DVIDS – News – Military Consumer Month focuses on financial literacy in the ranks

FORT LEE, Va. – With rising inflation in the US and elsewhere, many members of the military community, including reservists and veterans, are struggling to make ends meet financially and need a good battle plan to defeat their household opponents.

Anyone in such a predicament would do well to use the Department of Defense weapon system at their disposal — namely the Financial Readiness Program, or FRP, which is part of the Army Community Service’s Troop and Family Support Network.

RECEIVING THE MISSION

“I give them a mandate to be financially successful in the future,” said Wanda Butler, a personal financial readiness specialist at Fort Lee’s FRP, as she described the initial guidance she provides to clients.

Locked and loaded at each installation, FRP specialists like them are the battle captains with the ability to devise strategies to eliminate debt, balance budgets, understand the pitfalls of credit, achieve forward movement with a savings and investment plan, and much more .

“The Financial Readiness Program is about financial education and financial literacy,” said Butler. “My job is to teach as much as I can and as a financial advisor to reach as many as I can.”

MISSION ANALYSIS

It would be a mistake to compare FRP specialists with external financial advisors. They are not in the business of setting up stock investment strategies or individual retirement accounts. Instead, FRP achieves its goal of improving financial literacy within the US military community through classroom training, individual counseling sessions, and joint planning with nonprofit organizations such as Army Emergency Relief (www.armyemergencyrelief.org). Many tools and resources are also provided online.

It’s “everything about information,” emphasized Butler. “Even if our clients don’t absorb everything we give them during a class or counseling session, they still have access to the online resources we make available to them. You can always go there and research what you need; what applies to them. The Office of Financial Readiness is our go-to resource because it has so much basic information about literacy.”

APPROACH DEVELOPMENT

The DOD Office of Financial Readiness website – finred.usalearning.gov – provides assistance with a variety of resources created specifically for the military community. The aim is to promote a financially secure and ready-for-action force.

“I also refer people to militaryconsumer.gov, which is another good site because it has tips on things as simple as setting up an allotment,” Butler said. “So if the service member decides, ‘I want to set up an emergency fund,’ one way to do that successfully is through payment

deal with the military allotment first and have that money in an emergency fund that goes straight from their paycheck into their savings account.”

People often don’t know what they need until an emergency occurs, Butler pointed out.

“If I could get them to start with the basics of an emergency fund, that would be a great place,” she said.

BATTLEFIELD ANALYSIS

To help people in the military community identify risk while implementing their personal financial plans, the Federal Trade Commission created Military Consumer Month. The July Observance is designed to raise awareness of consumer control (protection) measures and financial preparedness for service members, veterans and military families.

According to the FTC, certain scams are more likely to target the military community, in part because it is a frequently moving population with many military members living alone and earning a paycheck for the first time. Fraud against military consumers can undermine military readiness and troop morale. Therefore, the Commission is working to eliminate scams through aggressive enforcement and ongoing awareness campaigns.

For example, the FTC and an 18-state group recently sued a national jewelry retail chain to prevent it from defrauding military families with illegal financing and sales practices. The fraudulent practices of “payday lenders” are also a major concern and underscore the need to promote financial literacy across the force.

THREAT COMPARISON

According to the Better Business Bureau’s 2021 Scam Tracker Risk Report, the number of active-duty military personnel exposed to scams was nearly identical to the overall population reporting financial losses, but the vulnerability of active-duty military personnel was 42 percent higher than the overall population .

Also, according to the 2021 Online Shopping Scam Report, more than 10 percent of online shopping scams reported to the BBB Scam Tracker originated from the military community. Active-duty military members (78.3%) and spouses of military members (75.2%) reported more likely to have lost money to these types of scams than non-military consumers. Also, the average dollar loss for all military consumers—active duty ($178), military spouses ($119), and veterans ($139)—is higher than for nonmilitary consumers ($100).

ACTION PLAN APPROVAL

The Office of Financial Readiness sets out each July to expand service members’ knowledge of how to recognize and avoid fraud, as well as their understanding of consumer protection laws, insurance and warranties, and smart buying strategies.

“What I like about Military Consumer Month is that it applies to everyone — military members, their families and veterans,” Butler said. “I wish it was something every month to keep that focus, but I’m taking what I can get. The timing is also ideal as many people are PCS-ing (Permanent Change of Station) at this time and their finances will be hit if they don’t have enough saved for the move. It can be a massive wake-up call: “Oh wait a minute; maybe I should go ahead and start saving.’”

ORDERS PRODUCTION

The best chance any member of the military community has of achieving financial success in an economic environment of rising inflation is to be educated, financially aware, and prepared to take fiscal action.

The DOD tools provided by the Financial Readiness Program and the Office of Financial Readiness and Military Consumer help assess an individual’s unique financial situation and take appropriate action at the appropriate time.

“Inflation is an important consideration when we’re talking about a spending plan,” Butler said. “For example, some variable expenses like gas prices can have a significant impact, so let’s talk about customization options.”

Those seeking assistance in developing a well thought out and intentional spending and savings plan should contact the ACS office at 804-734-6381. The list of financial readiness classes can be viewed on the Family and MWR website at lee.armymwr.com. The online resources at finred.usalearning.gov or www.militaryconsumer.gov can also help people begin or continue the decision-making process.







Date of recording: 07/28/2022
Release Date: 07/28/2022 14:02
Story ID: 426026
Location: FORT LEE, VA, USA






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