U.S. Navy Personal Financial Management (PFM) has provided a comprehensive approach to Personal Financial Management (PFM) education and counseling emphasizing a proactive, career lifestyle approach to behavior change modification. This is accomplished with appropriate financial subjects at each lifecycle stage. The PFM program has fostered financial responsibility and accountability with the primary emphasis on financial independence, sound money management, debt avoidance, and long-term financial stability.
PFM programs have been provided to service members and families free of charge at the workplace—ships, submarines, hangers, wherever—at 68 delivery locations worldwide. The PFM program has successfully demonstrated its positive impact. Examples of behavioral change before and after PFM counseling and/or education are: a 75 percent drop in service members missing credit card or loan payments, a 50 percent drop in letters of indebtedness, and 58 percent drop in use of payday lending services.
Many services have been provided in addition to information and education programs. These include assistance with financial planning, credit/debt management, retirement planning, consumer awareness, car buying, insurance, savings and investments, deployment cycle finances, home buying, and personal banking. PFM also has provided one week of intensive training for the Navy’s many hundreds of Command Financial Specialists (CFS) who provide service members one-on-one personalized financial coaching. CFSs are trained uniformed military personnel who complete a 40-hour curriculum. Many counselors are nationally certified as Accredited Financial Counselors.
The PFM program has used materials, content, and methods that are innovative and audience-appropriate. The PFM program has won awards for excellence. Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) was somewhat recently recognized for its Personal Finance Management (PFM) program with the Outstanding Education Program of the Year award from the Association of Financial Counseling, Planning, and Education (AFCPE).
Financial assistance has also been provided through the Fleet and Family Support Program (FFSP), a coordinated referral network that has included the use of specialized resource consultants, private-sector partner providers, and government agencies. CNIC and the FFSP have been determined to continue helping sailors and their families throughout the Navy, while offering the tools and programs to strengthen their financial well-being by checking their personal finances, setting financial goals and priorities, and working toward achieving their goals.
The Military Survey provides insightful information on how military families manage their financial resources and make financial decisions. Results include:
- Making Ends Meet. A majority of military respondents (57 percent) report no difficulty in covering their monthly expenses and bills.
- Planning Ahead. Over half of respondents (54 percent) have “rainy day” funds set aside for unanticipated financial emergencies.
- Managing Financial Products. Nearly half of credit card holders (49 percent) engage in costly behaviors such as paying the minimum, paying late fees, paying over-the-limit fees or using cash advances from their credit cards.
- Financial Knowledge. On a test of five basic financial literacy questions, military respondents answered on average three financial literacy questions correctly.