JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
Do you ever think about retiring at the age of 40 or 45? Wouldn't it be nice to be financially stable enough to never need work a day after your military retirement? If this sounds like something you are interested in, you might want to check out the Million Dollar Sailor/Airman Course offered by the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Military and Family Support Center.
Debra Blunt, a 19-year accredited financial counselor and 20-year military spouse, says it can happen, and with very little effort. It's just a matter of keeping track of your finances like it's your own personal business.
To assist servicemembers with this, the Military and Family Support Center offers a two-day course in money management to active duty military members and their spouses.
The course was created with the intent to educate people on their financial responsibilities. Attendees receive training on proper budgeting techniques, credit management, savings and investment options, insurance, military pay and allowances, consumer rip-offs, how to obtain a loan, credit score reports, and new and used car purchasing techniques.
The course has proven to be so useful that some Navy commands require their personnel to attend before they move off a military post, while other commands require all E-4's and below to attend the course. However, Blunt welcomes all ranks and believes that rank and age have nothing to do with how people deal with their finances, and feels that anyone could benefit from the course.
"I signed up for the course because I felt it would be helpful for my upcoming permanent change of station move," said Staff Sgt. Angelique Pye, Pacific Command knowledge operations office. This course taught me a lot about investing and mutual funds, and I would recommend this course to others, especially to our junior Airmen and Sailors."
According to Blunt, this course is incomparable to any paid class offered in the civilian world, and is free. She encourages military personnel and their spouses to take advantage of the valuable training offered.
"We take a lot of pride in this course that was developed here locally by the Navy in Hawaii. Having been one of the original people who helped create the program, we are proud this program has since been picked up Navy-wide," said Blunt.
And now the Air Force under Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is participating and eligible to receive the Million Dollar Airman/Sailor course.
"This course can change people's lives," said Blunt.
Blunt recalls an individual who came through the course two years ago, and now has more than $50,000 in his TSP, a feat he directly attributes to the course.
"He now invests 52 percent of his pay into TSP, which is in incredible, and now his whole future is set," said Blunt.
Blunt said it's really about teaching servicemembers how to make better decisions with their finances.
"We want our Airmen and Sailors to be informed before they go out and make significant financial decisions," said Blunt.
With the holidays quickly approaching, Blunt offers advice for those looking to celebrate without breaking the bank. She urges people to plan ahead and start saving early.
To keep debt at bay, Blunt advises servicemembers and their spouses to make a list and budget to determine what their holiday limits will be, and then to save monthly leading up to the holidays.
"Our course teaches people to build wealth instead of debt, and helps to change an individual's mindset," says Janice Crawley, an accredited financial counselor from the Military and Family Support Center.
"It's a struggle to live pay check to pay check trying to get through to the next month. We want to teach people how to change their lives and how to manage their finances."
If you are interested in budgeting and investing for your future, please register for the Million Dollar Sailor/Airman course at www.greatlifehawaii.com.