Take the Pledge to Save For Your Financial Future Today
April is Military Saves Month – a campaign where hundreds of organizations come together to collectively encourage the military community to focus on their financial wellbeing.
I am proud to announce that the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance is participating by spreading the message of saving successfully and urging the Tennessee military community to save money, reduce debt and build wealth. Those who participate in our program will conclude this month with the tools and clarity on their current financial situation, new savings goals and a realistic plan on how to achieve them.
The first week is centered around the theme of saving automatically. This is the easiest and most effective way to “set it and forget it” and increase your success rate with saving. The two best ways to save automatically are through a direct deposit through allotment into your savings account or through an automatic bank transfer every payday. Over time, these automatic deposits add up. For example, a $50 monthly allotment accumulates to $600 a year, plus interest. Whether saving for an emergency fund, education expenses, retirement or all things in between – by making saving automatic, this will put you in the best possible position to reach your savings goal.
Next, is to save for the unexpected. Imagine your car needs repairs, your child needs a cast or your roof leaks due to a natural disaster striking in your community. Are you prepared for these expenses? If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it is that an unexpected scenario can potentially derail finances – so let’s be prepared starting now! If you have a savings account with at least $400 accessible, not only will the “unexpected” only be a minor inconvenience, but you will also have more savings than approximately 60% of Americans today. Commit to successfully building an emergency fund and embrace the “start small, save big” mentality to ensure future financial wellness.
Preparing for retirement is another strategy that can easily be pushed into the “someday” category, as we focus on present needs and expenses. Do something today that your future self will thank you for tomorrow. Take the time to create a plan to save for retirement, as most Americans (military service members included) have an inadequate retirement savings plan for their desired standard of living in their golden years. Spend some time with your loved ones today to discover just how much you need to save to be able to enjoy your golden years.
Additionally, take a moment to consider if you are currently working to pay down your debt. When you actively reduce your debt, you save on interest. When you pay on time, you save on late fees and maintain your credit score – which will save you money in the long-term when making large purchases in the future such as a home or auto. Reducing debt should be acknowledged and celebrated as a form of saving and an important component of your overall financial plan considering many Americans have student loans, car payments and credit card bills to pay.
Lastly, is the theme of saving as a family. This month is not just about saving and making financially smart decisions for service members or veterans, but it is also about their spouses and kids. It’s about education, encouragement and saving as a team for their future financial stability. Now is the time for you and your families to focus on the ways you can set yourselves up for success as military families, and positively influence and model it for your children and community when it comes to budgeting your money, spending habits, investing and saving.
To continue your savings goals beyond Military Saves Month, be sure to join the #MilitarySavers Facebook Group for a military community with a focus on savings. Additionally, I encourage the entire military community in Tennessee to take the Military Saves Pledge this month. Not only will you have a new savings plan, you’ll receive support, reminders and tips directly from Military Saves. For more information, please visit MilitarySaves.org.
Rachel Carden serves as the Director of Investor Education for the Securities Division at the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.