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United States Army
Financial Readiness Program
3401 Santiago Avenue
Building 3401 Santiago Avenue
Fort Wainwright, AK 99703
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.
Finances are the leading source of stress in the lives of military families. The Financial Readiness Program offers classes and one-on-one counseling to resolve problems and reduce financial stress. The mission of Financial Readiness is to reduce indebtedness and requests for emergency assistance and to prevent financial difficulties before they arise. The vision of Financial Readiness is soldiers and families living within their means and providing for their financial future.
Plan a Permanent Change of Station Budget/Cost of Living
Personnel who are on PCS orders will need adequate funds to travel and set up their new household. When determining your mode of travel, know that the expense of driving through Canada can exceed military travel entitlements. Unless you are considering a vacation, you may want to choose air travel. The cost of living in Alaska is also higher than most areas in the lower 48 states. If you decide to live off post, most apartment leases include heat and water but require the renter to pay electric; budget about $200 monthly for electric costs and more if you will use an electric water heater. Some leases, especially for single family homes, require the renter to pay all utilities; in this case, you will need to budget approximately $1,000 above the rent amount. Be careful. Prices are rising. Ask to see utility bills, especially heating oil, for the previous year. Estimate your cost by the quantity used (number of kilowatts of electric, gallons of heating oil and gallons of water) multiplied by current cost per unit.
Apartments rent approximately $1000 a month for a one-bedroom unit, $1,400 for two-bedroom units and $1,600 for three-bedroom apartments. Single family homes, depending on how many bedrooms, bathrooms, garages and surrounding land each of them have, may rent for $1,500 to $2,400 a month without utilities.
There are companies wanting to give military members "a great deal." But it may be a great deal for them and not for you. Here a few guidelines to help you decide whether or not to sign a contract:
A contract is a legally-binding document. You should carefully review all the terms and conditions before signing. Have a legal assistance attorney look at it before you sign. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Talk to your relocation counselor or Consumer Affair Financial Assistance Program manager for further information on planning for your move.
One-on-one counseling services are available for self-referred or command-referred individuals in the following topic areas:
Budget counseling focuses on improving the client's personal financial skills, such as budget development and financial planning, as well as provides informational services on developing a spending plan, managing personal finances, evaluating assets and liabilities and improving a client's ability to perform as an informed consumer.
Feeling wronged? Have you had an unpleasant experience with an area business? Do you have a complaint? The Financial Readiness Program provides consumer complaint resolution, mediation and referral assistance for both local and national complaints.
Be a smart consumer. Make educated decisions. Research products before you buy. The Financial Readiness Program Office has many publications and resources to help you.
Credit Report Analysis and Credit Repair
The Financial Readiness Program can assist you in obtaining copies of your credit report, explain the information in the report and help you take steps to dispute and correct inaccurate information.
Stop harassing phone calls, establish a workable plan to repay creditors and re-establish your credit.
Financial Planning for a Permanent Change of Station Move
Counseling is available to discuss and plan for financial factors involved in a PCS move, including before, during and after the move.
Information and Referral
The Financial Readiness Program can provide information and referrals to many on- and off-post agencies. We encourage you to contact us for all of your financial and consumer questions.
Financial education classes offered at Army Community Service:
Bank Account Management (AR 608-1 4-39) (1.5 hours)
This class is mandatory for command-referred soldiers who have abused or misused their checking account. Others are welcome to attend. Learn how to track deposits and withdrawals from your banking account. Learn how reconcile your bank statement with your transaction register. Bring current bank statement and transaction register.
Banking and Credit (1.5 hours)
Choose a financial institution, choose a credit card, understand credit reports and build and repair credit.
Budgeting and Debt Liquidation (1.5 hours)
Set up a budget and pay off debt. Bring leave and earnings statements, pay stubs, monthly bills and credit card statements with minimum payment, balance and interest rate for your individualized plan.
Consumer Awareness and Large Purchases (1.5 hours)
Avoid scams and identity theft, understand consumer rights and responsibilities and learn strategies for making large purchases (furniture, electronics, vehicles and homes).
Financial Planning for Deployment (1.5 hours)
Changes in pay entitlements, paying bills, vehicle storage insurance, setting goals, Military Savings Deposit Program, updating important documents and the pros and cons of powers of attorney.
Financial Planning for PCS Move (AR 608-1 4-39) (1.5 hours)
This class is mandatory for E1-E4 soldiers on their initial PCS move. Spouses and other ranks are encouraged to attend.
Personal Financial Readiness (AR 608-1 4-39) (8 hours)
This class is mandatory for first term/initial term E1-E4 soldiers. Spouses and other soldiers are invited to attend.
Topics covered include principles of personal finance, banking, credit, saving and investing, understanding your LES, setting goals and developing a spending plan, insurance, making large purchases and consumer awareness.
Savings, Investments and Thrift Savings Plan (1.5 hours)
You don't need to have a lot of money to save money. Everyone can save, even if it's $10 or $25 a month. The key is to start saving early. Learn about different saving and investing options, including tax-advantaged options.
Contact Financial Readiness Program for dates of scheduled classes. Additionally, units and other groups are welcome to request classes to meet their specific needs.