03 April 2018
Financially Fit in the New Year
Jenni Benson, USAG Public Affairs
We have now wrapped up the third month of 2018!

How are you doing with your New Year’s Resolutions? Did you resolve to save money or pay off debts? If you’re having trouble sticking to a financial plan, here are a few ideas to you get back on the path to financial freedom.

If you recall, in January, the public affairs office took a poll on New Year’s Resolutions and gathered the top 10 responses around post. Getting finances in order was on the top of that list.
There are many schools of thought when it comes to saving, debt reduction and how to start and maintain a household budget. There are financial classes, financial planners, blogs, banking sites and even just talking with friends and family to see what works for them. Being held accountable with any goal you set is the key to success.
One popular method for debt reduction is something called the Snowball Method, which is particularly helpful when attacking revolving credit, such as credit cards. When using this technique, look at your debt and pay off the smallest balance first while paying the minimum payment on any larger debts. Once you pay off the smaller debt, you move on to the next. Some dedicate the extra cash from their paid off debts by adding that money to the subsequent payments on the next debt and so on, until all debt is paid off.
Another popular method is starting with the debt that has the highest interest rate, paying that off and moving on down, this method is called the Debt Avalanche Method.
Another tool to use when gaining financial freedom is setting up a budget. While each budget is personal and there may not be one process that fits all your needs, there are many available tools to help in creating a budget; from paid to free services or just using your own techniques. All in all, the key is to just start. Take the time to look at your expenses, see where you can make adjustments and stick to the budget you set. Reevaluate each month to make improvements, tweaking your budget until it works to meet or exceed your financial goals.
Another important piece to gaining financial freedom is setting up an emergency fund. Unexpected things - from a blown transmission or failing home appliances to unexpected medical bills - can take a financial toll on families. Having money in an emergency fund can take some of the worry off during financially stressful times. If you don’t have hundreds of dollars to stash away into this type of fund right now, take the opportunity to skip the fancy coffee every morning by brewing a cup at home or packing lunches rather than dining out. Small changes can add up to significant savings over time, helping you build up your emergency fund. Establishing a budget can help you identify areas where you may be over-spending. Noticing and applying that overage to debt reduction or to establishing an emergency fund can go a long way.
Another resource available to active-duty military, retirees and their eligible family members is the Army Emergency Relief program and the Financial Readiness program.
The AER program provides financial assistance to Soldiers, retirees, family members, surviving spouses and orphans when there is a valid emergency.

“We play a unique and important role in helping the Army ‘take care of its own,’ said Barron Henry, Fort Detrick Financial Readiness and Army Emergency Relief program manager. “Our office provides emergency financial assistance to Soldiers, both active and retired, and their family members during periods of valid emergencies.”

There are also scholarship opportunities and grants available to Wounded Warriors. The office works with other relief agencies to assist all military personnel and their families. For more information on the AER program, you can contact (301) 619-2197, or visit: https://detrick.armymwr.com/programs/army.
“Another resource available are financial readiness services, which are available to everyone within the Fort Detrick and Forest Glen communities,” said Henry.

According to the My Army OneSource website, Army Community Service FRP teaches Soldiers, in both classroom training and individual counseling sessions, how to save and invest their money, how to establish savings goals, debt elimination strategies and how to save for emergencies. There are also several tools to get started in financial planning, such as the Money Matters application, a free mobile application developed by Army OneSource and is managed by IMCOM G9. The goal is to motivate, educate and support active duty, reserve and National Guard Army Soldiers and their families to save and plan for the future while incorporating mobile technology.
To learn more about this application and to take advantage of other resources, visit the Army One Source website. A CAC is required to use this site. While there, watch the “Path to Financial Freedom” video. Although geared towards the Soldier, the video provides several tips to implement financial strategies to meet your goals; provided by financial guru Suze Orman.
Whichever method you choose in setting up a budget, reducing debt and saving for the future, stay accountable, look towards tomorrow and keep striving to meet your goal to achieve financial freedom.
Posted by Webmaster

For more Fort Detrick News, vist "The Standard"
   - the official newspaper for Fort Detrick.
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