A strong majority (77%) of service members have financial worries, the NFCC survey shows. More than half indicate (55%) they are “not at all prepared” for a financial emergency. Meanwhile, 60% of respondents say they had to look outside traditional financial institutions and turn to nontraditional lenders—often at high rates of interest—to meet short-term financial needs.
The NFCC suggests these trends put military members at increased risk for abuse from unscrupulous providers and make them ideal candidates for financial advice.
“No one should be victimized by financial abuse, particularly the military,” says Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. “One way to avoid financial abuse is through financial education, as an educated consumer is always a better consumer, one more equipped to identify fraud or deception and make wise financial decisions.”
Advisers might want to use Military Consumer Protection Day, observed July 16, as an opportunity to show they are “conscious of protecting those who defend our country.” The NFCC also urges advisers to direct military and nonmilitary clients to its Sharpen Your Financial Focus program, sponsored by Wells Fargo. The program presents 10 financial wellness lessons ranging from the basics of personal banking to best practices for planning and investing for retirement.
NFCC says military members can further polish their financial skills using a one-on-one financial review through its financial focus program. Group workshops and the “MyMoneyCheckUp,” a financial self-assessment, are also available, the NFCC says.
Opportunities to improve financial skills can help service members face unplanned financial circumstances with a better chance of success. “Stressful situations can result in poor choices, with decisions often made out of desperation,” Cunningham says.
More information is available on NFCC’s website.