Saving for the future takes discipline and patience, no matter how humble or lofty one's goals. Having already faced the financial hardships of starting a family and establishing a home, leaders can share encouraging information to help soldiers understand that saving is a lifelong experience that is both rewarding and smart. Keep an open dialogue with soldiers about their financial situations and share these suggestions:
- Always set money aside for savings and put it into an interest-earning account.
- The longer it sits, the larger it will grow - even if it's only $25 a month.
- Put loose change in a jar instead of spending it. A few coins a day can add up to
$100 or more in six months.
- Scrimp on everything for one month. Save what isn't spent.
- Remember that "want" doesn't mean "need." Before buying, ask such questions as "How much will I want this item next week?" and "Will I have to buy something to replace it in the near future?"
- Take advantage of such military benefits as the commissary, post exchange, thrift shop, tuition assistance, health care, recreation centers and movie theaters.
- Use the Consumer Affairs and Financial Assistance Program. CAFAP counselors can help soldiers make wise choices and offer information about local businesses.
- Use Consumer Reports. It provides ratings on products and consumer services, and announces product recalls. Consumer Reports is available in most libraries and can be accessed online at www.consumerreports.org.