Budgeting buys peace of mind

By Noelle WieheNovember 7, 2014

Financial Readiness Program
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 7, 2014) -- Small tips in budgeting funds can lead to big gains financially; the key is having the courage to be realistic when it comes to one's money.

"Statistically speaking, we don't become rock stars, we don't become sports stars, we don't win the lottery - we build wealth by keeping money with us, not spending frivolously and by having little bits of interest and maybe some big gains here and there," said Rosalie Grant-Nolt, Financial Readiness Program manager.

For some Soldiers, joining the Army is the first salaried career they've held and the first time they've lived on their own. Building a proper budget can prevent Soldiers and their Families from falling into debt and experiencing financial anxiety.

The Army Community Service's Financial Readiness Program offers Soldiers information on everything financial from home-buying and financial preparation for marriage to saving and investing advice. Their mission, according to their website, is to reduce indebtedness, minimize the need for emergency financial assistance and prevent financial difficulties.

When Soldiers first join the Army, they take an eight-hour mandatory class through the FRP. After that, unless referred by their command or voluntarily attending a class, they are only briefed prior to making a permanent change of station or PCS, Grant-Nolt said, adding that the program doesn't see as much traffic it should.

"When you're worried about money, it seems to taint everything: relationships, spirituality, health," Grant-Nolt said. "The more financially solvent you are, the fewer stressors you have in your life."

Financial stability takes discipline, but once achieved, it also takes work to maintain that stability. Soldiers can take classes on the cost of pet ownership, improving credit, preparing for the future and more through the FRP, she said.

It is important for individuals to know their own spending habits and realize their expenses: basic needs, income and nonrecurring expenses along with monthly bills need to be accounted for, Grant-Nolt said.

"One of the biggest mistakes we see people make is that they focus in on their bills," she said. "For most people, the biggest part of their money goes to things that they don't get a bill for."

By tracking expenses for three months, an accurate budget can be compiled, Grant-Nolt said. The habitual use of debit and credit cards by today's society allows tracking every expense to be easy, as people can merely pull up statements online.

"If your budget is not accurate, it's really not going to help you make wise spending decisions," she said.

Holidays are a particularly important time to plan a budget, as well. Grant-Nolt said key elements include whom an individual intends to buy for, how much to spend per person and remembering what was bought.

Avoiding overspending when holiday shopping involves "... really sitting down and having a clear plan and then sticking to your plan," she said.

Another service offered to Soldiers and their Families is the Employment Readiness Program, which helps to shed light on civilian jobs in the Fort Benning and Columbus region, jobs for teens and opportunities around the world.

The Financial Readiness Program offers a class on budgeting every Monday from 8:15-9:30 a.m. and a class on checking account maintenance every Monday from 9:15-10:30 a.m.

For information or to register for classes, contact the ACS Financial Readiness Program at 706-545-6934 or 706-545-4043. Also, visit their website at www.benningmwr.com/financial-readiness-assistance/.

To contact the ACS Employment Readiness Program, call 706-545-4043 or visit the website at www.benningmwr.com/employment-readiness-3/.