A quarter on the street, a dollar in an old coat, nickels and dimes in seat cushions. Wherever you find it, your money is everywhere. Keeping track of it is one thing, but saving it is another, and the Department of Defense is aiming to educate service members on how to do that with Military Saves week.
Rear Adm. Mark Rich, commandant, Naval District Washington, commemorated the event by signing a proclamation Feb. 20 at the Navy Yard declaring Feb. 23 - 28 as Military Saves Week 2015 in Naval District Washington.
Military Saves, a partner of the DoD's Financial Readiness Campaign and the America Saves program, "seeks to motivate, support, and encourage military families to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth," according to their website, militarysaves.org. The campaign uses behavioral economics and social marketing to educate service members and their families and help them change their money handling habits for the better. They are also encouraged to take the “Military Saves pledge,” a commitment to begin the journey toward financial freedom. The program promotes positive changes in personal financial behavior through the notion that everyone can “Set a Goal, Make a Plan, Save Automatically.”
“Without those three elements, saving money is so difficult,” said Paul Grossman, regional work and family life coordinator. “Military Saves week is a time when service members and families can focus on their future goals. It is a time to pause and rethink their financial goals and strategies for achieving them. Whether young or old, single or married, it’s never too late to start planning and saving. During Military Saves Week, Service members should be evaluating their emergency fund, ways to reduce debt, and savings for short and long-term needs.”
The prospect of saving for the future can be a difficult one for many to grasp, which the America Saves and Military Saves programs aim to remedy. According to the Consumer Federation of America's 7th annual national survey assessing household saving, only 35 percent of those surveyed said they were making "good" or "excellent" progress in meeting their savings needs, while 63 percent reported that they were making "fair" or "no" progress.
Military Saves Week aims to curb those rising numbers by educating service members on how to take control of their finances and plan for their futures. Service members can go to www.militarysaves.org to make a pledge to save, and are encouraged to attend training provided by the Personal Financial Educators at Fleet/Military and Family Support Centers.
“The most successful part of Military Saves Week has been the partnerships established between personal financial educators, commands, and community organizations to deliver workshops, display informational tables, and conduct one-on-one consultations,” said Grossman. “These have really increased money management awareness and resiliency for service members and their families. Military Saves reports pledges increased by over 300 percent from 2007 to 2013, reaching a new high of 29,307 pledges across all services.”
The program has shown to be successful since its debut in 2007, with 2014 being the most successful. The last Military Saves Week had the largest participation to date, with 494 organizations signed up or reported participating. Those organizations included installations, commands and detachments, 80 financial institutions, and 53 non-profit organizations.
“As we move into the future, expect more materials, resources, and information from Military Saves,” said Grossman. “Our focus on a year-round effort has improved and expanded. We will continue to engage with Commands and community organizations. Look for financial themes focused on savings throughout the year from your local Family Support Center.”
For more information on Military Saves Week, visit www.militarysaves.org, or contact a local Fleet and Family Support Center and learn about the savings events being offered.