My name is Rob and I am a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve. My financial success is a huge result of the Military Saves Campaign.

My journey began five years ago after marrying my wife, Lisa. We entered our marriage with no savings plan in sight, carrying debt and living in a tiny apartment. After seeing an advertisement for Military Saves, we decided to grab the reigns of our finances and implement a positive financial plan.

It began with taking the Military Saves' "Savers Pledge". Military Saves encouraged positive financial behavior regarding saving, eliminating debt, living within our means and retirement goals. The Military Saves website listed important statistics regarding average households carrying $8,000 worth of credit card debt, foreclosures doubling within the past decade and numerous negative spending habits. Our eyes widened with each statistic so we vowed to live by our "Saver’s Pledge".

What helped most was focusing on (1) our current goal of becoming homeowners, (2) the solution of being debt free, and (3) our future goals of having retirement money set aside.

In addition to Military Saves, we attended financial readiness seminars on base and frequented the library in search of finance books geared towards our quest for financial freedom. Spending less and working a few more hours helped tremendously! We also chose to save a good portion of our income – half! Shopping at the commissary was crucial because prices are based on the national average, saving us hundreds of dollars at the end of the year. That extra year-end savings helped us to fully fund Roth IRAs. And of course, we clipped coupons! On average coupons save us $60 per month.

Within a few months our car was paid off and we were completely debt free! To make sure we avoid debt, we set aside six months of living expenses in an emergency fund.

During my deployment to Afghanistan - in support of Operation Enduring Freedom - we accelerated our savings by signing up for the Savings Deposit Program, which earned 10% interest. Another important program is the Thrift Savings Plan. Currently I am contributing 50% of my basic pay towards retirement. With the click of a mouse through MyPay, I can change my contribution elections easily.

During our financial endeavor, we have saved enough money to purchase our first home, eliminate all debt and fully fund our retirement accounts while continuously saving a portion of our income. Building wealth has truly turned into our way of life. It's not just a theory, we're living it.

Seeing how much we have accomplished financially in such a short period of time ignites a spark within us to help others. Together we speak with service members regarding the importance of building wealth and eliminating debt. My wife is the 2010 Recipient of FINRAs Military Spouse Fellowship Program. She volunteers her time as a Client Services Representative helping service members, along with wounded warriors, who are facing financial hardships and require immediate financial assistance. She also volunteers her time at a public school teaching basic financial principles.

Everyone should know they are closer than they think when it comes to achieving their financial goals. Military Saves is a great source of that information!

Tip of the Day

  • Set aside your #taxrefund for unexpected repairs or emergency expenses: http://bit.ly/2jargdi @MilitarySaves

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 »

Making Savings a Part of Marriage

Capt. Rob Eckhardt is the first to admit that he hasn’t always been responsible with money. But less than 10 years after a rocky start to saving, Eckhardt reports that he and his wife are free from credit card debt, have a down payment on a home, and are saving regularly for retirement. And, as the Military Saves representative for his Air Force squadron, he’s helping others make similar progress.

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Meet Wacinque BeMende

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Regular Savings is the Key to Success

My name is Chris Strong. I joined the Air Force on 25 March, 1985. On that day, my financial life changed forever. I was introduced to saving bonds in Basic Training. Savings bonds were the big thing back then just like the Thrift Savings Plan is today. A Colonel gave us a briefing. I cannot remember his name but I can remember the 100 savings bonds he had posted to a piece of card board. He gave us a speech on the importance of saving money and how it can change your life. He inspired me to save.

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