Getting your finances in order

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Torrance Martin
  • 11th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant
All too often we in the Air Force do not talk enough about money. As a first sergeant I am charged with ensuring the Airmen I serve are given the maximum amount of information as possible. As a part of my initial meet and greet with members assigned to my unit we discuss finances and not just, "Are you saving?" or "Can you afford to pay your mortgage or car payment?"

As a first sergeant and an ardent investor I believe it is my duty to open up the eyes of our military men and women about finances. One day we will all have to take off this uniform, and when we do, it would be nice to have something to show for it. You may say to yourself, "what do you mean, shirt?"

Well, if we all invested wisely over the years, the chance of you running out of money when you retire would be very slim. I have done a lot of study in the field of finance and when you can find a vehicle of investment that can give you a return of 8 percent or better, your retirement would be so much easier. Nothing hurts me more than to see Airmen of any rank complete their military service and not have a penny to show for it.

What are some ways of investing, you ask? Well, the best way is to buy a home. Why waste all the base allowance for housing the government is giving you on rent or paying someone else's mortgage?

Investing in mutual funds instead of a regular savings account is another great way of investing. Take advantage of a Thrift Savings Plan or a Roth IRA, just do something. I recommend to all my troops to set up two accounts, and those should be money market accounts, simply because you get a little bit better interest rate than just a regular savings account. In those two accounts, one be for emergencies such as your car breaking down or if something goes wrong inside your house such as a refrigerator breakdown.

The second emergency fund is in case you have to go home for a funeral or some other type of family emergency. This fund varies from person to person and can have many variables.

For example, a married couple with three children from California would need more money than a single Airman from Georgia. I recommend at a minimum that one should have enough money to walk into any airport and be able to fly anywhere in the states and spending cash for at least a week.

The financial security of all our Airmen is not something that can't be taken for granted. We're all responsible for our own financial futures, so make sure you have your future financial hose in order by taking the time to plan wisely today.