RAF Mildenhall, England- --
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Skylar DeRouen, 752nd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron resource advisor, taught a Basic Financial Investing professional development course to Airmen at RAF Mildenhall.
This isn’t the first time DeRouen has taught others about money. He’s used his passion for finance to educate Airmen in the past, and he hopes to continue doing so in the future.
DeRouen joined the Air Force 16 years ago, and he started investing in the stock market two years after he graduated basic training. He became involved after listening to the advice of someone who was being forced to separate from the Air Force.
“When I was an Airman, there was a Master Sergeant in my unit who had one more time to test for Senior Master Sergeant; unfortunately, he didn’t make it, and he was very upset because he had no savings and no education to fall back on,” explained DeRouen . “He sat down with us Airmen and he told us to not be like him. He emphasized that if we started investing now, we could be financially stable by the time we were his age. That conversation kind of scared me into action.”
After hearing this story, DeRouen was impressed of the importance of starting to save and invest. He asked around his shop and was able to find others who helped him set up his Thrift Savings Plan. He had seen a real life example of what could happen if one did not place any value on financially preparing for the future, and he did not want this to be him.
DeRouen stood by his commitment to save and invest, and several years later, realized his net worth wasn’t the only thing that had grown: his interest in learning about money had as well; consequently, he decided to take advantage of Air Force tuition assistance and earn a degree in finance.
While working towards his degree, DeRouen deployed to Afghanistan, but he still found time to speak with Airmen about personal finance and investing principles after his leadership encouraged him to share the knowledge he had gained.
“Once I started talking to the Airmen, the Chief in my squadron got wind of it,” DeRouen said. “He pulled me into his office and he told me ‘I really like what you’re doing.’ I learned that we shared an interest in investing. He had been doing it since the late eighties when his supervisor told him about it, and his wealth had grown steadily over the decades and that was quite impressive to me.”
DeRouen’s teaching experiences not only have brought him in contact with people who have used saving and investing to their advantage, but they have also made him acutely aware of the challenges that people encounter when managing their money.
“We start to realize how many things we want when we have money,” exclaimed DeRouen. “I think a lot of Airmen can become complacent with their finances because there’s a guaranteed paycheck coming in on the 1st and 15th of every month. I caution Airmen to use that as an advantage to save and invest some of it instead of spending all of it. Find the balancing act.”
One might think that DeRouen’s interest and experience with money would make his control of finances effortless, but this isn’t the case. In fact, he implements some simple techniques to keep him accountable with his money.
“If you’re trying to build a house, the first thing you need is a solid foundation. Budget is that foundation,” described DeRouen. “I’m going to spend some of the money coming in, and I’m going to save some of it. The easiest way to start saving, to force myself to save is through automatic allotments. Every paycheck on the 15th, I have money going into my investment accounts. I don’t have to manually do it myself. It works because it puts my savings on cruise control. Automatic allotments do all the heavy lifting for me. All I had to do was set it up.”
The strategies that allow him to save and invest money are just a few pieces of the financial wisdom DeRouen enjoys sharing with others. His dream of teaching more individuals how to manage their money is beginning to gain traction because he’s learned that other people are interested in hearing what he has to say.
“I’ve been scheduled to teach a professional development course at the Airmen Enhancement Seminar, and I’ve also been picked up to teach it on RAF Lakenheath. I have a passion for teaching people about finance, and I’ve realized there is a vast demand for basic financial education,” said DeRouen. “I’m really excited to see where this all goes.”