May 12, 2014
By Rhonda Apple, Pentagram staff writer
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - In addition to the Transition Assistance Program instruction received as Soldiers prepare to retire or end obligated service, the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall offers additional workshops and seminars to benefit those needing more detailed financial assistance.
Also unique to the JBM-HH ACAP Center are courses developed by Angel Love, JBM-HH ACAP financial planning counselor. With an extensive professional background on New York's Wall Street, Love is also an accredited financial counselor (AFC) and holds a master's in business.
As a financial counselor, Love serves transitioning service members and their spouses in the area of personal finance. Since she started working on JBM-HH about 18 months ago, Love has developed classes that are not available at other installations.
"The greatest resource I bring to this position is that I was a military spouse for 20 years, and I understand the importance of having to live on less [money after retirement or separation]," she said.
Love is passionate about equipping and educating transitioning service members with the financial knowledge they need before they leave military service.
"We're educators. We inform and provide resources. That is so impacting on people's lives. We also invite spouses and older children to attend the financial planning workshops," she said. "When they come to us, they'll get unbiased, impartial, practical, useful and relevant information."
JBM-HH and the Pentagon have a large population of senior noncommissioned officers and high-ranking officers in higher pay grades. The issues they face when transitioning from the military is the same as those in lower pay grades, Love said.
"They're retiring and may have to live on $6,000 or $7,000 less than they were making on active duty. As they go through this transition, they learn tools and the resources so they don't have to touch their reserve until they get another job. I've had people here with negative net worth as well as seven figure net worth, so we deal with a wide variety of financial situations," she said.
She said the same applies to someone who may not be earning as much [as a senior ranking officer] but needs to know the same skills including: how to trim a budget; how to track spending; how to take advantage of services and programs that are going to maximize finances; how to raise a credit score and get lower interest rates; and how to save thousands of dollars on a home purchase.
In the workshops, all aspects of financial planning are covered, including developing a budget and creating a viable spending plan, credit score familiarity, checking your credit report and knowing what is in the report.
In addition, attendees will learn how to determine salary after military service, learn implications for making a salary in the civilian world [in line with military skills and qualifications], taxes, residential decisions, cost of living decisions and many other issues.
"Many service members have never had to consider how employers do things like a 401k. Civilian health plans are another new area, since many have used TRICARE for years," Love said. "I'll tell someone about taking out a VA home loan and the relevance of what can happen with a funding fee. Having that information can save someone $30,000.
"That information is relevant to everybody but it's a particular pleasure of mine to get some resources across to someone that perhaps finds this a bit challenging and leaves here with a bit of hope," she added.
"I'm so motivated to see service members increase their money. I'll work with clients privately on increasing their credit scores just by teaching how to check credit reports, dispute errors, write letters to settle old debt and get that cleared away," Love said. "Because I'm an accredited financial counselor who came through the military spouse investor fellowship, I'm authorized to give credit scores to any service member that requests them. I can provide a link [online] to pull their credit report for free."
She explained the most commonly used credit score is FICO [Fair Isaac Corporation] and has a range of 300-850. A credit score of 720, which is what 50 percent of the U.S. population has, is considered average and anything above that is considered good. A credit score of 760-850 is considered elite. In that range, one will always get the most competitive interest rates and best deals, she said.
"I had a client a few months ago who had credit scores in the mid 700s when I started working with her. By applying the techniques we use in the credit scores class I created on credit scores, she increased her score by more than 75 points in just a few months," said Love.
The specialized one-day workshops Love teaches are: Credit scores from good to excellent; Debt free; Smart investments, and Home buying. The classes are free, but registration is required. Love is also available for one-on-one financial counseling appointments.
Smart investments is scheduled May 28, June 25 and July 30 from 1 to 3 p.m.; Credit scores from good to excellent - May 29, June 26 and July 31 from 1 to 3 p.m.; home buying - May 27, June 24 and July 29 from 10 a.m. to noon and debt free May 29, June 26 and July 31 from 10 a.m. to noon.
To sign up for seminars and workshops, or for additional information, phone 703-696-0973 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps Henderson Hall also offers financial assistance through the personal and professional development branch of the Career Resource Management Center on the Henderson Hall portion of the joint base for Marines transitioning out of the Corps.
For more information, go to http://www.mccshh.com/Finance.html, or contact Jim Murphy, financial counselor at 703-614-6950.
Editor's note: This is the second article in a series about ACAP financial-related services and other programs beneficial to service members, veterans, and their families. The Pentagram will publish future articles highlighting transition, career, and education programs and services available at JBM-HH.