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I know many of you can relate: As a longtime military spouse, I’ve held various jobs. Among them, I served as a financial counselor at an Airman and Family Readiness Center. There, I had the privilege of working with families to create budgets, develop debt-payment plans, manage credit and save toward goals.
One military spouse came to see me while her airman was deployed. She thought she and her husband could do a better job at paying down debt and saving for a trip to see family when he returned. I only met with her twice, but together we developed a plan she knew she could follow by tweaking her everyday expenses and making saving a priority during the deployment.
I happened to see her again shortly before her husband came home, and she gave me a big hug and told me she had managed to save enough for the trip and pay off some of their credit card debt. I hope she and her airman were able to stay on track and reach their goals — healthier finances usually mean healthier families.
Financial woes can critically impact your mission readiness. To further complicate financial readiness plans, our military lifestyle includes frequent relocations and deployments. But our way of life doesn’t have to hinder our ability to manage family finances successfully.
Whether you prefer a classroom setting, an online experience, a multimedia approach or an individual consultation in person or by phone, a wide variety of resources are available to help put you on the path to financial freedom.
- Military and Family Readiness Centers offer classes and workshops on specific financial topics. You can also meet with an Accredited Financial Counselor® to get personal assistance with your unique goals.
- Emergency financial assistance organizations, such as the Air Force Aid Society or Army Emergency Relief, can meet immediate financial needs in an emergency situation. The society provides interest-free loans and grants based on your individual needs. Assistance may cover basic living costs, emergency travel, vehicle maintenance, funeral expenses, medical and dental care, child care, respite care and moving expenses.
- The Defense Department’s Military OneSource page provides financial calculators, how-to strategies, sample budgets, articles and other help with topics ranging from financial wellness to mortgages and foreclosures. Financial consultants are available all day, every day to provide up to 12 sessions (per person, per issue) of no-cost, confidential financial counseling. Counselors are available online and by phone at 1-800-342-9647.
- Nonprofit organizations such as The USAA Educational Foundation and the Consumer Federation of America’s Military Saves program provide financial education, resources and programs to service members and their families. These educational programs focus on setting financial goals, managing credit and debt, saving and investing, and managing risk.
There’s no shame in seeking help to take action and plan for your financial security. These resources — exclusively available to the military community — will help you make smarter financial decisions. Remember, financial readiness is critical to mission readiness.
Take Action: USAA’s financial assessment helps you see how prepared you are for the financial ups and downs you may face. You'll receive a personalized action plan and the financial tools to help you improve your financial stability.
The USAA Educational Foundation, a non-profit organization, provides information on a variety of consumer issues but does not endorse or promote any commercial supplier, product or service. Visit The USAA Educational Foundation Website, www.usaaedfoundation.org, for more information.