Making Sense of your Cents!
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s Military Financial Education Project delivers free, unbiased financial education tools and training to servicemembers, their spouses and on-base financial educators through a variety of programs and public awareness initiatives. A partner in the U.S. Department of Defense Financial Readiness Campaign, the project’s primary goal is to help military families manage their money with confidence.
A comprehensive website—www.SaveAndInvest.org—that provides tools and information on a wide range of financial topics, including credit management and duty station changes;
- Moneytopia, a serious e-learning financial simulation game for servicemembers and youth;
- On-the-ground training to support the military's current Personal Financial Management program;
- Fellowships that allow military spouses to earn a career-enhancing credential (the Accredited Financial Counselor™ certificate) while providing volunteer financial counseling to the military community; and
- Face-to-face financial education forums at military installations worldwide to motivate families to take responsibility for their financial well-being.
One aspect is a fellowship program for military spouses to give them the training they need to earn their Accredited Financial Counselor designation. This program helps them gain portable and marketable job skills and the certification to help local military families overcome financial challenges. The Foundation just announced the recipients of the 2012 Military Spouse Fellowship.
Candina Janicki, Fort Riley, KS: Candina Janicki, a member of the 2012 FINRA Foundation Military Fellowship Program, had to confront some tough financial decisions at a very young age. After marrying young, at just eighteen years old, pregnant and carrying a mountain of debt, she was forced to declare bankruptcy; a defining moment that made Candina realize that she had to take control of her financial future. This is the very reason why being a Military Spouse Fellow and taking part in the program is so critically important to her.
“I remember being a young soldier’s wife and making those silly financial mistakes that took years to fix. I want to help soldiers and their families in ways that will make them resilient and in control of their finances,” she says.
Today is an entirely different story. Dina has since remarried and she and her family have relocated four times from Mississippi to Colorado to Texas and presently in Fort Riley, KS where her husband serves as a Career Counselor in the U.S. Army.
Dina can still remember that crucial moment when she needed to make a drastic change in her life and chart a new course for her family. Thanks to the solid financial skills provided by the Military Fellowship Program, she will be well-positioned for a future career as a financial counselor, and always ready to help her military community during those critical moments when they need it most.
Desiree Kaul, Monterey, CA: Desiree Kaul, a member of the 2012 FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program, was confronted with the harsh reality of massive student loans and credit card debt soon after her marriage to an Army officer. She wants to combine her personal experiences with debt and her expertise in financial counseling to ensure military families learn how to save for the future and start out life together on “the right foot.”
When describing her family’s current finances and the way she and her husband now approach money, Desiree shares some valuable advice: “He’s a major in the Army, but we live like a captain,” referring to a living within your means philosophy.
Desiree understands the economic difficulties military families face and how tempting it is to use credit cards and pay the minimum balance from month to month. Now that her husband is stationed in Monterey, CA for the foreseeable future, having just relocated from Havre de Grace, MD, Desiree wants to pursue a career as a financial counselor in California, helping her extended family and friends make better spending choices, plan for retirement and increase their savings for a more financially-sound future.
Being debt-free also brings a personal sense of accomplishment and rewards. “We saved a lot of money when we lived overseas and this allowed me the freedom to stay home and not have to work when my son was born—that is a great feeling,” she added.
No matter where military life takes them next, Desiree is confident that she and her family will be able to firmly rely on the financial skills and knowledge she will learn as a Military Spouse Fellow to make the right choices in the future.
Lynne-Alison Patterson, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ: Lynne-Alison Patterson is a member of the 2012 FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship. She applied to bring financial guidance to active duty military and their dependents to secure their future and to help establish her own career in financial counseling.
Lynne-Alison is no stranger to the financial challenges being a military member can bring. She is the daughter of a Marine; served as a Captain in the Air Force for four years; and has been married to her husband, who also serves in the Air Force, for 25 years. As a child, her father was deployed often and for long periods of time—and without quick methods for communication. While this was tough for her and her family, she quickly learned from her mother the importance of being financially independent and prepared for anything that could happen.
This skill has served Lynne-Alison well. Now with children of her own and a dedication to saving and managing their finances, she has managed her family’s move to 13 different homes. She is even helping to put their eldest son through an ivy-league education.
Lynne-Alison knows how important it is to understand finances and is hoping to pass on the knowledge and skills she learned from her mother to other military families. With a degree in computer applications management and the skills she will learn through the Military Spouse Fellowship, she is confident she will be able to help members of the military while building her own career potential.
For additional information about the Military Financial Education program, visit SaveAndInvest.org/Military, or contact the FINRA Foundation's Christine Kieffer ((202) 728-6970).