The Department of Defense launches the 2018 Military Saves Campaign with its annual Military Saves Week from Feb. 26 to March 3, and experts right here can help members of Team Scott with their financial goals.
“Readiness is the name of the game, or overall goal. Recognizing that financial literacy is essential not just for the individual service member, but also for the entire Defense Department is critical,” said Lona Berndt, who is the Airman and Family Readiness’ accredited financial counselor through the Association of Financial Counseling and Planning Education.
The Military Saves Campaign is a national financial readiness and awareness effort co-sponsored by the Consumer Federation of America, a nonprofit organization. The social-marketing research campaign is paired with CFA’s American Saves operation.
Together, they strive to inspire and support servicemembers, military families, and government civilians to build and improve their financial conditions. Military Saves Week at Scott AFB is designed to promote an interest in decreasing debt, saving money, and building wealth.
As the Personal Financial Readiness Program Manager, as well as the Air Force Aid Society Officer for Scott AFB, Berndt’s role is to ensure that Scott’s community needs are being addressed in terms of financial education and support.
She collaborates with the base’s Reserves and National Guard financial counselors, the Integrated Delivery System, and other 375th Force Support Squadron partners to organize educational discussions, workshops and programs for Military Saves Week.
For the campaign this year, the Youth Center and Regions Bank are sponsoring the Money Smart for Teens workshop at 5 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Youth Center.
In addition, a class on the military Thrift Saving Plan will take place at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 28 in the 932nd Airlift Wing auditorium.
Other courses available to commanders for their units include:
· Millionaire Airmen: Steps to Financial Success;
· TSP Basic Training;
· Blended Retirement System;
· My Honey & My Money;
· Slaying the Debt Dragon;
· Credit Reports and FICO Scores; and
· Recovering from and Curing the Holiday Spending Hangover.
These programs are offered to squadron leadership as mini-seminars to order for their unit on requested dates. The presentations and workshops are available for order through March 18.
Berndt said these programs include topics for everyone, regardless of what stage they are in their financial life-cycle.
Military Saves Week 2018 is critical for encouraging financial stability among military personnel and government civilians in preparation for financial emergencies like the recent government shutdown, said Berndt.
“Although the shutdown was brief, military and government civilians alike paused to consider the consequences of missing a paycheck,” she explained.
Several leaders at Scott reached out to Berndt for support after checking on their Airmen’s financial standing. They discovered many were unprepared for a furlough situation and would likely face financial challenges.
Master Sgt. Donald McLeod of the 618th Air Operations Center was one of the leaders to reach out to Berndt. When inquiring about budgeting procedures, he found that few Airmen went above checking the amount of money they have available in their accounts. McLeod explained the significance of creating a monthly budget and building emergency funds in preparation for cases like a government shutdown.
“Personal finance is critical to military readiness, and it all begins with the budget,” said McLeod. “The less stressed about finances the Total Force is, the more prepared our Airmen are to execute their duties.”
Berndt added that, “The military provides so many opportunities for financial education, and yet it’s common to hear servicemembers say that they don’t understand things or ‘no one told me.’ The resources are available, but it is up to you to take advantage of them.”
Many of the programs available during Military Saves Week are also available the rest of the year. Anyone is welcome to schedule private counseling sessions if they prefer personalized financial support. Berndt advocates for financial resources available on Military One Source for those who might not want to discuss finances in person. The military resource website provides articles, webinars, and access to telephone counseling sessions.
Master Sgt. Calvin Watts, Jr., 15th Operations Weather Squadron, said he has firsthand experience with the AFRC Financial Services.
“Being a new First Sergeant, I am required to know and understand the services that are available for our Airmen in the unit,” he said. “I’ve always had a pretty good grip on my finances and budgeting. However, with retirement creeping closer into the future I thought I would sit down with Lona and see areas I could improve in.”
Watts uses his experience to share with others how financial education through the AFRC is not only for individuals and families without an established financial plan. He advocates for everyone to use the services, using his own personal financial growth as an example.
Anyone wishing to know more about the Military Saves Week programs and activities available at Scott can visit the AFRC website, www.scottafrc.com, to register for classes and schedule appointments.