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United States Army
(ACS) FINANCIAL READINESS
1800 Bell Richard Avenue
Building 2160 C
Fort Polk, LA 71459
Resources are available to help you understand and manage your finances, including one-on-one financial counseling to assist you and your family with financial readiness. Services are designed to focus on money management issues throughout your active-duty lifecycle and into retirement. Financial readiness educational opportunities range from basic planning to long-term investing. Check out the information below to see what’s available at your installation.
There is a saying, "The Army moves these people so you know it doesn't cost them anything to move to a new post!"; but whoever it was never served or lived the military life. The reality is that every move does cost the soldier and family out-of-pocket.
It has been said, the average military family loses $2.00 for every $3.00 they spend, due to poor planning. I take exception to that statement, because the reality is that not all expenses are meant to be reimbursed by the military. The consumer affairs program at ACS is designed to help budget for moves. Most soldiers are pretty good "Plan-Budget Engineers", or our families would never be able to make the moves and transitions required of us. So, experienced financial counselors are located in ACS to assist with planning and share their experiences. They will tell you to learned to budget, plan, read, etc, everything about the new place they will be diving, including how to get there and where all the cheap, clean restaurants/cafes/hotels/motels are along the way. You know what we mean; the kind of restaurant/cafe you go into and order 2 or 3 large value meals and divide the meals with the kiddies. This is just one trick, others include how to pack everything edible (except the peanut butter) in an ice chest, (just in case your funds don't stretch as far as you thought they would); and six weeks worth of clothing for the whole family in an overnight bag, (that's because the packers also packed the luggage along with the garbage and household goods).
These incidents listed above probably haven't been experienced by most of you, but if you feel you need more help with planning for your next move, go by or call the ACS Financial Readiness Counselors. The counselor will tell you what the current allowances and entitlements are for your rank. They will help you budget, provide more tips, assist in any way that they can to help you minimize your out-of-pocket costs.
These classes and services are especially beneficial due to the cost of living for this area. Fort Polk is a Medium Cost of living area. There is a shortage of rental properties due to the influx of new Service, Family members, and civilian contractors to the installation. Although there are new houses and apartments going up every day the availability cannot keep up with the demand. Houses sell for $50,000 - $250, 000; rental property goes from $400 - $1200.00. Utility bills run $20.00 (water/sewage); $80 - $200 (+ or -).
Temporary Lodging prices start at: Single Soldiers Barrack Rooms - $12 per night; Welch Magnolia House - $40 per night, $3 for each additional person, no pets, and six (6) room accommodations for guests with disabilities; Bradshaw Court Apartments - $42 per night, $3 for each additional person. Pets are permitted in apartments 5818 A, B, C, and D; subject to availability.
Pets - $100 Deposit NON REFUNDABLE, plus $5.00 per night not to exceed $100.00 total.
Agencies while traveling you may request assistance: Red Cross, and AER. Upon arrival: Vernon Community Action Council; WIC; La Food Stamp Office; VFW; Helping Hands; Red Cross; Angel Food Ministries; Installation Chaplain Office; AER.
Avoid requesting an ADVANCE PAY. Members on PCS orders are entitled to an advance of 1 up to 3 month's basic pay, Minus Taxes and Deductions. To draw one month advance pay prorated over a 12 month period, Sergeants and above may sign the request themselves; E4 and below must have their company commander's approval. All request for the second advance pay must have itemized expenses and be signed by the Company Commander. All request s for the 3rd advance pay must have itemized expenses and be signed by the Battalion Commander who may request a repayment period up to 24 months. This type of pay draw can cause unusual hardship(s) on the family due to the repayment of the debt. This can reduce the Service member's monthly income drastically according to repayment options with the Finance office.
Army Emergency Relief plays a unique and important role in helping the Army take care of its own. AER provides financial assistance to soldiers (active and retired) and their families during valid emergencies.
Certified financial counselors assist clients in developing a realistic personal budget and provide record-keeping tips.
Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance
Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance is a program to increase the service member’s basic allowance for subsistence. Army Community Service counselors pre-screen clients to determine if the family qualifies for FSSA.
The emergency food voucher (made payable to the commissary) is intended to assist active-duty and retired military families with food in an emergency, not to exceed three days.
Information, depicting the financial status of a client in the form of an income and expense statement, can be provided.
Debt Management Program
Team up with Incharge Debt solutions and let them work with your creditors to lower interest rates and payments, consolidate your payments into one monthly payment, stop collection calls and help you become debt free in three to five years.
Consumer Affairs and Complaint Resolution
When filing a complaint, bring all relevant and supporting documentation (i.e. warranties, bill of sale, correspondence with merchant).
Baby Center Referral
After a budget is completed, our financial counselors can refer you to the baby center for an emergency supply of diapers, formula, baby wipes and baby food.
Specialty financial education classes are available upon request. Banking and financial services, car-buying strategies, consumer awareness, credit management, financial planning for deployments, home buying, military pay issues, and money and the move.