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Financial Management

Overview

Financial fitness is an important part of staying mission-ready. Learn ways to take charge of your finances and find out about free financial management resources for service members and their families.

Programs to help service members stay financially fit

The Defense Department provides financial information, training and counseling through the Personal Financial Management program and other programs and services.

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Personal financial counseling

You can receive financial counseling either through the installation Personal Financial Management Program, the Military and Family Life Counseling Program or through Military OneSource. Get help with financial basics, debt coaching, college saving, retirement planning, tax services and budget planning.

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Office of Financial Readiness

The Defense Department’s Office of Financial Readiness provides a wealth of information covering topics such as how to manage your money, saving and investing, and planning for the future.

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Military Saves

This network of federal agencies and nonprofit organizations can help you reach your financial goals, get out of debt faster and save more money.

Financial consultations through Military OneSource

A Military OneSource financial consultant can help with budgeting, debt reduction, taxes and other money issues. Consultants are available by phone, live chat or through a secure video chat.

Counseling covers financial issues such as basic budgeting, money management, debt consolidation (including coaching to help people contact their creditors and negotiate late fees, interest rates and affordable payment plans), and assistance with housing issues (being behind on mortgage payments or facing potential foreclosure). The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can also help you develop a debt-management plan at no cost. Should you choose to enter into an arrangement with NFCC to manage a debt-management plan on a long-term basis, a nominal monthly fee may apply.

The sessions are available at no cost to active duty, Guard and reserve members (regardless of activation status), and families located in the continental United States. Up to 12 counseling sessions per issue, per calendar year, are allowed for each person.

The goal of short-term, solution-focused counseling is to help individuals change by creating solutions rather than dwelling on problems. Using this same strategy, short-term, solution-focused financial counseling helps people identify the issues and then work to identify realistic resolutions.

Contact Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 and ask for it. You must go through Military OneSource in order to access the sessions at no cost.

Military OneSource offers telephonic counseling with certified financial planners who will help you review your options. While they can’t tell you which plan is the best fit for your personal situation, they will educate you on the types of plans available, describing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Financial counseling can assist with basic money management. Financial planning (telephonic counseling with certified financial planners) can help with reviewing savings plans, investing plans, stocks, bonds and retirement plans. Financial planners can help inform you about the advantages and disadvantages of different savings plans and methods, but they won’t provide advice or recommend one over the other.

For those unable to attend in-person counseling or are in locations where in-person counseling is not available, Military OneSource will provide telephonic counseling.

In-person financial counseling is available in most locations through Military OneSource, in partnership with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. NFCC, a nonprofit national agency, provides financial education and counseling services at hundreds of local offices nationwide. Military OneSource must arrange for you to meet face-to-face with a financial consultant in your community in order for you to receive the service at no cost. NFCC does not provide coverage throughout the entire continental U.S. Providers are made up of local consumer credit agencies that must pass a certification exam in order to participate in this program.

Telephonic financial counseling is provided by the financial management team located within the Military OneSource call centers. This team is made up of highly-qualified AFC-certified financial counselors.

Please visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling website. Enter your ZIP code in the search engine to find the local agencies in your area. Please contact those local agencies for employment opportunities.

No. The internal financial counselors and National Foundation for Credit Counseling counselors do not sell or promote products or agendas. NFCC is a national, nonprofit organization that does not sell or promote products. The only cost you may incur is if you decide to personally hire a local NFCC agency to manage your debt-management plan as part of a long-term arrangement. There is a nominal monthly fee for this service.

Ways to save

You have a few options to save money and earn interest, including savings accounts, money market account and certificates of deposit. Choose the one that makes the most sense for you. Visit Military Saves for information tailored to your savings goals.

If you’ll be deployed and receiving combat pay, sign up for the Savings Deposit Program, a savings account that earns 10% interest. Active-duty and activated Guard and reserve members are eligible for this savings program during deployments.

It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. The Thrift Savings Plan provides retirement income to service members and other federal employees. Your contributions are tax-deferred, which means that you won’t pay federal taxes on the contributions until you withdraw them.

BENEFIT TO SAVE MONEY

Paying down debt and managing your credit score

Your credit score can have a big impact on your finances. It tells creditors how likely you are to pay back the money you want to borrow. The lower your credit score, the riskier you appear to lenders, and the more you will likely pay for loans, credit cards and insurance premiums.

You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus that maintain credit records: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can order all three from the website, AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you find negative information on your credit record that’s accurate, such as missed or late payments or a poor score resulting from too much debt, it’s time to start dealing with your debt. There are four steps for managing debt:

  1. Acknowledge that you have debt issues and commit to fixing them.
  2. Stop spending. Take your credit cards, store cards and gas cards out of your wallet and put them in a secure location at home or cut them up.
  3. Make a spending plan.
  4. Pay down your debts month by month and pay them off one by one. Make a list of the debt payments you owe each month, including the annual interest rate on each card. Then prioritize according to the interest rate. Over time, you’ll get your debts paid off.

Emergency relief

Each branch of service has an associated private, nonprofit organization that assists service members and their families in need.

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These relief societies can help with things like emergency transportation, funeral expenses, medical bills, food, rent, utilities, disaster relief, child care expenses, vehicle repair or other unforeseen family emergencies.

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