(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Army has a new strategy — and many new classes — to assist Soldiers and their families in making informed and effective decisions when it comes to their finances.

This strategy is called financial literacy touchpoints, because as a Soldier’s career progresses, there will be milestones — marriage, children, deployments and promotions, for example — that require more knowledge to maintain financial and mission readiness.

Soldiers now attend their first financial readiness classes during Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training, where they learn how to read a Leave and Earnings Statement, gain a basic overview of their retirement plan and the Thrift Savings Plan, as well as get guidance on budgeting, credit and debt, making major purchases, buying insurance and other financial management strategies.

When they arrive at their first duty assignment, Soldiers now attend what’s called “First Termer’s” training, which prepares them for the road ahead. In that class, they learn the basics of personal finance, how to plan and execute a budget and spending plan, how to overcome emergencies and their consumer protections, such as the Service Member Civil Relief and Military Lending acts.

With every promotion comes increased pay, increased responsibility and often the creation of additional expenses, and at each assignment, there will be additional trainings as well to help Soldiers stay the course.

Learning about how retirement benefits and contribution plans work is also vital to financial stability. Soldiers nearing two years of service, and enrolled in the Blended Retirement System, will need to learn about vesting and how it plays a part in their retirement benefits. This training is not limited to blended retirement participants, though. For Soldiers in the Legacy Retirement System, this training is intended to deepen their understanding of the TSP and their retirement benefits as well.

It is inevitable that most Soldiers will deploy in their Army career. New training has been developed to help before and after a deployment. These courses help Soldiers to better understand any pay fluctuations, benefits, entitlements and how to better manage their money while away from home.

All Army leadership courses now also contain financial management training. Whether they’re enlisted or officer, the Army wants all Soldiers to be mission ready and that means being financially ready.

There is also training available as a Soldier transitions out of the Army, with tips on finding a private-sector or government civilian job, or simply how to best transition into retired life. The training helps Soldiers get organized and ready for either situation.

The Army has experts available to provide training that keeps Soldiers financially literate, no matter where they are in their journey. Below are some in-person trainings available through Army Community Service here, although they may also be completed online at https://www.financialfrontline.org. Please note that all in-person classes have limited seats available and dates and times may be subject to change. Call 573.596.4320 for more information.

Quarterly classes are scheduled to meet from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Bldg. 486. They include:

  • Budget and Bank Account Management class on Wednesday. This class offers basic skills for creating and modifying a personal budget, and maintaining a bank account.
  • Credit, Debt and Consumer Awareness class on Jan. 19. This class offers information on proper uses of credit, debt management, eliminating debt, and protecting and recovering from identity theft. It also helps demonstrate how poor credit and debt management can have a negative impact on consumer life.
  • Saving, Investing and Insurance class on Jan. 26. This class offers information on how to build a savings plan, what types of savings are included in a plan and short- and long-term investing. This class also offers information on insurance, to include SGLI and TSGLI benefits for active-duty service members.
  • Marriage Finances class on Feb. 9. This class teaches Soldiers how to optimize finances for married life.
  • Promotion Finances class on Feb. 16. This class helps prepare Soldiers for the financial aspects of a promotion, and teaches them to take advantage of opportunities to improve their financial position.
  • Preparing for Divorce class on Feb. 23. This class provides information to help prepare Soldiers to make smart and informed financial moves, so they can emerge from a divorce with greater financial confidence.

 

Monthly classes are scheduled to meet from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in Bldg. 486. They include:

  • Permanent Change of Station Finances class on Monday, Feb. 14 and March 21. This class is specifically designed for Soldiers with little to no experience performing a PCS move, or for those who need a refresher. It includes information on entitlements and benefits to ensure a Soldier’s next move is flawless.
  • TSP-Vesting and Continuation Pay class on Feb. 2 and March 2. This class helps familiarize Soldiers with their Thrift Savings Plan. They will learn about employer-sponsored defined-contribution pension accounts — such as the TSP — as well as the need to plan for retirement, benefits of the Defense Department’s Blended Retirement System and how to maximize investment opportunities.

 

Weekly classes are scheduled to meet from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in Bldg. 486. They include:

  • First-Term Budget Creation class on Monday, Jan. 24 and 31, Feb. 7, 14 and 28, and March 7, 14, 21 and 28. This class offers information on goal setting, consumer affairs and lets Soldiers create a personal budget with the assistance of a financial counselor.