cops who have boats, ATVs, and other expensive toys sitting in their driveway. These same cops work two to three off duty jobs each week just to pay for these toys. It is sad to see that some of the most squared away street cops are terrible with their money.

To be fair, the rest of America is equally bad with money. The average American household owes $6,929[1] in credit card debt. In addition to debt, only 61% of Americans have enough cash to pay for a $1,000 emergency.[2] From my time as a lieutenant and a financial coach, I have found that cops are just as financially unprepared, if not more than the average citizen.

Reduce Your Stress, Take Control of Your Money!

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For most of us, our parent’s did not teach us about money. We learned some general tips of how to manage our finances but we did not receive any formal training. This lack of knowledge has led some of us down the path of financial devastation. My goal is to educate as many officers as I can. Financial problems have always been one of the top reasons for divorce and stress in people’s lives. The truth is that our financial life is one of the areas we can actually have the most control!

You cannot always control what the suspect in a domestic violence situation is going to do, but you can certainly control where you spend your money! Wherever you are in this life, I do not care how bad your financial situation is, there is a way out. Right now you may be in a deep dark debt hole, but that’s because you’re still digging! The first step is to put the shovel down start climbing. You can climb out of this mess, I promise! We have enough stress on the job, we don’t need to compound it with creditors knocking on our door.

Enough Is Enough – A Game Plan for a Financially Stress Free Life!

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#1 You Need A Budget

If you’re ready to stop stressing about money, let’s go over some basic principles to get you in the right direction. First and foremost, you need a budget! Nearly 3 in 5 Americans do not have a plan for their money![3] I know many of you consider the word budget a curse word, but hear me out. A budget is nothing more than a plan for your money. If you want to spend all your money on food and entertainment, you can make your budget geared for this – although I wouldn’t recommend it. A budget is a plan to see how much money is coming in and where it’s going. By looking at the numbers, we can figure out where we overspend and what we need to cut back on. With a quick google search, you can find a ton of free budgeting templates. For more information, you can also check out my blog link in my bio. 

#2 Save $1,500 – $2,000 for Emergencies

Once you have a budget in place and know where your money is going, it’s time to start saving before we pay off any debt. If you don’t have any money in the bank, it’s only a matter of time before life happens and knocks you further into debt. If you have a negative balance, $1,500 may seem like a big ask. If you want to defeat your debt monsters, you can easily come up with the $1,500. Look around your house and in your garage. I have no doubt that you have $1,500 worth of stuff you could sell on Craigslist or at a yard sale. It may be time to start pinning some flyers on the bulletin board at the precinct.

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#3 It’s Time to Attack Your Debt!

Now that you have a budget and an emergency savings, you’re ready for the next step! This is where the magic happens. It’s time to change your life by making a plan to get out of debt and start having good experiences with your money. There are several strategies to get out of debt, but all of them suggest you pay the minimum on each debt except for the one you’re attacking. Decide which debt you want to pay off first, and get at it! Continue this process until all of your debts are paid off. Stick to your budget, and refuse to spend money on things you don’t need!

It’s Time To Take Control

My brothers and sisters, you work too hard to be this broke! It’s time you took control of your financial life and said goodbye to financial stress. Money is one of the easiest things we can control, yet for some reason we neglect it. When we neglect our finances, our debt sneaks up on us. Before we know it, we are drowning in debt and we don’t know how to stop digging. I’m here to tell you that there is a way out, and I’ll be there to help you climb out. Feel free to visit me over at my finance blog, arrestyourdebt.com and reach out any time!

Until then, stay safe my brothers and sisters – I’ll see you out there.

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Sources:

[1] https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/average-credit-card-debt-household/

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/18/few-americans-have-enough-savings-to-cover-a-1000-emergency.html

[3] https://money.cnn.com/2016/10/24/pf/financial-mistake-budget/index.html

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Ryan Junas has been in law enforcement for over 14 years and is a lieutenant for a large police agency in Arizona. He holds a Master of Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Northern Arizona University.

In his spare time, Ryan founded Arrest Your Debt LLC which is a financial education website geared to help people pay off debt and build wealth. You can find him over at arrestyourdebt.com to learn more about his side project!