Militarily Speaking Ep 2 Military Saves with Kia McCallister Young

In this episode of “Militarily Minded,” Tom, Jodi, and guest Kia McCallister Young talk about the Military Saves program, how to establish the habit of saving, and the largest barriers in improving your own financial standing.

“Militarily Speaking” is a podcast produced by Armed Forces Bank that is dedicated to the military lifestyle and all the things that makes military community who they are.

We — with guests like you — will help the military community not only navigate their finances but also military life. We chat about both good and bad financial practices and provide some insight along the way. We’ll share strategies to help people get ahead, discuss military benefits that members should take advantage of, and more – all working towards the goal of helping people become more financially independent.

On the show, we’ll also preview and talk about how to take advantage of military specific services, such as loans and mortgages, and help members prepare for important milestones such as PCS moves and the transition to civilian life. Finally, at the end of every episode, we have a bit of fun with our Military Minute. That guessing-game segment features military history, hobbies, a bit of pop culture. Correct guesses by listeners could result in a donation to charity of individual’s choice.

Show Notes

Welcome to the "Militarily Speaking" podcast with Tom McLean and Jodi Vickery.

In this episode of “Militarily Minded,” Tom, Jodi, and guest Kia McCallister Young talk about the Military Saves program, how to establish the habit of saving, and the largest barriers in improving your own financial standing.

“Militarily Speaking” is a podcast produced by Armed Forces Bank that is dedicated to the military lifestyle and all the things that makes military community who they are.

Episode 2: Military Saves with Kia McCallister

Military Saves Organization

Tom McLean opens by introducing their guest Kia McCallister Young, Director of America Saves, an Air Force Veteran, and a mom, among other responsibilities and titles. He then asks her what Military Saves is.

  • Kia says that Military Saves is America Saves’ commitment to the military community, giving them services, tools, and advice on how to establish successful savings, reducing debt, and getting on a path to building wealth.
  • She says that she likes to think of themselves as a savings accountability partner, that focuses specifically on the military community.
  • Jodi says that as a military family herself, it’s no secret that military families experience financial stress.

Financial Challenges and Improving Your Financial Position

Jodi notes that 62% of military families experience financial stress, and 56% of Americans can’t cover a $1000 unexpected event that happens in their life. She then asks Kia what kind of situations she sees that might challenge military families more than their civilian counterparts.

  • Kia says the first item that comes to mind is the constant moving and transitioning, noting that while the military might help some with the costs, there are always going to be out of pocket expenses.
  • This is especially true for military members who have to move every 2-3 years.
  • The second thing, she says, is military spouse unemployment, meaning they have a single income household.
  • She notes that while sometimes this is by choice, oftentimes it is difficult for them to obtain a meaningful employment because of how often they are moving.
  • Jodi notes that there has never been a free PCS move in her household.
  • Tom says that he read recently that military spouse unemployment is around 24%, which is he thinks is too high.
  • Kia agrees, and is happy that there are certain movements trying to shine a spotlight on that problem now, and bringing that number down.

Tom asks what the biggest barrier or challenge to people improving their financial position.

  • Kia says the biggest barrier is the personal finance industry’s message, which is in order to be successful you need to have 3-9 months of expenses saved in your accounts.
  • She says while there is some truth to you being more vulnerable if you don’t have that saved up, but the idea of saving that much money for someone not even making a living wage is insurmountable.
  • Kia thinks the way to make this message more relatable and achievable is the idea of starting small and thinking big.
  • While the end goal might be to save up a few months of living expenses, the message should be centered on around how to get started on that path, which is an achievable goal.

Tom says he thinks about the phrase “pay yourself first” which could be setting aside a few dollars a month, or cutting out one expense per month, or set up a routine to automatically put money into your savings account. He asks Kia what ways people can establish the behaviors or get in the disciplined routine of saving.

  • Kia agrees and says that is why they start of Military Saves Month with “Save Automatically” because that is the easiest and most successful way to save which splits direct deposits between checking and savings.
  • She says that if you’re working gig-work where you’re not getting paid regularly, having an auto-transfer set up to automatically transfer money from your checking to your savings account is a great way to save.
  • Jodi says it is similar to how they interact with their clients at Armed Forces Bank, trying to meet their clients where they are at, and building a plan.
  • Tom also notes that Armed Forces bank has a ‘round up’ program, where each time you use your card it can round it up to the next whole dollar and put that into your savings account.

Get Involved with Military Saves

Jodi asks what ways people that are listening can get involved with Military Saves.

  • Kia says the first way is for people looking to have a savings accountability partner, is to take the Military Saves Pledge on
  • They will then send you information related to whatever your savings goal is, whether that is to save for vacation or save to buy a house.
  • As an organization that supports the military, Kia says the way to get involved is to become a partner of Military Saves, and a participating organization of Military Saves Month, also by signing up through
  • Tom notes that there is a new theme for each week during the month of April, and then Kia lists out each week’s theme.

Tom asks if listeners can follow them on social media.

Jodi asks Kia if she could rewind time and tell her younger self something about saving and how to get off to a good start, what would she tell herself.

  • Kia says the biggest message is getting in the right mindset of thinking like a saver.
  • She notes that America Saves embraces that saving is a habit and not a destination, and that it is about forming the habit of saving.
  • Kia points out that if you are saving for something, even if that thing is an unexpected emergency, you will spend that money eventually, so it’s better to focus on the habit of consistently saving.

Tom asks Kia if there are any calls to action for the listeners if they want to know more.

  • Kia says to go take the military saves pledge.
  • She said to also set up automatic savings, or sign up for the roundup program at your credit union or your bank.
  • Both Kia and Tom then tell a stories of customers that use the roundup programs and have either used that money to put a down payment on a house, or keep themselves from having to take out a loan.

Military Minute

Jodi and Tom then move into the Military Minute.

  • Last episode’s Military Minute: Who was the radio DJ that inspired Robin William’s character in the movie Good Morning Vietnam?
  • Answer is Adrian Cronauer
  • This week’s Military Minute question is: What is the Military Saves 30-40-30 plan?
  • Watch for Facebook and Instagram posts about this episode.
  • Answer with the correct answer and you plus a charity of your choice can each with $50.

Join us to hear how to better navigate your finances, military life, and the crossroads of the two.