ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.-- In the month of April, the Mighty 97th focused on Financial Freedom across the wing and held night classes on base to provide helpful tips and tricks for Airmen to become financially successful.
The goal is financial independence; however, that can be a lot easier said than done. Which is why the Airman and Family Readiness Center offers classes to help.
Jerome Davis, 97th Force Support Squadron community readiness consultant, is one member that teaches financial readiness classes to Airmen, civilians and their dependents.
“What you learn financially, what you do financially and what you pass on to your offspring financially changes not only your life, but their life and your family tree,” said Davis.
Airmen supporting themselves or their families, learned from Davis’ classes how to set up their families for their financial future.
“I have two children, so these classes are helping us prepare them for later in life, to be able to go to college, or just to be financially sound once they get to that point,” said Senior Airman Lachelle Lyle, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron ground transportation.
To get started on the path to financial success, Davis suggests saving a $1,000 emergency fund is the first step.
“I look at the emergency fund almost like an insurance policy, because if you have an emergency, you do not want to have to go borrow money. You do not want to have to dip into your savings or investments,” said Davis.
After building up an emergency fund the next step is the most difficult. Paying off debt. To make this easier, Davis recommends the “debt snowball” strategy.
“The debt snowball is listing your debts from the lowest balance to the highest balance. Then you pay the minimum on all your balances except the lowest balance, and you throw any and everything extra at that lowest balance,’ said Davis. “Once you pay off that lowest balance, you roll the money you were paying on that one into the next one.”
By paying off debts with this strategy it creates small victories and celebrations that motivate a person to continue paying off their debt. Paying off debt means freeing up more money. More money that can be used for future saving and investing.
“A lot of people don't realize that the earlier you start investing, the harder and longer that money can work for you,” said Davis. “Start as early as possible and be a long term investor and understand what you're investing in. Never invest in anything you don't understand.”
After creating an emergency fund, paying off debt, investing and saving, the money in one’s accounts can grow. This allows you to pay for things outright rather than putting it on credit and accumulating more debt.
“If you are living paycheck to paycheck, it feels like you can never get ahead financially. If you want to make changes, it's going to take an effort. But you can do it and we will gladly walk with you through the process,” said Davis.
To get help with financial readiness, contact Jerome Davis of the Airmen and Family Readiness Center at (580) 481-6761.