Need a financial boost? As a military servicemember, you’re in luck. There are a number of financial resources available for active-duty members provided by both the government and outside organizations, but you’ll want to do your homework before you decide which ones you’ll use.
"Always verify whether the resources you choose who say they are military-friendly truly have your best interest at heart,” says Jerry Quinn, Chief Operating Officer and Secretary at AAFMAA. “There are many ways to do this. Look for organizations that have been around awhile and those that have exclusively served the military and Veterans as part of their mission. Finally, use your network to help confirm you are consulting the right sources. You know the old saying, ‘Trust... but verify!’"
Here are four financial resources available to military personnel and their families that we have known and trusted for years. Countless members of the military community have relied on these resources for quality advice.
1. Military OneSource
You may be surprised by this one. “It’s actually not a dot-com, it’s not a commercial website, it doesn’t have any commercial endorsements, it’s actually set up by the government,” says BG Michael Meese, USA, Ret., Ph.D, president of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA)
"Military OneSource is a Department of Defense-funded program that provides educational materials on every aspect of military life at no cost to active-duty servicemembers, spouses and the dependent children of eligible servicemembers. Members of the National Guard and Reserve — regardless of activation status — retired and honorably discharged servicemembers, including Coast Guard Veterans, within 365 days of their discharge.”
It’s a one-stop shop for all things military life and features articles, tips, helpful resources and program information about topics like deployment, grief, parenting and spouse support. Military members can also have their taxes computed for free through the program.
They also offer free financial counseling via phone or in person on installations. Military OneSource has a plethora of resources. There is a section of the Military OneSource website called “Money Matters” devoted to breaking down basic financial planning for buying a home or car, budgeting, etc.
2. FINRA Foundation’s Military Financial Readiness Project
Launched in 2006, the Military Financial Readiness Project developed by the FINRA Foundation provides free financial education tools and training to servicemembers and their spouses. The multi-faceted project includes educational toolkits for trainers and investors, an online resource center — SaveAndInvest.org — and on-base activities and events.
“Saveandinvest.org is a pretty rich storehouse of financial articles, action guides, publications, and information for servicemen and women that are hopefully going to empower them… to manage their money with confidence,” says Bud Schneeweis, director, Military Financial Readiness Project at FINRA Investor Education Foundation.
Originally funded with fine money levied against a firm that was providing misleading statements in selling products to military personnel, the project now aims to give servicemembers the tools and information they need to make informed saving and investing decisions. It is also one of the Department of Defense Financial Readiness collaborators.
“What we say is: free and unbiased information. So there’s no hard sell, we don’t allow any advertising on our products, website, or publications we put out there. We think it’s a place that servicemembers can come to and trust. We’re a foundation after all; we aren’t in this to be making money,” says Schneeweis.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 2003 is meant to help members “devote their entire energy to the defense needs of the Nation,” according to the wording of the Act itself.
One main provision allows servicemembers to cap interest rates at 6% while on active duty, if the debt was obtained before duty began and the ability to pay said debt is affected by military assignment. This extends to credit card, mortgage or loans for military personnel or their spouse and, since 2008, has included federal student loans.
The SCRA also provides credit rating protection, cancellation/termination of automobile and property leases under certain conditions and ensures protection against eviction and foreclosure. It is recommended that members talk to their Armed Forces Legal Assistance Attorney regarding the SCRA to get help in taking advantage of the provisions that apply to them.
Basic Needs Allowance: A new program passed in FY 2022 Congress passed the Basic Needs Allowance as a way to prevent food insecurities among our military ranks. The DoD has one year to enact the Basic Needs Allowance and there are still many unanswered questions but plans are in the works.
The American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association is the oldest nonprofit organization that focuses on taking care of military members and their families. Established in 1879, the original purpose of the organization was to aid the families of deceased military members. Today, Membership has grown to over 90,000 current and former Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard members.
“AAFMAA helps current and former military families manage life’s uncertainties with high-quality financial solutions, life insurance, and unique survivor assistance at affordable prices that only a nonprofit military mutual aid association can provide,” says Meese.
AAFMAA offers affordable life insurance — the same insurance the government receives at a discounted rate — as well as a Learning Hub offering information on financial planning, personal finance and government benefits information. To become an AAFMAA Member, get a quote to explore life insurance options. Members can purchase additional policies for themselves, their spouse, children and grandchildren.