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Money is an issue in many households. Police officers worry about money just like everyone else. With all of the talk about defunding the police and deep budget cuts, their concerns are quite valid. Many police departments and law enforcement agencies receive employee retention credit for being able to keep their officers satisfied with the terms of their employment. With money concerns causing stress and frustration across the United States, police officers are looking for additional ways they can make money outside of their department.
Take a Close Look at Your Pay
The first thing a police officer needs to do is look closely at your wages. Do you know what each deduction is for? Are there any that you can do without? While you get a tax credit for buying your uniforms and other accessories, you may be able to get them cheaper if you buy them outside of your department. Look at your social security and other deductions or expenses. Is HR taking out the right amount? Ask questions. It’s your money. Make sure you are making the most out of every dollar.
Take another look at your benefits package to find out if there are any mental health or wellness programs you can take advantage of. They may cost a few dollars a month, but if it helps you deal with the stressors associated with your job, then it’s worth the cost, especially if it offers you a chance to develop new resilience. Your insurance coverage is also an important investment.
Create a Budget
Every year or so, it’s a good idea to go through your existing budget. Look for ways to save money on your mandatory bills. Your heating/cooling bill, for example, raising the temp in summer or lowering the temp in winter by just 1 degree will save you up to 5% off of your utility bill for the year. When it comes to groceries or household items, be a bargain shopper. Use coupons or go to a wholesale club and start buying in bulk. There are many ways to save if you take the time to notice how you spend your money.
Start a Savings Account
Starting a savings account is one of the hardest things to do when money is already tight to begin with. If you want to be thrifty, you could always put the 5% of your heating/cooling bill that you save each month into a savings account. If you add $5 or $10 a month, you will have quite the little nest egg by the end of the year. Another way to save money is to empty your pockets and put your change in a jar. At the end of the month, empty the jar and deposit what you have saved into your bank account. Ask each family member to do the same.
Be Aware of Potential Budget Cuts
Be aware of any potential budget cuts that are being discussed for your police department or law enforcement agency. Many are falling victim to official government organization bureaucracy that is being brought on by political agendas. This can be disastrous for officers who don’t have a backup plan when it comes to their financial stability.
Many officers who are strapped financially can begin to suffer from depression and other issues like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). When you combine the financial stress with the constant stress they deal with in the workplace, many eventually begin to experience mental health issues. They may even begin to consider suicide.
Attend Financial Counseling
Financial counseling will help police officers start to get a handle on their financial issues. There are many official websites that offer counseling for investments, financial assistance, and even small business options. If an officer has a mortgage or car loan, they may be able to schedule an appointment with their lender to find ways they can resolve at least a little of their financial stress. An insurance provider that also deals with investments may also be able to offer financial advice on how they can improve their financial position.
Start Reducing Your Debt
The key to financial security and overall freedom is to eliminate your debt. While this may seem an impossible task, it will get easier as time goes on. If you round up each payment you make to the nearest $10 or $100 mark, you will be able to clear away chunks of debt at a time. As debts are paid off, apply some of the money used to make those payments and apply it to other debts.
Before long, you will begin to notice that your credit scores are starting to rise. Using websites like Credit Karma or Experian will help you keep a close eye on your financial progress. They will also help you keep track of your monthly expenses so you know where your money is going. Credit Karma also offers a savings account option that will help you save money and build credit.
Plan for Your Retirement Early
Every law enforcement professional looks forward to retirement. Once they get there, however, they feel as if something is lacking. Many return to work within the first two or three years after retirement. Some take another job within their department, while others may choose to become an independent contractors. Some may even begin working as security consultants or bodyguards.
Work with a financial advisor who can help you create a retirement plan that works for you. They will be able to work with you to determine how much you will need to comfortably retire. Police work can take its toll over the years. Plan your retirement early because you may choose to retire as soon as you put in your twenty years. How long you choose to work is up to you, but you need to make a healthy choice.
Life Insurance Is a Must
Every police officer should have a quality life insurance policy that has an effective date that starts around the same time you start your first day of work as a police officer. The financial stress your family will face will be horrendous if something happens to you in the line of duty. A good life insurance policy will help you protect them financially. They will have what they need to maintain the same quality of life they experienced while they were still alive.
You will have an option to purchase life insurance through the police department. You may also be able to find a gov. website that will offer life insurance for your law enforcement agency. Comparison shop to find the right policy. There are several to choose from. Do your research and choose a policy both you and your family can live with.
Make Sure You Have a Will
Having a will in place is also a good idea. With a will, you can make arrangements for how your life insurance will be divided up among your family. If you have more than one life insurance policy, it’s important to have all of your wishes written down. Don’t leave it up to your loved ones to do what’s right.
Take care of the entire situation by putting together a last will and testament that will go into great detail about your wishes and how you want your estate divided up. Work with an attorney who specializes in matters of probate. This is the best way to ensure that your family will receive the benefits they need to survive without you if the unthinkable should ever happen.
Turn a Hobby Into a Small Business
Many police officers have hobbies they can use to earn extra money. Many community members would gladly become patrons of a small business that offers them guidance on how to better protect themselves and their homes. Law enforcement officers who have retired often use their officer safety training to teach others how to protect themselves in various situations. They may offer guidance when choosing a home security system or offer self-defense courses they can use to protect themselves if they are ever put in a position where they are in any type of danger.
Take Your Time Off – You Earned It!
Police work is dangerous and can be quite stressful, even on days when it seems that nothing serious is going on. Burnout is common in police officers who continue to push themselves beyond their limits. Their mental health begins to suffer. Health and human services offer a variety of wellness programs that officers can use to regain their emotional balance and begin to practice self-care.
No matter where you live, police work carries different kinds of stressors. Violence doesn’t just happen in New York. It can occur in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Michigan, or anywhere in the United States. Officers need an outlet where they can get away from the day-to-day routine and simply relax and do nothing for a short period of time.
Apply for Promotions!
Police officers normally love what they do. They thrive on the excitement and when it comes to retirement, they often feel as if they are losing their purpose. For some, it may be a better idea to apply for a promotion and remain on the job. Not only will it help them financially, it will allow them to continue doing what they love the most.
The financial stress of being a police officer is similar to what other people feel in different industries. It’s up to you to find the right way to manage your money so that you don’t get caught up in the financial trap that can increase your stress. Take control of your financial health by working with an advisor. You will be able to prepare for a much brighter future.