Finances

Welcome to the Topic Guide on Finances.

This is a starting point for information and resources for financial issues.

With the state of the economy over the last several years, financial stress is a reality for many families in our community. At times, military and veteran families can be hit even harder by financial stress due to factors relating to their military service. Fortunately, there are resources available to help address financial issues and set individuals and families on the right path going forward.

What are some of the situations that can lead to financial stress?

  • Unemployment/underemployment of the service member, veteran and/or family member
  • Deployment (including changes in pay, other financial hardships, employment issues upon return, etc.)
  • Life changes (marriage, divorce, children, death of family member, retirement, illness, etc.)
  • Unexpected expenses or changes (car repair, home repair, medical bills, legal issues, adjustable rate mortgages)
  • Living beyond means (expenses more than income, overextended credit)
  • Identity theft
  • Tax issues
  • Credit problems

What kind of assistance is available to help individuals and families struggling with financial issues?

FINANCIAL TOOLS & EDUCATION

There are great books, websites and classes available to help people learn more about how to manage their finances. Examples:

Practical Money Skills for Life – This site has information, tools and resources for financial literacy, including information for kids.

Annual Credit Report – Monitoring your credit is an important aspect of protecting your finances and identity. This is the official site to get your free annual credit report at no cost. You can request one report every twelve months from each of the three credit bureaus. So you could request one from each credit bureau every four months. Note: there are many companies that offer “free” credit reports, however most require you to sign up for a paid credit monitoring service. This is the official free credit report site.

Mint.com – This is an example of a budget tracking site.

PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT

At times it may be helpful to work with a professional to address financial issues and plan ahead.

Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) are the professionals who work with individuals and families to effectively manage their current and future finances. Some CFPs work for companies, some are independent and some provide services through a program or agency. As with any service provider, choosing a financial planner is a very personal decision. Be aware that some financial planners are paid a set fee, some work off of commission and others are paid by salary.

The Financial Planning Association provides guidance for choosing a planner, including questions to ask. They also have a Code of Ethics and promote the importance of putting the client’s needs first.

Military Financial Counseling

Current military members have additional options for financial planning assistance through Military OneSource, which offers financial counseling to active duty, Guard & Reserve members and eligible dependents.

Link: Military OneSource Financial Counseling Q & A

Pro bono Financial Counselor, keynote speaker & workshop trainer:
Many people around Arizona had a chance to get to know Frank Molinar when he was the Personal Financial Consultant for the Arizona National Guard Total Force Team. During his time with the Guard, Frank presented to thousands of service members and their families. He also worked one-on-one with many families, helping them navigate their finances. Frank continues to provide services to the military and veteran community through his training platform and curriculum, Richer Lives & Ready Warriors.

Frank A. Molinar, CFP

Richer Lives & Ready Warriors
Speaker site: http://directory.espeakers.com/simp/viewspeaker19534
Office phone: 480-429-7732

Credit Counseling – At times it may be necessary to have professional help to manage credit issues, debt and repayment. It’s important to select an agency that is reputable. The Federal Trade Commission offers information on how to choose a credit counselor, including questions to ask.

Link: Choosing a Credit Counselor

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

There are programs available to provide financial assistance. There are usually specific guidelines, eligibility and requirements for each program.

If the person or family is homeless or at-risk of homelessness, please visit the Homelessness Topic Guide for more information on programs and resources.

For current service members, the different branches and components of the military may have financial assistance funds. Check with your service member support office at your local installation.

Arizona has a Military Family Relief Fund. This fund was established specifically to help Arizona military families who experience financial hardship because of deployment. There are three basic requirements: 1) Deployed to a combat zone post-9/11 2) financial hardship relating to deployment 3) Arizona residency. The fund is administered by the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. Click the link below for more detailed information on this fund.

Link: Military Family Relief Fund

There are also programs and resources available to the general community that you may qualify for. One tool available for connecting to financial assistance programs in your area is Arizona Self Help. This website provides a quick prescreening process for 40 different health and human service programs by entering basic (non-identifying) information about your location and circumstances.

Link: Arizona Self Help