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Former military spouse Ellie Kay visited RAF Lakenheath, England, on Wednesday, offering tips on military life and financial matters.

Former military spouse Ellie Kay visited RAF Lakenheath, England, on Wednesday, offering tips on military life and financial matters. (Geoff Ziezulewicz / S&S)

RAF LAKENHEATH, England — When Ellie Kay won $20,000 in cash and prizes duking it out in the showcase showdown on “The Price is Right,” the temptation was to blow the money on all types of frivolities.

Instead, Kay said, she used her winnings to pay down the $40,000 in consumer debt she and her husband faced.

But she did gain some profound insights from the game show.

“Bob Barker in real life is orange,” Kay said to an audience at the Lakenheath movie theater Wednesday morning.

Kay, an author and financial guru whose noteworthy stints include a multipart “Debt Diet” series on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” was at Lakenheath on Friday as part of her “Heroes at Home” tour, dispensing tips on military life and money to airmen and family members.

Kay recently wrote the book “Heroes at Home,” which offers all types of advice for the military spouse. The event focused on both finances and military life.

A former Air Force wife, Kay told the audience that she had five babies in the couple’s first seven years of marriage and ended up moving 11 times in 13 years for the Air Force, a stat that makes civilian audiences gasp.

“When I say it to military families, they’re like, ‘Yeah, so what?’ ” Kay said to laughter.

Slowly, Kay said, she and her husband paid down that $40,000 in debt.

The point, she said, is to pay it down and keep focused, no matter how long it may take.

“It can be done one way or another,” Kay said. “It came down to commitment.”

Part of getting on a proper financial path involved reconciling her money habits with her husband’s.

Kay said she is a born saver, while her husband was a born spender.

“His money never saw the insides of his pocket,” she said.

Setting aside time to talk frankly about money matters is important to handle finances and keep marriages strong, she said, adding that money issues are a leading cause of divorce.

Free copies of Kay’s “Heroes at Home” are available at local Airman and Family Readiness centers, she said.

Military families also struggle with debt as changes of assignments and other needs rack up costs, she said before her speech.

For families outside of the States, it’s important to strike a balance between the novelty of German furniture or a deal on a BMW with the long-term debt complications.

Enjoy yourself, she said, but don’t go beyond your means.

“We’re not against going to London for the weekend,” Kay said.

England and Europe in general are so pricey these days, she said, but financial prudence and planning can help a military family get through it.

“I’ve talked to people in your world,” she told the audience. “I know it’s expensive.”

Where to see Ellie KayFinancial guru, author and former Air Force spouse Ellie Kay will visit U.S. Air Forces in Europe bases in the coming week.

Kay will visit Aviano Air Base, Italy, on Monday; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on Wednesday; and Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Thursday.

Free copies of Kay’s “Heroes at Home,” a guide for military spouses, will be available at local Airman and Family Readiness centers as well.

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