Military Saves Week 2015 is February 23-28 and is a great time to assess your military savings plan. This is a weeklong initiative of the DoD’s Financial Readiness Campaign to promote military savings within the military community with thousands of businesses participating. Events are being held on military installations around the world during this time to help service members set a goal, make a plan and save automatically. Installations, organizations and businesses will be promoting positive military savings and offering opportunities to learn how to save and build wealth, not debt.
The campaign aims to motivate service members to save a portion of each paycheck, develop a personal financial plan, establish good credit and enroll in programs such as: Thrift Savings Plan, Savings Deposit Program and Group Life Insurance to encourage military savings. Banks, credit unions and financial services organizations are all participating by offering special deals and information sessions during this time to help educate the community about the importance of military savings.
Many military installations will be offering workshops and seminars. If you’re stationed at Darby Military Community, Italy, you could learn about military savings while shopping. “Take an adventure in learning basic thrift and savings skills while shopping. The outing includes trips to several consignment and second-hand stores in Livorno and Stagno.” Yep, you win.
Whether you go on an awesome outing in Italy, sit in on a financial savings seminar in Jacksonville or simply scroll through militarysaves.org, you’ll be taking a step in the right direction of moving toward better savings.
So how do you actually save money?
It all starts with making a plan and a commitment to stick to it. You don’t have to be tough on yourself and pinch pennies; make a savings plan that is easy to follow and realistic. It’s easier to have short goals, such as saving $10 a week, rather than telling yourself you need $500 by the end of the year for an emergency fund. This is exactly what I thought of when I read their slogan: Start Small, Think Big. Not only is it catchy, but it’s a great way to look at savings. Many people become intimidated by the big picture and don’t know how or where to start.
You could begin by visiting their website. It offers tips and strategies for saving, lists events hosted on each base and has a long list of resources. Then sit down with your spouse and discuss what your savings goals should be and if you would like to attend an event or make an appointment to speak with a financial counselor. Each step you take strengthens your financial future and having healthy finances and an open line of communication are key to reaching that goal.
Include children in this week’s activities as well. Military Youth Saves is a program designed to motivate children and teenagers to develop good savings habits early. It teaches them to create their own savings plan and to save a little bit of money each month to reach a goal. This is a great time to start a piggy bank or open a savings account for your child.
Be a good role model. Whether you know it or not, your children are watching and learning from what you do. If you drop your loose change in the piggy bank by the door, sooner or later they’ll start snatching up loose coins too and putting them in their piggy banks. Show them that saving money for the future is important.
If you’re on a tight budget, you might think it’s hard to start a military savings plan, but it is possible. Military Saves Week can give you the tools you need to make it happen. It’s up to you to take advantage of them. Take the Savers Pledge and start saving today.