Helping Soldiers and Their Families

Army Financial Smarts – Cadet Ryman

 The topic of financial stability is very important in today’s world where it seems everyone is living in debt. By taking care of our own finances and being knowledgeable in the subject you will not only be a role model for your soldiers but be able to set them up for success in their own financial situations. Finances can be a major distraction to a soldier, which can take away from training and over all readiness. Also finances are a major reason for a lot of divorces.

 Here are some side effects of bad financial planning

  • Loss of credit, pay garnishment
  • May lose chances to be promoted or even re-enlist
  • You can even be discharged from service

 Here is a list of ways to improve finances.

  • Utilize a Budget and don’t vary from it
  • Save first out of your paycheck before bills and other expenses
  • Create an Emergence fund of 3 months of living expenses (just in case)
  • Live comfortably, not above your means

 It is important when working with your soldiers to understand what they are dealing with. Some of these soldiers may have never had a paycheck, bank account or may not know what good financial planning looks like or why it is important.

 I feel that saving is extremely important. On the civilian side they have 401k and IRA’s. Soldiers can also participate in IRA programs through financial institutions. The Army also provides something close to a 401k called the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). The TSP allows soldiers to participate in the stock market at a risk level of their choice. It has a record of great return on investment. It is important to note that when saving the sooner you start the better. There is this little beauty called compounding interest that works like a multiplier for you. A 22 yr old who only invests 8 years and lets it compound will have the same amount of money at 65 years of age as someone who waits till they’re 31 and invests until they are 65.

 It is also mentionable the military helps soldiers by giving them allowances and entitlements.

 There is a great deal of financial smarts that I have not covered in this short article. Perhaps you would like to do a little research on one I have not covered or go deeper into something I’ve discussed for your blog post.

Installation Support Services: Cadet Kennedy

We all come upon problems in our life, even as soldiers we face issues that we cannot necessarily handle on our own. That is why it is import that proper support is provided to all soldiers and their families. With this in mind the Army has set in place SEVERAL programs for its soldiers and their dependents.  These programs include:

  • Army Community Service
    • This includes multiple programs set in place to provide support services, education and information to assist the military population. These programs range from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program to the MOB and Deployment Assistance Program. Almost any situation that you are in there is someone to talk to.
    • The Family Readiness Center
      • This is put in place to assist families during times of deployment.  Family Readiness Groups are for your soldiers families and it is important that through tough times they have something to turn to. It keeps families connected to the deployed unit allowing them to meet and remain informed of the current situation.
      • Legal Services
        • Everyone gets into trouble sometimes but when things get out of hand Legal Services are always available. The Legal Assistance Office will assist soldiers with all legal matters. Also things such as tax assistance are available.
        • Army and Air Force Exchange Service
          • We should all know this very well, the AAFES provides soldiers with merchandise and comparatively low prices. The AAFES operates in several countries and not only provides soldiers with merchandise but with the luxury of fast food chains like Burger King, Popeyes and Cinnabon around the globe. Not only does it provide the opportunity to spend money, but the opportunity to make money as well. The AAFES provides employment to more than 10,000 military family members.
          • Health Services
            • This program is set in place to assist soldiers with health care. Soldiers and their families will receive free or government-subsidized medical and dental care. Any sicknesses or injuries will be provided for through the military. Army health care falls under the program TRICARE.


These are only a small portion of the several support services provided to military personnel and their families. The above programs are available to both you, your soldiers and their families. It is highly important that you ensure that your soldiers take full advantage of them all.

    • Shake and bake
    • April 5th, 2010

    I comment about having an emergency fund is vital for young soldiers. Stressing the importance of having a raining day fund for events like car wrecks or repairs can really help to provide relief when these events occur.

    • Shake and bake
    • April 5th, 2010

    I think the comment…

    • Rambler 1
    • April 5th, 2010

    How does something like debt. from college factor into the security clearance process? I’ve heard that soldiers with high debt. are non-deployable because they are a security risk. Could this potentially separate you from your unit?

    • Porsche
    • April 5th, 2010

    This was one of the things I was not previously aware of being a 2LT’s responisibilty until this year. It is a lot of weight to have to support your whole platoon’s family/financial/health needs. Sure the NCOs will be around to help, but they may need help as well. We will have to be parents to our soldiers and always look out for them before ourselves.

    • Rooster Cogburn
    • April 5th, 2010

    I think a good first step is making a budget. Its not that hard to establish, and the longer you stick to it, the easier it will get over time. It’s definatly a good way to start practicing good habits.

    Being cognizant of your finances and keeping them under control will pay off in the long run. That way (as shake and bake pointed out) , if emergancies arise, it will be easier to handle and will not add to the problems that you may already have.

