Military News

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Do you know where your finances are going?

By Senior Airman Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs

6/4/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- It's a sunny Friday afternoon and a service member just got paid. What is the first thing he is likely to do? Spend it or save it?

For those who could use some assistance with this common decision point, a program on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson highlights reliable ways to manage and understand finances.

The 673d Force Support Squadron provides a monthly finance seminar in Building 600 on JBER-Richardson, and at the Log Cabin on JBER-Elmendorf.

The seminars are open to all service members, and first-term Airmen and Soldiers receive this information at the outset of their service here.

According to Army Regulation 608-1, it is a mandatory class for first-term Soldiers within 60 days of their arrival at JBER.

First-term Airmen receive the same information during a one-week course at the First Term Airmen Center soon after arrival.

"First-term service members do not make much money," said Martin Rivera, 673d FSS financial counselor.

"There are quite a few things they can become financially involved with, such as buying a new car, and [thus find] themselves in financial trouble with large payments."

If service members become overwhelmed with their finances and do not seek help, the issue can escalate to their chain of command, Rivera said, adding that financial issues left unchecked might have career implications - including a general discharge from the military for failure to adapt.

During the seminar, Rivera covers topics such as car buying, credit reports and scores, investment strategies and other useful tools to enhance or maintain financial stability.

This type of training can easily help not only single service members, but families too, get on track to start a good lifestyle, according to recent attendees.

"We have some financial goals we want to accomplish while we are here in Alaska," said Lacey Jones, wife of a paratrooper Spc. Dillon Jones, assigned to the 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment.

"I have student loan debt that has accumulated and some medical bills that need to be paid off, so I wanted to come to this seminar to figure out how we could budget better. We are both still pretty young so it would be nice to start saving early," said Mrs. Jones.

For her husband, this seminar has been something he has been familiar with in the past.

"I have gone through this seminar before when I was a first-term Soldier with the Iowa Army National Guard in 2012," Dillon Jones said.

"As a new active-duty Soldier I had a choice to go to the seminar since I had done it before. I decided I would so I could refresh my memory of the briefing."

After going through the seminar, the couple has a new outlook on how to proceed with their finances.

"The most helpful portion of the seminar was finding out different ways of investing our money," Lacey said.

"I don't have a job right now, so we are just budgeting based off my husband's paycheck, but I think we will start with a Thrift Savings Plan once I do start earning an income."

In addition to classes, Rivera provides one-on-one appointments with service members to help them make a plan if they feel they are in too tight a budget.

"When I do one-on-one counseling with service members who have been here for two to three years, they are surprised at how their finances have changed," Rivera said.

"This is why I believe it is important to give them this information from the beginning to have a solid understanding of what finances can do to your life."

Rivera said he plans to continue helping as many people as he can.

"This information is critical for their lives," Rivera said. "I just want them to understand what they do financially will affect them long-term later in life."

For more information about the financial seminar and counseling sessions offered by the 673d FSS, call 384-7687 or 552-0630.

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