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Struggling in This Economy? Soldiers Say Budgeting Best Way to Save

Spc. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo, Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. 05.07.2009

For some people, talking about finances or the current economy can translate into headaches and heartburn, but at Camp Atterbury, Soldiers are more than up to speed on how to save in tough times.

Sgt. 1st Class Kimberlyn Boone, a finance specialist with the 205th Infantry Brigade here, knows exactly how to keep abreast of the ever-changing economy.

Boone, a single mother, said she started cutting back on things she didn't need. She didn't need to drive her sports utility vehicle everywhere, since she has a smaller car, and she didn't need to hit the movies every weekend.

"I have been cutting back, like not going to the theater that often," Boone said. "[My daughter and I] used to go maybe once a week, but now we don't go as often ... Maybe once a month now," she said. "And we make sure we eat dinner before we go instead of buying a lot of the snacks because that's a big huge part of the expense."

Another way she reduces unnecessary spending is by budgeting for shopping instead of just "popping in" to the mall.

Boone said the best way Soldiers can keep track of what is spent is to establish a budget.

"Make a list of all your bills, the ones you really have to pay out and their cost," Boone said, referring to utilities, rent, mortgage, car payments and credit cards among others. "And keep all the receipts." Receipts, she said, will help to maintain an expense log.

Boone said establishing a budget will help you track where your money is going and how your spending ratio compares with the income you're bringing home.

"Lot of times we do not always watch that dime everywhere it goes," Boone said. "I think creating a budget and sticking to it would help Soldiers ... It may help them realize that maybe they are doing some spending in areas that they probably should not be," said Boone.

Finance Soldiers aren't the only ones in the know. Sgt. 1st Class Shelby Griffey, a military police officer with the 205th Infantry Brigade, advised that opening a savings account and putting in whatever you can will add up in the long run.

"It does not matter how much you are putting in a week, just make yourself put that in and not touch it," she said. "It could be $5, $10, $15 or $20 as long as it's something and you're not touching it," Griffey said.

Griffey also mentioned looking on the Web to find ways to cut costs.

"Military OneSource is a good way to start... They have a lot of good resources to use," Griffey said.

"[Military OneSource] will send you a book on how to budget and it gives you a page where you can itemize all your bills what you have coming in and going out," she said.

Finally, Capt. Michael A. Dick, a finance officer at Camp Atterbury, encourages Soldiers once they have a handle on saving to take it one step further.

"Prepare for the future," he said. "Have at least three months of savings for emergencies or something catastrophic."

Some might say the current state of the economy is catastrophic and since the unemployment rate is at an all-time high, Soldiers are encouraged to use every resource possible to maintain financial security.

In order to mitigate some of the aforementioned, people usually seek financial planners for advice in how to manage finances effectively. However, there are things people should also know about it and how it works.

According to the Military One Source web site, people must take their time to scrutinize and screen the candidates. They are to choose carefully since becoming a financial planner requires no credentialing, college degree, government license or exam.

They also recommend to make a list of all the advisers within the area where you live and to be clear about the services you need before interviewing any of them. Other advice from Military One Source is they recommend to ask your professional peers who they may recommend you.

Another important thing of working with financial planners is their services and the costs related to those services.

Military One Source web site indicates that in many cases, the fees accompanied to their services can fluctuate from $50 an hour to $400 depending on the planner or the area where you live.

"One-time, or set, fees that cover the entire cost of a financial plan can range from $500 to $10,000, depending on the amount of work that is required," Military One Source Web Site.

Finding counseling can be an expensive thing. Fortunately many can find additional information on how to better manage your finances at no cost through resources as Military One Source. It offers tons of information that can be used as great tools for those struggling on this economy.

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