Love, money focus of new program
June 27, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Finance and romance -- two words not often used together. But at the Elkhorn Conference Center June 20, more than 100 Soldiers and spouses learned ways to improve both.
"Any relationship will only be as good as the amount of time and effort that you invest in it," said Ken Robinson, Family Advocacy Program specialist, Army Community Service. "What kind of investing are you doing in your romance right now? Are you investing in your marriage? How much effort are you putting into that?"
The purpose of the new program is to enhance the knowledge of Soldiers and Families in the areas of finance and romance and to provide them tools to better both, said Mary Braxton, Financial Readiness Program manager, ACS. She hopes to offer the program twice a year.
"I thought it was great information that was provided to our Soldiers and Families … especially for Soldiers and Family members who go through so many deployments," she said.
During the first half of the seminar, attendees learned that they are "millionaires in the making."
"(If you're) making $25,000 gross annually and you never get another raise, over a million dollars will flow into your life," said Brent Neiser, director of strategic programs at National Endowment for Financial Education.
The class focused on the importance of building an emergency savings fund, paying down debt and using extra deployment money wisely.
Neiser discussed the importance of Soldiers being responsible with their finances and the impact that can have on their jobs in areas such as security clearances.
"It's a competitive advantage," he said. "You actually have folks here who care about you and care that things are in balance and not out of control. In the civilian world, no one cares."
Pfc. Jared Baker, infantryman, Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, has been to a lot of financial briefings, but he still learned a lot.
"It's a good message to constantly remind you," he said. "I wish more people would come. You see (the) empty chairs, and there's no way that everyone knows all the possibilities."
"You will always pick up something," agreed Alexis Baker.
Even for those who've been married longer, there was good information.
"I think (this) is a very valuable class, and I wish some of these principles we had listened to a lot earlier," said Staff Sgt. Oscar Goosby, biomedical equipment specialist, Evans Army Community Hospital, Medical Department Activity. He and his wife have been married 16 years.
"We've struggled outside the military, and we've struggled inside the military," he said. "They've always tried to steer us in the right direction … always trying to help make sure that you invest in yourself."
"It's a really good class, especially for new spouses coming into the military because a lot of them don't know. They know the financial hardships of being single or in the civilian world. They don't know how moves (and other military hardships) can affect you," Tawanda Goosby said.
The importance of communication was a priority in both classes.
"If you have a money argument, that's actually a good thing," Neiser said. "It's the beginning of communication where you're sharing values."
Debt and investment was a message carried over from the finance to the romance class. Romantic debt includes anger issues, financial conflict, mistrust and emotional isolation, Robinson said.
"It's a lot more fun to invest in a marriage than to be in debt in your marriage," he said, listing ways couples can invest in their marriages, such as open communication, date nights and physical affection.
"(Romance) helps us feel special," he said. "We're special to somebody else in this life. That we mean something to somebody else, that we're important … It helps provide worth to you that you matter because you matter to this person you're in a relationship with. It provides meaning. It provides a sense of not being alone."
The most important investment couples can make is in their marriages, Robinson said.
"The Army places a lot of demands on us. We give a lot of priority to our career," he said. "But you've got to give priority to your marriage because one day you're not going to be in the Army, but you're still going to be married. You still want to have a spouse to go home to."