KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Who wouldn't want some extra cash in their bank account?
Whether it's the kind that jingles or folds, learn how to bank your extra cash during Military Saves Week, Feb. 21 through March 2.
The purpose of the Military Saves Week campaign is to promote good saving behavior, while serving as an opportunity for military families to set saving and investing goals, said Nyesha B. Burton, Army Community Service Financial Readiness specialist with U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz.
The idea behind the week is to motivate, support and encourage military families to save money, reduce debt and build wealth. Taking part is easy -- just take the Military Saves pledge online and start saving toward a particular goal. People who take the pledge can elect to receive a monthly newsletter with advice for growing savings and reducing debt.
Military Saves also gives service members and their families a chance to evaluate their financial status, Burton said.
"It's as simple as a budget -- know what money you have coming in, going out and left over at the end of the month. Any discretionary spending (money spent on non-essential things) you can cut back on," she explained. "Think of it this way -- 'What is the trade-off?' -- Do I spend money on new shoes now or have a healthy retirement savings 20 years down the line?"
Saving money for the future can involve the whole family, Burton said.
"There are so many life skills that parents teach their children -- teamwork, communication, leadership and discipline, but do they teach them about the value of money? Children who see their parents exhibit good saving and investing habits is priceless," Burton said. "Good financial management is one important skill that children need to grasp and demonstrate in order to become fiscally responsible adults. Showing your children what it looks like to save and invest in their future could have a positive impact on them and future generations."
To get into the habit of saving, Burton said it's important to set SMART goals -- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Once you've identified your goals, keep track of them in a spreadsheet, notebook or worksheet and make sure you check on them periodically to stay on target. When you've accomplished important goals like creating an emergency fund or tackling debt, you can focus on other goals to include investing or saving for a major purchase like a car or house.
Striving toward your financial goals doesn't have to be all hard work, you can always indulge in small rewards for completing your objectives, Burton said.
"Don't just save and invest, make it fun and rewarding. Once you reach your goal -- big or small -- treat yourself," she said. "It's easier to stay on track when you know you are accountable to someone. So tell your family and friends what you are trying to do and encourage them to save and invest as well. Make Military Saves Week last all year long."
USAG RP Command Sgt. Maj. Brett Waterhouse echoed Burton's sentiments and urged all service members to use this week to get on the right track financially.
"Feb. 21 through March 2 is Military Saves Week. Military Saves Week encourages our service members and families to get into the mindset of saving for the future while reducing their debt," he said. "I encourage everyone to use this week to assess the status of their savings, establish financial goals and create a plan to reach those goals. Take the pledge on the Military Saves website at https://militarysaves.org and get started on your path to financial stability today."
Take advantage of the Military Saves events in the Kaiserslautern Military Community:
Feb. 21 -- College Financial Aid Basics from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., in the Multipurpose Hall at Ramstein Middle School, Bldg. 994, Ramstein Air Base.
Feb. 22 -- Military Saves Financial Workshop from 9 a.m. to noon, Armstrong's Club, Vogelweh Housing. *Preregistration is required if requesting child care.
Feb. 23 -- Wealth Builder Seminar from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Ramstein Officers' Club, Ramstein AB. *Preregistration is required if requesting child care.
Feb. 25 -- Military Saves Financial Workshop from 9 a.m. to noon, Chapel Annex, Bldg. 8217, Smith Barracks, Baumholder. *Preregistration is required if requesting child care.
For more information about Military Saves Week, visit https://militarysaves.org/ or visit ACS Financial Readiness:
Kleber Kaserne in Bldg. 3210
Clinic Kaserne in Bldg. 8746