Financial advisors: An Airman’s resource Published Nov. 12, 2020 By By 2nd Lt. Benjamin Aronson 15th Wing Public Affairs JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- For military members, learning how to perform their jobs is a top priority, but learning how to manage finances is just as important. The Military Family and Support Center offers free, accredited financial counselors who educate servicemembers and help them achieve their financial goals. “Nothing is worse than getting to the end of your time serving and realizing you are not where you want to be financially,” said Heather Caral, MFSC financial advisor. The counselors provide financial classes ranging from investing, the Thrift Savings Plan, budgeting, home buying, marriage, and money. They also provide one-on-one counseling sessions. For many military members, it is common to go into ‘autopilot’ about finances after a few years as long as the bills are paid, said Chanda Johnston, MFSC Personal Finance Program manager. “It can spiral out of control quickly if you don’t keep an eye on where your money is going and how much things cost,” Johnston continued. Many new military members can also lack financial literacy. Members may be unsure how to read their Leave and Earning Statements and understand the importance of their finances. Negative cash flow is one of the most common financial issues Airmen experience. When Airmen do not track where their money is going and spend more than they have, debt occurs. Budgeting is crucial to combatting debt and saving money. “If you don't have a budget or some type of plan, it can lead to trouble,” said Caral. “Not knowing where your money goes is a big reason why people end up in debt.” Caral recommends 70% of income go toward living expenses, 20% toward any debt, and 10% toward savings, but this also depends on where a person is financially. Johnston recommends trying out a “cash diet” to try and change up spending habits. A cash diet involves only using physical money for a set period of time instead of a debit or credit card. A cash diet creates more of an attachment when giving away paper money that is not there when using a credit or debit card, and people can physically see how much money is being spent and how fast. “It’s important to remember that we’re not here to judge you, or tell you that you’re right or wrong,” said Johnston. “We’re here to see if you are getting where you want to be financially and how to do that.” The MFSC’s financial counselors can be contacted at 808-474-1999 or email@example.com.