By W. Wayne MarlowFebruary 22, 2012
CAMP HUMPHREYS -- Military Saves Week lasts for seven days, but the ideas it stresses are good ones year-round.
"We want them to take a pledge and commit themselves for a year," said Barbara Brown during a Military Saves Week kickoff event at the Post Exchange. Brown serves as the Financial Readiness Program manager for Army Community Service on Camp Humphreys.
But the campaign doesn't just encourage Soldiers to take the pledge, and then leave them to their own devices. Instead, anyone who takes the pledge gets signed up for e-mailed newsletters containing practical information, advice, and encouragement. This is combined with a Facebook page and a Twitter account, where Soldiers and family members can interact with others who have committed to saving.
In addition, ACS offers classes year-round addressing topics such as comparison shopping, budgeting, proper use of credit, purchasing a car, and review a credit score.
The Saver Pledge reads, "I will help myself by saving money, reducing debt, and building wealth over time. I will help my family and my country by encouraging other Americans to Start Small, Think Big."
The pamphlets containing the pledge encourage participants to open a savings account, make a budget and identify goals, pay down debt, and establish an emergency fund.
Brown said young Soldiers can be overwhelmed by the experience of being overseas and having money for the first time, and that can lead to debt. And it's a problem that can spiral as the interest accumulates. Military Saves Week, therefore, aims to keep that from happening, or if it already has, to mitigate the impact and help Soldiers get out of debt.
Brown said she has seen the results of financial education. "They come back and tell us it helped a lot," she said.
ACS is being assisted with the campaign by financial institutions on Humphreys.
J.K. Lee, a Camp Humphreys Community Bank customer service representative, said, "We are encouraging Soldiers to participate in Military Saves campaign, reduce debt, and save for an emergency. Especially being in the military, it can be very hard to get stabilized when overseas, so we are doing this to help them."
Julie Abril, branch manager for Navy Federal Credit Union on Humphreys, said when someone is young, single and making more money than ever, the temptation can be there to spend. But that, she said, is backward thinking. "We show you how much you can save," she said. She encouraged Soldiers to plan, save, and invest through automatic deductions, both because those are both more convenient and easier to maintain.