Army

October 18, 2012

DOD helps military Families maintain financial readiness

WASHINGTON — As service members prepare for any and all possible military operations, the Defense Department is reaching out to ensure that there are no contingencies back home to distract them from the mission, namely their personal finances.

Barbara Thompson, director of DOD’s Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth, is leading the information campaign with a different theme each month — starting with retirement savings — to help service members and their Families stay in top financial shape.

“It’s a way for us to really look at some basic principles of financial readiness so our service members and their Families have financial goals and the tools to meet those goals,” Thompson said Friday during an American Forces Press Service and Pentagon Channel interview.

“When people are worried about their financial situations or worried about their Families at home, they’re not focused on their mission, so that impacts readiness,” she said, adding that some have lost their security clearances due to financial problems.

The first start toward financial readiness is to have some savings, not carry too much debt, and save for retirement, Thompson said. How much each person or family can do toward each of those goals will vary, she said.

Military Families should contact a personal financial manager, who are available at every installation’s Family and community center and are free of charge to service members, Thompson said. The financial managers, known as PFMs, are trained to create personal budgets and help with debt reduction and savings. Banks and credit unions on base also are required to provide financial education, she said.

To get more specific savings and investment advice, Thompson said, service members may want to hire a private financial planner off base who can advise on their various options for retirement planning.

There are many websites with valuable financial help, Thompson pointed out, including www.tsp.gov, which urges Thrift Savings Plan contributors to start saving early and be consistent.

The site also shows the potential for “compound earnings,” or how to grow your money, with various calculators for entering your own finances.

Militaryonesource.com also has many articles and weblinks to help with financial management and offers free financial counseling. Military Onesource also has the Joint Family Support Assistance Program that gives free financial guidance for geographically isolated military families.

Thompson also recommended www.Saveandinvest.Org, an educational resource provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, that includes a “Military Center” tab, along with the motto, “You Can’t Protect Your Family Without Protecting Your Finances.”

The site includes tutorials on various retirement plans, along with the warning that Social Security payments alone won’t be enough. The site even includes a financial game, “Moneytopia: The Big Dream” in which players choose a “big dream” retirement and must save for that while balancing their earnings and expenses. Those who seep into the red and “run out of money and stuff” lose the big dream.

For those who prefer to listen to a podcast, Thompson recommends the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Money Smart Podcast Network at http://www.fdic.gov/moneysmart for basic financial information.

Thompson’s current focus for educating service members about financial readiness is retirement savings, which she acknowledged often is not foremost on the minds of young adults who may instead be focused on establishing credit, reducing debt and building an emergency savings account.

“It’s very difficult for someone who is young to think so far ahead and think that they need to be saving,” Thompson said. But, she added, retirements have become increasingly uncertain and it’s easier to build savings by starting early and contributing consistently.

“As we look at the financial landscape of the world today — not just in the United States, but in Europe and China — it’s really important that we’re all using our own personal responsibility and putting away money,” she said. “Everyone looks forward to enjoying their retirement, but you have to have money to do that.”

Thompson encourages all service members, whether or not they plan to retire with the military, to contribute to the federal Thrift Savings Plan. “Start early and if it means starting small, that’s better than nothing at all,” she said.

While people in their 20s and 30s sometimes think they can wait to save for retirement when they may be making more money later, Thompson discourages that. “At every stage of your life, you’re going to have additional expenses,” she said. “You may make more money at 40, but you may also be purchasing a home or saving for college.”

It’s important for couples to talk about the “sticky subject” of money, Thompson said, and if that conversation is too difficult — if one person is blaming the other for spending too much, for example — military Family life counselors can help them communicate.

Also, she said, it’s important to teach children about saving money, and at a young age. She suggests creating three money jars for each child: one to spend on things they want right away, one for savings, and one for charity.

“It’s important to teach children … that they can wait and save and work toward [buying something],” she said. “It’s an important lesson that it’s not about instant gratification.”

And, she added, “It’s important for children to realize they are able to contribute to society.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Photo by Capt. Bee Vengthisane

Signal Soldiers celebrate regimental birthday at Fort Hood

FORT HOOD, Texas– Signaleers from Fort Hood and other installations around the country, celebrated the 155th Signal Regimental Corps birthday June 22-25 here. Signal week is a time when Soldiers in the Signal Corps reflec...
 
 
U.S. Army photo

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

More aerial intelligence systems used during Vietnam War During the Vietnam War, the Army possessed three distinct aerial intelligence capabilities. The U-6 Beaver fixed-wing airborne radio-direction finding (ARDF) platform was...
 
 
photo-2

USAEPG responds to Army radio test needs

A dismounted tester and a Humvee with the SRW-A radio mounted inside collect evaluation data on the radio is shown with the Huachuca Mountains in the background on Dec. 12. The U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground, USAEPG, recen...
 

 
U.S. Army photo

Army puts Gray Eagle, One System Remote Video Terminal through test

U.S. Army photo The MQ-1C Gray Eagle, the Army’s largest unmanned aircraft system in the inventory, recently underwent follow-on test and evaluation, which culminated June 14 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Cal...
 
 

More than 4,000 Army Families receive funding for college

WASHINGTON — $33,000. That is how much The Wall Street Journal reports the average 2014 college graduate owes in student debt. As the cost of secondary education continues to rise, the Army Emergency Relief program has awarded 4,285 Army children and spouses with more than $9.3 million in college scholarships. Since 1976, the Army Emergency...
 
 
446x450_q95

Soldiers provide showers, laundry services, boost morale

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Eric Gedeon, a shower, laundry and clothing repair specialist, operates a laundry-advanced system during the Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise, QLLEX, on Fort Huachuca June 10. Gedeon is assigned to...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>