By Justin Creech, Belvoir EagleFebruary 25, 2013
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Feb. 25, 2013) -- Soldiers and families who wonder why they don't have any money left at the end of each pay period can learn some of the reasons during Military Saves Week, from Feb. 25 to March. 2.
More importantly, service members can attend financial management classes hosted by Army Community Services Financial Readiness Program, so they can learn the importance of saving and how to build a savings account.
The Financial Readiness Program offers four classes, Feb. 25-28 at the ACS building, that share tips on how to budget, save, improve credit scores and learn insurance needs.
"In order to be able to invest there must be four things in someone's financial life," said Erica Drame, Financial Readiness Program, manager. "They must have an active budget, be saving on a regular basis, use their credit wisely and have adequate insurance. When you have that big picture together, that's when you can start investing for your future."
"Military Saves Week is a great opportunity to help service members and their families in our community set a goal, make a plan, and save automatically," said Brent Jurgersen, Army Community Service, director.
Fort Belvoir Credit Union offers a special "share" certificate for all active-duty service members during Military Saves Week, as well as a Family Fun Day, Feb. 23, to kick-off the week.
To help people save more successfully and encourage more people to save, the Financial Readiness Program is partnering with SunTrust Bank to offer military Families and Department of Defense civilian employees an opportunity to open a savings account in order to save automatically through direct deposit toward an emergency fund, a goal like a home, or toward retirement.
How to budget is the first class of the week and will teach Soldiers and families to create a budget to include needed expenses like cable, grocery and insurance, and how to manage recreational spending.
Drame said she stresses to families managing their cell phone bill and comparing it to their cable bill.
"You have cable, internet and a house phone, but still you are using your cell phone at home," said Drame. "If you are paying over $100 a month for internet at home, and $200 for a cell phone why are you using your cell phone in your home when you have a house phone?"
One way to figure out if you are paying too much for your cell phone per month, according to Drame, is to count how much you spend on your phone in a two year period with the current monthly cost.
"If I came up to you and asked you would you spend $4,800 for a two year contract on a cell phone you would say no," said Drame. "But, that's exactly what people are spending when they have a $200 a month cell phone bill."
Shopping for individual or family car insurance is another way to save money, said Drame. A person can save as much as $100 per month by finding the right car insurance.
"I had a guy come in one time who was paying $280 a month for car insurance for two cars through USAA," said Drame. "I almost fell out of my chair. I told him to shop around and he calls me the next day to tell me he cut his payment in half by switching to Esurance."
Responsible recreational spending is important to a Soldier or a family's budget, too. Not spending more than what their budget allows will leave money left over at the end of a pay period.
"You work hard, you want to play hard," said Drame. "If you are spending $300 a month on entertainment and are struggling with other bills, you have to cut back because that's a luxury. Maybe just do $150 a month on entertainment because that's what your budget can stand."
"Having goals for your money will help a person save, too," according to Drame. "Paying bills and then spending the remainder of a person's finances on recreational activities will leave a person broke," said Drame.
"People pay their bills and say 'Oh, I have $500 left over I can do whatever I want with it,'" said Drame. "But, they spend it all and wonder why they don't have any money. Have goals for your money so you know where it's going."
For more information on classes offered during Military Saves Week, call Financial Readiness Program at (703) 805-1833.
For additional information, www.militarysaves.org.