Take the Saver Pledge

  • Published
  • By Byron Clark
  • 39th air Base Wing Airman and Family Readiness
"Become a Military Saver!" "Take the Saver Pledge!" "Enroll today at www.militarysaves.org!" 

Expect to see and hear these and other Military Saves messages sweep across military installations during Military Saves Week, Feb. 24 - March 2. 

Military Saves was developed through a cooperative agreement between the Department of Defense and the Consumer Federation of America to promote the financial fitness of our Total Force. It is an integral part of the DoD Financial Readiness Campaign and was founded out of the America Saves national campaign.

The focus of the joint venture is simple. The campaign uses a steady diet of education and motivation, changes financial behaviors and creates a culture that encourages its members to save, build wealth, and decrease debt. Personal financial preparedness is top priority, therefore this week has been set aside to encourage military members, family members, government civilians, and contractors to become Military Savers and adopt a "Saver" lifestyle. 

The impact financial fitness has on mission readiness is undeniable. If military members are stressed and preoccupied with money worries or credit issues, they could potentially be distracted, and therefore, not fully engaged in the mission at hand. As a result, mission success could be jeopardized. Military Saves can help. 

The program uses a wide variety of resources to educate and encourage service members and their families. Many installations across DoD will be hosting financial management seminars, brown bag lunch sessions, and other creative educational forums to motivate our members to set savings goals, increase personal savings, decrease debt, participate in financial education programs, and develop lifelong financial fitness habits that lead to improved financial stability and overall unit mission readiness. 

With ballooning credit card balances coupled with a savings rate in 2006 of negative 1%, the lowest since the Depression, Military Saves is a just in time campaign that urges us to become better stewards of our personal finances. If service members are facing mounting debt or if they are late-starters when it comes to saving and investing, there is help - and it is free. Military members must, however, be proactive and avail themselves to the help. The problem or situation rarely gets better because you choose to ignore it.
The success of each member's Military Saves pledge depends on that member's personal level of commitment and discipline. 

There is no pressure to enroll and no pressure to pledge a certain amount. Enrolling at www.militarysaves.org is quick and easy. The resources and links at the Military Saves website are easy to access and are very helpful and educational. And just for enrolling, you'll receive a free Military Saver e-newsletter and other periodic communication from Military Saves. And lastly, and most importantly, by pledging to save, invest, build wealth, and reduce your debt - everybody wins: you...your family...the military...the nation!

If, by now, you've decided to take the pledge and become a Military Saver but you're living paycheck to paycheck and don't know how to start, consider the following bits of advice. First, make sure you have a financial goal in mind i.e. retirement, college funding, buying a home, paying down debt etc. Next, develop a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timebound) savings plan you can commit to. 

Once you have a goal and plan, to come up with the dollars needed to meet your goal, try these savings tips: brown bag it for lunch; if you have a meal card, use it; make your own coffee; shop at your local AAFES or Commissary and save; dine out less, eat in more; no impulse purchases; stew over large purchases over night, you just may realize you don't really need the item; carpool; or ride a bike to work instead of driving. Now, you'll have the extra dollars to increase credit card or debt payments, open a savings account, open an IRA, open a TSP account, open a mutual fund account or increase contributions to existing accounts. Also, don't forget to target your income tax refund to pay off those high interest rate credit cards. 

Similar to the Combined Federal Campaign, the success of the Military Saves Campaign hinges on the enthusiasm and leadership at each command level. It is essential that leaders, from our most junior enlisted supervisor to our most senior commander, embrace and endorse the Military Saves program and be first in line to take the Saver pledge and become Military Savers. 

Don't forget, Military Saves Week kicked off Monday and runs through March 2. For more information on the program or to learn how you can enroll and become a "Military Saver" and adopt a "Saver" lifestyle, visit the Military Saves website at: http:/www.militarysaves.org or visit your local Airman and Family Readiness Center.