What military service taught me about money management

October 27, 2021

Bridgette Stine’s 20 years of military service taught her many valuable money lessons. Here, she shares her approach to budgeting and saving habits.

 

As a U.S. Bank wealth management banker, Bridgette Stine brings years of financial life-management expertise to her clients. She also thrives on providing one-on-one guidance and focuses on people’s individual needs.

In addition to working for U.S. Bank, she is currently a Master Sergeant OC/T who helps units get ready to deploy overseas. We asked Stine, who lives with her husband and two children in Racine, Wisconsin, to tell us how her military training has informed her approach to money management, and how that special expertise can be applied to everyone.

 

Q: How did you first learn about the importance of money management

A: By accident! Like many, I made some financial mistakes when I was younger and learned from them. I remember purchasing my first car when I had just joined the Army Reserves.

I didn’t understand the concept of interest rates and fell into a very common trap. I purchased a car from a dealership just outside of my military installation where the salesperson made the purchase sound super-affordable. In reality, the terms of the loan created a real financial burden for me.

Fortunately, there was a financially wise man in my Army Reserve company who sat me down and gave me a reality check. The advice he took the time to share with me was just the first of many important lessons I learned about money management from the military.

 

Q: What other money management tips did you learn in those early years of service?

A: Absolutely. The military is a culture of discipline. From day one, we’re taught that everything we do has a form of discipline associated with it. Everything is regimented – what you wear, what you eat, what you do every day.

In the military, if you don’t pay a bill on time, your commander gets notified and you get counseled to come up with a plan of action. The culture of discipline creates a no-tolerance zone for irresponsibility. You have to be responsible, because ultimately, someone’s life could be on the line. It’s all about what’s at stake, and that’s so easy to translate into personal finance.

That’s a lesson I try to teach my clients – to think through the effects of their decisions. For example, a client might say, “I’m going to buy this non-necessity, but it isn’t a big deal because it’s only ‘X’ amount of dollars.” I try to show them that the X amount of dollars they’re spending now could quickly become four times that amount if they were to wisely place it in a retirement account instead.

 

Q: Everyone has different goals and needs, but do you have a similar piece of advice for everyone you advise?

A: A lot of what I share with my clients is grounded in a few of those important tenets learned from serving in the military, primarily: discipline, responsibility and accountability. Those tenets apply to everyone, no matter where they are in their wealth management journey.

However, for my clients who are newer to thinking about their finances, my typical advice includes some important basics about saving:

You have to have a budget. You have to make it obtainable. If your budget is unattainable, you’re going to try, fail and then be more likely to give up. Small successes help you stay focused on achieving your bigger goals.

You have to make savings a part of your budget.

Start small and develop a habit of contributing to your savings every month. Build it up.

Take an honest look at your budget and what you spend your money on. Then decide if things are worth it.

When you get a raise or cost of-living-increase, put the extra money into savings.

 

Q: You’ve spent two decades in the Army Reserves, including serving tours of duty overseas, and you’ve also spent a decade with U.S. Bank. What’s it like to balance being a Master Sergeant with being a Wealth Management banker?

A: I joined the military when I was 20, so I’ve always worked and been in the military. This is my norm, so balancing it is what I’m used to.

U.S. Bank has done a fantastic job providing support to my family when it comes to my military service. Sometimes the military makes last-minute schedule changes, which can affect my ability to attend a meeting here or there, and everyone at U.S. Bank is always understanding – and grateful.

I’m always hearing, “Thank you for your service.” That’s just the culture here. It’s been ingrained in all levels of leadership that U.S. Bank serves those who serve. I think that’s a really powerful thing.

 

Want to learn more about managing your money while serving in the military? Here are some helpful resources.

Related content

5 tips for creating (and sticking to) a holiday budget

Should you buy now, pay later?

What I learned from my mom about money

How compound interest works

How to open and invest in a 529 plan

Your 4-step guide to financial planning

What to do when you lose your job

4 financial considerations before changing jobs

Key components of a financial plan

Annual insurance review checklist

Should rising interest rates change your financial priorities?

6 common money mistakes to avoid

Stay on budget — and on the go — with a mobile banking app

How to talk to your lender about debt

How grandparents can contribute to college funds instead of buying gifts

Financial checklist: Preparing for military deployment

U.S. Bank asks: Transitioning out of college life? What’s next?

