Military Saves Week 2014 is Almost Here! How will you Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically?

Military Saves Week 2014 begins February 24th and concludes March 1st. That’s next week! This is a great opportunity for members of the military, DoD civilian employees and their families throughout the services to improve their financial readiness. Military Saves seeks to motivate, support, and encourage military families to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth.

The first step in saving can often be the hardest. Individuals can start by taking the Military Saves Pledge to become Military Savers. If you’ve already taken the pledge, now is a good time to recommit to your saving goal and Re Pledge.  Please visit where servicemembers, their families, and all DoD employees are encouraged to become Military Savers. All you need is a valid email address to get started. The theme for Military Saves Week 2014 is, Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically.

Individual Savers

Set a Goal: There are many who say they can’t “afford” to save, but the truth is, they can’t afford not to save.  There are always ways to save, even on a tight budget.  Saving as little as a dollar each day for a year will yield a savings of $365 dollars, a decent start to any emergency fund.  A tax refund can also be used to initiate an emergency savings account. Establishing emergency savings is step one on a journey to financial success. The security of an emergency fund truly allows one to start small, while thinking big. Saving for a home, vehicle, retirement, or college takes time and discipline.

Make a Plan: In order to know how much you are able to save each month, you must have an idea of both how much income you have each month and what your expenses are.   Track your expenses for a few weeks, either by writing down your expenditures or saving your receipts.  Then you can take a few moments to complete a spending plan.  You should be setting aside an amount each pay period, whether it’s going toward your emergency fund, your credit card debt, or a cruise.  And the money should be going into an earmarked account, separate from your checking account.  You want the money to be liquid (so not in a CD or invested in antiques), but not too easily accessible.

Save Automatically: Saving is similar to any other behavior – in order for it to become ingrained; it must become part of your routine.  So how do you get the savings “habit”?  The easiest way to do it is to make saving automatic.  Each month or pay period, pay yourself first! Transferring money to a bank account that is separate from your other accounts will help prevent you from the temptation of dipping into your savings.   You automate the transfer by setting it up as an allotment in myPay or as bill pay transaction at your bank. Saving on autopilot removes all the guesswork out of it.  Out of sight is truly out of mind. 

Financial management is a critical part of readiness for military families. Reducing personal debt and building wealth takes time and discipline; saving money helps to protect your family and improve your financial readiness. It all starts when you set a goal, make a plan and then save automatically to reach that goal. 

Military Saves uses the principles of social marketing and behavioral economics to promote change in personal financial behavior within the DoD Financial Readiness campaign. Taking the Military Saves pledge is the personal commitment that individuals can make to begin their journey toward improved financial readiness. 

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