Q: What is the best way for me to save while also having money to do the things I enjoy?

A: Systematic Savings and Investments accounts allows for a painless way to save periodically, which can give you the best of all worlds – saving and doing what you enjoy.

Q: What is a good percentage to save for “unexpected” things that come up?

A: I call it the movie or weekend expenses percentages. Take a paycheck and calculate what you spend on things like pizza, beer, movies or golf fees. Turn that into a percentage of your week’s take home pay. Let’s say your expenses are seven percent or 10 percent of your week’s pay. That would be the amount to save for those “unexpected” expenses.

Q: What is the best way to save money when PCSing back to the states and furnishing a new home?

A: Begin by determining where you are with your expenses and how much time you have before your PCS. What are you spending money on? Is there anything you can cut back on? Examining your extra expenses is the best way to begin saving up some money. One thing to keep in mind is housing. If you are looking into renting a place off base, know what expenses you’re going to be paying for up front: first and last month’s rent, deposits, etc. That will establish what you can afford when you get to your next duty station. When in transit, look for military friendly hotels and restaurants that offer military discounts. When saving up for new home furnishings, don’t try to buy all new furniture at one time. Wait for the really good sales! Shop for great antique (second hand) but quality furniture and save on some gently used furniture. Make the furniture you have (or find) like new by refinishing, painting, or reupholstering.

Q: What are some ways to improve my credit score? My husband and I are planning to buy a home and feel as though taking out a small loan is foolish.

A: Start by checking your credit report for errors. Make sure there’s nothing off or something that you didn’t do. When you’re looking to buy a house, your credit score definitely plays a role in what your interest rates look like, so start off with the basics to improve your credit score:

  • Pay bills on time: Making payments on time to your lenders and creditors is one of the biggest contributing factors to your credit scores—making up 35 percent of a FICO Score calculation. Past problems like missed or late payments are not easily fixed.
  • Reduce the amount of debt you owe: The balance of your debt to available credit contributes 30 percent to a FICO Score's calculation. It can be easier to clean up than payment history, but it requires financial discipline and understanding the tips below.
    • Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit
    • Pay off debt rather than moving it around
    • Don't close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your scores
    • Don't open several new credit cards you don't need to increase your available credit

Q: What’s your insights on cryptocurrency?

A: Cryptocurrency represents an emerging currency market. Cryptocurrency is not fiat currency. It is digital money. That means there is no physical coin or bill. Currently, there are more than 600 active cryptocurrencies. You can transfer cryptocurrency to someone online without a go-between, like a bank. People might use cryptocurrencies for quick payments and to avoid transaction fees. Some might get cryptocurrencies as an investment, hoping the value goes up. Cryptocurrency is at the highest range of the investment risk spectrum. Only well-informed and seasoned investors should attempt to invest long term. 

Q: If you had to give three most important things to saving money what would they be?

A: Such a great question!

  • Save for College Education for dependents. While the GI Bill is great, it may not be enough to cover all of schooling based on what the school’s tuition looks like or for multiple dependents.
  • Save and invest for to maintain a quality lifestyle in retirement. Whether you look into IRAs, investment opportunities or something else to get your retirement money a boost, make sure you’re saving for the lifestyle you want for retirement.
  • Visit your local Personal Financial Management Office to discuss your finances and how you can start saving money. It’s the easiest way to get your savings goals on track.