How to financially prepare for a military PCS

Military finance: How to create a family budget after military service

Friction: How it can help achieve money goals

Retirement planning strategies for dual-income families

5 times you may need a financial advisor

A who’s who at your local bank

For today's homebuyers, time and money are everything

Here’s how to create a budget for yourself

Understanding guardianship and power of attorney in banking

How to use debt to build wealth

Achieving their dreams through a pre-apprenticeship construction program

Transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce

Military spouse’s guide to navigating your career

7 year-end tax planning tips

How to prepare for healthcare costs in retirement

3 types of insurance you shouldn’t ignore

8 steps to choosing a health insurance plan

The connection between your health and financial well-being

Is a Health Savings Account missing from your retirement plan?

7 things to know about long-term care insurance

How to winterize your vehicle

How I did it: Deciding whether to buy an RV

Take the stress out of buying your teen a car

Financial steps to take after the death of a spouse

Retirement planning in the gig economy

How to decide when to shop local and when to shop online

Retirement expectations quiz

4 steps to finding a charity to support

Estate planning documents: Living trusts vs. will vs. living will

Unexpected retirement expenses

Year-end financial checklist

Checklist: financial recovery after a natural disaster

What financial advice would you give your younger self?

How I kicked my online shopping habit and got my spending under control

Restaurant survey shows changing customer payment preferences

Credit: Do you understand it?

How to manage your money when you're self-employed

Personal loans first-timer's guide: 7 questions to ask

How I did it: Bought a home without a 20 percent down payment

Starting your homebuying journey: Tips from a U.S. Bank Goals Coach

Working with an accountability partner can help you reach your goals

How to stay positive when searching for a job: advice from a U.S. Bank goals coach

House Hacks: How buying an investment property worked as my first home

How to set yourself up for success in your first job

Growing your savings by going on a ‘money hunt’

How to build wealth at any age

How to use credit cards wisely for a vacation budget

Travel for less: Smart (not cheap) ways to spend less on your next trip

Working after retirement: Factors to consider

7 ways for pre-retirees to get ready for retirement

Multiple accounts can make it easier to follow a monthly budget

You can take these 18 budgeting tips straight to the bank

Certificates of deposit: How they work to grow your money

9 simple ways to save

Are savings bonds still a thing?

Financial gifts can be a valuable – and fun – choice for the holidays

How I did it: Learned to budget as a single mom

Key milestone ages as you near and start retirement

What’s your financial IQ? Game-night edition

How to stop living paycheck to paycheck post-pay increase

Do your investments match your financial goals?

5 financial goals for the new year

Money Moments: Tips for selling your home

Parent checklist: Preparing for college

Which is better: Combining bank accounts before marriage — or after?

Does your savings plan match your lifestyle?

Don’t underestimate the importance of balancing your checking account

Do you and your fiancé have compatible financial goals?

Is it time to get a shared bank account with your partner?

Checking and savings smarts: Make your accounts work harder for you

LGBTQ+ financial planning: 7 reasons why it matters

Should I itemize my taxes?

Saving vs. investing: What's the difference?

Reviewing your beneficiaries: A 5-step guide

How to cut mindless spending: real tips from real people

Retirement income planning: 4 steps to take

LGBTQ+ retirement planning: What you need to know

Using 529 plans for K-12 tuition

How to retire happy

How to protect your digital assets in your estate plan

Estate planning for the LGBTQ+ community

Can fantasy football make you a better investor?

Insource or outsource? 10 considerations

Investment strategies by age

Investing for beginners

6 tips on trust fund distributions to beneficiaries

How to track your spending patterns

How to manage your money: 6 steps to take

How to discuss money with your family

Good debt vs. bad debt: Know the difference

Managing money as a military spouse during deployment

How to establish your business credit score

4 tips to help you save for retirement in your 20s

4 reasons estate planning is important

Unexpected cost savings may be hiding in your payment strategy

Checklist: 10 questions to ask your home inspector

5 things to avoid that can devalue your home

Webinar: 5 myths about emergency funds

Webinar: Common budget mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Webinar: Proud to support those who serve

5 things to consider when deciding to take an unplanned trip

30-day adulting challenge: Financial wellness tasks to complete in a month

5 myths about emergency funds

5 reasons why couples may have separate bank accounts

7 steps: How couples and single parents can prepare for child care costs

Adulting 101: How to make a budget plan

Allowance basics for parents and kids

Dear Money Mentor: How do I set and track financial goals?

Finding a side gig to fund your goals

Helpful tips for safe and smart charitable giving

What you need to know about renting

Tips for working in the gig economy

How and when to ask for a raise

How can I help my student manage money?

