Tag Archives: budget

Spend wisely this holiday season

by Airman 1st Class Andrea Posey
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

The holidays are fast approaching, and for many this may lead to overspending – a common occurrence among Airmen.

The average family charges around $1,500 on credit cards during this time of the year. Consider this, if your credit card company charges a 14-percent interest rate and you pay only the minimum amount each month, it will take you eight years and cost over $1,000 in interest to pay it off.

The following tips can help Airmen to avoid overspending so they can enjoy the holidays without debt.

· Save throughout the year: Many banks have special savings accounts, called “Christmas Clubs”, you can contribute monthly allotments into to save for the holidays.

· Plan holiday spending: Create a written plan with spending limits for each gift, or draw names with friends and family and only buy a gift for one person.

· Avoid shipping charges: Plan for an additional $10 for gifts bought online to cover shipping costs so you don’t exceed your spending limit. Watch for specials that offer free shipping, or buy a gift card instead.

· Shop year-end sales: Shop after-Christmas deals and put the gift away for next year.

· Portion the holidays: Gift purchases should be portioned by what can be afforded, by cash, check or debit card. Aviod using credit.

· Consider layaway: Many stores offer layaway plans with little-to-no fees. Put gifts on layaway three to four months ahead and make payments over time instead of all at once. Be sure to make layaway payments on time.

· Personalize the holidays: Put thought into your gifts and consider making something instead of buying. Gifts like baked goods, handmade ornaments or pictures in nice frames offer a personal touch.

The holidays are a time to enjoy family and friends. You’ll be able to enjoy it more knowing you won’t be haunted by bills long into the new year.

Airmen contribute to success of EDC campaign

130416-F-SC698-001Throughout the month of May, Airmen submitted more than 11,000 cost-reducing ideas during the “Every Dollar Counts” campaign, an initiative that empowered Airmen to find and recommend areas of savings that may be used to support more urgent readiness needs.

In a letter to all Airmen June 5, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer highlighted the great ideas Airmen submitted and also encouraged Airmen to continue looking for innovative ways to save Air Force resources:

Fellow Airmen,

Thank You! We asked for your help to find more cost effective ways to deliver airpower and you delivered — big time! The response during the “Airmen Powered by Innovation Call” generated 11,000-plus ideas in just 30 days! Now the ball is in our court to quickly assess the ideas and implement those that show the most promise — several of which have been implemented already!

To provide a recap of what we received, most of the ideas, 38 percent, affect personnel policy, 23 percent involved logistics and installation support and 11 percent recommended changes in information technology. Next, in order of the most suggestions, were current operations, financial management, health services and acquisition. Recommended changes in personnel ranged from eliminating enlisted performance reports for chief master sergeants, (we’re giving that serious scrutiny now) to suggesting Airmen remain at permanent change of station locations longer. In the logistics area, many of you suggested creative ways to save energy, and Airmen at Joint Base Andrews, Md., suggested transitioning to lower-cost, leased vehicles for visiting distinguished visitors, which we implemented this week.

We also received several suggestions to limit the number and use of portable mobile devices.

Again, we extend our personal thanks for your enthusiastic support of our Air Force. As ideas are approved and implemented, I will continue to share them. In the meantime, I want to share some stories I have received about some of the amazing initiatives our Airmen are undertaking out in the field.

In a cost savings effort, Airmen at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., are sharing training facilities and conducting joint exercises between the base fire department and Miami-Dade, Broward, Charlotte and Lee counties. The joint exercises save a cumulative total of approximately $500,000 a year. Additionally, the 482nd Communications Squadron at Homestead ARB developed a procedure to audit their telecommunications bills for discrepancies. This effort ensured they were being charged correctly for services and constituted a total of $400,000 in savings.

Sometimes change happens because Airmen believe there might be a better way to get the job done and that’s what happened at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The 50th Flying Training Squadron transitioned to a centralized scheduling operation where all instructors were pooled together, maximizing their ability to fill the schedule while giving back hours each day to the flight commanders and flight schedulers. With this fairly drastic change in how they did business, they were able to fill their flying schedule and reduce their flying window by one hour. Although it is hard to quantify the specific savings generated from the change, the new system allows pilots to work more efficiently and take better advantage of their time and resources.

