The financial safety nets of Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers and Families may be expanding, if the hundreds of community members taking the Military Saves Pledge stick to it.

Monday through Feb. 27 is Military Saves Week, a time when military installations and organizations around the world join together to promote the value of saving money.

Tammy Fink, Army Community Service personal financial readiness specialist, has spent the last several weeks leading up to Military Saves Week educating community members and encouraging them to take the Military Saves Pledge. The pledge is a commitment to save money, reduce debt and build wealth over time.

"Saving money is important, because it ensures that you will always have a cushion to absorb life's bumps in the road; such as a vehicle repair, home maintenance or to cover travel expenses for emergency leave," Fink said.

Fink said taking the pledge is often the hardest step to take in working to save more money.

"Taking the pledge is a commitment to yourself," she said.

To date, Fort Leonard Wood is leading the Department of Defense in the number of pledges taken, with 1,834 pledges signed so far, Fink said.

Military Saves Week is part of the broader America Saves Campaign.

"It is a total force, command-level program that provides an opportunity for leaders across the Department of Defense to motivate and encourage service members and Families to save and teach military children about good financial habits," she added.

The campaign is not limited to just service members.

"All components of the military, DoD personnel, contractors, and their Families may take the Military Saves Pledge at www.militarysaves.org. Nonmilitary affiliated personnel may take the America Saves Pledge at wwww.americasaves.org," Fink said.

There are several habits individuals can develop that can help make saving money easier. According to militarysaves.org, one of the first things people can do is create a budget and a spending plan. Military Families are also encouraged to create savings goals for things such as emergencies, retirement, etc.

Fink said one of the best habits people can start, is to pay themselves first.

"Treat your savings just like an expense. Make savings automatic," Fink said. She encourages participants to take advantage of services like direct deposit and payroll deduction.

According to Fink, the program has made an impact for thousands of military Families. First Sgt. Gabe Medina, 1175th Military Police Company, Missouri National Guard, took the pledge last year and has reaped the benefits.

"The stress of saving for my Family's future has always been on my mind, but now that I know we have a plan in place toward saving for our future, I've been a little more at ease," Medina said.

He said taking the pledge has given him a platform for talking about the benefits of saving money with his Family, leading to the enlistment of his wife and daughter.

"I truly believe that by starting good saving habits at a young age and talking about the benefits of saving, it can lead to a successful and healthy financial life down the road," he said. "My wife, my daughter, and I all have similar financial saving goals. We can all work to help each other's spending plans stay on track. Our goals now point toward saving for Family vacations, sporting events and high-dollar Family activities. I encourage all my Family and friends to jump on board," he said.

ACS representatives will be providing savings tips and collecting pledges around the installation at the following locations in upcoming days:

-- Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Pizza Hut

-- 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, USO

-- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Exchange Mini Mall

-- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Bruce C. Clarke Library

-- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Exchange

-- 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 25, Daugherty Bowling Center

-- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 26, Fort Leonard Wood Commissary

For more information, contact Fink at 573.596.0131, ext. 60212 or visit www.militarysaves.org.