NEWS | July 26, 2021

Courses, resources help JBSA members deal with financial stress

By David DeKunder 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

At some point during their service or careers, Joint Base San Antonio members may experience the effects of financial stress on their budgets.

According to The Balance, a personal finance website, there are several causes for financial stress that can affect individuals and families, including being in debt, not earning enough money, the expense of raising a family or having a spouse who isn’t good at managing money.

Alma Guivas, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Military & Family Readiness Center work life consultant, said the well-being of individuals and families is tied to their finances.

“Money is very emotional,” Guivas said. “It’s tied to stress; it’s tied to happiness.”

Fortunately, Guivas said, there are resources and classes available at JBSA Military & Family Readiness Centers, or M&FRCs, for active duty, military family members and government civilians on financial topics focused on budgeting, savings, investing and other financial subjects which can help them to avoid the pitfalls of financial stress on their budgets.

“One great way to help lower and manage the feelings of worry to our military is to have them receive that financial literacy education information from our military resources,” Guivas said.

Financial classes offered at M&FRCs include how to create and maintain a budget and spending plan, debt and credit management, savings, investments and retirement. A monthly schedule and information on these courses is posted on the JBSA M&FRC website at https://www.jbsa.mil/Resources/Military-Family-Readiness/, by clicking on the calendar of events.

Guivas said the classes offered instruct JBSA members about the basics of finance, including budgeting, savings, how to be proactive with money, helping them to prepare for unexpected expenses, such as if a vehicle needs to be repaired or medical bills.

Besides classes, Guivas said JBSA members have the option of meeting a financial counselor or consultant to discuss their financial needs on a confidential one-on-one basis or through a referral by their commander or supervisor.

“When we do a budget class with them, we’re creating a budget together,” Guivas said. “We’re showing them where they can save and by how saving this much and putting it away in savings, that’s going to alleviate that stress if something unexpected comes.

“Maintaining and creating that budget and being aware of it is going to relieve you of a lot of that stress that comes from worrying,” she added. “What if something happens, will I have the money? Those unexpected expenses, are they going to be covered?”

In addition, JBSA M&FRCs offer specialty courses in managing finances for couples who are or about to get married and/or having a child, individuals who are divorced, consumer protection and for buying a vehicle or home.

There are also courses in which JBSA members learn how they can get the most out of their money if they are promoted, or their options for utilizing funds from their Thrift Savings Plan or Social Security when they are ready to retire.

Guivas said Social Wellness Month is a good time for active duty, military family members and government civilians to take a look at their finances to see where they are at.

But, Guivas said, keeping track, reviewing their finances and gaining additional financial skills is something JBSA members should do year around.

“I advise our couples when they come in here and do a budget together. I always tells them this is not the end,” Guivas said. “I always recommend to come back and see a JBSA financial consultant or counselor, see where you are at, what you can improve on and what you have improved on.”

She said it’s important for individuals and couples to save as much as they can throughout the year, even saving as much as $5 per paycheck can help in building up a savings plan.

The status of a service member’s finances can even determine whether or not they are granted a security clearance, Guivas said. She said a M&FRC financial counselor or consultant can provide guidance and advice to an active duty member in helping to get their clearance re-instated if it has been revoked because of their finances.

For more information on financial courses and resources provided at JBSA, contact M&FRCs at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, 210-221-2705; JBSA-Lackland, 210-671-3722; or JBSA-Randolph, 210-652-5321.

Editor’s note: This article is the third and final in a series of articles being published to mark Social Wellness Month.