Financial education gives spending, saving guides

| February 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
This week was "Military Saves Week.” Call the Schofield Barracks Army Community Service at  655-4227 for more information on financial management classes.

This week was “Military Saves Week.” Call the Schofield Barracks Army Community Service at 655-4227 for more information on financial management classes.

C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — As the Department of Defense embarks on “Military Saves Week,” Feb. 24 through March 1, the Army wants Soldiers, civilians and their families to know that year-round it provides financial education — including information on how to save — at installations across the force.

As part of “Military Saves Week 2014,” service members and their families can point their Web browser to militarysaves.org to take the pledge to save money.

This year is the eighth of Military Saves Week, which is cosponsored by the Consumer Federation of America. The week focuses on helping military families learn to save money, and to ensure they have the tools needed to reduce their debt and save for the future.

“It’s a social campaign where we collaborate with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and our Military Saves partners, under the umbrella of America Saves. The intent is to get folks to save as much as possible. The Army had the most pledgers last year,” said Gale Johnson, financial readiness and Army Emergency Relief program manager at Installation Management Command.

Johnson said service members, civilians and family member finances are keys to successful service and enjoying a satisfactory lifestyle while in the Army. She said that while there is a focus on saving and financial awareness, especially during Military Saves week, the Army offers financial training to Soldiers, civilians and their families year-round.

The Army also provides mandatory training to Soldiers throughout their careers, beginning with initial entry training. That training spans an array of financial topics, to ensure that Soldiers and their families are financially literate and are able to build budgets for their families now, and plan for their future.

Financial readiness is one component of Soldier and Army readiness, said Michael A. Wood, chief of transition support services at U. S. Army Installation Management Command, or IMCOM. He said when a Soldier has his or her finances in order, that translates to increased personal readiness. And that means increased mission readiness for the Army and increased personal satisfaction for service and family members.

“If a Soldier doesn’t have to worry about their finances, that’s one less thing to think about as they go downrange to deploy, while they build an Army career,” he said. “If you are financially secure, you will be more resilient and more ready to help defend the country.”

Through Army Community Services, or ACS, IMCOM provides personal financial managers to Soldiers, civilians and their families to counsel, train and mentor them on the financial issues and challenges that life brings, Wood said.

Those programs begin as early as basic training. There, Soldiers get about 2.5 hours of mandatory training on military pay issues and banking and financial services, said Johnson. After Soldiers leave basic training, they get an additional eight hours of mandatory financial education during advanced individual training.

Additional classroom experience covers a much wider array of issues. There is further development of the limited basic information they got in basic training, plus additional material on developing a spending plan, managing credit, buying a car, insurance, investments and savings, saving for college, retirement planning and consumer awareness. That last subject delves into such things as predatory lending, to include payday loans, for instance.

“The first thing we teach is establishing a spending plan,” Wood said. “We try to build everything around a spending plan. When a family has an effective spending plan in place, they know what their income and assets are, and what their money left over at the end of the month will look like.”

That’s just initial mandatory training. Soldiers get additional mandatory financial training at various points in their military career as part of “life-cycle” training.

And the Army goes further. The ACS program offers advice and assistance on an even larger array of topics that Soldiers and their families can seek out on their own.

In 2012, financial readiness providers within ACS fielded 585,000 queries on issues ranging from credit counseling to the Thrift Savings Plan. Those were just simple queries. The ACS maintains a database of such contacts.

Overall in 2012, the ACS fielded more than a million queries from Soldiers that could have been resolved in as little as 15 minutes, or could have taken hours or days to resolve.

And the ACS also offers voluntary classes, financial education coursework outside the mandatory coursework required in basic military training and advanced individual training.

In 2012, the ACS provided courses to more than 387,000 Soldiers, civilians and retirees on subjects from credit report reviews to predatory lending.

 

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Category: Army News Service, News

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