Commentary by Lt. Col. Ruth Spencer
50th Contracting Squadron commander
The Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and the Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton A. Schwartz recently designated July 2009 to July 2010 as the Year of the Air Force Family. Under that construct, November is deemed “Financial Health” month. In these times of economic hardship, it’s important to follow four simple practices for financial wellness.
The first practice is to live beneath your means. In other words, spend less than you earn as a household per month. The best way to do this is by creating a budget and sticking to it. Following this routine will enable you to follow the subsequent practices.
The second practice to establishing financial wellness is to eliminate your debt. Credit cards are typically the most expensive form of debt in American households due to the high interest rates credit companies can charge. Tackle this debt as quickly as possible. It’s also important to note the number of open lines of credit, i.e. credit cards, and the associated amount available can affect your credit rating and score and give a second whammy to your financial wellness. So while reducing your debt, also reduce the number of credit cards you have. The optimum number of credit cards to maintain is about two to three.
The third practice is to pay yourself first. This can be done by saving money in a TSP account or investing in IRAs/Mutual Funds. There are many different ways to make investments in your future including real estate for rental purposes or your residence as a homeowner. Please note; however, that paying off your bills comes before investment options.
Finally, in the mindset of emergency management, where we are encouraged to have an emergency kit in your car and home in preparation for natural disasters, we should also be prepared for financial rainy days. You should have four to six months worth of expenses in a savings or money market account for unexpected costs such as substantial vehicle or home repairs.
By following these four practices, you will be well on your way to establishing your financial wellness. Continued dedication to these practices can enable you to have financial freedom. You will likely feel more in control of where your money goes and what you spend it on.
If you are interested in finding more information on financial matters, contact the Airmen and Family Readiness Center at 567-7392.