MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- If setting financial goals is on the list of New Year's resolutions Sailors should create a plan, write down goals and review saving and spending strategies, said a Navy financial specialist Jan. 3.
"State your financial resolutions simply and clearly for the new year," said Stacy Livingstone-Hoyte, financial counselor, Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC). "If Sailors set too many or unrealistic financial goals, they may not be able to accomplish any of them. To stay accountable, maintain a checklist, track how you are doing throughout the year and make modifications as needed."
Livingstone-Hoyte also suggests Sailors meet with their local command financial specialist (CFS) or other financial counseling resource to review the plans they have set in place to achieve their goals. A CFS provides financial education and training, counseling, and information referral at the command level at no cost to Sailors and their families.
After Sailors create their financial plan, Livingstone-Hoyte encourages them to make S.M.A.R.T. goals; this money management acronym refers to making Specific, Measureable, Action-Oriented, Realistic and Timely financial goals.
And don't forget to write them down. A crucial part of any money management plan is to establish or review financial goals, evaluate accomplishments, anticipate, and make and implement changes where necessary.
"With a proposed 1.7 percent pay increase in 2013, Sailors should consider viewing this as 'found' or 'new money'," said Livingstone-Hoyte. "New money can be saved, spent, invested or a combination of each. The idea being that what isn't seen cannot be spent."
Sailors are also encouraged to review their credit reports. Active-duty service members and spouses can request their free myFICO credit report from their base financial counselor.
Paying off debt is one of the top financial resolutions for many and there are several methods for Sailors to consider when doing this, said Livingstone-Hoyte. One strategy is to tackle the debt that has the highest interest rate first. Mathematically, this is usually the most advantageous way to pay off debt. Once that is paid off, move on to the next highest interest rate debt. This way, an individual is making more progress by reducing how much of their money goes to paying interest each month.
"Smallest balance" and "shortest term" are a few other debt-elimination choices. For some people, paying off the smallest balance can provide a strong sense of accomplishment and the motivation to keep moving forward. Using a simple debt repayment calculator can help a person make this decision.
"Set a goal, make a plan and save automatically - this is the theme of the 2013 Military Saves campaign," said Livingstone-Hoyte. "The focus here is to master the fundamentals of money management by implementing good habits and sticking to your plans."
Service members can visit www.MilitarySaves.org to take the "Saver's Pledge," read success stories of other military families and sign-up to receive objective year-round advice about personal finances.
Financial matters that occur from overspending or bad budgeting, such as failure to pay bills, bad credit, bankruptcy and foreclosures can negatively impact a Sailor's career.
"Financial management is a key quality of life issue that affects every Sailor, their family members and the command," said Livingstone-Hoyte. "Bad financial decisions can drastically affect the morale, readiness and retention of Sailors."
Sailors experiencing financial challenges should notify their chain of command and work with their CFS to develop a budget and explore additional options such as military relief societies, eligibility for interest rate reductions and other strategies.
For more information on financial planning, budgeting or investing, contact CFS, the local FFSC or call the Navy Personnel Command customer service center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC or email CSCMailbox@navy.mil.
For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/npc/.