[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                         July 25, 2008

ACS can help manage budgets

      Managing financial debt from mortgages, credit card bills, energy bills, food purchases, as well as unexpected expenses can be difficult during hard financial times, but it isn't impossible, said Bryan Clarkin.

      Clarkin, the Fort McCoy Army Community Service (ACS) Financial Readiness Program manager, said personnel can use planning available through ACS to help them meet their financial goals and establish or maintain a satisfactory life style.

      Clarkin states "that the difference between people who are well off and those who are not as well off -- is not so much of a factor of how much you earn, but rather how much you spend and what you spend it on." Although Clarkin admits that earning more money may be helpful in balancing budgets or reaching goals, he said doing this alone rarely solves the problem. "The more you earn the more you spend!" he said.

      Clarkin gave an example of someone who modified their spending by spending just $5 dollars a day less. Clarkin stated that by modifying your spending habits and impulse buying in this way, consumers can save more than $1,800 a year.

      "If you were to take and invest that savings and obtain an average return of 8 percent over 20 years you would have more than $88,000 in savings," Clarkin said.

      For some people, Clarkin states they may be able to do this by simply buying one less coffee latté‚ a day or as in Clarkin's case by eliminating the purchase of three cans of soda, a bag of potato chips and a candy bar per day.

      Clarkin recently was awarded the designation of Certified Financial Counselor.

      He attended the training through the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).

      To obtain the certification Clarkin was required to have at least two years of financial counseling experience and pass two exams, one on Financial Counseling/Debt Management and the other on Personal Finance.

      As part of the new ACS accreditation process, all ACS Program Financial Managers are required to be Certified Financial Counselors.

      In addition to Clarkin's new designation, he also has several years of experience working in the financial services and insurance industry as a registered financial investment representative with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the National Association of Securities Dealers (NSAD), which was recently renamed in 2007 as Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

       Clarkin was licensed to sell financial and insurance products in both the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota.

      "Through my years of selling financial products and performing debt counseling I have acquired considerable expertise that I can draw upon to help personnel develop budgets, save money for school, retirement, recreation, and tips on how to invest etc.," Clarkin said. "I look forward to working with all eligible personnel in the Fort McCoy community, including military and civilian personnel and their family members."

      The ACS Financial Readiness Program also offers a series of courses to help consumers develop their budgeting and financial management skills.

      Some of the offerings are Principles of Personal Finance, Planning and Budgeting, Financial Goal Setting, Thrift Savings Plan, Credit Reports, Checking Accounts and Banking, Credit Cards, Saving and Investing, Insurance, and Making Large Purchases.

       Interested personnel can schedule a class or check class schedules/availability by calling (608) 388-3505.


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