Every sailor and Marine learns a lot about discipline during boot camp. While discipline remains an important part of military life throughout their career, junior enlisted need to learn and heed the basics of financial discipline for themselves and their families.
This past week (25 FEB – 2 MAR) was the seventh year of “Military Saves Week,” the DOD's Financial Readiness Campaign.
Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, USMC, senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, along with his wife Lisa Battaglia and Barbara Thompson, Director, Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth, Office of the Secretary of Defense, talked with military bloggers and other reporters this week about the personal financial management and discipline for our warfighters.
The goal of Military Saves Week is to highlight the need for service members and their families to increase their household savings for short- and long-term needs and decrease or limit personal debt. It’s really a year-long effort with many tools available on the Military Saves website (militarysaves.org), starting with a simple 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.” (Good advice for all Americans, but perhaps our military troops have a better chance with their disciplined lifestyles to actually take action!)
Lisa Battaglia explained some of the challenges they have faced in their 27 years of military life.
“Promoting financial fitness within the ranks of our military families is crucial,” she said. “We all at some point have faced or will face a financial challenge. I’m no different than any other typical military spouse, nor are Bryan and I different than any average military family. In 27 years, we have moved over 16 times. We have faced family emergencies, had to make some major purchases and basically shaped our lifestyle to live off of one income. As part of building the family, we like others, sat down as a team, drew up a budget over the years and saved as we could.”
Lisa went on to say that TSP (Thrift Savings Plan) wasn’t available when they were first in the service, but they invested in Savings Bonds, and it proved to be very helpful. TSP is a great investment plan, she noted.
“Call us old fashioned, but I still make lunch for Bryan every day,” she said.
This, and other household routines, pay off and can be part of a family’s financial plan. Small things add up and can pay off in being responsible money managers.
Sgt. Maj. Battaglia emphasized financial fitness become part of every service member’s healthy lifestyle.
“Financial fitness is a priority of mine as well,” he said. “I really encourage our men and women to Establish and maintain financial discipline in their lifestyle. It’s all about being totally fit.”
He noted that there are some simple ways to live financially smart. Try to avoid impulse buying. Watch out for payday loan sharks and questionable sales people.
When a young trooper is buying his or her first car, getting married or having their first child, a military leader should be there to counsel them.
Barbara Thompson emphasized that there are certified financial managers in each of our family centers. They are available on all our installations, via the internet and by phone. Each military member can obtain 12 free financial counseling sessions. There are a slew of calculators and other tools available on the Military Saves site.
It was an interesting 40 minutes of interaction with these three “experts”. The complete interview is available on DODLive.mil. http://www.dodlive.mil/index.php/2013/02/dodlive-bloggers-roundtable-military-saves-week/