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Budget Captain coaches Defenders in financial health

  • Published
  • By Glenn S. Robertson
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

The 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron conducted a financial awareness course for their defenders Jan. 26, 2022 on F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

David Won, also known as the Budget Captain, was invited to speak to three groups of Airmen about the importance of good budgeting, the negative aspects of debt and methods to ensure Airmen are careful with their spending.

He began his discussion with his family history and how his grandmothers on both sides escaped the aggression and violence of North Korea, with his family eventually immigrating to the U.S.

His early family life helped give him the drive to do what he does today – help people with their financial problems.

“I’m here with this Airmen today because I lived through it. Growing up, my family was always in debt – they fought all the time because of it and it even lead to bankruptcy,” said Won. “If their budgeting had been better, would they have struggled and fought less? I think it would have and I want to use those lessons to help people here who may be in the same situation.”

He quickly associated his own life experiences to values like resiliency and perseverance and the importance of motivation, drive and will in pursuing life goals – like more wealth later in life.

He stressed that while it can be difficult to overcome the circumstances you’re born in, it is not impossible to make better spending and saving habits and improve your own circumstances through those values.

“It’s not about the cards you’re dealt in life, it’s what you do with them,” said Won. “Even if you fail, you can get past it. Failure is an opportunity to grow into something greater.”

A large part of the session was to show how some money management techniques can harm long term goals through a lack of planning.

Eighty percent of Americans adopt a “spend first” method of money management, according to Won, where families spend the money they get each month without paying attention to where it’s going or how much is left at the end of the month. This approach leaves people more at risk for credit card debt, of which the average American holds a credit balance of $6500. Won added that the total outstanding credit card debt in the U.S. stands at about $804 billion and that credit card banks rake in nearly $200 billion each year in interest alone.

To push against the crush of debt, Won instead advocated for a more forward thinking approach to money management where Airmen invest for the future through a Roth IRA or similar instrument, then put money into savings, and then spend from what remains.

Many of the defenders who went through the course seemed excited to take some of the lessons learned and apply them to their own situations.

“I have some training in Dave Ramsay’s Financial Peace University, so I do understand some of the benefits of getting rid of debt,” said Airman 1st class Keenan Fuchs, 790 MSFS. “This class had a different perspective from someone who understands military life. He had a more mentoring approach, coaching people to make better decisions with their money.”


The organizer of the event cited a need to ensure that Airmen are knowledgeable of the dangers of bad money management habits and are taught to be more disciplined in budgeting early to ensure good habits well after they’ve left the military.

 “It’s crucial that Airmen learn how to take control of their finances, so their finances don’t take control of them,” said 2nd Lt. Eric Kawecki, 790 MSFS flight commander and organizer of the event. “Finances are a major area that need to be controlled, because they support all other areas of an Airman’s life. Some of our airmen come from tough backgrounds where money was a constant struggle and if we can teach them while they are young to be more disciplined, they can improve the quality of life for themselves as well as their future families.”

Kawecki also noted that leaders owe it to their troops to ensure that they have the opportunities to learn these skills.

“I believe it is our duty as leaders and supervisors to provide opportunities like Budget Captain briefings because it helps airmen establish a strong foundation,” said Kawecki. We cannot build their military aspect if they do not have a stable personal life.”

The Budget Captain briefings are one example of how the Mighty Ninety is taking steps to ensure well-rounded and prepared Airmen in their home lives to ensure their preparation and readiness for the mission at hand.