Veterans: Financial Coaching Can Help Service Members Improve Credit, Long-Term Well-Being

Veterans and military service members face unique financial challenges, yet there are few dedicated resources to help these people who have sacrificed so much.

The military life cycle of deployments and frequent moves presents distinct difficulties for spousal employment and for families attempting to balance work and home life, contributing to financial instability. Moreover, these challenges extend to life beyond military service, as veterans continue to have more trouble with finances compared to their never-serving peers.

Financial Coaching for Veterans

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has funded a financial coaching program for veterans and other economically vulnerable consumers since 2015. The national program has been a success, but it will shut its doors at the end of this month. We have hosted one of these licensed financial coaches here at Gold Coast Veteran Foundation’s weekly Veterans Connection, and we have seen firsthand the difference she has made in the lives of our veterans.

One local veteran and his wife first met with our financial coach in 2016. They had declared bankruptcy after they lost their home in the subprime mortgage crisis, and the couple was suffering under crushing debt. They had recently been denied credit and were renting a small one-bedroom apartment. With hard work, determination, guidance and support from the financial coach, the couple got out from underneath their debt and achieved their goal of buying their own home.

Financial Coaching for Veterans

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has funded a financial coaching program for veterans and other economically vulnerable consumers since 2015.

The coach helped the couple develop a budget, pay off debt and build some savings, which allowed them to increase their credit score. Simultaneously, they were able to slightly increase their income through a combination of working more and applying for and receiving earned benefits. In the end, they saved enough for a down payment on a new home and moved in last summer — less than two years after their initial coaching appointment.

Financial coaching is not just giving folks one-time financial advice, but developing a relationship with a client, and usually meeting several times to address persistent financial challenges, focusing intently upon inducing behavior change. The model has been very successful for veterans and their families looking to turn around patterns that developed over a lifetime.

The national coaching model has demonstrated gains in three areas: financial behaviors; objective financial health metrics like savings, debt levels, credit scores; and subjective feelings of financial confidence and well-being. Research data shows that financial coaching results in measurable changes in financial behavior and well-being.

Our anecdotal data here at Gold Coast also shows that financial coaching works. The federal program has helped nearly 400 clients in Ventura County – mostly veterans –improve their financial situation over the past three years, including repairing credit, developing budgets and building assets.

We are actively seeking ways to continue to provide financial coaching to veterans. Our coach is still open for business on Wednesdays at Gold Coast for the next few weeks. Stay tuned, as we’re exploring ways to continue this important service for veterans.

Happenings

March 10, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Sunday breakfast at the Veterans of Foreign Wars at Post 1679, 3801 Market St., Ventura. $5 per plate. Call 805-642-2674 for more information.

March 15, 6-9 p.m.: Paint and Sip at Hangar Bar, Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Building 6. An evening of artistic relaxation, $25 for active duty or dependents, $30 for Department of Defense employees, retired military members and their guests. Fee includes instruction materials and two drinks. Call 805-982-5293 for more information.

March 29, 2-6 p.m.: Military Skilled Trades Career Fair at Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme, 350 E. Port Hueneme Road. Open to active-duty service members, veterans and spouses with recent experience in the skilled trades. Uniform or business casual. Please bring at least 10 copies of your resume. More information is available at http://militaryskilledtrades.com/port-hueneme-employers.

Laura Sether is the development project manager for Gold Coast Veterans Foundation. To learn more about veterans services or to help veterans in need, please call the foundation at 805-482-6550 or email info@gcvf.org.

Source: VC Star article from March 3, 2019