Fort McCoy News August 09, 2013

Financial management class teaches basics

STORY & PHOTO BY ROB SCHUETTE
Public Affairs Staff

Consumers should set goals, control their money and be a smart financial manager, Kevin Herman told attendees at a Financial Management 101 class held July 25 at Army Community Service.

Herman, Financial Readiness Program Manager for Fort McCoy Army Community Service (ACS), took the attendees through several money-management exercises, beginning with a questionnaire to help them rate themselves as financial managers.

Photo for finance article
Kevin Herman (standing), the Financial Readiness Program manager for Army Community Service, presents the first section of a basic financial budgeting class. Further classes in the series are planned for Aug. 22 and Sept. 12.

Topics covered included interest-rate comparisons and retirement savings. Herman said potential financial problems include rising debt, loss of credit, and threat to jobs or security clearances.

People have to separate needs from wants and determine how to pay for purchases, whether it will be cash in full or by credit or loans, which may entail interest on the principal/debt.

"There is good and bad debt," Herman said. "Good debt would be a home mortgage. Bad debt would be high-interest credit cards. You can help control your life by determining what an ordinary, reasonable person would do (in a financial-management situation)."

One of the better financial strategies is to pay yourself first by making automatic deposits/transfers to savings accounts or investments, he said.
Paying cash for small-ticket items versus using credit cards will help avoid interest payments.

Consumers also need to learn to recognize financial trouble, he said. Some signs are bouncing checks twice a year because sufficient time wasn't allowed for deposits to clear or making minimum credit-card payments or skipping a payment when allowed.

Financial trouble also may be indicated by having just enough money to survive and meet current financial needs but not enough money to buy new things.

"Steps to becoming a wise consumer include creating a budget, setting goals and having income exceed expenses," he said.

Additional financial-management classes in the series are scheduled for Aug. 22 and Sept. 12. Authorized personnel can still register to attend the upcoming courses.

A separate financial management class is scheduled for Sept. 30 and will feature Chris Hogn of the Dave Ramsey organization. More information will be released about this when available.

Herman said authorized personnel also can schedule one-on-one meetings with him to talk about financial goals.

The Financial Readiness program has a number of financial resources available to assist consumers, including information about retirement plans, such as the Thrift Savings Plan, Individual Retirement Accounts and 401Ks. Budgeting information and sample guides to help consumers determine financial goals, etc., also are available.

For more information about financial management readiness, call ACS at 608-388-3540/3505.