I just had a friend go through a popular financial educator’s class, and she said to me, “Gosh, I wish this were offered on base. It would be so helpful for people.”
At first I thought she was kidding. Then, I was kind of speechless, because she wasn’t kidding. She really thought there was nothing similar available on base.
To the best of my knowledge, every single base has some sort of financial education options. While smaller bases might not have as much, there are generally a ton of choices. The names of the programs and the positions may be different from service to service, but every service member has access to something.
Every installation offers some schedule of financial education classes, which are unfortunately very poorly attended. You can find everything included in those popular civilian courses on base, for free.
For example, here are some of the programs being offered at various bases around the country:
Fort Bragg offers about one class per week, on a variety of topics ranging from your first PCS move to credit reports. You can see the current schedule here: https://bragg.armymwr.com/categories/financial.
Camp Lejeune has a robust schedule of classes on a huge range of topics: http://www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/finance/.
Naval Base Norfolk has a jam-packed calendar of classes, but honestly the schedule layout is too weird to even link. I suggest you call them directly to find what you want.
Joint Base San Antonio also offers quite a few classes: http://www.jbsa.mil/Portals/102/Documents/MFRC%20Calendars/MFRC_April-May2017Calendar.pdf?ver=2017-03-15-170346-647
Not all installations do a good job of making this information available online. I tried to use Joint Base Andrews, but could not find an up-to-date calendar online and no one would answer the phone. If you can’t find what you want online, check your base newspaper (if they still have one) or go to directly to you family support center (Airman and Family Readiness Center, Fleet and Family Support Center, Army Community Services, and Marine Corps Community Services) to get a schedule.
Individual Education and Counseling
There are generally two levels of individual financial education and counseling available on base. The first is base-wide programs, the second is at the command level.
Base-wide programs are typically housed out of your family support center. For example, the Navy has Personal Finance Managers available at their Fleet and Family Support Centers. These are typically full-time employees with specific training in financial and counseling issues.
Command-specific counseling and education is offered through a member of the unit who is trained in financial topics. My note: the quality of these folks varies greatly. Some have a serious interest in financial issues, and others were voluntold that this would be their collateral duty.
If you have an office available, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society offers completely confidential financial education. Their volunteers would love to help you look at your budget.
Military One Source
If you don’t like talking to people in person, or you can’t find what you need at your location, try the resources available at Military One Source. These include a library of webinars, articles, and access to counseling done through the telephone.
The military provides so many opportunities for financial education, and yet it’s common to hear service members say that they don’t understand things or “no one told me.” The resources are available, but it is up to you to take advantage of them. Heck, I still stop into classes, and I always learn something new. Please use these classes and counselors to help you make the most of your money.