Money matters in the spotlight
Military Saves Week caters to all the money-related information needs of Americans serving in the armed forces. Susan Endres, community readiness consultant for the Military Family Support Center, recently noted that the event is leading the industry into March this year with the theme "set a goal, make a plan, do it automatically," which works to encourage the initiation of soldiers saving rather than more advanced points on financial management.
"It doesn't necessarily matter how you choose to save or how much, what's important is you start as soon as possible," she told Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL) Public Affairs.
Financial expert Jeff Rose, in his Huffington Post editorial, claimed the biggest issue military members face today is credit card debt, which according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) attributed to burdens of over $10,000 for 25 percent of account holders in 2010. He said soldiers who owe money to credit card providers should take care of their situation as soon as possible, spending as much as possible to pay down the cards with the highest interest first and then moving on to others.
Teaching now for a better future
Military professionals should have access to seminars all through the week, as every base honors the event throughout the country. Colonel John Wood, a commander at JB MDL, told Public Affairs the program is an excellent asset for younger soldiers who otherwise could put themselves in difficult financial binds.
"If I look back at the 283 months I have been in the service, I realize I should have started saving from the very beginning," he said. "If I saved only $100 a month with no interest, I would now have more than $28,000. I want this program to educate our service members and encourage them to think long term."
Making better decisions with money can help military men and women move their careers along better than if they were under constant financial pressure, according to Rose. People moving from the armed forces to civilian careers can also face unique challenges, but the expert believes that networking with professionals who have similar experience or are empathetic to the situation can make a big difference to career success.
A military-style financial plan may not be typical, but with the right practices in place it can be exceptionally lucrative and secure.