Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post from The Motherhood. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I served in the United States Army from May of 1994 until March of 2005. That’s me, the short female holding an M16 on the left there. (That’s Yankee Bill on the far left with the tinted glasses!).
I was an Army Ordinance officer and spent most of my time with the folks who carried out the logistics of the Army. Supply personnel. Mechanics. Technicians. I also spent a year as company commander for a training unit–complete with drill sergeants. In every position I held I would have to, at rating time, fill out a form that included my job description. And every job description I held included the sentence “Responsible for the health, welfare and morale of ____ soldiers and their families“.
Because unlike any other job out there, when you are a military leader your job includes, as part of it’s description, caring not only for the employee (ie soldier), but also their families. And that included as best I could watching out for their financial well being. That’s not easy. I loved serving with and being a soldier. There is something different, something hard to explain, about folks who make a conscious decision to accept the possibility of being put in harms way in order to serve. Sure, I had some folks who were trouble–but overwhelmingly the soldiers I had the privilege of serving with were good folks.
But finances? Well finances were not always their thing. Many soldiers join up right out of school and go from living at home with their parents to being on their own with a paycheck. Military folks seem to marry and have families earlier then the general American population, so there can be a young spouse and their spending habits, followed by kids to throw into the mix. I could tell you stories (boy–could I tell you stories). I’ll settle for just a few.
I have vivid memories of the company commander being on leave when I was a 1st Lieutenant, and I was acting commander. The First Sergeant brought me some paperwork from a soldier who was asking for an advance on their pay. Apparently between child support payments and his regular bills he couldn’t afford to pay for both the loan and the insurance on his big, beautiful new F150 truck. I took a look at the paperwork, did a bit of quick math and asked “Well, how’s he going to pay it next month?”. The answer was obvious–he wasn’t going to be able to pay it next month either. I refused to sign the advance (I don’t know if the Company Commander did when she returned) and had the soldier sent over for financial counseling and possibly some bill consolidation. The soldier was mad at me–he couldn’t understand why I didn’t sign it. I couldn’t understand why he thought the problem would be different next month. I like to think in that case that he got the financial help he needed.
Another case I remember quite vividly happened while we were deployed from Germany to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 as part of IFOR. We were part of the initial forces going into the country, and getting everyone ramped up to go was a total bear. Once we got there a situation arose with one soldier’s wife. Apparently he was concerned that she would “spend all his money” while he was gone, so he deployed (for what we were being told was up to a year deployment) with both the checkbook and the ATM cards leaving her NO ACCESS to their funds. It never occurred to him that she’d have to pay bills and buy food while he was gone!
Those are extreme cases–but many soldiers have bumps in the road to their financial knowledge. We want to provide soldiers with all the tools to be successful, but in the case of financial readiness, frequently the leadership doesn’t know anything about it until things go wrong (like buying a truck that is really too expensive for budget, or not understanding budgeting and how finances work). It is far better if soldiers are empowered with the information and tools they need to make good financial decisions BEFORE things go wrong.
That’s why McGraw Hill Financial, a global leader in financial literacy and BBB Military Line, a grassroots community based military consumer education and advocay program wanted to provide personal finance education, resources and tools to young military families.
Together they created the My Military & Money App and the My Military & Money website help military families find answers to basic personal finance questions, and have easy to use tools on topics like credit, home buying, savings, retirement and more. While anyone can use this app, it is set up specifically with the challenges unique to military families like the challenges of juggling deployments, frequent moves and the basics of everyday life that can put a strain on a military family’s finances.
Military members and their families are busy–so they need information that is available anytime, anywhere. The app, available free in the iTunes store and for Android devices in the Google Play store, offers instructional videos and calculators to help reduce debt, increasing savings and build budgets while on the go.
What the app offers:
• Essential tools that help you create a credit card debt reduction plan, build a balanced budget and structure a savings plan.
• An introductory video training series that covers Making Credit Work for You, Digging Out of Debt and Building a Better Budget.
• Tips and information on a range of financial situations faced by service members like retirement, deployment and buying a house.
• An optional reminder function that prompts you to revisit your financial plans each month.
Connect with My Military & Money:
• McGraw Hill Financial
• BBB Military Line
• McGraw Hill Financial (Twitter)
• Shaun Wurzbach (Twitter)
• BBB Military Line (Twitter)
On the Web:
• My Military & Money Website
• Better Business Bureau Military Line
NOTE: “No personal information is put into the app. You input all of the data yourself, so you can choose what personal information you want to plug in there. It’s not required to share bank account number, credit card numbers or social security numbers. The app isn’t meant to link to any particular account, but instead it’s purpose is for your own personal tracking. For example, for the “Credit Card Information” spot in tracking, you can put in the card name, not the card number.”
And you know what? This app isn’t exclusive to the military–anyone can feel free to download and use it!
Download the App Here: