White Sands Missile Range Army Community Service will help kickoff national Military Saves Week by offering free credit scores, FICO scores, and a free consultation to members of the WSMR workforce.
WSMR Commander Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin has signed a proclamation that declares Feb. 23 through Feb. 28 as Military Saves Week within the installation. The proclamation designates WSMR as a partner in the campaign to help Military Families, retirees, civilian employees, and contractors to take financial action and eliminate debt.
WSMR Army Community Service, Army Emergency Relief Officer and Financial Readiness program manager Andrew Lucht said the key to ensuring financial stability is financial management. In order to have strong financial management you must first set financial goals, create a budget, a monthly spending plan, and practice healthy credit habits.
“Financial management is a lifelong process that requires hard work and self-control. Strong financial management can lead to a financially secure future,” Lucht said.
A DoD Live financial article listed three key resources that can assist Service Members in getting their finances in order: personal financial managers available at installation Family Support Centers, personal financial counselors who offer face-to-face sessions through the Military and Family Life Counselor program, and face-to-face or telephone confidential financial counseling sessions by Military OneSource. When finances are in order it allows for the Service Member to place a greater focus on the mission at hand.
Luciano Vera, who served in the Army for 12 years, said he learned how to save at a very early age, but he could understand how it could be difficult to save when just joining the military.
“When you first join you don’t really understand the concept of finances because you are given everything for free as far as lodging and food. You slowly start to realize you have bills and start to prioritize,” Vera said.
Vera’s savings was especially important during his transition from the Army to civilian life. His savings allowed him the opportunity to take his time in choosing his next job.
“A little bit of pre-planning goes a long way,” Vera said.
One of the most common mistakes that lead to debt is not using credit wisely and spending more than can be repaid in a month. Lucht said there are key indicators to look for to determine if you are in debt. Some indicators include borrowing to pay for items that were once paid in cash, paying only the minimum on your revolving charge accounts or being unsure of how much you owe. A major indicator to look for is taking out a payday loan. Lucht recommends that individuals, who are just beginning their career or developing credit, create a financial management plan as soon as possible.
“Time can be a money multiplier. The earlier a savings and investment plan is started, the faster money can accumulate to reach goals,” Lucht said.
Lucht recommends consulting a financial planning professional before making major financial decisions. He said Service Members have a great tool in the ACS Financial Readiness Program. A financial readiness program manager can help walk you through setting up a personalized financial plan.
The free credit FICO scores and consultations are available to WSMR employees, Tuesday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For assistance on developing a financial management plan or to answer any financial related questions contact Andrew Lucht at ACS by calling 678-1337.