Gordon Genovese, the director for the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, was the guest speaker Feb. 22 at an Army Community Service-sponsored Military Saves event at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Spates Community Club.

AFCPE is an organization that works with governmental, university and non-profit partners to advance financial literacy. The group also serves as the certifying organization for accrediting financial counselors. Before coming to AFCPE, Genovese, an Air Force retiree, was a contract management analyst with Headquarters Marine Corps, where he worked on the development and implementation of the service's financial readiness program at eighteen installations worldwide.

"Unfortunately, the savings rate [in the U.S.] declined again, between 2010 and 2012," Genovese noted at the event. "People aren't saving as much as they were. Part of that might be confidence that the recession is finally leveling out. They are a little more confident in their ability to spend money."

"As recessions alleviate themselves and we get back into a more stable economy, people feel a little bit more comfortable spending money. They forget [the recent past], thinking I saved very, very well for this 18-month period of time and now I'm going to go back to spending like I did in the past," Genovese explained. "It's pretty cyclical."

He said the key message he wants to emphasize for young adults, whether Soldiers or young civilian employees, is to sit down and really do a good analysis of what their finances look like and what their spending behaviors are.

"That's going to tell them what they're doing right. Then they can capitalize on those behaviors." Overwhelming individuals with statistics can frighten people, Genovese said. He would rather provide positive reinforcement and raise consciousness.

"You don't want to just spit numbers at people and scare them to death, because they did that to me when I was their age," he said. "Sometimes fear can be a good motivator, but it can also be an absolute, nasty de-motivator that leads you to inaction.

"It's not a message of, 'you need to look at retirement because you need to have two million dollars by the time you retire,' because that's a defeatist message to send to someone, especially if they're 18 years old," Genovese stressed. "It's more about getting into a behavior of saving, and doing that with incremental, targeted saving -- for whatever target you want to meet -- and then growing that into having an emergency fund, saving for retirement, things like that."

Along the periphery of the Spates ballroom, base financial institutions, including PenFed and the Armed Forces Bank, along with representatives from ACS and the Thrift Savings Plan, set up information tables for the Military Saves event.

Wilhelmenia Parker, the operations manager for the JBM-HH Army Air Force Exchange Service, enticed people to stop by her table at the event by displaying the low cost of various PX products. Moisturizers and other sundry items had cards attached to them showing the price differential between the exchange and commercial retailers.

The bargains make a big difference in trying to stretch a dollar, she said.

Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class William Allen, who said he used to manage Spates in the '80s, stopped by the event on his way to lunch at the club. "My son said I should check out the rates at Navy [Federal Credit Union], but I've been a member of PenFed for 30 years," he said.

"In order to be financially responsible you have to be well informed," said Ron Quarles, a civilian with the Directorate of Public Works, citing the reason he stopped by the Military Saves event.

For more information on Military Saves or to consult a financial counselor, call ACS at 703-696-0163.

Page last updated Thu February 23rd, 2012 at 15:10