Salute to Service Members, Spouses and Veterans: Wells Fargo’s Commitment to Financial Readiness
By Darlene Goins, senior vice president and head of Hands on Banking® at Wells Fargo
In recognition of National Military Appreciation Month, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) just released results from its 2019 Military Financial Readiness Survey, and they were surprising. The survey, conducted by Harris Poll and sponsored by Wells Fargo, found that:
Nearly 9 in 10 active service members and 84% of spouses or partners have worries about personal finances.
More are worried about meeting basic household needs and debt payments than in 2014.
Nearly a third of active service members are concerned about how their finances will affect their future in the military.
About half say they have had to get a job/second job for additional income — and they’re turning to the gig economy.
As I consider these findings, I can’t help but think about my nephews, brother-in-law and father-in-law who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and my youngest nephew actively serving in the U.S. Navy. To have financial worries — even take on a second job — while serving our country is alarming.
In 2012, Wells Fargo created the Military & Veteran Affairs Program to expand our outreach to members of the military, veterans, and their families who may be facing financial hardships. If you are an active duty service member, a veteran, or the spouse or partner of a service member or veteran, here are a few resources that may help you overcome financial challenges:
Hands on Banking® for Military. Wells Fargo’s award-winning Hands on Banking financial education and capability program helps address the unique challenges facing military members, veterans, and their families. Hands on Banking for Military offers 10 individual lesson topics specifically for military members, ranging from the basics of banking to planning for permanent change of station, deployment, transition, and retirement. Since its launch in 2013, it’s been accessed more than 600,000 times online.
NFCC’s Sharpen Your Financial Focus Program (Sharpen). Since 2013, more than 25,000 military members have been counseled through the Sharpen program, which includes Hands on Banking for Military. According to a study conducted by The Ohio State University, 67% of Sharpen program participants said the program helped them better manage their money; on average, participant total debt decreased by $17,000 over 18 months. Military and veteran groups wishing to have a representative teach a class, or individuals interested in scheduling a session with a certified financial counselor, should contact the NFCC at 855-374-2773.
Guideposts. Recognizing that active duty members may not have access to a computer or a local credit counselor or coach, Wells Fargo collaborates with Guideposts to publish and distribute printed resources based on Hands on Banking program content. Through Guideposts, 745,000 copies of “Financial Readiness: Sound Principals for Successful Money Management” and “Building Wealth: Time to Plan for Your Future” have been provided to military service members since 2015. These booklets provide education on the basics of banking, the importance of emergency savings as a buffer against financial shocks, using credit responsibly, the difference between having money and building wealth, and planning for retirement under the Department of Defense’s Blended Retirement System. The newest booklet, “The Veteran Entrepreneur,” provides information on entrepreneurial skills and funding options and will be published this year.
All of these resources are provided for free as a public service, in appreciation for the sacrifices you make to serve our country.
In closing, this National Military Appreciation Month, I thank our military service members, veterans, and their families, and I hope these resources help reduce any financial worries you may face.