Keesler can help you keep your resolutions <br> Part four: improve finances

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Heather Heiney
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of four about common New Year's resolutions.

For many people the New Year brings with it the desire to start fresh, set goals and do something to make themselves better in one way or another. While not everyone creates a resolution each year and those that do tailor their goals to their specific needs, four of the more common resolutions are to quit smoking, be healthier, help others and improve finances. Each week throughout the month of January, this series will explore the four resolutions above and how different Keesler agencies can help individuals reach their goals.

Week three: improve finances.

Love it or hate it, money is an unavoidable aspect of living in the 21st Century. While managing finances may come naturally to some people, there are others who may find it a struggle. The airman and family readiness center offers military members here at Keesler several resources to help understand and manage money. Some services include one-on-one financial counseling, help receiving a free credit score and take-home educational resources.

Jessica Barattini, A&FRC, said, "Having a grasp on where you are spending your money will help you reach financial success. If you are not tracking what you are spending, you are more likely to be living paycheck to paycheck, which makes it difficult accumulate any real savings."

Rose Janosik, A&FRC, said that mission success and financial readiness go hand-in-hand and it is important to maintain good credit, financial stability, regularly save, contribute to a Thrift Savings Plan, have Servicemembers Group Life Insurance and receive low interest loans.

Janosik also said that financial irresponsibility can lead to anxiety, loss of focus, strained relationships, health issues and even deeper financial issues.

"The No. 1 piece of advice that most financial planners give out to their clients is to live below your means and control your debt," Barattini said. "The first step to becoming financially stable is to create a budget."

One of the first things Barattini said she tells military members is to attack their debt like it's their enemy.

"After all, if you are worried about creditors calling you or how you are going to put food on the table, then your mind is not really on the mission and that could be dangerous for everyone," Barattini said. "Financial stress can often manifest itself in your personal relationships as well. Arguments about money are one of the leading causes of divorce."

Many people may think that if they simply create a budget, their financial problems will be solved.

"Being on a budget is not a very motivating goal. The budget should be thought of as a tool to help you reach your goals," Barattini said. "A goal should be specific, have a time limit and have an action plan."

The goal should not be to generally save money, but should be much more specific. For example, someone could set the goal to save $1,200 by the end of the year by putting $100 in savings every month.

One resource offered to military members for long-term savings is the Thrift Savings Plan for the Uniformed Services. It is a retirement savings plan separate from the plan offered to military members who retire with more than 20 years of service.

"You have your choice of a traditional TSP or a Roth TSP," Janosik said.

There are several differences between the two. The traditional TSP is not taxed up front; the money will be taxed when withdrawn. The Roth TSP is taxed up front so more money comes out of your paycheck, but withdrawals are tax-free if five years have passed since Jan. 1 of the year you made your first Roth contribution, and you are age 59 or older or permanently disabled. Family members may make tax-free withdrawals if you have passed away. For more information about TSP, go to or call 1-877-968-3778.

"The president approved the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 on January 2, 2013. This law allows the TSP and other qualified plans to give participants the option to convert their traditional account balances to a Roth balance," Janosik said. "The amount converted would be taxable to the participant. The Thrift Board is currently waiting for tax reporting guidance from the IRS and they will be studying the actions required to offer a conversion option. After their review, they will make a decision on whether to proceed."

Another resource available to military families is Military Saves. Part of the Department of Defense's financial readiness campaign since 2003, it encourages all service members, their families and civilian employees to become more finically responsible.

"It's my favorite program and I wanted everyone to get as excited about it as I am. I try to present information in a fun way to keep people interested and my hope is that it gets people talking and thinking more about their money," Barattini said.

For assistance or more information, call (228)376-8728 or visit  
Keesler members can also interact with one another, receive financial tips and get involved with Military Saves at