We all know its not easy to get out of debt once you in over your head. But it can be done with the sound advice and support that the Military Saves program offers. I am a testament to that. I was a recently divorced, single mother. Like many people I had credit card debt, a car loan, bad credit, and a low income job that never seemed to be enough to put food on the table.

Then I decided I'd had enough of living paycheck to paycheck and worrying about money all the time.

I borrowed some self-help financial books and DVD's from the library and I took control of my financial destiny. I decided to get smart with my money and where it was going.

I went on a "financial diet". I made a list of every penny I made and where I was spending it. Then I cut out all the extra expenditures that I could live without, I cut up all my credit cards, I avoided all temptation to shop impulsively. I even stopped reading fashion magazines and catalogs. The rule was, if I had to buy something, it would be with cash. After I set aside money to pay my bills and food, I put EVERYTHING else into paying off my credit cards.

When I paid off my credit cards, I didn't relax and fall back into my old spending habit, I was on a mission to save money. I opened a savings account and started putting all the money I would have spent on my debt into my savings. When I paid off my car, I didn't run out and buy a new one, I kept that 95 Toyota Camry running and the money I used to spend on paying a car note went into savings as well. When I joined the Navy, I immediately put my sign in bonus into TSP and I went to every financial class offered by the military. Saving money became a habit and a goal. Every time I made rank or got a pay increase I put it into TSP. Every time I received any incentive pay or bonus, I put it in savings. I was rarely paid child support but when I did receive it I put it into savings as well

Its been 8 years since I made that decision to change my financial situation. And the efforts have paid off. Its amazing how much money I was wasting on high interest rates, bounced check fees, and overdraft fees when I was in debt. Now I have 20% of my base pay going to TSP, I have five digits in my money market savings account, I have money put away for college for my children, I own my own home, and I still drive that paid off 95 Toyota Camry. I still attend every financial class/seminar offered by the military and Military Saves in my area for the support and education. I joined Military Saves because I am a believer in building wealth not debt, because if I can do it, everyone can do it. And I want to support other people in their efforts to get rid of debt and get ideas on better ways to invest and save money. In fact, I'm such a believer of getting rid of debt, that I refused to marry my husband until he paid off his $18,000 dollars in credit card debt first. We got married last month!

AZ2 Karen Amador Lesetmoe
VAQ-138 Yellow Jackets
U.S. Navy

 

Tip of the Day

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Pledge to Save

I pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. I will encourage my family and friends to do the same

Pledge to Save

Saver Stories View all »

A Plan for Success

I’m Staff Sergeant Robert Zuniga and I have been an active duty Air Force medic for eight years. I plan on staying in long enough so that I can retire at 20 years. I have always been interested in personal finance and would like to share how it IS possible for me and my stay-at-home wife and two kids to not only save and invest a ton of money but also have a lot of responsible fun as well on 'low' enlisted pay. You CAN do it too!

First off, we write down our goals and separate wants from needs.

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60 Teens participate in Massachusetts Youth Saves Program

During the months of June & July, 60 teenagers aged 13-19 from Marine, Coast Guard, Army, and Air Force families attended Youth Saves programs across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to help increase their knowledge of financial literacy.

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One That Almost Got Away

Brody Lockwood - Like a typical fledgling, I started down the track of financial indebtedness. Nineteen years old and nothing to lose. Credit - who need it? Savings - that was for older people with responsibility. Debt - my parents were in debt ergo it must be OK. When I was eligible for reenlistment, I reenlisted for a multiple of 3 worth $15K. I was happy to pay off my debt, but would I be able to stay out of debt?

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