Then there are superstars like Stacy Burgess, from the 97th Comptroller Squadron, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. Stacy realized that many mandatory deployment items could be returned to the unit deployment manager and reissued to others who are deploying. The cost for required items prior to this policy was $2,892.64 per member; by reissuing many of the required items from returned inventory, the cost for new purchases was significantly decreased to $1,498.67 per Airman. On average, Altus deploys 188-236 individuals per year. This new policy has the potential to save the base and the Air Force approximately $50,000 to $100,000 per year. Our job as a headquarters is to share great ideas like Stacy’s with every base around the world — think of the savings!

Air Mobility Command’s Theater Express program is also a praiseworthy example of how a team can achieve significant cost savings. Aided by a decrease in overall airlift demand and the implementation of a more robust software tool, the Air Mobility Division team was able to more accurately estimate military airlift costs. This allowed them to increase the amount of cargo transported by regularly scheduled military aircraft resulting in a $342 million savings this year. Also, for the first time in AMC’s history, the AMC commander held a commander’s conference using Defense Connect On-Line and milBook. Both tools allowed approximately 250 people to participate in a fully interactive conference without the associated TDY costs.

While you were submitting your innovative proposals, I had a small team examining our current idea programs. Their task focused on four areas: consolidating and streamlining the processes, decreasing the cycle time from submission to approval, increasing the effectiveness of harvesting ideas that generate tangible savings and increasing replication of approved ideas across multiple locations. Early progress updates indicate a promising new innovation idea process that will be more responsive to submitters, and is expected to generate a higher percentage of approved and implemented concepts. This effort will result in a revamped Innovative Development through Employee Awareness and Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment programs. We will continue accepting your outstanding suggestions for improving our Force, but will take a 30-day pause on processing ideas while the team prepares to stand up the new capability. In the interim, ideas can be submitted at the following website: https://ipds.randolph.af.mil.

I encourage you to keep thinking about how we can accomplish our mission faster, better and cheaper. Today’s fiscal constraints are the tightest our Air Force has experienced in many years. Your overwhelming response during the Airmen Powered by Innovation Call for Ideas has emboldened us all with confidence that our Air Force will persevere through these tough times and emerge a more effective and efficient fighting force for America.
LARRY O. SPENCER
General, USAF
Vice Chief of Staff

Every Dollar Counts initiative update

By Gen. Larry O. Spencer, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force

EDC logo
The Every Dollar Counts campaign is off and running! Airmen across the Air Force—military and civilian, active, Guard and Reserve—have embraced the idea of helping the Air Force make the best use of our scarce resources. I have provided some examples of great work that is ongoing below. We also activated our month-long “Airman Powered by Innovation” website, and the response has been overwhelming. We received over 1,700 ideas the very first day, and as of May 10, we have received more than 5,700 ideas. Now, we are hard at work evaluating ideas to identify those we can implement quickly—others that require Air Force instruction (AFI) or legislative changes will take a bit more time and work. Either way, our pledge is to evaluate and turn the ideas as quickly as possible and provide our Airmen feedback through the assessment process.

The evaluation process is quite impressive. We established a 16-person Airman Innovation Operations Center comprised of selected Air Staff functionals working full time. The team processes Airmen’s idea submissions and monitors the website forum that allows suggestions and permits real-time discussion via blog format. Once offices of primary responsibility have been identified, final disposition will be determined for each submission. When a suggestion is approved and implemented, the ideas will then be cross-fed across Air Staff, major commands and wings to generate cost savings Air Force-wide. So, keep those good ideas coming! Also, we are working on a transition plan for good ideas after the website closes on June 1, so that we can sustain the momentum going forward. 

To help inspire our Airmen, I want to highlight some incredible stories of Airmen and organizations that already epitomize the spirit of “Airmen Powered by Innovation” efforts. I hope the awesome work of these superstars will motivate people to go back and take a hard look at their programs and try to find ways to be more cost-conscious, recheck equipment surveys, find savings, identify redundant requirements and eliminate waste where possible. If you have a good idea we want to hear about it.

