The annual Military Saves Week campaign takes place Feb. 20 to March 9, and offers several ways to put money aside toward a goal or a rainy day.
The campaign is a way to bring awareness to our military community about the importance of saving money for short- and long-term goals, said Nyesha B. Burton, Financial Readiness specialist with U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Army Community Service.
“Although Military Saves takes place for almost three weeks, I believe it should be an ongoing process, because saving and investing are important,” Burton said. “Often times, we don’t think about the importance of these things until we have a major life-changing event like retirement or an unexpected incident like a government shutdown.”
The intent of Military Saves is to support, motivate and encourage military families to save money, reduce debt and build wealth. The program encourages all service members, civilian employees and families to promote savings year-round, because when service members are stressed about their finances, that could trickle down to affect their jobs and families — that’s not okay, she explained.
“The military offers great benefits and a stable income. So, sometimes people tend to get into a lifestyle where living paycheck to paycheck, overspending and racking up on debt seems normal,” Burton said. “There’s always going to be a rainy day — you can count on it; everyone will experience at least one, and when that rainy day comes, isn’t it better to be prepared rather than stressed out?”
The key to financial responsibility is to have a plan, Burton said.
“I usually tell my clients that learning what it truly means to buckle down and having a money management plan is the key to having a successful financial future, and this is one of the many things that this campaign encourages,” she advised.
Burton said one easy way people can save is simply spending less than what they make and putting the remainder into a savings account or a money market account. Later, make a yearly goal and divide that into 12, to know how much to put away per month.
Another way to save is printing a money-savings chart from the web, she said.
“There are some really simple charts out there where you can save a little per week, and by the end of the year, you’ll have saved a lot,” she said. “Even if people saved $5 per day for 52 weeks, it would amount to $1,820 by the end of the year. How many people do you know that spend more than $5 on coffee per day?”
Spc. Allison Brasier and her husband, Spc. Koal Middleton, learned that being a dual-military couple meant more disposable income, but it didn’t always stay in the bank. The pair were avid travelers for the first three years of their tour here, but recently stopped traveling due to their college workloads.
“The money we should have saved by not travelling miraculously seemed to vanish every month,” said Brasier, a dermatology technician at Landstuhl Regional Medical Clinic. “When Ms. Burton told us that we should have an extra $3,000 each month — we were completely shocked. To figure out where exactly the extra money was going, she suggested we keep track of our purchases for a month and follow-up with her. Saving receipts made me far more aware of when I was spending wastefully.”
The couple learned about Military Saves Week from Burton and set a new financial goal — to be debt free by the time they relocate in April.
“We’ve worked really hard to pay down the debt we gathered frivolously while travelling in Europe, and learned how especially awful it is to pay so much in interest each month,” she explained. “By cutting out unnecessary purchases, setting a limit on video game purchases each month and eliminating the habit of grabbing food to go just because we didn’t feel like cooking, we are able to set aside far more money toward our emergency fund.”
If there was one thing the pair learned from Military Saves Week, it was “you can’t just wing it with finances. It’s important to keep an eye on your spending and definitely don’t ignore problems because you can’t deal with them right now. It takes time to knock down debt and raise a credit score, so the sooner you start, the sooner you reach your goals,” Brasier advised.
During the Military Saves campaign, there will be several classes and events offered in Kaiserslautern and Baumholder, Burton said.
Matri Money Class for Couples
5 p.m., Feb. 21 at ACS Kleber Kaserne, Bldg. 3210
5 p.m., Feb. 28 at Rhineland Chapel, Bldg. 8217, Smith Barracks, Baumholder
11:30 a.m., March 5 at ACS Kleber Kaserne, Bldg. 3210
Lunch and Learn: The Basics of Investing
(Bring Your Own Lunch)
11:30 a.m., Feb. 22 at the KMCC Exchange Training Room (near food court) Ramstein Air Base
11:30 a.m., March 1, ACS Clinic Kaserne Bldg. 8746, Baumholder
11:30 a.m., March 8, at ACS Kleber Kaserne, Bldg. 3210
How to Opt Into the Blended Retirement System & View Your TSP Account Online
9:30 a.m., Feb. 23, at Kleber Kaserne Library, Bldg. 3205
9 a.m., Feb. 27, at Smith Barracks Library, Bldg. 8332, Baumholder
12:30 p.m., March 9, at ACS Kleber Kaserne, Bldg. 3210
For general questions about Military Saves, building budgets, bringing debt down or even getting credit back on track, call the Army Community Services Financial Readiness Program. Financial Readiness specialists and Professional Financial counselors care available to assist service members, families and civilian employees. Their offices are located on Kleber Kaserne in Bldg. 3210, 541-9000 or 0611-143-541-9000 and Clinic Kaserne in Bldg. 8746, 531-2850 or 0611-143-531-2850.