By Paul BelloJanuary 29, 2009
With the economy struggling, any advice helps. That's what inspired the military to create its financial readiness road show - a one-day event that brings information on everything from retirement planning to reporting identity theft to every active-duty Soldier and DoD civilian on installations across the country.
Sponsored by Fort Belvoir's Army Community Service, the program visited the Officers' Club Saturday to the delight of many guests, including members of the Army Reserve and Virginia National Guard.
Representing a table for MilitaryOneSource.com was Claire Lebling, who provided tips on how to use the site's online library for research and
"It's more than just financial planning. We have information on starting and improving an individual's resume, as well as information about stress management," Lebling said. "People can also order books online and post videos through our TroopTube. It's just like YouTube, but with the focus being on military families."
Other vendors included the Federal Trade Commission, which had brochures on laptop security and the latest consumer news.
Katie Savant, a representative for the National Military Family Association, said her organization prides itself on educating families on all the different services available to them.
"We're actually celebrating our 40th anniversary, so we're not the new kids on the block. We focus on connecting people with the resources they need in improving their lives. That could be financial health, or personal health. Take your pick," Savant said. "Right now, we're piloting two Operation Purple Family Retreats. They're set in a national park and give families an opportunity to explore their natural surroundings and participate in activities together."
As an added bonus, guests were invited to a special presentation by Terry Savage, a nationally recognized financial expert and best-selling author. According to Savage, who has appeared on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, among others, there are two types of people in life: spenders and savers.
"What's funny about that is they always wind up marrying each other," Savage said to a chorus of laughs. "All kidding aside, though, people need to have knowledge of what's going on around them and they need self discipline. The best advice I can give someone is to make your money work for you, not the other way around."
Savage suggests using quickenonline.com for those looking to organize their personal finances and to strongly consider electronic bill paying, which saves time and money.
For military families, particularly those who have served in a combat zone, she also recommended investing a minimum of 10 percent of one's hazard/danger pay into a personal savings account.
"I found what she said quite interesting. It's certainly a lot to think about, but you have to start at some point," said Michael Thorpe, who is a member of the Army Reserve and attended the presentation with his wife, Patricia. "It's great the military offers something like this. A lot of times, people don't know where to start when trying to find information on investing and things like that. Here, they bring it right to you. It's a big help."