Financial Readiness Program (FRP)
Community Support Center
Bldg. 1520, Freedman Drive
What's New: Money Matters Mobile App
Financial tools and information at your fingertips to help you stay financially fit on the go - MONEY MATTERS is designed to motivate, educate and support Active Duty and Reserve Army Families to save and plan for the future.
See the American Forces Press Service article, Family Matters Blog: Money App Puts Finances in Hand, introducing this new finalcial planning service.
Visit the Army OneSource MoneyMatters Webpage for information and download links for this mobile application.
The Financial Readiness Program Offers:
- Army Emergency Relief Financial Assistance
- Budget Counseling
- Consumer Complaint Assistance
- Debt Management Service/Credit Counseling
- Financial Readiness Classes
- Household Items Exchange Program (HIEP)
- Investment Counseling - Investment and Retirement
- Lending Library
- Operation Happy Holidays
The Financial Readiness Program (FRP) offers a wide range of services to Soldiers, retirees, and eligible dependents, in the area of personal finance and consumer affairs, to enhance personal financial readiness and thereby the total unit mission readiness. For the individual, we can assist in preparing detailed budgets for the future. This is especially helpful to people who are about to be married, have a child, or relocate. For those who are experiencing or anticipate financial difficulties, we offer counseling and several publications to help get the situation corrected. Clients are encouraged to work with their creditor to gain stable, manageable financial positions. The FRP office is located in building 1520.
Surviving Without a Finance Office
Advance Pay and Advance BAH:
Ideally, every Soldier should have funds set aside for Permanent Change of Station (PCS) and Temporary Duty (TDY) travel related expenses while in the military.
In conjunction with a PCS move you are entitled to apply for one advance pay from your losing duty station and two advance pays and/or one advance BAH upon arrival at your gaining duty station.
- Advance pay and advance BAH is not recommended unless you absolutely need the additional money to cover your expenses.
- Advance BAH can be requested at any time as your status or requirements change, but MUST be submitted at the same time, or prior to, your request for regular BAH.
- All advances are non-interest loans and repaid by allotment from your pay, normally prorated for 12 months.
- Do not confuse advance pay with casual pay. Casual pay, normally received during basic or AIT, is for a specified dollar amount, and immediately recouped in full at the end of the same month it is received.
Other Relocation Entitlements:
In addition to advance pay and advance BAH every Soldier has certain PCS entitlements, depending upon location and status. These include: Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA), Dislocation Allowance (DLA), Permissive Temporary Duty (TDY), Temporary Lodging Allowance (TLA), Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE), Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), Mileage/Travel, Per Diem, Weight Allowances, Shipments, Do It Yourself Moves (DITY).
Ask your NCOIC or supervisor about your relocation entitlements.
Submit your PCS travel voucher as soon as possible after arriving. Most travel vouchers submitted take three to five weeks to get processed and returned.
Be sure voucher is accurate and complete, with all receipts required, to ensure a timely response.
Do not assume the refunds received from the Travel office, if any, are accurate. Always review your documentation and double-check your calculations to verify accuracy.
Over payments by the FAO are always recouped. If you go TDY for training and you are provided a meal card, you are not eligible for Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS). The BAS received during this period under the above circumstances will be recouped from your pay about two months after you return.
If Fort Detrick is your first permanent duty station, you will be required to attend a mandatory Personal Financial Readiness (PFR) class.
- This class provides basic instruction in personal financial concepts and skills. It covers the following topics: understanding your LES, pay and entitlements; banking and checking accounts; credit and debt management; saving and investing; major purchases; planning for deployment; and local cost of living issues.
- Sign up for the first available class when you in-process through Army Community Service (ACS).
About six months prior to your PCS, you will be required to attend a mandatory first PCS class, covering all preparation and planning aspects of moving in the military.
Housing and Childcare:
The waiting list for on-post housing and childcare can be extensive at times but it is good policy to place your name on the list anyway.
On many occasions, openings become available earlier than scheduled.
Always alert your landlord and your childcare provider that you are on a waiting list to move into on-post housing or childcare facilities, in order to avoid penalty fees.
Start Saving Now:
Moving in the military is a normal event for most military personnel and families.
- All PCS moves will usually incur some out-of-pocket expenses. Developing a savings plan now will help to eliminate any financial stress and strain during your next move.
- It is recommended that a minimum of two to three months of take home pay be set aside for a PCS move.
- Typical expenses to consider are: final payments for current rent/utilities; additional clothing/personal items; temporary travel, lodging, food, and storage expenses; and new rent and deposits for your new location.
