A&FRC teaches money management

by Senior Airman Timothy Moore
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Regardless of rank, age, service or marital status, all Department of Defense employees must manage money; however, effectively managing money can be a daunting task to accomplish.

The Ramstein Airman & Family Readiness Center stands poised to tackle the job in a few ways to help DOD members in all stages of their military career.

“There are primarily two classes we teach,” said Kyle Lambert, 86th Force Support Squadron personal financial specialist. “We teach ‘Managing your Money,’ which is a class that encompasses all of our program areas inside finance.”

In Managing your Money, service members receive information about setting up a budget, building up savings, reducing debt, setting short- and long-term goals, and investing.
Though the financial specialists at the A&FRC can’t tell people where or how to spend their money, they can show individuals the different options available to them.

“We are more like financial educators versus financial advisers,” said Chris Lowry, 86th FSS supervisory community readiness consultant. “We educate and empower. We tell you what you need to do get on the right path.”

There is one investment option the A&FRC financial specialists emphasize.

“We teach a class called ‘Understanding TSP,’” Lambert said. “It teaches about the basics of investing with the Thrift Savings Plan, the government retirement plan.”

The A&FRC plans to get the classes down to one hour to minimize the time impact they have on service members’ jobs. There are other classes the financial specialists teach depending on which stage a service member is in during their career. Other classes include a course at the First Term Airman Center when the newest Airmen arrive to their first duty station.

Another program is called “Ditching the Dorms,” which is designed for Airmen planning to move out of the dorms. Airmen can participate in this program on their own or at the request of their leadership starting with their direct supervisors.

The A&FRC also teaches a course during the “Transition, Goals, Plan, Success” workshop, which helps Airmen make the transition from military to civilian life.

The financial specialists are also available to attend group gatherings, such as commanders’ calls. While the group sessions are there to quickly reach a larger number, Lambert said he does more one-on-one financial sessions.

The one-on-one sessions allow individuals to be more honest about their financial situation as some people are not comfortable speaking about money in front of their leadership or a group, he said.

“We look closer at a debt management plan, set up a power pay reduction or look at investing ideas,” Lambert said.

One tool the financial service specialists give to service members is powerpay.org. It is a free website that helps people snowball their debt. Lambert said it shows people exactly how much money they will be paying based on interest rates. It helps them to pay down their debt faster without adding more to the regular payments. The A&FRC’s accredited financial specialists conduct between one and four one-on-one sessions per day, depending on their workload with classes. This helps to ensure they give adequate attention to an individual or family’s concerns.

Walk-ins are possible, but they are reserved for Air Force Aid emergencies.

“You can’t plan an emergency, but you can budget for them,” Lambert said. “We prefer appointments so you aren’t waiting in the lobby for someone to possibly be able to see you.”

By setting up appointments, financial specialists are also able to send budgeting tools to service members to help prepare for the private session, helping to eliminate some of the stress with tackling the task.

“When it comes to building a budget, the most important numbers are surplus and deficit,” Lambert said. “If you’re living within your means, you have a surplus. If you’re living negatively, that means the budget may not be accurate or you are living on someone else’s money in order to get by.”

To further help service members save money and get on a path to financial success, the A&FRC is gearing up for the Military Saves Campaign from Feb. 23 to 27.

“The campaign is to help people reduce debt and build wealth,” Lambert said. “We are bringing in financial educators to teach classes, and we will teach some classes. We encourage people to go to militarysaves.org, click on the ‘Take the Pledge’ graphic to pull a free credit score and credit report to develop their own plan (might not work from military computers), or they can come in here.”

For more information about the personal financial readiness services and the Military Saves Campaign, contact the A&FRC at 480-5100 or 06371-47-5100.