Financial Counselors of the Round Table

  • Published
  • By SSgt Sean M. Evans
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

It was mid-day on a sunny Saturday at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. when the round-table was gathered for financial discussions.


This gathering was unlike any other offered before by the financial counselors of the 514th Force Support Squadron Airmen and Family Readiness office. It was an informal round table discussion held in association with the Military Saves program, designed to give Reserve Citizen Airmen the opportunity to voice their financial concerns and have any and all of their questions answered.


“Military Saves is designed to persuade and encourage service members to focus on savings,” said Mark Miller, a financial counselor with the Military and Family Support Center. “As a nation we tend to have a low savings rate so it’s important to have a focused initiative for military members and their families who have room for improvement concerning their finances.”


Miller has specific goals he aims to achieve leading up to events like these.


“My hope is to try to get people to move away from a ‘paycheck to paycheck’ mentality and help people develop a ‘wealth’ mentality,” said Miller. “I want to focus on people finding ways to build financial security through asset accumulation and savings.”


As soon as the round-table event began, the discussion was continuous and unbroken for the duration of the time allotted, approximately one and a half hours.


This was not due to a structured and pre-organized lecture, designed to take up the majority of the time available, but to the numerous questions and financial concerns voiced by the Airmen who attended.


A broad range of financial topics were discussed that were relevant to those who were present.


The first topics discussed were strategies for building up a savings account; these include starting small and not going overboard with what you put away, being consistent and building a habitual attitude with regard to saving money, and opening up certificates of deposits.


A CD is similar to a savings account in that it is risk-free but typically offers higher rates of return for a specified amount of time. A normal savings account may provide a half-percent interest rate but a CD may offer three percent, which means your money is earning you more on its own than it would in a savings account.


Once the CD matures one can simply withdraw their money, renew the CD, or open a new one with that same money. Either way, your money made more for you than it would have in a savings account.


For those who are deploying, Miller brought up the Savings Deposit Program that provides an account for your money that earns approximately 10% interest rate. Your unit financial office can help establish the account and provide more information on the program.


Student loans were also addressed and various payment strategies to pay them off, such as asking for an income-based payment option, as well as payment strategies on any loans that also charge interest.


The round-table discussion was beneficial for those who attended, having left with questions answered and new financial plans ready to be implemented.


“I’m very pleased with how today’s event went,” said Miller, reflecting on the discussion. “When people ask meaningful questions about their finances and get meaningful answers that pertain to their situation I think that’s a good thing, I see value in that.”


“Money may seem like a big, confusing thing but when you really get down to it, handling your finances comes down to creating a good foundation to build off of and having a couple of really good habits,” said Miller. “From there, you can build yourself a much better financial future for yourself. It doesn’t have to be complicated, or confusing, or overwhelming.”