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Getting financially fit

Sheppard's Airman & Family Readiness Center offers a variety of financial services to help keep Airmen and their families on the right finanical track.

Sheppard's Airman & Family Readiness Center offers a variety of financial services to help keep Airmen and their families on the right finanical track.

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Does money control you or do you control your money?

If you have more pay days left than paycheck, it's time to start the New Year right. Now is the time to get financially fit and you don't need to be a financial whiz to manage your money.

Upcoming casses
On Feb. 23, the Airman & Family Readiness Center is offering "Budgeting for the New Year" from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m., in Bldg. 962. Reserve a seat by calling 676-4358.

Looking ahead, March 16, the center will present "Buying a Home using your VA Benefits." The guest speaker for this class is from the Texas Land Board. Sign up by calling 676-4358.

What's in a name
If you have a common name, chances are high that there is a mistake on your credit report. For instance, 90 percent of the people whose name ends with 'son' have errors on their report. Everyone needs to do an annual credit report check. Get a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com or call (877) 322-8228.

Credit game
Read through your credit card statements and stay on the lookout for ongoing
monthly fees that you may have forgotten about.

Make your monthly credit card payment on time. The $30-35 you save by not being charged a late fee each month on one card would save you most of the $500 you should always have in emergency savings. Being late may mean an automatic rise in the interest rate. If one card raises the interest rate, all your creditors may do the same.
Making payments on time is essential for good credit worthiness.

Another great financial tool is www.powerpay.org. This program will show you how long it will take you to become debt free. If you have a credit card at 18 percent interest with a $2,000 balance, and you're only making the minimum payment of $50 (which is 2.5 percent of the balance), do you realize it will take you 222 months, or 18 years and 5 months to pay it off. Plus you'll have paid $2,615.43 in interest. Keep up with the credit card industry through their web site at www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/.

Income tax news
Are you planning on an income tax refund check? The first step is to get your taxes done for free.

The military-based Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program provides free tax advice, tax preparation, return filing and other tax assistance to military members and their families on base. 

The tax center is open through April 15, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For Airmen-in-Training and instructors, additional hours of 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday are also available. No appointment is necessary and drop off service is also available. Contact the tax office, Bldg. 402, first floor in Finance, at 676-1981 for additional information.

Military OneSource Tax Filing Services at www.militaryonesource.com is also underway for the 2008 tax season. Services include free online tax filing (both state and federal) and free telephone tax consultations. To get access, go to the Military OneSource web site and enter the tax filing services via the link provided .

Cents add up
More time today is spent on vacation planning than on financial planning. Americans today lean on impulse spending rather than price-comparison shopping. With today's economy, seriously look at using coupons to shop. Cents off and 2-for-1 sales can make a real difference in a weekly grocery bill. Visit www.militarysaves.org/Newsletter/ for more helpful coupon hints.

Feel free to stop by the Airman & Family Readiness Center, Bldg. 962, for a personal financial review or assistance with your budget.