During Military Consumer Month, and whenever you sit down to work on your financial goals, think through how you can maximize what you earn, spend wisely, protect your assets and be a savvy borrower, saver and investor.
When it’s time to enter the job market as a veteran or military spouse, be wary of opportunities that sound too good to be true.
- Legitimate companies will never charge you money to get a job or guarantee you a job only if you pay. But job scammers will.
- Work with the professionals at your installation’s Family Center, which may have a career center or transition office, to develop your resume and find legitimate job opportunities that are right for you.
- If you dream about being your own boss, have all the facts before taking the entrepreneurial plunge.
In military life, it helps to think ahead. Spend with a plan.
- Be an informed consumer and smart shopper. Tips include shopping your nearest commissary and exchange and looking for the best deals in your area.
- Prioritize your goals, shop around, scrutinize options, and negotiate price and finance terms. Set up an appointment with an accredited personal financial manager or personal financial counselor at your Family Center for no-cost, personal support on topics including how to approach car shopping and other major purchases.
- A spending plan is a road map for using your money. Work toward paying your bills and saving for the future while having money left to play with. Set up an appointment with a PFM or PFC for guidance.
Crooks defraud millions of people every year, but with the right preparation, you can learn to protect yourself, your identity and your assets.
- Safeguard your money, personal information, financial records and reputation. The FTC can tell you how.
- If you suspect you’ve been the victim of identity theft, act fast. Minimize damage by reporting the problem quickly.
- Fraudulent schemes often combine new technology with lies to get people to send money or give up personal information. Be an empowered consumer, protect what’s yours and find ways to identify and avoid scams and receive notifications through the FTC’s Scam Alerts.
Know your financial story if you plan to borrow money, understand your protections as a borrower and shop for the best terms of credit.
- Check in with your PFM, PFC or local U.S. Armed Forces Legal Assistance before signing a lease or taking out a loan. You may be able to keep a few more dollars.
- Know your rights under the Military Lending Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and additional protections under the federal Truth-in-Lending, Fair Credit Reporting, Fair Credit Billing and Fair Debt Collection Practices acts.
- If you suspect your loan or credit product violates the MLA, submit a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or take action through the FTC. Explore other options through Legal Assistance.
- Having good credit can make a big difference if you need to rent a home, buy a car, obtain insurance and even get a security clearance. Here are ideas for improving your credit and making a positive impact on your credit history.
Save and Invest
You need your money to be safe and secure – and available when you need it.
- Compare offers and services from credit unions and banks to choose the right financial institution for you. Here are savings and investment questions to consider. This CFPB checklist will help you get started when opening a new account.
- Your military service gives you a few more options for saving, such as using tax-free deployment pay to set aside a little more.
- Small changes, such as adjusting your coffee, dining and movie habits, can make a big difference.
- Make sure any money you invest outside the Thrift Savings Plan is with a reputable company. Do your homework on the investment, investment professional and company.
Make an appointment today to receive no-cost, personal support from an accredited PFM or PFC. Turn to Military Consumer, CFPB and Military OneSource for resources and answers to financial questions. Reach out to Legal Assistance for help with leases and loans. Follow @DoDFINRED on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for tips to keep you financially fit. Look for more on YouTube (streaming YouTube is currently blocked from DOD networks.) Follow @MilConsumer on Twitter for consumer protection tips and resources, and current scam information.
Arm yourself with knowledge during Military Consumer Month and beyond. Take advantage of these no-cost resources and services to grow and protect your money.
If you have questions, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.