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October Chief's Perspective

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Larry Spivey
  • 169th Maintenance Squadron

As adults, mentors, and/or supervisors it is our responsibility to pass along financial knowledge to the younger Airmen and the younger generation. It is important to teach the things that is not required learning in school and is seemingly not being taught at home. Poor financial practices impact us at work and at home and put stress on relationships which carries over to our everyday lives. My advice would be to RELAX, BREATHE and control what you can control. Financial responsibility is learned. We control what we spend and how we live. Don’t spend more than you make, have a savings to fall back on, and create your own retirement. Compound interest on a retirement account is a wonderful thing and you can benefit greatly by putting money away early. When you get a pay raise or cost of living raise, take that extra money and increase your retirement or tuck it away for the future.

Retirement – invest in yourself. Have goals and start your planning at an early age. It’s never too early to begin thinking about retirement. Since my late teens, I knew it was my responsibility to provide for my retirement, so I have worked toward retiring early. It is easy to spend all you make every week, buy new cars, eat out all the time, load up credit cards, and pay more for a house/housing than needed. These are financial obligations that we have control over. I understand it’s hard to think of these things at an early age, but I assure you it will pay off. If your company offers a 401K and matches any part of it, start putting your money into it. It’s in your best interest to think ahead in every aspect of your life – especially retirement.

Debt - Before buying a house or car, run an amortization schedule to see how much interest you will be paying over the life of your loan - you will be surprised by the numbers. It is also important to pay off credit cards each month to avoid extra interest fees. If you can’t pay it off at the end of the month….don‘t charge it. Once you have your spending and retirement in place, then start putting money aside to enjoy, invest in or start a business. The bottom line is to learn to live off what you make; what you put in your hand, and not what you think you have coming in that may or may not materialize.

Supervisors/mentors need to share their knowledge and experience on the job and in the world outside these gates. Get advice from people that have done it and will know the ins and outs. Airmen ask questions of us and we are here to help guide them. They want to take your job, prepare them to do so!

It is important to keep track of your credit score. A good credit score will save you thousands of dollars over your lifetime. Keep your debt low! To buy a house the bank likes you to have a credit score of 720 along with 3 forms of credit, i.e. car payment, insurance payment, water, electric or phone bill. If you don’t have forms of credit yet, go to your credit union or bank and set up an overdraft protection for your debit or checking account. This allows you to receive a short term loan to cover the overdraft amount without getting hit with the bank fee.

Insurance - Traditional Guardsmen look into TRS (Tricare Reserve Select) insurance and United Concordia dental insurance. Remember to check prices and shop around, they have a pretty good deal.

Another piece of advice I would give would be that everyone should have a will. The jag office can give you the work sheet then create your will for you. Don’t wait, get it done!

Take control of yourself, your life, and your finances. YOU dictate your life, don’t let it dictate you. In your military career, the path is laid out for you; upgrade training/career development courses/professional military education/Community College of the Air Force degree. Start early, knock those tasks out as soon as you can, then move on. Have your squares filled for your next promotion, prepare for your opportunities before they arrive, and be pro-active not re-active.

For most of you reading this article the military may only be a small part of your world. I’ve been driving to this base for over 34 years with 20 ½ years as a technician. I’ve experienced both worlds. Take advantage of what the military and the people that work here have to offer. The knowledge of each and every person around you can enhance your life. Be mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually ready to take on whatever is sent your way. 

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn."

-Benjamin Franklin