Ho'okele Staff | Mar 03, 2012
The Military and Family Support Center (MFSC) hosted a Military Saves fair Feb. 28 at the Pearl Harbor Navy Exchange (NEX), to culminate an entire month of Military Saves classes, seminars and information sessions.
Financial institutions in attendance included the Pearl Harbor Federal Credit Union, Navy Federal Credit Union, Bank of Hawaii and the Better Business Bureau. Attendees moved from table-to-table and received basic financial information on savings, retirement and paying off debts. The MFSC also offers financial classes and individual counseling.
According to Military Saves statistics, about 43 percent of American families spend more than they earn each year. Average households carry approximately $8,000 in credit card debt. Personal bankruptcies have doubled in the past decade.
Since 2007, the (Department of Defense) DoD-wide Military Saves financial readiness campaign has been working to change that.
Military Saves Week is a part of the national America Saves campaign and is aimed toward military service and family members and helping them to make informed decisions about finances.
“You can’t get these years back,” said Debra Blunt, Military and Family Support Center financial counselor. “If you don’t start when you’re young, you will have to work forever. I wish I had known this information when I was in my 20s. I would be retired by now.”
“I spend a lot of time meeting young Sailors and I develop a repertoire with these people,” Blunt said. “They know they can call me any time. I’m not here to judge them. I’m here to guide them and offer them sound financial information.”
Military Saves encourages service members to do a few basic steps in regard to their finances: develop a personal financial plan, establish a good credit check, and save a portion of each paycheck, according to their website www.militarysaves.org.
Military Saves financial fairs reached more than 60,000 individuals across all the military services in 2011. Seminars and classes reached nearly 40,000 people. This year’s goals for service members and their families include increased household savings for short and long-term needs, and decreased consumer debt, according to an article by Defense Media ActivityNavy on Navy.mil.
“It’s probably over 4,000 people that we’ve reached [throughout the month of events],” Blunt said.
The financial counselors and educators at the MFSC offer many financial education classes and workshops. Times vary monthly, to try and meet work schedules. Classes are offered for individuals, couples and children. All military family members, DoD civilians and contractors are welcome to attend the classes.
For example, among the many classes is “Million Dollar Sailor/Airman.” This two-day class is designed for active duty personnel who will learn about proper budgeting techniques, credit management, savings and investment options, insurance, military pay and allowances, consumer rip-offs, how to obtain a loan, credit scores and reports, and new/used car purchasing techniques.
In addition, for assistance preparing a “spending plan,” the accredited financial counselors at MFSC are also available for free, confidential appointments.
For information, call 474-1999 or check out www.greatlifehawaii.com to see the financial classes that are being offered.