Financial Tips for Military Families
If you have ever been connected to anyone serving our military, you know that military life is different than civilian life. There are different stressors, realities and circumstances defining their day to day.
And in the financial world, they have a large target on their back.
It’s an unfortunate reality that countless shady organizations see our service members as prey rather than heroes. They lure them in with signs saying “We Support Our Service Members,” “Military D1 and Up Welcome” and even go as far as hiring former military to greet them. Then comes the bait and switch, smacking them with high interest loans or reprehensible terms.
To help stop the constant plaguing of the men and women serving our country, here are several financial tips for military individuals and families.
Your budget should be based around your goals for your money.
David Kershberg with the Coronado Naval Base Personal Financial Management Program teaches that a balanced spending plan is the best way to start. It’s called a balanced plan because it takes into account goals, allots for living and helps you prepare for the future. Build in the ability to live now, as well as to save and pay off debt.
Ultimately it gives you the ability to set and achieve your goals.
Saving for your Future
The main basis for balanced budget living is to spend less than you make. Once out of debt, this gives you the ability to start building savings. There are both long-term and short-term savings. For example, saving for a car can be a short-term financial goal. Saving for retirement on the other hand, is a long-term financial goal.
Build in both long-term and short-term savings goals into your financial picture. Especially with the long-term savings goals, leveraging the power of investments can help your money grow. A financial advisor can help you put your money into appropriate investments based on where you are in your life.
Additionally there is a nationwide movement encouraing military service members and their families to save.
“Military Saves is part of the Department of Defense’s Financial Readiness Campaign, and part of America Saves, the larger nationwide campaign for all Americans,” said Melinda Opperman, senior vice president for Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management, Inc. (Springboard).
As a proud supporter and nonprofit partner of Military Saves, Springboard has supported numerous Military Saves events held at military installations throughout Southern California. The campaign motivates, supports, and encourages military families to meet immediate needs and build long-term wealth through saving and debt reduction.
“Something magical happens when you make a pledge, the brain starts working on solutions and you become emotionally committed,” said Opperman. Savers who take the pledge can opt to receive a monthly e-newsletter from Military Saves, as well as a quarterly e-newsletter from America Saves.
Military families also have to plan for life after the military. If retiring from the military isn’t your particular career path, this should be accounted for in you financial picture.
Phil Bowers, Resource Manager at Volunteers of America, commented, “While you are still active duty, you know the various resources available to you and your family. When you get out, there are literally thousands of resources available to you. This is both a positive, and a challenge. How do you know who to contact? That’s why I helped create an unofficial ‘Reach Out’ card. This helps you find help specific to your need.”
Seeking Help (You don’t have to do it alone!)
Personal finance is hard. And that’s before you add all the factors that play into military living. It’s ok to reach out to an expert to help get you on the right path. There are countless authentic resources to help you through this process.
David Kershberg believes that the biggest internal challenge he faces is getting the word out about services.
“There are so many resources, services and nonprofits out there to genuinely help military members,” Kershberg continued. Often the challenge is knowing where to look. Wading through the scams pretending to help is no easy task.
So to get you started, here are some top notch resources in Southern California:
San Diego Regional Library
Despite the onset of Google, libraries aren’t a thing of the past. Especially for the frugal consumer, this is about to become your new favorite hangout.
- Subscriptions to consumer reports and other memberships;
- Library lending circuit (giving you access to resources at other libraries);
- eCollections with thousands of ebooks or audio books;
- Programs and events.
Almost every resource at the library is completely free of charge. Our personal favorite is access to the consumer reports and memberships. This gives you easy access to research every large purchase you’ll ever make.
Military In-House Support
Each branch of the military has different in-house support systems to help members navigate everything from finances to relocation to deployment and more. Kershberg, for example, is a part of the San Diego Metro Fleet & Family Readiness Program with the Navy. He works directly with members on creating easy to follow financial plans.
Most cities (especially ones with large military bases) have nonprofits advocating for military members. While their specialties range from helping with benefits to support for wounded warriors and more, you are likely to find one focusing on financial support.
Here are some vetted nonprofits in Southern California:
Riverside & San Bernardino Counties
- Housing Committee for the OC Veterans & Military Family Collaborative
- Veteran’s Resource Books Online
- Orange County Community Services : Vetrans Resource Directory
The challenges are real. But that doesn’t mean they have to define your reality. Move your family away from financial binds and onto a path for a brighter future today.
If you don’t know where to get started, reach out to the Virtual Counselor Network. We will connect you with a counselor who understands, and specializes in, assisting military members with financial challenges. Best part—it’s FREE!
Trust, honest and genuine help is just a phone call away.