Military Saves Week -- Program urges Soldiers to save for emergencies

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- To be prepared for any kind of emergency or life events, post community members can become more financially savvy during Military Saves Week, which runs through Feb. 28.

Learning how to better manage their finances through Military Saves Week tips helps Soldiers and Families remain Army Strong.

The week is a national campaign to "persuade, motivate and encourage military Families to save money every month, and to convince leaders and organizations to be aggressive in promoting automatic savings," according to information found at www.militarysaves.org.

Establishing emergency funds is a critical first step for everyone, post officials said, as life situations can change quickly.

"An emergency fund is one of the most important, but often overlooked, personal finance concepts today," said Katie Christy, Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program accredited financial counselor intern. "The purpose of the emergency fund is to be able to handle expenses such as loss of a job, auto repairs or airfare in case of a death in the Family. Every person should have between three- and six-months worth of living expenses saved in liquid savings accounts such as money markets or local savings accounts."

People should complete budgets determining monthly expenses and multiply the total amount by at least three for emergency funds. Christy suggests people set up automatic withdrawals from their paychecks to ensure the proper amount of money is saved each month.

Saving for retirement is also important, even for military members who can count on military pensions. Christy advocates for the Thrift Savings Plan "because it offers low administrative and investment expenses while still allowing portability and withdrawal options after a member separates from the service."

Beth Gunter, ACS accredited financial counselor, noted saving for children's college funds is a third important goal. People can use 529 savings plans, U.S. savings bonds and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, among other plans.

Christy noted there are general savings tips everyone should follow. Saving any amount, no matter how small, is important, she said. Savings accounts accruing interest allow funds to grow steadily over time.

She also suggests people cut back on excess expenses such as eating out or attending movie theaters.

Setting reasonable goals can help people save, especially when they are written down. Christy suggests creating immediate, mid-range and long-term goals. These can include building an emergency fund, saving for new furniture or vehicles and planning for retirement, respectively.

To schedule appointments to create and discuss savings plans with Financial Readiness Program staff members, call 255-9631 or 255-2594 or visit Bldg. 5700, Rm. 390.

Page last updated Thu February 25th, 2010 at 17:27