April is “Spring into Action Month” that highlights five national campaigns; Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Alcohol Awareness Month, Month of the Military Child, Volunteer Month, and Financial Literacy Month. Throughout the month of April, we will highlight how even the smallest action can make a big impact to those around you. Follow this series here on All Hands to learn about all of these national campaigns.
Written by Lisa Johnson
Family Support Services Program Manager
I remember when I was just out of college 20 years ago and my dad encouraged me to invest in the stock market. I was not a risk taker and I was barely saving from my first official job. Retirement wasn’t even a blip on my radar. The only reason I agreed to invest the $3,000 he urged, was because he guaranteed to repay anything I lost, since I was convinced that was going to be the case. It wasn’t the case and if I could go back to my 22-year old self, I would discuss the power of compound interest. Now, in my 40’s, I won’t be able to make up those 20 valuable years my money could’ve been working better for me. That extra savings, as small as it was, still could’ve been put to better use.
Another tip my dad provided was when we received our first credit card. He set one simple rule. Credit cards would be paid off at the end of each month. If we couldn’t pay the balance, we should not have used it in the first place. Following this rule has saved me thousands in interest that would’ve been otherwise been paid to the bank.
While I was lucky to have my father providing me with financial advice, not everyone is in the same position. The good news is, as a member of the Coast Guard workforce, there are services and resources afforded to you free of charge.
Coast Guard Personal Financial Management resources include:
- CG SUPRT Personal Financial Wellness Program – If you are experiencing financial difficulty, researching retirement options or need advice on money matters, visit www.CGSUPRT.com and click “Personal Financial Management” under “Quick Links.” Services include one-on-one telephonic money coaching for up to 90 days, educational webinars, and other financial resources.
- Thrift Savings Plans (TSP) – Provides Coast Guard members and employees with information, forms, Coast Guard contacts and related links for initiating and updating TSP accounts.
- Office of Work-Life Personal Financial Management Program – This site features financial information and resources. Point of contact for issues related to personal financial management is your Personal Financial Management Coordinator (PFMC) on your Regional Work-Life staff. They can be reached at 1-800-872-4857 or visiting them online at www.uscg.mil/worklife/contact.asp. You can also contact the Command Financial Specialist (CFS) assigned at most major units throughout the Coast Guard.
- MyMoney.gov – www.mymoney.gov. This government website is dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education. It provides practical information and tools to help with a variety of financial issues, such as buying a home, investing in a 401(k) or balancing your checkbook.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – This agency’s central mission is to protect the American public from predatory loans and other financial pitfalls. This website can provide guidance on how to evaluate mortgages and credit cards that work best for consumers. You can also file a consumer complaint at this site regarding any financial product or service.
Additionally, in support of Financial Literacy Month, the Coast Guard Office of Work-Life is providing many opportunities to gain insight, information and resources on Financial Readiness, the Blended Retirement System and the CG SUPRT Personal Financial Wellness Program.
It doesn’t matter if you are stationed at Sector San Juan or Base Alameda, the Financial Readiness Week webinars are easy to participate in, as long as you have access to the Internet. The webinars will touch on various topics including on savings, investing, blended retirement system (BRS), and avoiding fraud. See the image below!