Financial Wellness in Law Enforcement

Courtney discusses financial wellness in law enforcement and how to plan for your FAMILY'S financial future.

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All right, raise your hand if you sometimes find yourself scrolling on Amazon and adding a few things to your cart. Or maybe you find yourself really focused on wanting to take that next big trip or get that new gun or fishing pole. Maybe you just get tired of cooking and order takeout, maybe a little too much. Some of those impulse decisions can lead to money stress later on. Law enforcement couples deal with a ton of stress from the job and when finances aren’t managed in a healthy way, this can add additional stress and bleed over into the job and be distracting for officers.

Financial stress is one of the largest stressors in marriage and relationships. Stressors from money and debt can impact our own emotional health. When couples work together as a team and open up conversations about money, they start to create control around finances and use money to create their ideal life instead of causing stress. Today, Courtney from Heroes Financial Coaching talks to us about how to do just that.

Common pitfalls of finances

“I couldn’t work anymore because I wouldn’t be allowed to do my job as a teacher, pay for childcare and then see my husband when we would’ve worked opposite shifts. We would’ve never seen each other and so I quit my job because I wanted to see him, and I wanted to be home with my baby.”  

Money in relationships is tough. Whether it is from having to relocate or having to stay home with the children, spouses can find themselves having to give up their careers due to the nature of their partners’ career in law enforcement. Going from a two-income family to having one income can be challenging when it comes to financial decisions. At times, this can lead the officer to work overtime to make up for the pay cut.

Overtime

Trying to decide between working overtime or having more time at home can frustrating and feel like a “chicken or egg” debate.  We can feel torn between having extra work or overtime to pay the bills but really wanting to be home together. It’s easy to think “I’m not paid well” or “We need the money,” so I have to work overtime to live. By looking at money differently and considering the question, “What if I could live off of my base pay and worked occasional overtime?” Through this mindset, overtime becomes an extra benefit to save up for things outside of normal living expenses.

Many law enforcement couples are relying on overtime to pay the bills.  Partners start to have tension due to not being home. Overtime can also impact children.  They can become upset and thrown off of their routine connection with a parent due to extra work or OT.  Spouses pick up the slack and solo parenting, taking on the roles of two people. This kind of tension can lead to disconnection and resentment for the career itself.

Courtney states that this disconnection can be avoided by not needing overtime to survive! When overtime is needed, it is because choices have been made to put your finances in that position. Whether it’s a big house, a new truck, fancy vacations, or sparkly objects, you choose those things, but it comes with a sacrifice and that sacrifice is your spouse being gone more to pay for them and disconnection in the relationship.

Financial Sheepdog

Financial sheepdogs are people that are protectors of their family’s financial wellness. Officers and sheepdog families are phenomenal about protecting themselves when they’re on the job, protecting their shift mates, having an alarm system at home, having guns, and all things needed for protection.  When it comes to protecting their family’s finances, we can fall short.

The culture of law enforcement brings a certain amount of stress with the career itself, without having to worry about financial strain. You can’t change everything when it comes to the trauma they deal with or administrative problems in their job, but you can change and reduce financial stress! If that is doable, you can sleep better at night and have better marriages and better families.

Ways to increase financial health

Have difficult conversations

Communication about money can be hard, but it is incredibly important for the health of your relationship. You may have different values towards money than your spouse. Do you see money as a tool? Are you scared of money? Is your personal relationship with money different than your relationship with money in your marriage? All these questions need to be discussed as a couple to maintain financial health. A tool to open communication regarding finances is to use the three C’s of money conversation.

  1. Communicate! Plan the time to sit down with your spouse and have an actual conversation. Communicate and create a budget about what matters to you. Use “I” statements regarding financial goals and don’t point fingers at the other person if overspending is concerned. That can make your partner defensive which can lead to arguments.

  2. Compromise! There has to be give and take within your finances. What both of you want matters. If you prefer putting extra money in savings and your spouse prefers using the extra money for home improvements, alternate every other month so each person feels heard and their want is met.

  3. Cultivate grace in your finance conversation! If your partner doesn’t stick to the budget perfectly, it is ok. Everyone makes mistakes. Encourage each other about what they are doing right and extend grace to each other during times of imperfection.

Financial Mindset

Find a way to enjoy spending extra money that doesn’t cause financial strain on your relationship and bank account. If you like shopping on Amazon, that is perfectly fine as long as the amount you are spending doesn’t cause stressors down the road. If spending $300 a month on Amazon creates the need for an overtime shift, change your mindset to spending less money, while still enjoying shopping and having extra time with your spouse.

Budget!

Create a plan for your money and put yourself in control and in the driver’s seat of your finances. Start with knowing how much is coming in and what you actually need to live on to survive.

Fancy Objects!

Don’t compare someone’s new car or new boat to your finances. You have no idea what someone else’s family finances and debt look like.

Have additional life insurance

There needs to be life insurance outside of the work policy!  Most officers only have their work policy for life insurance which can be terrible depending on the policy’s fine print. If your officer’s life insurance work policy is one year of their base wage, that may not be enough to even cover a full year after potential burial services. Protect your family, even if you aren’t physically here to do so.

Have a will and medical power of attorney

Have a will and a plan in place for your family. It doesn’t have to be complex. It can be as simple as going online and paying a small fee. If you are injured, and unable to speak, you have to decide who makes your medical choices at that moment. Be well prepared to protect your family and their financial wellness if that day ever comes.

Financial safety net

As a community when you’re looking at finances it’s not just about a budget, it is also about long-term financial health. Long-term health is the emotional health that comes with not having the stress and burden of worrying about your finances if something happens to you or your spouse. It’s about creating a financial safety net for your family in your absence.

Get a financial coach if you are struggling with debt!

Work with someone to figure out how to not feel so hopeless about money. Debt can be overwhelming and working with someone can provide that ray of sunshine when everything else feels really cloudy and rainy. You have to be willing to have those conversations, be open and realize that debt is not shameful. There is hope. Just because you have debt does not mean it’s a life sentence.

Financial health IS a part of mental health wellness. If you’re struggling financially or even if you just want to get on top of things, have a plan. Make sure to prepare for your financial future, not just the present. Have difficult conversations and remember to communicate, compromise, and cultivate grace to live a life that matters.

Courtney is a former military spouse and current law enforcement spouse who started Heroes Financial Coaching which focuses on helping first responders to get their finances in order.

Police, Firefighters and Military Money | Heroes Financial Coaching

Instagram: @heroesfinancialcoaching 

Courtney offers a course every four months (the next one starts August 1st) called Bulletproof Your Money. It includes financial education videos with a little bit of coaching and budgeting.

Mama Bear Legal Forms: use code Heroes Coaching to get 20% off creating a will.

Financial Tools: Every Dollar App

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Financial Wellness in Law Enforcement

Courtney discusses financial wellness in law enforcement and how to plan for your FAMILY'S financial future.

Share:

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