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Money management: We’re all dealing with it, and we’re all a little confused.

Money management doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Here are three quick ways to turn your finances around.

Money management: We’re all dealing with it, and we’re all a little confused.

Work isn’t just a part of our lives, it’s one of the biggest parts.

Some people may only be obligated from 9 to 5, but with smartphones and evolving work cultures, we’re connected 24/7. A lot of us are logging over 70 hours each workweek because our phones enable us to take our work with us.

Jennifer J. Deal, Ph.D., author of "Always On, Never Done?" reports that remaining connected to work for so many hours each week leaves employees "only about 3 hours on workdays for 'discretionary' activities such as being with their family, exercising, showering, and all of those chores at home that someone has to do."


Only three hours per workday. We’re essentially never "off."

Despite working nearly nonstop, when payday rolls around, a lot of us can be left feeling like we'll never make enough.

GIF from "Finding Nemo."

Rent and mortgages, car payments, groceries, gas, nights out, pet emergencies, extracurriculars for the kids, family obligations — all of this takes a toll on our bank accounts.

It can feel like money is flying out of our accounts faster than it’s coming in. We’re working all the time but feeling like we’re just making it. We know we need to get a grip on our finances but have no idea where to start.

Here are three simple steps toward total financial domination.

1. Saving should be a part of the plan.

We hear it all the time: Save, save, save. Save for retirement. Save for emergencies. Save for travel. Figuring out how to save seems like it’s the holy grail, but how do we make that happen — especially if we feel like our money is already stretched too thin? The easiest first step is to, well, start with baby steps. Drink coffee at work or home instead of from a coffee shop, carry snacks and a reusable water bottle with you rather than buying them, come up with a quirky and fun challenge like saving all the $5 bills you accumulate, start a piggy bank — whatever is fun and doable for you.

2. Then, it all comes down to planning.

Don’t be afraid to budget. Yes, budget. It’s not a dirty word; it’s the way to freedom! Or at the very least the way to some financial flexibility. Take a look at how you’re spending money and figure out which items are needs versus wants.

Pro tip: Laura Shin, a Forbes personal finance writer, suggests keeping necessary expenses to less than 50% of your take-home pay.

Image view Tax Credits/Flickr.

Now, this isn’t always possible. Necessities are what they are, and for some of us, no amount of finagling can get them to that ideal amount.

Alan Dunn, founder of HowtoSaveMoney.com points out that, for some, "the sheer cost of survival may be very close to their total incomes." Still, it’s a pretty good benchmark to aim for, and having insight into your finances is step one on the road to financial security.

Now that you’ve begun to sort out the things you can’t live without, what about the things you want?

3. Give yourself an allowance! No, really.

Once you’ve broken down your finances into needs versus wants, build an allowance into your budget. Doing that gives you clear parameters — how much you can spend in a given pay period on things that aren’t necessities — and makes it easier to stay on track without feeling like you’re never able to treat yourself.

Make it easy for yourself to stay "on track." Image via Ben Sutherland/Flickr.

It's as simple as setting aside a fixed portion of what remains in your account after bills are taken care of. You may not be able to get everything you want at once — sometimes it’ll take a few months to put aside enough for a big purchase — but with planning, you can indulge a little.

Let's say, after all of your bills and savings are taken into account, you're able to spend $100 per month on anything your heart desires. You're dying to go to a music festival, but the tickets cost $175. It's not the end of the world! You don't have to forgo the festival, and you don't have to break your budget for the month — that would be a slippery slope. Put the $100 aside and wait until the following month when you'll have $200 at your disposal to get the tickets you want, guilt-free.

Payday might still suck…

Money will still leave your bank account at an astonishing rate that makes you believe Hogwarts is real, but you’ll feel more in control once you know where that money’s going and how to make it work for you.

Don’t feel guilty if you hit a few bumps in the road! We’re all navigating these murky money-management waters together.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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