FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "One time, I had a lady tell me she bounced 23 checks. She said, 'They gave me the checkbook and I thought I had money, so I kept writing checks, and then they started to come back'," said Juan Jimenez, a financial readiness specialist with the Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program.

Jimenez and other financial specialists were on hand at the Military Saves Week kick off, which took place at the Fort Bragg Club's Lafayette room, Feb. 22.

The program targets Soldiers' spending habits and features educational forums, individual financial counseling and money-related materials for installations around the world. The Military Saves motto is 'start small, save big' and encourages Families to set realistic goals that focus on long-term solutions over financial fads.

According to Lynn Olavarria, financial readiness program manager, events around the installation were well received. "The bottom line is, it's important for Soldiers to understand that they should be paying themselves first and paying down their debt. Whatever saving vehicle they choose, something is better than nothing."

More than 250 Soldiers attended the kick off, which featured a full day of training and the opportunity to meet with local financial consultants. Maj. Gen. Rodney O. Anderson, deputy commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, also signed a proclamation for the 2011 Military America Saves Week. The proclamation urged military Families to take action when it comes to improving their financial portfolios.

"Adequate emergency savings, retirement funds and safe debt-income ratios are critical components of personal financial security," Anderson noted in his written proclamation.

The Department of Defense officially introduced the Military Saves campaign on Feb. 25, 2007, as a spinoff of the DoD Financial Readiness campaign and the nation-wide America Saves campaign. The three goals are saving, debt reduction and lifelong wealth accumulation per the Military Saves agenda.

"Some people heard those (smart investing tips) for the very first time," said Olavarria. "We keep putting the word out to pay down consumer debt, so hopefully our Soldiers will go home and share this information with their Families."

According to Loida Hernandez, FRP administration assistant, about 1,200 people a month (Soldiers, Family members and veterans) receive financial planning assistance on Fort Bragg. Classes include: financial planning for newlyweds, budget and debt management, retirement planning, first time homebuyers, first term permanent change of station "Money and Moving," car buying strategies, money and divorce, savings and investment and other spending-specific courses.

If your teenager is looking for financial direction, they're invited to join the money management for teens or paying for college courses. When it comes to financial preparedness, it's never too soon to start.

(Editor's Note: Register for Fort Bragg FRP classes at To sign the Military Saves saver pledge and access other financial resources, visit