FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Inflation is affecting everything from gas to groceries, driving prices up to record highs for people across the United States. Soldiers and Families can best address the stress of inflation through disciplined spending, said Terrence Jones, program manager, Fort Campbell Army Community Service-Financial Readiness.
Jones said he sees Soldiers every day who are learning how to manage their money, and now the challenge is even greater with the current economic climate worldwide.
“Right now, the economy is unstable,” he said. “Soldiers need to think ahead because prices are high. We provide the tools to help them to maintain their quality of life.”
One of the biggest challenges Soldiers are facing now is learning to curb spending, which is harder now because necessities such as gas have skyrocketed. The key to spending within your means, Jones said, is to take a hard look at what is and isn’t necessary spending.
“Everybody has their own thoughts and understanding of what unnecessary spending looks like,” he said. “But it means that they are spending money on things that aren’t essential, such as trips, extra driving, buying things they don’t need at the moment and can be considered nonessential.”
Soldiers who are struggling with their finances shouldn’t wait to see a counselor, Jones said.
The sooner they can get in front of a counselor and talk about their situation, the quicker solutions can be applied.
“We tell them they need to come talk to us, and we try to share ways they can take care of themselves based on Family, things they like to do, things they shouldn’t be doing financially and things they need to be mindful of,” Jones said.
One of the tools ACS-Financial Readiness shares with clients is how to establish a spending plan. Once a Soldier sits down and lists out all the necessary expenses such as bills, groceries and gas, it becomes easier to factor out expenses that are frivolous, Jones said.
“With a spending plan they determine things that they must spend on,” he said. “It means knowing what you need and not spending outside of your means.”
Clients are given a computer-based worksheet where they can input their spending each pay period to determine how much is going to bills and things that they need so they don’t overspend, Jones said.
“Army Community Service-Financial Readiness Program is staffed with competent and caring professional financial counselors who are eager to provide financial training,” said Carolyn Minter, ACS specialist and outreach program coordinator. “One of their newest initiatives is to increase financial literacy among Soldiers and Family members through unit and organizational training and classes as well as individual counsel.”
The staff of ACS-Financial Readiness is available to assist clients 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday at 1501 William C. Road, they also can be reached at 270-798-5518.
William Corlew, ACS-Family Advocacy Program, or FAP, specialist, said having a spending plan during this time isn’t just key to preserving finances but relationships as well.
Financial stress is one of the top issues that affect marriages, Corlew said.
“The biggest thing in any relationship is communication,” he said. “Both parties need to be on the same page and a lot of arguments come about when one person is thinking one thing and the other is thinking something else and they’re not in sync with each other.”
As inflation continues to impact Family finances, it is important for couples to communicate with one another about what is important and decide together what is a need versus a want, Corlew said.
“This is especially important now because school is getting ready to start back up in the next few weeks,” he said. “I know the media is pushing all these sales and deals and people need to be able to discern what is really a deal or what is just a product with a sale sign in front of it.”
The best way to avoid misunderstanding concerning money is to make sure both parties are open and willing to talk about their finances, Corlew said.
“Being able to freely discuss money issues without fear that it’s going to turn into an argument is key,” he said. “Generally speaking, this is a catalyst in couples fighting.”
ACS-FAP offers a variety of classes and workshops on topics including parenting, communication, conflict resolution, keeping your cool during times of stress, and other topics that build or strengthen healthy relationships.
While couples who suspect money management is the root of their problems will likely be referred to ACS-Financial Readiness to reign in their financial issues, the ACS-FAP staff can help with addressing relationship issues brought on by the stress of financial strife before things get out of control.
The staff of the ACS-FAP is available to assist clients 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday at 1501 William C. Road, they also can be reached at 270-412-5500.
Minter works with Soldiers to connect them with assistance if they have reached the point where planning their spending isn’t enough.
“Agencies that ACS Outreach will connect Soldiers with are Army Community Service-Financial Readiness Program, Army Emergency Relief, American Red Cross and Military OneSource for further assistance,” Minter said. “Military OneSource, ACS-Financial Readiness and embedded personal financial counselor all offer free services and information to assist Soldiers with a plan to prevent financial burdens and prepare for a secure financial future.”
While the outreach program does not provide financial training, Soldiers who seek financial counsel through outreach can expect to be connected to a counselor within ACS who is qualified to help them form a plan, she said.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 270-798-2062.