5 tips for parents opening a bank account for kids

6 pandemic money habits keep for long term

How having savings gives you peace of mind

How to best handle unexpected expenses

How to manage money in the military: A veteran weighs in

How to save for a wedding

How to save money while helping the environment

It's possible: 7 tips for breaking the spending cycle

Money Moments: 3 smart financial strategies when caring for aging parents

Personal finance for teens can empower your child

Save time and money with automatic bill pay

Stay committed goals creating positive habits

The mobile app to download before summer vacation

Tips to overcome three common savings hurdles

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Wedding

Webinar: Uncover the cost: International trip

What military service taught me about money management

Your guide to starting a job: Resources to help along the way

Building a financial legacy for your family and community

First-timer’s guide to savings account alternatives

How to increase your savings

It’s time for a fresh start: A new way of thinking

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know what an overdraft is?

U.S. Bank asks: Do you know your finances?

Money Moments: 8 dos and don’ts for saving money in your 30s

Money Moments: How to manage your finances after a divorce

Myths vs. facts about savings account interest rates

Things to know about the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

Essential financial resources and protections for military families

Bank from home with these digital features

Money Moments: 3 tips for planning an extended leave of absence

Practical money tips we've learned from our dads

3 awkward situations Zelle can help avoid

What’s in your emergency fund?

Tips to raise financially healthy kids at every age

Money management guide to financial independence

5 ways to spring clean your finances and save money year-round

Spring cleaning checklist for your home: 5 budget-boosting tasks

Saving for a down payment: Where should I keep my money?

Your guide to breaking the rental cycle

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Building a home

4 ways to free up your budget (and your life) with a smaller home

How I did it: My house remodel

Are professional movers worth the cost?

10 questions to ask when hiring a contractor

10 ways to increase your home’s curb appeal

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Home renovation

Beyond the mortgage: Other costs for homeowners

How to Adult: 7 tax terms and concepts you should know

How to Adult: 5 ways to track your spending

Tips for navigating a medical hardship when you’re unable to work

3 steps to prepare for a medical emergency

Family planning for the LGBTQ+ community

11 essential things to do before baby comes

Webinar: Uncover the cost: Starting a family

Preparing for adoption and IVF

How to plan and save for adoption and in vitro fertility treatment costs

Closing on a house checklist for buyers

Resources for managing financial matters after an unexpected death

What you need to know as the executor of an estate

What documents do you need after a loved one dies?

How to prepare for a natural disaster

College budgeting: When to save and splurge

Student checklist: Preparing for college

Webinar: Uncover the cost: College diploma

How to save money in college: easy ways to spend less

Checklist: How to gain financial independence from your parents

The A to Z’s of college loan terms

Co-signing 101: Applying for a loan with co-borrower

Practical money skills and financial tips for college students

How to build credit as a student

5 things to know before accepting a first job offer

How I did it: Paid off student loans

Webinar: Bank Notes: College cost comparison

From LLC to S-corp: Choosing a small business entity

7 steps to keep your personal and business finances separate

How to use your unexpected windfall to reach financial goals

U.S. Bank asks: What do you know about credit?

Is a home equity loan for college the right choice for your student

How to apply for federal student aid through the FAFSA

Be careful when taking out student loans

Your financial aid guide: What are your options?

Dear Money Mentor: How do I pick a savings or checking account?

Military homeownership: Your guide to resources, financing and more

Crypto + Homebuying: Impacts on the real estate market

PCS moving checklist for military spouses and families

Webinar: Mindset Matters: How to practice mindful spending

Webinar: ESG for Corporations: Building an all-weather, long-lasting strategy

Common pitfalls to avoid in the equipment financing process

The secret to successful service provider integration

Consolidating debts: Pros and cons to keep in mind

Webinar: Smart habits and behaviors to achieve financial wellness

I own two electric vehicles. Here’s what I’ve learned about buying and driving EVs.

Car shopping Buying versus leasing your next vehicle

Questions to ask before buying a car

What you should know about buying a car

Improving your credit score: Truth and myths revealed

How I did it: Turned my side hustle into a full-time job

How to get started creating your business plan

Talent acquisition 101: Building a small business dream team

Make your business legit

7 tips to help grow your business after launch

How to test new business ideas

Costs to consider when starting a business

How to redefine challenges with business collaboration

How to sell your business without emotions getting in the way

5 steps to take before transitioning your business

10 tips on how to run a successful family business

The costs of hiring a new employee

How to expand your business: Does a new location make sense?

How to choose the right business savings account

Does your side business need a separate bank account?

How to build a content team

Finance or operating lease? Deciphering the legalese of equipment finance

Buying or leasing? Questions to ask before signing a contract

Safeguarding the payment experience through contactless

ABCs of ARP: Answers to American Rescue Plan questions for counties

Should you buy a house that’s still under construction?

COVID-19 safety recommendations: Are you ready to reopen?

Start of disclosure content

Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rate and program terms are subject to change without notice. Mortgage, home equity and credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC.

U.S. Bank is not responsible for and does not guarantee the products, services or performance of U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc.