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Military Saves campaign kicks off at Camp Pendleton

Financial experts revealed money saving secrets to hundreds of Marines, sailors and civilian employees during the fourth annual Military Saves seminar at Camp Pendleton’s base theatre, March 5.

Camp Pendleton hosted the three-hour seminar in conjunction with the Department of Defense’s 2010 Military Saves Week and money saving campaign. Keynote speakers included famed financial expert, Kelvin E. Boston, a New York Times best-selling author and host of TV’s hit series, “Moneywise.”

“This is one of the few times military members have a competitive advantage over civilians,” said Boston, executive producer and host of PBS’s Moneywise, public television’s longest running multi-cultural financial affairs TV series. “This is because of the job security, annual pay raises and military benefits that, when used properly, can help military members reach their financial goals.”

The Department of Defense’s penny-pinching campaign is designed to persuade, motivate, and encourage military families to save money every month, and to convince leaders and organizations to be aggressive in promoting automatic savings.

“Poor financial management affects mission readiness and jeopardizes the financial well-being of our Marines and their families,” said Gen. James T. Conway, commandant, U.S. Marine Corps, in Marine Administrative Message 085/10. “Commanders and leaders at all levels can support Marines and their families by fostering a culture that encourages financial readiness and by creating an atmosphere where Marines are comfortable discussing financial issues early with their chain of command.”

The local Marine Corps Community Services-sponsored event also hosted several financial vendor displays, including a paintball exhibit that encouraged participants to stay on target with money-saving techniques.

“Today we must all be prepared to take care of ourselves financially, and the best way to do that is to save for short-term emergencies and long-term financial goals,” said Boston, who the New York Times calls an “out-spoken voice for economic empowerment.”

Young America’s financial coach, Peter G. Bielagus, continued to encourage military audience members to become more frugal instead of learning the hard way like he did.

“I totally screwed up my finances,” said Bielagus, a published author and licensed financial advisor. “I got into debt so deep, so fast that I never had time to get used to it. Most people go into debt slowly, so they slowly adjust their life to accommodate it. I was lucky that I learned at a young age,” he said.

Twenty-six-year-old Bielagus amassed more than $5,000 in debt on eight different credit cards during his early years at the University of Miami. He managed to pay off all of his debt by the time he graduated, and now spends his time offering his newfound knowledge.

“The Military Saves campaign helps to raise awareness for financial literacy, but remember any time of the year is a good time for service members to focus on their finances,” said Bielagus, who is now a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated radio show “Hints From Heloise.”

“I think they will find in just a few short hours that they can complete almost everything they need to finish in their financial lives,” added Bielagus. “Once they do that then all it takes is an hour or two every year and they are all set.”

For additional information, log onto http://www.militarysaves.org or visit building 13150 to speak with a base financial counselor provided by MCCS.

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