June 13, 2013
By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff Writer
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 13, 2013) -- With a mandated furlough looming, many installation workers may begin to feel the stress of living on a tighter budget.
Army Community Service is offering free furlough financial classes to help people prepare.
Anyone interested can join the financial counselors June 18 from 11 a.m. to noon and again from 1-2 p.m. The class will also be held June 19 from 11 a.m. to noon at the post theater, according to Mike Burden, ACS financial readiness program manager and financial counselor.
No registration is required but attendees are encouraged to bring a note pad in case they wish to take notes.
"We decided to pool our financial resources here -- our experience and knowledge -- and come up with a presentation that was focused on ways that individuals could reduce expenses temporarily," he said.
Burden said that although people generally know what their income is, actually seeing all of their income on paper, along with their expenses, gives them a broader view of where they need to make changes.
"We feel that people really need to be aware of how much they have coming and how much is going out," he said. "After tracking expenses, many people realize how much money they spend on miscellaneous things like morning coffee, cigarettes and gum. Something that is $1 to $2 adds up at the end of the month."
Besides cutting back on indulgence buys, Burden suggests limiting how often a Family eats out, and limiting cable and cell phone features and plans.
"We like eating out because it is easy, but even a meal for one at a restaurant can easily add up to $50, and a weekly trip to a fast food restaurant can add up just as quick," he said.
Cash flow and ways to reduce expenses are not the only topics that will be discussed during the seminar. Other topics include access to credit, financial goals and asking for payment extensions or skipping a payment all together.
"Some people may have to take out a loan against their mortgage or home equity line of credit just to buy the essential things they need, it is a temporary but serious situation," he said.
Besides delaying vacations and buying a new car, or moving into a new house, Burden suggests that better financial communication is key to not only surviving the furlough, but to create better sustainability.
"We find a lot of times that married couples do not always communicate about finances. It is often a difficult and touchy subject," he said. "We find that it has been helpful to people because oftentimes one person is the money handler and the bill manager while the other does not realize anything is wrong.
"Communication about money is always important with children as well," he added. "If the child understands what is going on they can buy into it and can also help out with it."
Burden said that people should want to come and prepare through this class because whenever people have an increase or a decrease in income they should always readjust their financial goals.
"We find that many people do not have financial goals, and as financial counselors we are appalled. Sometimes when you go to these classes the light upstairs comes on and people realize that this is an important time to look at that and set those up," he said.
Although the seminars are meant to educate people about financial responsibility during the furlough, Burden said that these lessons can be used long after the furlough ends.
"Sometimes people don't like to look at their money flow or do not look at it as closely as they should, so it is important to come to the class and learn from people who deal with these things every day," he said. "Plus, people may pick up on ways to save money and gain ideas that they can use down the road such as long term ways to manage their money for the future.
"If people reduce and save for several months, they may realize that they can live without those luxuries and are able to save more for a future big buy or a rainy day fund," he added.
For more information or to register, call 255-9631 or 255-0679.