Military Saves
Helps Military Families
Achieve Financial Freedom

The Military Saves program helps service members solve their military financial issues by getting out of debt and creating a habit of saving.
During Military Saves Week (25 February – 2 March, 2013), military commands worldwide are holding special events to encourage military members to get out of debt and begin saving towards a goal of financial freedom.

The Military Saves campaign, started by Chaplain Sarah Shirley, promotes saving rather than over-spending by military families. That's a goal we share at We provide you with financial education and information to empower you to take command of your military financial issues, get out of debt, solve your money woes, and build wealth to create a secure financial future for your families.

Set a Goal, Make a Plan, Save Automatically

"Set a Goal, Make a Plan, Save Automatically" is the theme for the 2013 Military Saves campaign. Its aim is to encourage purposeful savings through an automatic savings plan. Military allotments make an automatic saving plan simple.

Even if you can save only a small amount each month, maybe just $50 or $100, or even less, that will add up over time. Of course, you should make that amount as large as you can. And with the benefits of compound interest, you'll be earning interest on your interest, as well as on the amounts you contribute.

The earlier you start, the longer your money can work for you, and the more money you'll accumulate. You'll be amazed at how quickly that nest egg can grow.

Make Paying Yourself First a Habit

One important savings habit you should start early (as soon as you have a paycheck) is to "pay yourself first." Whatever amount you've decided to put towards savings, stash it away in your savings account first, before you pay bills, and before you're tempted to spend it.

If you've ever tried to say, "I'll put whatever's left over at the end of the month into savings," you know the problem -- there won't be anything left over. It's too easy to spend it all if you have access to it. But if you take it out first, you likely won't miss it. We can't stress enough how important this is to your ultimate goal of building wealth.

Military families have an advantage, in that you can establish an allotment, so the money is taken out before you get it, and goes directly to your savings account. That way, there's no decision involved, and no opportunity for you to decide to spend the money instead.

For many people, this is the only way they can save money - if they never get their hands on it. Be honest with yourself, and if you are one of those people, set up an allotment!

We highly recommend this method, because you will become accustomed to living without that additional amount, and you may even forget about it (which makes it less likely that you'll be tempted to spend it).

Have a Goal

Pam McClelland, a senior program analyst in the Pentagon's Office of Family Policy and Children and Youth, recommends that when you start a savings plan, you do it with a specific long-term goal in mind. That goal could be a down payment for a new house, a college fund for your children, or your own retirement goals.

Having a specific goal in mind makes it more likely that you will allow your savings to grow, as opposed to taking it out early to cover some short-term goal, like a vacation, or a new big screen TV.

The advantage of compound interest cannot be overstated - Einstein called it the Eighth Wonder of the World - and if you take money out of your savings, you're actually costing yourself a significant amount over time. Not only do you lose the money you actually take out, but you also lose all the interest that money would have earned over the years.

With a Savings Plan, You're More Likely to Save

Those with a savings plan are far more likely to save than their counterparts who have not established a savings plan, according to recent surveys. For example, 85 percent of those who had a savings plan said they also had sufficient emergency savings, but only 50 percent of those without a savings plan indicated that they had sufficient emergency savings.

Another very important point: 61 percent of those who had a savings plan said they were saving for retirement. In contrast, only 27 percent of those without a savings plan were saving for retirement.

Military Retirement is Not Enough

Many military families make the mistake of thinking they don't need to save for retirement, because they'll be taken care of by their military retired pay. Don't make that mistake.

Remember, military retired pay, if you retire after 20 years, is only half of your base pay, not full base pay, and not half of your pay plus allowances. How realistic is it to expect that you will suddenly be able to live on less than 50% of the amount you're accustomed to? Not very.

So start saving for retirement early. After you spend a lifetime serving your country, we want to help you make sure you can enjoy a financially comfortable retirement.

Military Youth Saves

The Military Saves campaign also includes a Military Youth Saves initiative, whose goal is to get military children and youth involved in building financial responsibility. If you start them at a young age with a habit of saving, you will save them many headaches as they get older (and they'll thank you).

If you encourage them to put 50% of their allowance into savings, then when they grow up and start earning their own paychecks, it will be a well-established habit that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Learning to live on less than they earn will be easy for them, because they're used to spending less than they get. Now, don't you wish your parents had done that for you?!

Military Readiness Requires Financial Readiness

Military officials understand the stress financial issues place on military families, and the effect personal readiness has on mission accomplishment. We don't want service members in the field to be distracted with worries about bill collectors, or whether their families can pay the bills while they're gone.

As a result, every family service center has an accredited personal financial manager assigned. In addition, there are personal financial counselors who work with state and community officials as part of joint family support assistance program teams. If you're not located near a base or post, counselors at Military OneSource can provide telephone counseling or refer you to a counselor in your local community.

Take the Saver Pledge

I will help myself
by saving money, reducing debt,
and building wealth over time.

I will help my family and my country
by encouraging other Americans to

Build Wealth, Not Debt.

Take action to start your family down the path to financial freedom today by taking the "saver pledge" at the Military Saves web site.

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