Are You Prepared?

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas- -- As members of the Military, we are expected to maintain a good financial standing, and ensure the well-being of our family.

"The key to financial responsibility is living within your means," said Maj. Yolanda Taylor, 17th Comptroller Squadron Commander, "Members need to prepare for the future, start saving money early in their careers and consult with financial personnel."

Financial responsibility for military members, along with saving and living within their means, includes paying bills on time. If a member has difficulty or has missed payments on government-issued travel cards, his chain-of-command may be notified. Once the chain- of- command gets involved, disciplinary action up to, or also including, Article 15 punishment is possible. A supervisor or commander may also get involved if other creditors call the member's office to discuss late mortgage payments, rent or other bills.

Along with paying bills on time, another aspect of financial responsibility is to ensure the well-being of our immediate family. Ensuring the family has shelter, food and is maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an important responsibility that is expected of all service members.

One of the most important factors that go into financial responsibility is budgeting. Budgeting requires proactive planning and organizing of income and understanding what needs to be paid and when.

"The number one reason budgets tend to fail is because they are not followed," said David Sullins, 17th Training Wing financial counselor, "To maintain a good budget and planning, members should one month prior, gather income and bill information. With the gathered information, determine average monthly debts and income, project expenses for the next few months and be sure to account for every dollar spent in your budget."

With the assistance of the Airman and Family Readiness Center, members can make appointments with the financial counselors to get information on education and personal financial counseling to help individuals and families develop budgets, maintain financial stability and reach their financial goals.

"Members should have a financial plan. They should ask themselves 'What are my short and long term goals? Do I have an emergency or liquid assets fund?' Planning these goals and funds out with help members with their financial readiness," said Sullins.

Appointments can also be made to review credit reports. Help can be provided to evaluate the member's credit report, as well as identifying means for improvement of the member's credit rating.

"I think it is important for new members to come into the service and start a new cycle of good financial responsibility," said Taylor. "They should take advantage of the help the military is willing to provide them. It is advisable for them to start saving and investing early, learn to live within their means and not to focus on the material things."

Never should a member feel alone or as if there is no way to help improve their financial situation. With the help of the Airman and Family Readiness Center, members can get the help they need to maintain their financial duties and responsibilities.