David Block, a retired U.S. Army officer and CFP® professional, saw many active service members returning from active duty with money in their pockets post-deployment, buying things like expensive cars rather than thinking about the long term. “These impulsive decisions,” he said, “can be detrimental to overall financial money security, and, in the most severe cases, put service members’ security clearances and careers at risk.”
To help, Block founded Financial Independence Training (FIT), where members of the military can access expert advice to help them make sound financial choices through one-on-one financial counseling and online education. Block’s efforts have resulted in approval to work on military bases, a formidable barrier for many external organizations.
With support from the Foundation for Financial Planning, FIT has served hundreds of members of the military through its Financial Readiness Clinics. At these events, individuals and families are able to sit down with CFP® professionals for free, one-on-one planning sessions where they can share their concerns, ask questions, and receive practical action-plans.
At a recent FRC, a Marine who was recently married, described struggling with payments on two car loans. These payments were causing the couple to go further and further into debt. They thought they had no way out.
In another example, a Navy Chief was approaching his temporary separation from service in order to go to medical school to become a doctor and rejoin the Navy as a medical officer. He was worried about not having enough incoming cash flow during this interim period, how various types of VA and Navy benefits would interact with each other, and how to obtain life insurance coverage during that period.
After meeting one-on-one with financial planners, these families described greater knowledge about their personal finances and an understanding of the next steps. Following their coaching session, the couple facing debt on their car loans realized that selling one of the vehicles at a slight loss and buying a replacement vehicle that fit within their budget would reduce their debt. And the Navy Chief going to medical school said that he had a solid plan to prepare for his upcoming separation and knew exactly who to contact to answer his remaining questions about VA benefits.
Both clients were pleased they could worry less about money and start focusing on more important issues, such as building a meaningful relationship as a married couple or getting strong grades in medical school.
Col. Joseph Craft, the battalion commander of Headquarters and Support Battalion at Camp Pendleton underscored his support for FIT after a recent FRC, “I believe this was one of the most successful and impactful events for the personal development of our Marines and their families. A huge thank you to David Block and his team of 27 volunteer personal financial advisors! Their collective knowledge has the potential to benefit our Marines and their families for years to come.”
“I believe this was one of the most successful and impactful events for the personal development of our Marines and their families.”
–Col. Joseph Craft, battalion commander, Camp Pendleton
- Members of the military and their families meet one-on-one with pro bono financial planners on base
- They receive action plans that allow them to take the next steps to improve their financial lives
- Results in reduced financial worries, and increased ability to focus on more meaningful areas of life, such as education and family relationships