Just as the spotlight shines on why the government can't juggle its bills, the calendar flips to an annual consumer-oriented event called America Saves Week.
Military Saves Week runs along with it from Monday through Saturday.
By chance, the savings week occurs right as automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts loom Friday unless another agreement is reached in Washington.
Money woes are the name of the game across the country.
For military members, financial stress is a constant. Some money troubles are self-inflicted, as service personnel turn to spending to cope with the stress of preparing for dangerous situations. Other financial pitfalls occur as scam artists — and even family members — go after what they see as easy targets.
"I'd get my $700 on a Friday, and I'd wake up Monday morning with no money in my pocket," said Steve Repak, 45, who is now an author, speaker and financial planner in Charlotte, N.C.
Repak joined the U.S. Army out of high school in 1985. After 12 years in the military, he said, he ended up with $32,000 in credit card debt.
"It was just a lot of wasteful spending," said Repak, who has counseled military members as part of Military Saves Week.
Where did his money go? He bought a big-screen TV, spent too much on flights home, bought dinner and drinks for friends and, frankly, spent money just buying junk. He was single, didn't have a family back then to support and blames his money woes on "Steve's stupid decisions."
He thought he could afford to spend because he always was able to make the minimum payments on his credit cards.
"It just adds up and adds up — and, all of a sudden, you have a big mess," said Repak, the author of "Dollars & Uncommon Sense: Basic Training for Your Money."
For him, spending money was a coping mechanism.
Members of the military are under the stress of being away from families, living in combat zones and working long hours, he said.
Spending way too much can lead to more borrowing from high-cost lenders.
N. Susan Abentrod, a certified financial planner in Birmingham, has had experience counseling members of the military across the country and overseas.
Some major financial headaches start, Abentrod said, after servicemembers take out high-cost loans from payday lenders or car dealers.
Unpaid bills or taking on too much debt can ding credit reports and, at times, put a military member's security clearance at risk. If the military member doesn't address the problem, she said, he or she could be in danger of losing security clearance, left out of promotions and, ultimately, face losing a job.
Abentrod recalled working with a Marine who could not understand why he didn't have more money in savings. She handed him a notebook, and once he tracked his spending for a few weeks, she said, he discovered that he was spending an ungodly sum of money on Snickers bars, beef jerky and Cheetos.
He agreed to some changes but wouldn't cut out all snacks.
"The Cheetos are off the table," he said, as he pounded his fist.
Knowing where one can cut back, though, can be a starting point. Take the high cost of cellphones. It's easy for some military families to be paying $200 a month for data plans and cellphones, Repak said. Yet could someone go to a more limited plan for $50 or less a month? Could financial limits be put on entertainment and eating out?
"It's controllable," Repak said.
Tight budgets, frequent moving and the need to find a job once out of the military can make someone vulnerable to a con game. Warnings from the Better Business Bureau and others are out there for military members about fiscal land mines, including:
The Army National Guard has alerted families about con artists who swipe photos of soldiers off Facebook, then hit the Internet to ask for financial help to get home after being deployed.
Supposed government contractors recruit veterans and ask for a copy of the applicant's passport —and then con artists use the detailed personal information on that passport for ID theft.
Online dating services target the military in a remote part of the world, such as Iraq. The love connection in this scam typically has an emergency and requests that money is wired to a third party.
Con artists might try to convince a spouse to pay for a security system that was supposedly ordered by the military member to protect the family.
Scam artists who sell stolen vehicles — or cars that they don't even have — at bargain prices claiming to be soldiers who are being deployed.
More disheartening, Abentrod said, are the cases where a family member creates the financial problem. Some family members have stolen Social Security numbers from military members to open credit in the servicemember's name. The bills aren't paid, and credit reports suffer.
Abentrod remembered one case where a mother used her son's ID information to borrow money to buy a sprinkler system. The bills weren't paid.
"His credit was trashed for a sprinkler system," Abentrod said.
Contact Detroit Free Press business columnist Susan Tompor at 313-222-8876 or at email@example.com.