    • Tom Townsdin
    • April 5th, 2010

    Money management can be tricky. Bills must be paid. But make sure your soldiers know to look after their families. I know instances where soldiers deployed and allotted their wives so much to spend out of the paycheck each month. That was their only access to their husband’s paycheck. These wives ended up borrowing off their friends to survive. On the other end, I know a soldier who’s wife cleaned him out while he was downrange. Indebtedness can cause woes for your soldiers. Also, saving a little each month from a paycheck can add up quick. I was going to use the money I saved to bring back a beemer. Instead, the money I saved was enough to help me become a cadet.

    • Fred Rogers
    • April 5th, 2010

    Live within your means, don’t live in debt, is the crux of this discussion. If one is single and driving the latest sports car, yet still paying off college loans, this is probably not wise, and gives off an image to your soldiers that you don’t know how to set priorities. Have only one credit card is a very smart thing. A person who is a steward of his/her finances will be trusted with more responsibilities because his/her leaders can see your work and life ethic, which is something to be emulated. Having all your financial/life paperwork in order and up to date before deploying will save a lot of frustration in the future if something were to happen to you.

    • douken06
    • April 5th, 2010

    I agree that financial security is extremely important for lieutenants as well as the every day person. As 2nd lieutenants the last thing that we want to be worried about is if we can make our car payment. But I think that this is an issue that is becoming more and more important for cadets as well. Many cadets are taking our the $25,000 USAA loan because they want a little extra spending money. They think that this is just cheap money that they will pay off with their big lieutenant pay. What they don’t realize is that they do not know when they will begin making that money. I know of a few cadets that may find themselves in some financial trouble between commissioning and when they finally begin making that lieutenant pay. Some of these cadets do not start getting paid as lieutenants for six months after they have to start paying back the USAA loan. That is an extra $500+ (depends on how early they took out the loan and at what APR) that they have to pay on top of rent, bills, and food. So no matter how financially smart you are as a lieutenant, you will still be having problems if you start out that far in debt and behind on your bills.

    • Halo33
    • April 7th, 2010

    Economic crisis is very common within the Army and overall the U.S. is in hard times. This is when everyone needs to know how to handle money wisely and the TSP is something your soldiers can rely on when they retire. They need to understand all of their options when they do not have any money at all. They will look to us, as leaders, for guidance to solve their economic distress. We need to be aware of our own financial matters in order to help others with advice and counselling, so they can get the help to dig themselves out of a hole of debt.

    • stewiegriffin519
    • April 7th, 2010

    I have heard that if you have student loans that you can inform some of the companies that they are through that you are going into the military and they may be ‘forgiven’. Is there ANY truth to this? I found it hard to believe.

    Something a little off topic… Everyone always says that you will not become rich by being an officer, yet all officers that reach the rank of Major or higher live VERY comfortable lives. I realize that anyone can just look up pay scales, but when you factor into our pay all the things we don’t pay for, insurance dental etc., what would the civilian equivalent be to our wages?

    • армейский кадет
    • April 8th, 2010

    How can promotions be affected by financial problems?

    Also in the textbook, it says that the TSP is optional and can supplement “their retirement pension”, can anyone go into more detail on this pension? Do you receive this after 20 years of service?

    • Pea Tear Griffen
    • April 8th, 2010

    While I agree that you should have your own plan to your money it sounds like a lot of responsibilty to also look after the status of your soldiers money. Short of asking them if they are ok what is a good way of telling that they are having a hard time? I dont want to creep on their life but its important

      • Top Shelf
      • April 14th, 2010

      A while back we had someone from USAA come and talk to us, and this is something that you can do for your unit. Also, remember that you have SFC PSGs and SSG SLs that will track your soldiers personal lives more than you will, and they will let you know if a soldier needs help (or at least I’ll tell my NCOs that). If a soldier is identified as having a problem, or problems, then I think you would need to pull them aside and sit them down with a “money profesional” that could help them develop a budget or a payment plan for their credit card debt, etc. Hopefully, though, your NCOs will catch this before it gets to you and handle it themselves.

    • Smooth
    • April 8th, 2010

    Financial planning and money management is something that I know I need to be a little better at, but I hadn’t really put a whole lot of thought into looking after your soldiers in that regard before reading the “Invisible Women” paper.

    I kind of have the same questions as Pea Tear Griffen: How exactly do you make sure they are doing ok, and what do you do when they’re not? Does the army have resources that you can send them for financial advice/help?

    • CDT Ricky
    • April 23rd, 2010

    The first step in being able to help others financially is be able to take care of yourself financially. This is done by living within your means. A big problem with young people is impulse shopping or spending. Buying things that you don’t need and paying too much for them. Often times, people want to out do the Joneses. How do you notice financial problems? Well I believe one indicator is the same indicator as any problems. If a soldier starts to perform badly, get in trouble, or act out of character, it is likely that something is wrong. As a soldier who lived in the barracks I knew right away who had money and who didn’t. The person without money usually talks about the next payday right after payday.

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