It is difficult to provide for your family or save for retirement when you do not practice fiscal responsibility. However, what if you never learned the principles of fiscal responsibility in the first place? You may not have a sufficient understanding of financial concepts to make sound fiscal decisions, or you may have a sufficient understanding but no access to the affordable financial products that you need.
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) has launched a new financial education program aimed at two segments of the population — military service members that are transitioning into civilian life, and consumers that are seeking assistance from social service agencies and are considered economically vulnerable.
Richard Cordray, Director of the CFPB, explains the need for the program this way: "Having a trusted, well-informed financial coach can increase your odds of financial success. Our project aims to provide financial coaching services at critical points in consumer's lives, especially as they transition from military service or from being unemployed."
The CFPB hopes to keep people with limited financial means and understanding from turning to financial services like payday loans and very high interest credit offers. These financial products are usually not in consumers' best interests and tend to send the poor and unemployed into debt spirals.
Thanks to available funds from the CFPB's Civil Penalty Fund, CFPB is stationing sixty certified financial coaches at various non-profit organizations and American Job Centers operated by the Department of Labor (DOL) throughout the nation. It is hoped that the financial coaches can provide some help for some of the over 100 million impoverished and/or financially underserved people, as well as the 250,000 service members each year that leave active duty.
Service members do receive transition services through the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), but many retiring service members can benefit from more comprehensive financial advice targeted for people in their situation. Similarly, the financially underserved population can receive access to programs and services that are more appropriate for their needs.
The emphasis is on appropriate assistance. Coaches must be trained in financial coaching methods and be accredited through the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. They also must have experience dealing with the populations that they serve.
The financial tutoring is intended to complement the other services already available at the DOL centers and non-profits where coaches will be stationed. Job-related training is key, especially for the unemployed or service members in transition. Coaches will help with identifying jobs, finding the necessary training programs, and developing the skill sets needed to enter the workforce in growth industries. Combining job training and financial literacy helps to increase the likelihood that consumers can reduce or eliminate their need for assistance programs and become financially self-sufficient over time.
All selected non-profit and DOL sites offer other financial-related needs, such as housing services. A more comprehensive package of services is more likely to get people on the path to economic self-sufficiency.
If you are a service member transitioning to the civilian world or a low-income American struggling to deal with financial issues, seek the help of one of these financial coaches today. Their expertise can help put together a plan to get you back on your feet and into true long-term financial stability. Here is the list of coaching sites.
Do not pass up the opportunity for free help. It is hard to win any struggle without decent coaching, and that includes the struggle for financial stability.