Military Saves Weeks offers free tax service to Veterans

2014-02-25T16:48:00Z Military Saves Weeks offers free tax service to VeteransBy ALANA LISTOE Helena Independent Record
February 25, 2014 4:48 pm  • 

The idea of padding savings accounts sounds challenging for many and for some down-right difficult to the point of painful. But in all reality it’s easier than we think.

This is a perfect time to make a short-term goal such as setting aside $25 a pay check or a month. It’s very unlikely it will even be noticeable and could come in very handy on those “rainy days.”

Military Saves Week is the last week of February and is an awareness campaign to promote good savings behavior by offering free financial workshops, a retirement fair and free tax service for veterans here in Helena.

Liz Foster, financial counselor with the Montana National Guard, is offering free 45-minute sessions on personal finance. They are scheduled to begin at 12:10 Monday through Thursday at the Helena Armed Forces Reserve Center Auditorium at Fort Harrison and are open to current service members, veterans, and their families.

“As a whole in general we need to learn better tools and techniques for managing personal finances, because I don’t think most people are taught,” Foster said.

On Fri., Feb. 28 there is a Retirement Fair, also starting at noon also in the auditorium at Fort Harrison. During the fair participants visit seven lifestyle booths providing an opportunity ponder a series of questions asked by the volunteer, and then make spending assessment. The fair is designed to be an experiential learning event, where the series of questions guide the participants into rethinking their retirement needs. It is applicable to people of all ages, not just those nearing retirement and encourages people to plan for all aspects of their retirement.

Military Saves Week wraps up with a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) for Veterans at the Fort Harrison Branch of Elkhorn Federal Credit Union on Sat., Mar. 1 with appointments from 9 to 3 p.m.

“Elkhorn FCU is excited to provide a stress free way for veterans to file their taxes, just another way we can give back for their service and all that they have done for our country,” said Saraya M Jorge, branch manager. “We hope to bring awareness to our veterans of not only the free tax service provided through VITA, but other ways the credit union can help financially.”

The savings push at the end of this month is a campaign that aims to connect Montanans to tips, tools, and resources to help set and achieve their financial goals. It’s coordinated through the Montana State University Extension Office. Montana Saves Campaign Coordinator Joel Schumacher said although good savings habits requires more than one week of implementing, these habits need a starting point. 

“America Saves week can serve as a jumping off point to get these good habits started,” he said.

Often many people find themselves in reactive mode when dealing with finances and that’s not optimal or comfortable. And while living paycheck to paycheck is a reality for most of us, saving a little can help take the worry out of evitable unplanned expenses. Schumacher adds that the benefits from savings are incredible.

“Savings can prevent an unexpected expense, like a car repair, from becoming a financial disaster,” he said. “Savings can also be the tool that allowed you to take that dream vacation.  No matter your financial situation, savings are really important.”

Military Saves and Montana Saves falls under the America Saves umbrella, which suggests setting a savings goal, because studies have shown that those who do are twice as likely to save. Schumacher said it’s the best financial savings tip he can offer.

“People who write down their savings goals, such as a vacation, emergency savings or retirement, are much more likely to achieve their goals,” he said.

Building a savings account will take initiative because unfortunately it just won’t happen on its own. America Saves Week is an opportunity to reviews finances, decide on what you can save because every little increment of $10 helps and set up a system so it happens automatically. Then, it just accumulates on its own and will one day help take stress away from finances. Military Saves week hopes to provide resources, tools and information to those who have served our country.

For more information about implementing savings goals this month visit the Consumer Resources Page at

To schedule an appointment for VITA for Vets day call Elkhorn Federal Credit Union at Fort Harrison at 442-9793. Note that this is for veterans only and unfortunately not available for active military or reservists.

Alana Listoe is with the Montana Credit Union League, a not-for-profit based in Helena that exists to promote and enhance a thriving credit union community by providing services, advocating, and implementing programs to improve the social economic well-being of all Montanans.

Copyright 2016 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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