Air Force

November 8, 2013

Official describes ‘life skill’ of financial readiness

Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department wants service members to have the life skills to successfully manage their finances and create good credit ratings, the director of the Pentagon’s office of family policy, children and youth said.

Financial readiness lends itself to mission readiness, because it can be difficult for service members to focus on a mission if they have financial worries, Barbara Thompson told American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel in a recent interview.

“One of the challenges is our young people aren’t coming into adulthood with the life skills they need,” she said. “Until you’re in those circumstances, you might not know how to navigate the financial waters you’re in.”

Because DOD is keenly focused on financial readiness, the department begins financial training as early as basic training and offers financial guidance throughout a service member’s career, Thompson noted.

“The more information they have about making choices, the faster their credit score is going to increase,” she added.

A good credit rating will help service members obtain credit cards and loans and to pass credit checks required to rent apartments, Thompson said, but she warned that plastic should be used judiciously.

“When you get a credit card and use it to maintain your credit, you want to pay it off (monthly), and don’t max it out,” she said. “Make sure you pay it on time.”

Incorporating such habits will “start to show the world – and especially the three credit bureaus – that you are responsible and have good credit, and lenders are more apt to lend you money when you need it,” Thompson said.

Because financial readiness is a top priority in the Defense Department, Thompson said, the resources for help are numerous. One such resource is installation family centers, which offer personal financial managers to help service members develop plans for spending and debt reduction plans. Many banks and credit unions on military installations also offer those services, she added.

The Military OneSource website is another option for financial help. It features downloadable podcasts, CDs and articles on becoming financially fit, Thompson said, adding that more intense help to manage debt is available through the site’s certified financial counselors, who can advise online or face to face.

And when a service member faces deployment, she added, financial well-being can bring up a completely different set of considerations.

“It’s important that those who deploy have a financial plan in place so their bills are paid while they’re gone,” Thompson advised. “Couples need to communicate how to maintain two households … so they’re on the same wavelength about how spending should occur.”

Thompson said she wants deploying service members to be aware of the Service Members Civil Relief Act, which offers protection when financial challenges such as rent concerns and late credit card payments arise back home.

Those in financial distress need to take the first step by recognizing the issue, and then must confront ways to overcome it and consider how intense the plan will be, Thompson said.

“If you’re not disciplined, it’s not going to do you any good,” she added. “Make sure your goal is to reduce that debt, get out of it, and start your way to building good credit.”

Watching one’s credit score is vital to having and keeping a good credit report, Thompson added. Service members and their families should check their credit reports regularly, she said, noting they are available free annually from Experian, Transunion and Equifax, the three credit bureaus.

“You want to manage your credit reports, because it’s really an unsafe world out there with cybersecurity, protecting social security numbers and banking online,” she advised. “All of those things open you up for the potential of identity theft, and that is a really scary proposition.”

In recent years, DOD has made strides in its financial readiness advice and training, and self-reported data on troops in pay grades from E-1 through E-4 show they’ve reached a level of feeling comfortable financially, she said.

“The numbers (of those with bad debt) have been declining ever since we started the financial readiness campaign,” Thompson said. “Information and knowledge are power, and if you are savvy enough to go into a car dealer knowing how to negotiate, the better off you are.”

Thompson emphasized that if a service member needs help, it’s OK to ask for it, and resources are available.

“Once you have the knowledge, that’s power to make good decisions,” she added.




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


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Scott M. Ash

Gen. Larry O. Spencer Innovation Award unveiled

U.S. Air Force photo by Scott M. Ash Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer pull the shroud during the ceremonial unveiling of the Gen. Larry O. Spencer Innovation A...
 
 

Career Intermission Program application window

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — The Air Force Career Intermission Program application window opens July 1 for eligible Airmen interested in taking one to three years off active duty for personal or professional needs. Applications must reach the Air Force Personnel Center no later than Aug. 31, with the total force selection panel scheduled...
 
 

AF begins enlisted professional military education enrollment notifications

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas—Last week, the Air Force Personnel Center initiated a phased approach to notify approximately 83,000 Airmen of the requirement to enroll in the applicable enlisted professional military education distance learning course. AFPC will notify 20,000 Airmen at the beginning of each month until all members have been notified. In July 2014,...
 

 

AFCENT commander: ISIL fears coalition airpower

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Southwest Asia — At the coalition airpower hub for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, the commander and coalition partners know they are making a difference in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists. “We know from our intelligence that...
 
 

GWOT Expeditionary Medal

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — Active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Airmen who earned the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for more than one of the five Department of Defense approved GWOT-EM operations may now wear a service star device on the medal and service ribbon for the second and...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Jonathan Stock

Air Force welcomes new surgeon general

U.S. Air Force photo by Jonathan Stock Staff Sgt. Ross Ediger and Zachery Ediger pin the third star on their father Lt. Gen. Mark Ediger during a promotion ceremony at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Va., June ...
 




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>