Budgeting Guide for Junior Enlisted Soldiers
Effective budgeting requires that a Soldier make certain that he is receiving all the pay and allowances to which he is entitled. Typically, a married enlisted Soldier living off-post should be receiving base pay, basic allowance for housing (BAH), and basic allowance for subsistence (BAS). Take note that the BAH rate is paid based on the location, so it will vary from post to post and even from year to year. BAS replaces the Soldier's meal card and is paid only when the Soldier is not being fed in the form of rations. Therefore, BAS payment could stop immediately if the Soldier is deployed, goes into the field, or goes on an unaccompanied tour. This amount should be used for savings or to pay extra on debts. DO NOT INCUR NEW DEBTS OR EXPENSES THAT CANNOT BE PAID WITHOUT RECEIVING BAS.
Most of the deductions from pay are beyond the Soldier's control, with the exception of income tax withholding. It makes little sense for a Soldier to have excess income tax withheld and then receive a huge refund the next spring. The W-4 worksheet may not be the most accurate method for determining the proper withholding, so contact ACS financial counselors to get the correct amount.
It is no secret that the great majority of military personnel are not in excellent financial shape. Most live paycheck to paycheck, especially the younger servicemen and women. How will you save more of what you earn? How will you invest your earnings? If you are currently experiencing financial duress, you must realize that you will only reach stability in the financial sense by establishing goals and maintaining a focus on them. Your goals could include buying a car, getting out of debt or planning for a comfortable retirement.
Make creating an EMERGENCY FUND at least 3 month' worth of expenses a high priority goal. This will help cover you in case of unexpected deployment, for instance.
AIM TO SAVE AT LEAST 10% OF WHAT YOU EARN. This includes all savings for retirement, other goals, etc. Save more if you can. It may seem hard, but putting aside even a little bit every month can add up. For example, if you save $100 a month, you will have $2,400 in only 2 years. With an 8% annual growth rate, you'll have $127,621 in 20 years!
Once you've fine-tuned your payment plan for reaching your goals, make it a regular "bill". Pay yourself first. Learn how to meet your other expenses with the money you have left.
While everyone has a different financial situation, a junior enlisted family in the Fort Detrick area should usually plan to spend about $450 to $600 per month for rent. This assumes that utilities are paid separately. When searching for a place to live, be very careful not to choose a location that is dangerously close to criminal activity. If you sign a lease and then regret it, it may be too late. Check with local police to avoid moving into a trouble spot.
Utilities will probably cost $80-150 per month, not including telephone. It is important to set some rules on long-distance calling. Young enlisted families cannot afford to have phone bills exceeding about $50 per month.
Very few families know how much they actually spend on groceries. Even though most groceries may be bought in one or two trips to the store, it is hard to keep track of the many trips to pick up milk, bread, etc. The Department of Agriculture periodically publishes a table of estimated cost for food at home. A simplified version of this table would allow $225 per month for two adults and an additional $50 per child. Older children are treated as adults and get $100 per month. Your family needs may vary, but this is a good starting point.
You won't have much say-so on this one if you already own the car. Rates are determined by the type of car, the driver's age, sex, etc., and driving records. Insurance costs may vary greatly from one geographical area to another.
Liability insurance is usually required by the state. Take note that the minimum amounts of liability coverage required by many states are unrealistically low. You will need to have more than the minimum to cover the cost of any serious accident. Collision and comprehensive coverage is required by the lien-holder on the vehicle. If the vehicle is paid for, you may be better off dropping this coverage on older vehicles.
Other Auto Expenses
Before buying a car, get some professional advice. Remember, the guy at the dealership sells cars everyday and you only buy one every few years, so you need all the help you can get.
Most people spend much more than they think for gasoline. Try to limit driving, combine trips, and keep the vehicle in good working order. Even small things, such as proper tire inflation, can help save money. Look to the Automotive Skill Center and other alternatives for routine maintenance.
Investigate clothing exchange programs, consignment shops, and other sources for clothes, especially for kids. No matter where the clothes come from, they still must be washed. Depending on family habits, and number and ages of children, a family without washer and dryer will spend $20-40 per month washing clothes at a Laundromat.
Junior enlisted families must find ways to get the maximum for their entertainment dollar. Going to a matinee, sharing a family size popcorn, and sharing co-op babysitting are easy ways to save a few dollars. Some entertainment, such as going to a park or for a walk, are still appreciated but cost nothing. While some people think that cable TV is a luxury and should be eliminated from tight budgets, it is still a great entertainment value if used in lieu of more expensive options. Without premium movie channels, cable TV typically costs less than one dollar per day!
YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT!!! Of course, many young Army families start out with some debts, and your only option is to pay these. Do not go out and run up new debts for items which are not absolutely necessary. A bed is necessary, a stereo is not! We live in a society that believes in instant gratification, having it all right now. On a Soldier's pay, with a young family, you cannot have it all now without having the debts to pay for years. Keep in mind that all the stuff your parents have took years to get, so why should you expect to get all the same stuff in six months? Also keep in mind that it will take about seven years to pay off $1000.00 charged on a typical credit card if the minimum monthly payments are made. Check at the ACS Lending Closet for items you can borrow.
Search the WEB for more information on these topics, check also the useful links in our Finance Links page.