Financial literacy is something that every person, regardless of status in life, should possess. It enables us to make financially responsible decisions, protect our hard-earned money, and secure our future.
Unfortunately, financial literacy is a major concern, particularly among ex-military personnel. In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that Veterans make up 20 percent of the Americans without stable housing. They are also likely to end up homeless. But according to the researchers, it’s not because of the difficulties they go through during service, but because of poor financial skills.
Importance of Financial Literacy among Military Personnel
While the income levels of military personnel aren’t far from that of civilians, they usually have more benefits, such as generous tax-free housing allowances and special pays.
Despite these, Veterans are more likely to be indebted than civilians. The majority of them also admit being ill-prepared for a financial emergency.
But it’s not because they are poor or uneducated. In fact, Veterans are more likely to have finished high school and obtained a bachelor’s degree than civilians.
So what is the reason? They lack financial literacy.
What Is the Government Doing?
Financial literacy refers to the knowledge and skills of one’s finances. To help active-duty personnel deal with their worsening financial status and prepare for life outside the military, the government enacted 10 U.S.C. 992. This law requires the Department of Defense to provide financial literacy programs to all members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
This law led to the creation of the Office of Financial Readiness (OFR). In addition to financial literacy training, the office provides personal financial management and counseling services available through the Family Centers.
In addition to 10 U.S.C. 992, the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) is also a great resource. It was established to develop a national financial literacy website where both military personnel and civilians can learn skills to improve their financial situations. The website contains helpful information on various topics, including investing, savings, college funding, and so on.
Financial Skills Veterans Should Learn
Going back to society can be difficult for military personnel. Many Veterans admit having difficulty adjusting to civilian life, leading to serious problems like joblessness, homelessness, and indebtedness.
If you or someone you know is about to retire from the military soon, the more you need to pay attention to financial literacy. While payday loans online for Veterans can help you deal with financial emergencies, learning about the following financial skills can save you from financial atrocities in the future.
Service members and Veterans tend to have more debts than civilians. It’s important to know that your credit score matters, credit card debts can pile up, and some loans are riskier than the others. If you have multiple debts, check if you can consolidate your loans. While the VA does not directly offer this service, it does have a similar program called “home refinancing.”
This is something that many Veterans have most likely forgotten already because, during their active duty, major financial decisions are created for them. While budgeting might seem like a tedious job, it helps you maintain healthy cash flow and avoid overspending. A basic budget plan includes your total income, expenses, and savings for a given period, say a month. There are online budgeting tools and apps that you can download if you’re clueless about where to start.
One of the hardest challenges that Veterans face is finding a job. Luckily, the government provides ample resources for Veteran job-seekers, such as
- America’s Veteran — employment offices in the federal government.
- Hire Veterans — a listing featuring various companies, and location details for each job.
- HireHeroesUsa.org — this website offers free job search assistance to U.S. military members, Veterans, and their military spouses.
- VA.org — the official website of the Veterans Affairs.
- Military.com — the largest free resource for ex-military personnel looking for Veteran-friendly companies.
Financial literacy is an important tool designed to help military members prepare for the day they reintegrate into society. With so many financial problems that plagued military personnel over the years, the programs provided by the government through laws like 10 U.S.C. 992 have given relief to Veterans. Learning how to manage your debt, create a budget, and find a job are skills that should help you establish your finances once you leave the military.