SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Build up your sense to spend cents wisely by taking part in Military Saves Week, which starts Monday.

Army Community Service, here, is launching several free classes and events to help plan your financial future.

The weeklong Department of Defense campaign is in support of the America Saves program, as people pledge to get out of debt.

"People should consider participating in the Savers Pledge," said Robin Sherrod, Financial Readiness Program manager at ACS. "You can get in the mind of saving and get out of the mind of spending. Use this week to re-engage saving methods, open a new savings account or think about enhancing a savings account by saving a specific amount monthly."

Since 2007, more than 200,000 savers have accepted the challenge of Military Saves Week by taking the pledge, Sherrod said.

MSW program
"You'll get weekly newsletters, tips and encouragement to save through out the year," Sherrod said. "Then, Military Saves Week isn't a one time thing. It helps to have a reminder."

During this year's observance of Military Saves Week, Financial Readiness Program staff will be hosting several finance classes and assisting people who want to sign up for the pledge. The classes include how to plan for retirement, investing and identity theft protection. All the classes will be held at the ACS headquarters in Bldg. 2091 at 2091 Kolekole Ave. on Schofield.

One of the classes, "Extreme Couponing" will feature guest speaker Maria Olipas. She will be teaching coupon etiquette and how to get the best deals.

"Our goal is to show the community how to save when going to the commissary or elsewhere," said Fran Avery, a financial counselor at ACS. "Using coupons can save a lot. The class will go over different websites you can use."

Other community organizations will be offering financial help during the Financial Fitness Fair. The fair is scheduled Feb. 25 at the Nehelani Conference Center from noon to 3 p.m. and will feature classes and representatives from local financial organizations offering advice.

Among them will be Theresa Kong Kee, an investor education specialist with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. She will be offering tips in her presentation, "Protect Yourself and Your Money from Predatory Tactics."

Kong Kee said military communities could be especially vulnerable to affinity fraud, when scammers specifically target an identifiable group by pretending to be or joining that group.

"This is important because people are coming back with extra money due to special duty or war duties," Kee said. "Then, they have a trust relationship with a scammer who seems to be military affiliated. The message we try to give is to really check with registration of anyone you invest with."

Kee said her department's website offers a wide range of financial information for people who need help.

Ty Nohara, commissioner, Hawaii Securities Commission, said good investor education protects against fraud, and their office is available to assist at any time.

"We are here to support our military community by providing investor education materials and resources," Nohara said. "If you think you are a victim of investment fraud or are aware of a possible scam, please don't hesitate to call our office at 1-877-447-2267 to report it."

Financial Readiness Program classes are also available all year-round at Schofield Barracks. Avery and Sherrod said the program's staff regularly assist by creating budgets and helping anyone stay on track for their financial goals.

"Sometimes, it's hard to tell you're overextended until you get a phone call from a creditor or a check gets bounced," Avery said. "Be more proactive; our classes are free. They can come in for one-on-one credit, budget and investing help."

Take the Pledge
All during Military Saves Week service members and civilians are encouraged to take the Saver Pledge to help build their wealth. Those who take the pledge can sign up for free financial advice and updates for the Military Saves program.
Staff with Army Community Service will also be on hand for these sign-up times and locations:
Schofield Barracks Army Community Service, Bldg. 2091
•Feb 22, 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m.
•Feb 23 and Feb 24, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
•Feb 26, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Nehelani Conference Center, Schofield Barracks
•Feb 25, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. & noon-3 p.m.

Check out the sign up online at http://militarysaves.org/for-savers/savings-tools-and-resources/take-the-pledge.
For additional information, call ACS at 655-4227 or review www.himwr.com.

Points of Contact
For help from the Hawaii Securities Commission, call 1-877-447-2267.
Contact the ACS Financial Readiness Program at 655-4227 or visit www.HiMWR.com.

Military Saves Events
Want to learn more about how to finance your future? Check out these classes at the Schofield Barracks Army Community Service at 2091 Kolekole Ave., Bldg. 2091.

Feb. 22, 8:30-11:30 a.m., 1-4 p.m.
Million Dollar Soldier Refresher Training
This workshop focuses on basic financial skills to help develop self-reliance and personal responsibility. The goal is to encourage Soldiers and families to understand their personal finances and learn tools for financial success.

Feb. 23, 1-2 p.m.
Social Security Presentation
Learn about how social security works and how to manage those funds.

Feb. 24, 1-2 p.m.
Extreme Couponing
Extreme Couponing is an introductory course in which you will learn coupon etiquette, terminology, organization, how to apply ad match-ups and much more. Please bring a notepad and pen for note taking.
Maria Olipas, a coupon instructor, was born and raised in Hawaii and has been couponing since she was 18 years old. She now teaches free coupon classes and shares her knowledge.
Her goal is to help families learn how to stretch their dollars living here in paradise.

Feb. 25, noon-3 p.m.
Financial Fitness Fair
Make savings automatic with help at the fair. Check your credit score for free and gain other financial tips at the Nehelani. Meet with representatives from the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii and other partner organizations.

The fair will also feature special presentations from the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs about protecting yourself against predatory tactics.

Feb. 26, 8 a.m-3 p.m.
Financial Consultations
Establish good credit and take charge of your financial future with a choice of two classes.

Noon-3:30 p.m.
Identity Theft Protection
Learn tools to safeguard your financial freedom.

Feb. 28, 10-11:30 a.m.
Basic Investing and TSP (Thrift Savings Plan)
The best time to start investing is now! Learn the basics of the Thrift Savings Plan and other investment options, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds. For details, see www.tsp.gov.

Feb. 29, 10-11:30 a.m.
Coupons and Coffee
Learn how to maximize savings with couponing.