The coronavirus pandemic created economic instability and uncertainty for many in the military community. Every facet of life has been impacted, including finances, and steps taken now can ease long-term implications for the future. Lt. Col. Jerry Quinn, Chief Operating Officer and Secretary of AAFMAA, outlines proactive financial choices military families can make right now.
Quinn currently serves in the Army Reserve, with 34 years of military service. He explains that he joined the AAFMAA team because of the reputation they have in protecting and supporting military and veterans.
He remembers a time when he went through a crisis and had to rely on trusted organizations, “When I was active duty stationed in Germany, I got a Red Cross call that my father was ill. The Army allowed me to go home, but I didn’t have money to fly. Army Emergency Relief made sure I had a ticket and some money to get me home,” he said.Today, Quinn gives back to those organizations and others who help those in need. It is ok to lean on organizations who offer support when you need it and it is important to give back to them when you can.
For service members currently facing financial emergencies due to a delayed PCS move, double mortgage payments, or the loss of a spouse’s income due to COVID-19, Quinn wants families to take a step back and realize there are many resources available.
Hassle-free financial assistance
First, he says service members should “examine both sides of the income statement, both income and expenses. Identify the expenses that aren’t essential right now. During times of crisis, you have to make some tough decisions.”
Since military pay should continue without interruption, even for those in the reserves, families still have some income, but it needs to be balanced against expenses. Trusted financial assistance options exist, like AAFMAA’s CAP Loan, that have a simple application process.
“Consider lenient payment plans, waived fees, grace periods, and payment forgiveness. If you have to resort to debt, look for your lowest interest rate. The military aid societies are there, inviting families to use their interest-free loans and grants. AAFMAA Members who qualify have access to the CAP loan, which is a $5,000 loan at just 1.5% interest with no fees or prepayment penalties. If you get a tax refund, file now. If you owe taxes, take advantage of the delayed deadline,” he said.
Support for your housing needs
With recent travel restrictions lifted by DOD, PCS orders once in limbo can now be executed. If you’re looking to plant roots at your duty station, AAFMAA Mortgage Services LLC has options for building new, buying existing or refinancing. With the recent volatility in financial markets, you should work with a licensed Military Mortgage Advisor one-on-one to lock-in a competitive rate on the best product for you.
Military spouse employment
For families needing extra income, Quinn encourages military spouses to get creative about using their own skills. Whether you have a business idea, a side gig or want to become a freelancer, there are several ways to make extra income — and military support organizations can help.
“Because of all their moves, military spouses are uniquely adept at creating online businesses and offering goods and services through the internet. This may be the impetus to get after a dream or a business you have had in mind for a long time,” Quinn said.
SpouseLink, a community created by AAFMAA, is a virtual network connecting military spouses around the world. Leverage the website for resources on careers, lifestyle, money and more. The platform also allows users to share their own story. Got a question about finding employment at your next duty station or want to build your professional network? Visit https://spouselink.aafmaa.com.
Other resources available for military families facing financial uncertainty:
- AAFMAA has partnered with Blue Star families and other organizations through the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative.
- Military Saves has a useful list of resources on savings and emergency planning.
- Military OneSource is a resource for general financial readiness.
- MilCents through MFAN has a financial education platform where you can find friends and resources.
Finally, remember it’s important to avoid changing long-term investment plans during times of economic crisis. AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust LLC Relationship Managers offer a complimentary second-look at your investment portfolio to help ensure you are on track and getting the service you deserve. Quinn says this can be an educational time to evaluate your family’s needs and your savings plan.
“Don’t withdraw from your retirement or cancel your life insurance. Stick to your plan, use resources available to you, don’t derail your hard work in saving and planning just because of market volatility right now,” he added.