More money, less stress
By Airman 1st Class Jessica McConnell, Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
/ Published January 25, 2011
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Money: it makes the world go round. It can buy almost anything if enough is saved, but many don't have the patience to wait that long. This is where most people get in trouble. They see something they really want and whip out their credit card without ever considering the consequences.
But it's only one big purchase right? It'll be fine as long as payments are made in a timely manner, right? But as time passes, this type of thinking can turn one big purchase into many.
Air Force Global Strike Command and Team Minot Airmen are expected to keep their finances in order, and for good reason.
"Failure or the inability to meet all financial responsibilities could cause a servicemember to have security issues of concern," said Ms. Cheryl Vedvig, a community readiness consultant for the Airman and Family Readiness Center. "Not only that, but Airmen may acquire negative information within their credit report, which ultimately results in difficulty with securing any future credit."
Knowing how many negative consequences come with bad spending habits, why is it that so many people seem to find themselves in trouble?
"There are many reasons why people have a hard time managing their money," said Ms. Vedvig. "Most people just don't have a system in place to organize their finances; they're not tracking their spending and end up overextending themselves."
Ms. Vedvig realizes most clients don't intentionally get into financial trouble, they just fail to plan their purchases.
"If people would stop and give themselves 24 hours to contemplate before making a major purchase, I believe we would see a significant decrease in the amount of people experiencing financial hardship," she added.
With student loans, home loans and credit cards being only a few of the different types of debt, consultants are ready to help and offer a wide variety of classes to address individual issues.
"There are several financial classes offered here on base," she said. "Some of the programs available include: Introduction to Saving and Investing, Credit Management Workshop, Thrift Savings Plan, Home and Car Buying, Basic Budgeting and Debt Reduction."
If attending a class doesn't sound very appealing, one-on-one counseling is another option to consider.
"Our financial counseling is very individualized," Ms. Vedvig said. "The community readiness consultant will either provide general financial education or may work more intensely with a client to address any specific financial needs."
Ms. Vedvig added that the main goal of the one-on-one counseling is to guide clients, help them identify what they want to address and assist them in developing and executing a plan of action.
But if one-on-one counseling or attending a workshop sounds impossible for those with hectic schedules, the AFRC offers another great option that an entire unit can benefit from.
"We provide a lot of outreach programs, as we receive many requests from leadership wanting to provide this type of training to their units," said Ms. Vedvig. "Providing training within the unit works well for the Airmen as they aren't required to travel anywhere; we go to them at whatever time works best for the unit."
Tech. Sgt. Julie Stimson, 5th Medical Group acting flight chief, is one NCO who has used this option with great success.
"The outreach that consultants provide is great for supervisors who want to educate their Airmen," said Sergeant Stimson. "I recently arranged for training on the thrift savings plan. A consultant was able to conduct the training in house during our lunch hour. It was convenient, very resourceful and easy to utilize."
Ms. Vedvig believes people should be as proactive as possible when managing their finances.
"It is best for clients to educate themselves before issues arise," she said. "The upcoming Military Saves Campaign in February is a perfect opportunity for Airmen and their families to educate themselves through the different workshops offered; it's their opportunity to make a positive financial change."
But those wanting to be proactive don't have to wait for any counseling; they can start right now with tips Ms. Vedvig believes are the foundation of any solid financial plan.
"Eliminate impulse spending, prepare a budget that's easy to stick to and make sure to plan for major purchases," she said. "Also, be sure to have adequate insurance, an emergency fund and invest or save for retirement as early as possible."
For even more help with financial planning, the AFRC will also be hosting a Military Saves Campaign in February. More information on the campaign will follow next week.