David Billingly is a telecommunications program manager for the Secretariat, Headquarters Air Force. Mr. Billingly completed a survey of all the telecommunication lines in the lease space for the Headquarters and after four months of analysis, he identified that there were over 1,260 unnecessary phone lines connected and being charged to the account. Once disconnected, the savings totaled $332,489. David Billingly EDC

The 103rd Rescue Squadron is part of the New York National Guard. While on TDY status to Exercise ANGEL THUNDER 2013, pararescue jumpers assigned to the squadron took advantage of a commercial wind tunnel outside of Tucson, AZ to practice their free-fall techniques for a fraction of the cost of a C-130 mission. Although the wind tunnel cannot replace actual live jumps, savings for similar training totaled more than $83,700.

The Electronic Flight Bag Team is stationed at Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB. They initiated the Mobility Air Forces’ move to electronic publications which resulted in eliminating 70-90 pounds of paper per crewmember and saved $770,000 in fuel weight per year. Overall savings including fuel and printing costs totals $2.54 million per year.

Master Sgt. Ernest Harrison is deployed to the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. His detective work while deployed uncovered valuable equipment missing from an inventory list. Once identified, Harrison’s actions allowed Air Forces Central Command to cancel an expensive pending logistics requirement. The result saved the Air Force $348,571.

Sandra Cantrell is assigned to the headquarters Air Force staff and introduced cost-effective software that enabled the Pentagon graphics office to save time and money in printing certificates for retirements, awards, appointments and more. The old system was time consuming and wasted up to five sheets of high-quality paper. The resulting process has saved the Air Force $208,000 since it has been implemented. Sandy Cantrell EDC

Electronic Technical Orders. Over the last two years, Air Force Reserve Command led a pilot program for the Air Force to replace expensive, cumbersome and ruggedized laptops with lighter, cheaper and more flexible tablets for the maintenance community to view aircraft maintenance technical orders for their work on the flightline and in the back shops. The business case analysis estimates Air Force savings to be over $12 million per year by replacing ruggedized laptops with the tablets on an attrition basis. 

HQ Air Force Materiel Command Centralized Asset Management Team at Wright- Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The centralized management of depot-level requirements, aviation fuel and flying hours mitigated FY13 sequestration reductions and resulted in efficiencies which maximized warfighter capability and minimized Air Force risk.

Finally, I want to say thank you! As always, our Airmen have responded to the call, and it is exciting to see and read about the successes you all are having every day. Your hard work is truly making a difference. Savings from the Every Dollar Counts Campaign are being used to help pay local shortfalls as well as corporate shortfalls such as flying hours and depot inductions. Your ideas are also causing us to take another look at many of our AFIs to ensure that we are not hindering Airmen from doing their jobs. In addition, this campaign has drawn interest from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and our sister Services for potential expansion across the Department of Defense.

Every Airman, every day, can make a difference—be that Airman!

Submit your ideas on  the Every Dollar Counts website now.

Good ideas wanted

Beginning May 1, Airmen can submit their cost-reducing ideas via the Airmen Powered by Innovation websites while at home, the office or on their smartphones.

EDC logo

With budgets shrinking, Air Force leaders are calling on Airmen to share their best money-saving ideas through the “Every Dollar Counts” campaign.

Both uniformed and civilian Air Force members can participate in the month-long open call for ideas and share their creative and efficient ways to save money and time.

Feeling inspired? Submit your ideas on  the Every Dollar Counts website.

Money matters: pledge to save

by Meredith March, Defense Media Activity Air Force Production

Let’s face it – money matters.

Military Saves Month GFX YT PINK USAF

We know that the state of our finances affects our work performance, relationships, and even our security clearances, so we want to keep our noses clean and avoid bad choices that will make us financially vulnerable. Regardless of age or rank, we share similar concerns: being able to afford the necessities, saving enough for emergencies and retirement, and feeling too restricted by a tight budget.

Saving can be intimidating, but it’s crucial … and possible.

Military Saves Week, which began Feb. 25 and ends March 2, addresses these concerns by encouraging military members and their families to take control of their finances, save for the future and reduce debt. The initiative is part of the Department of Defense Financial Readiness Campaign and cosponsored by the Consumer Federation of America. This year’s theme is “Set a goal. Make a plan. Save automatically.”

On the Military Saves website, service members can find tips on putting aside some cash, getting out of debt, saving for emergencies, planning for a major purchase, saving for retirement and more.

Pledge to save here.