Maintaining financial readiness is not easy for your young military family. There are many ways to spend money and make risky decisions, and not nearly as many ways to get smart on your personal finances — at least not without having to slog through dozens of pages of sleep-inducing material.
No matter how challenging — or boring — it may seem to you, maintaining personal financial readiness is an imperative, not just for you as a young service member, but for the U.S. military.
Why does the state of your finances matter to the military?
First, Congress has laid out extensive new expectations and requirements for the financial education of service members, establishing troops’ financial literacy and preparedness as a crucial priority for personnel management.
Second, the Department of Defense considers financial readiness to be an essential element of overall military readiness because it directly impacts a military family’s strength by reducing stress and enables personnel to maintain security clearances required for mission readiness.
Third, the harsh reality is that financial problems are very real for our nation’s service members and their families. In a recent Blue Star Families survey, 40% of active-duty respondents said they felt financially insecure, and 87% of active-duty respondents expressed a desire for financial readiness training that is more specific to the needs of their family.
Finally, with the military’s new blended retirement system phasing in over the next few years, maintaining personal financial readiness is becoming an even more daunting prospect for service members not sure where to go to get smart with the minimum amount of effort.
The military will do its part with mandated training efforts, but nonprofit resources also exist to help you achieve personal financial readiness. I want to introduce one that I helped create, the Command Your Cash Microlearning Center, a new mobile-optimized tool that supports the financial education of service members.
This online program, launched in early October by The USAA Educational Foundation, is specifically designed to educate military millennials and shape their financial futures. Lessons covered in the first phase of the program range from explaining how to keep debt from ruining your life, to how to live on a military paycheck and still get ahead.
The microlearning approach delivers short, precise content focused on changing a specific behavior. This allows today’s military professional to understand the “why” and “how” of each financial readiness topic by presenting 1 – 2 minute videos. The videos are followed by quick knowledge checks and downloadable tools that can be personalized. The videos are engaging and many feature veterans who have been exactly where you are now. You can view the lessons in any order, enabling you to create a custom experience made up of material relevant to your needs and tailored to your learning style.
The microlearning center can also be used at the unit and command levels to provide managed guidance, either as a standalone curriculum, or as a component of a comprehensive lifecycle training program. Regardless of how you decide to use the material, the highly focused design of microlearning content delivered anywhere and at any time on mobile devices offers you a unique way to achieve financial readiness.
The military understands that the personal finances of its troops are an important issue. As a retired Air Force senior noncommissioned officer and learning and development professional, I’ve seen first hand that if you can’t get your money management right, your military journey simply won’t be as rewarding as it could be.