NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Every day Airmen will face a challenge while completing their mission. The fewer distractions they have, the more effective warriors they will be. Being financially stable and properly managing one’s money is one less distraction that can deter Airmen from their mission.
To be financially stable means being ready for any future financial roadblock that may arise. This could be positive or negative, anything from car repairs to the birth of a child.
Many military members simply need to keep track of their debt and manage their money.
“A lot of members need to manage their debt, check their credit, and pay their bills on time” said Quan Franklin, 99th Force Support Squadron community readiness specialist and personal finance manager.
At Nellis, younger Airmen who have no real-world experience or have never had to manage their finances before, tend to be more at risk for financial issues than the more seasoned members on base.
“That’s why we do our weekly brief over at [First Term Airman’s Course], just to prepare these members. Many of them are straight out of high school, never had a real job, have never had any [major] responsibility as far as managing their own money,” Franklin said.
Many young Airmen simply do not know how to properly spend their money or how to receive a loan without a high interest rate.
“One of the trends I’m seeing for a lot of members that live in the dorm and are on meal cards is the majority of their money is being spent on food related costs,” Franklin said.
Airmen who can eat all of their meals in the dining facility for free are needlessly spending a large portion of their income on outside food.
“Most of the time people use their debit cards and don’t realize how much they’re spending. I ask them to estimate how much they spend on food, and after we add up all the costs often times it’s actually triple what they originally thought,” Franklin said.
In addition to unnecessary expenditures, many Airmen have trouble establishing good credit or obtaining a loan with a reasonable interest rate.
“I had an Airman [come to me for financial advice who bought a car] at 27 percent interest rate. A lot of times they don’t have established credit and they’re so hungry to get their first car [they accept the high interest rate,” Franklin said.
Accepting a high interest rate is not the only path to purchasing a car.
“I always encourage members to save up and buy a car with cash or try to get a co-signer. An Airman in FTAC said that when he applied for a loan, the interest was twenty-something percent, but then he had his parents [co-sign] and that brought it down to five and-and-a-half percent,” Franklin said.
Airmen and their families in need of emergency loans, or other forms of financial assistance, are discouraged from using payday loan centers and are instead encouraged to use programs such as the Air Force Aid Society.
“[Regarding payday loan centers] there are high interest rates with those loans. As far as military members are concerned there is a cap with those rates. But there are spouses [who go to those places] and the cap doesn’t apply to them,” Franklin said.
The loan centers can charge as high of an interest rate as they want to anyone who is not in the military even if that individual is married to a military member.
To avoid predatory lenders contact the Air Force Aid Society. They have numerous loan options including Standard Emergency Assistance Loans and Grants, and Falcon Loans available to those Airmen who qualify.
The Airman and Family Readiness Center offers numerous classes on how to set up a budget, establish credit and other forms of financial advice.
Personal Financial Readiness programs offered by the AFRC include:
- Moving Up and Out of the Dorm: Briefing is offered every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month from 10 to 11 a.m. This class is designed for members moving out of the dorms to an off base location.
- NCO Professional Enhancement Seminar: Offers a monthly class from 2:45 to 3:35 p.m. at the Professional Development Center. This class is a financial briefing for new NCOs covering goal setting, savings, budgeting, credit and available services and resources.
- Financial Foundations: Is offered every other month. Learn to create and establish a workable budget to manage saving, checking and reduce debt based on individual financial goals.
- FTAC PFR: Is offered every Monday at the PDC as scheduled by the PDC. A financial readiness class designed for first term enlisted members as required by the Air Force Instruction. Members learn the basics of finance to include savings, budgeting, investing, banking, credit, car buying, identity theft, and predatory lending practices.
- Personal Finance for First Duty Station Officers: Is offered the last Wednesday of every month from 8 to 9 a.m. Participants will learn about budgeting, savings, investing, credit, and services available at Nellis AFB.
- Essentials of Credit: Using Credit Wisely: Is offered Jan. 14, March 11, May 13, July 8 and Sept. 9 from 9 to 10 a.m. The briefing covers information and education on the use of credit, credit reports, establishing credit and responsible use of credit cards.
- Thrift Savings Plan: Is offered Jan. 21, March 18, May 14, July 22, Sept. 23 and Nov. 25 from noon to 1 p.m. Participants will learn how TSP works, the various TSP investment options and how it may benefit them.
- Basic Investing: Is offered Feb. 26, April 15, June 24, Aug. 14, Oct. 21 and Dec. 11 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Participants will learn the basics of investing such as mutual funds, stocks and bonds and other investment options.
- Seven Steps to Better Credit: Is offered Feb. 24, May 20, Aug. 26 and Nov. 13 from noon to 1 p.m. Participants will learn the seven basic steps to improving their credit and credit score.
One-on-one personal financial budgeting appointments are also available.
The more financially stable and more prepared an Airman is to face financial hurdles without large amounts of stress, the more he or she will be able to focus the mission with minimal worry.
For more information on financial management or to register for any of the financial management classes, contact the AFRC at (702) 652-3327.
For a complete list of the services offered by the AFRC visit http://www.nellis.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=4181.
For more information on loans and other services provided by the Air Force Aid Society visit http://www.afas.org/.
Editor’s Note: This feature is the second of a three part series highlighting vital to the overall wellbeing of Airmen.