By Wendy Brown (USAG Wiesbaden)March 5, 2012
WIESBADEN, Germany - Spc. Jordan Reyelts listened intently during the financial management classes he attended during Military Saves Week.
"I'm here to solidify my financial stability and protect the future of my child," said Reyelts, who is married and has a 2-year-old daughter. "It's been really informative."
About 20 people attended the four financial fitness classes, which were titled Saving and Investing, Retirement, Saving for College and Loans and Credit Score. Leary Henry, the Army Community Service financial readiness manager, organized the Feb. 22 event at the Wiesbaden Entertainment Center.
Henry kicked off the event by suggesting one way many people could save a significant amount of money each year.
If a person spends $4 a day on coffee for four years, Henry said, it adds up to a considerable amount of money -- $5,844.
Military Saves Week's main goal is to get people to save money and decrease consumer debt. Since the program began in 2006, more than 100,000 military members and their families have taken the saver pledge, according to the program.
Saving money is all about keeping the money you make -- no matter what your income, said Gary Braden, who taught the class on retirement and is a former vice president of Integrated Financial Planning Services in Heidelberg.
To hold onto money, it is important to use credit wisely, avoid debt, live on less than you make and set goals, Braden said.
Saving for an emergency fund is one place where military members get a break, Braden said.
Since there is more financial security in the military, Braden said an emergency fund of $1,000 for a single Soldier is enough, and $2,000 for a couple.
On the other hand, married military members often suffer financially because the military spouse unemployement rate is three times higher than the rest of the population, Braden said.
It can often take a military spouse a long time to find a job after each move, Braden said.
Mark Vehr, a volunteer for ACS financial readiness who spent 23 years in the Air Force, taught the class about saving and investing money. He dispelled the idea that in order to be rich, people have to be born that way. "What you really need to do is set yourself up to be rich," he said.
An important first step is for people to make sure they pay themselves first, Vehr said, otherwise, it is unlikely there will be anything left to save at the end of the month.
Some ways to save money include buying used items online, not carrying credit cards, waiting for free shipping, waiting for seasonal sales, packing your lunch, using coupons and giving yourself a waiting period for what might be impulse buys, Vehr said.
The "coffee factor" is also important, Vehr said.
One of the most important steps to saving money is to set goals -- short term, medium term and long term, Vehr said. Once the goals are set, follow the steps to attain them consistently.
Another important step to saving money is having a budget and sticking to it, Vehr said.
Sudarat Kirby, widow of Staff Sgt. Darian Kirby, said she attended the classes in hopes of learning financial information to share with other widows.
"You can never know too much," Kirby said.
For more information about Military Saves visit www.militarysaves.org.