ARLINGTON, Va. – For National Guard members, maintaining strong personal and family financial health is one of many ways to ensure they're mission ready. But for those Soldiers and Airmen who may find themselves in financial distress, there are resources available that provide financial counseling and education services.
"We can create a better environment for Soldiers and Airmen [by] getting them as financially fit as we possibly can," said Robyn Mroszczyk, a family support specialist at the National Guard Bureau.
She said Guard members who may need assistance with financial matters can visit personal financial counselors, who are available at many military installations and offer no-cost services to Guard members and their families.
"Every single person deserves to have somebody on the sidelines rooting for them," said Mroszczyk, adding that personal financial counselors provide that "voice" of support and guidance.
Though they run the gamut of financial services – including tax planning, debt repayment options and general consumer awareness – personal financial counselors can also provide referrals if more significant intervention or specialized assistance is needed, according to Mroszczyk.
For some Soldiers and Airmen, a weak financial posture can be tied to a lack of financial planning and poor spending habits, said Mroszczyk.
Making simple changes like tracking expenditures, she said, can help Guard members achieve a strong financial footing.
"Sometimes we don't know what we spend," she said. "Once you have it on paper you can't fib the numbers. It's concrete."
She also recommended that as Guard members progress in their careers, they live at a pay grade below their current one – a move that would allow greater "wiggle room" for financial planning and budgeting.
"Not relying on that added income [allows] you to put it away for emergency savings, future purchases and for fun things," Mroszczyk said.
Additionally, she said that planning for retirement should also be on the forefront of every Guard member's financial blueprint.
"It is imperative to pay your bills, but we have to take care of ourselves so that we will have a future," said Mroszczyk, who recommended that Guard members take advantage of available employer-sponsored retirement plans, the Thrift Saving Plan or other retirement savings plans. Some of these plans, she added, involve matching contributions from the employer.
The important part, said Mroszczyk, is having a plan.
"Everything comes full circle when it comes to finances," she said. "It determines how you are going to live your life."
For more information on resources in their area, Guard members can contact Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 or log onto www.militaryonesource.mil.