When I’m driving, I frequently listen to The Dave Ramsey Show on the radio. People call Dave with financial questions, and he provides them with no-nonsense advice. But too often, he receives calls from servicemembers who are struggling financially and are desperately seeking guidance.
Although always mission-ready and trained to defend the nation, servicemembers — especially younger ones — have not necessarily been instructed on how to fend off slick financial sales pitches or tackle credit card debt. They’d rather face the enemy than their dreaded bank statement. They also encounter unique fiscal challenges that civilians don’t, like deployments that make communicating about family finances difficult or multiple moves that can wreak havoc on any budget. Their benefits package is not like everyone else’s and can be complex, not to mention subject to legislative changes that can be tricky to follow.
But resources are available specifically designed to help servicemembers understand and navigate their money so they can get their financial house in order. Here are several:
Ramsey’s Financial Peace University-Military Edition is an online course addressing the wide range of financial circumstances military personnel face. He believes successfully managing your finances is largely about behavior modification and discipline, a trait most servicemembers already possess in spades.
Financial guru Jean Chatzky has partnered with Citibank to create a book titled Operation Money: A Financial Guide for Military Service Members and Families. The book is free to download thanks to Citibank’s Citi Salutes program and is a must-read for new servicemembers.
Written by Jeff Rose, a certified financial planner and Army veteran, Soldier of Finance, is modeled after the Soldier’s Handbook and advertised as financial bootcamp. (Nobody said it would be easy!)
MOAA.org offers a treasure trove of information on financial topics as they pertain to the military. Check out helpful financial calculators, and reach out to their financial counselors who can point you in the direction of even more reliable resources, as well as review your personal financial situation and make recommendations.