JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
The holiday season is over for another year, but many people will be feeling its financial effects for months to come.
However, that monetary hangover can be averted with proper planning, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Military and Family Readiness Center financial counselors said.
Preparing for the holiday shopping season should be a part of an individual's and family's budget process.
"Once you realize you have an issue, make an appointment to see us," Bob Williams, JBSA-Randolph Military and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant, said. "That's the biggest step. Once that is done, we provide you with a budget worksheet and other documents through email."
The next step for clients is to meet with a community readiness consultant, who helps them identify their essential and nonessential expenses with the help of the budget worksheet, Williams said.
"When they see it on paper, it gives them a clear picture of their spending habits and where their money is going," he said.
The consultant will then help clients develop a plan, Williams said.
"That provides a guide to go by," he said.
Williams said clients learn about the emotional aspect of spending - such as giving money to family members or getting "caught up in sales" when their budget won't support it.
"Those sale items may be 50 percent off, but it's still money that's coming out of your pocket," he said.
Clients can stretch their budgets - and set aside money for those holiday purchases - by cutting back on "nonessential items" such as cable TV and eating out on a regular basis, Williams said.
Although utilities are an essential expense, clients can reduce those bills by lowering their thermostats in the winter and raising them in the summer, he added.
Community readiness consultants also recommend that their clients come in for monthly reviews, Williams said.
"We'll sit down with them and see how things are going and if they're moving toward their goals," he said. "By setting a monthly appointment, it encourages them to stay with their plans. Once they continue to manage their funds in a good way, it becomes a habit."
People who overspend during the holidays and face immediate financial consequences should also visit a community readiness consultant, Williams said.
"We discourage people from going off-base for help," he said. "They should see us because we can help them."
Resources such as the Air Force Aid Society can help with essential items such as rent, utilities and car loans, Williams said.
For more information, contact the MFRC at 652-5321, or visit the Air Force Aid Society website at http://www.AFAS.org