A survey done for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that military families and veterans face several unique financial challenges. In 2015, the average military family had seven percent higher unsecured debt balances, about $11,000 less in tangible assets, and fifteen percent higher monthly debt-related expenses.
People who are struggling to make ends meet often feel pressured to make quick financial decisions without taking time to consider their implications. Previous research done by the NFCC found that 60 percent of the nation’s service members have used alternative, non-traditional lenders, such as payday lenders, to make ends meet. This makes them even more vulnerable to fraud or high-interest predatory lending and this only exacerbates an already difficult financial situation.
Also, families with only one spouse in the military, often have to live on a single income because frequent relocations make it difficult for the other spouse to find a good-paying job.
Unfortunately, these are just a few challenges military spouses and families experience. Another one we may forget is childcare. It can be very expensive for these families who often are not stationed near family. With all these challenges, we want to raise awareness that help is available!
Help is available
The average military member who contacts a credit counselor has accumulated about $10,000 in consumer debt. In many cases, they are required to seek help by their commanding officer in order to maintain their security clearance.
The NFCC wants military families to know help is available – often free or low-cost. Programs like Hands on Banking (a joint program of the NFCC and Wells Fargo), for example, offer education and assistance for active duty service members and veterans.
Statistics show that with counseling and financial education, savings rates go up, credit scores go up, and overall debt goes down. With over 70 member agencies, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a good place to get started. To find a certified non-profit financial counselor near you visit www.nfccdebtrelief.org/military.