Posts Tagged ‘militaryfamiliespersonalfinance’

Car Buying: Military Edition

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

By Selena Garrison and Michael S. Gutter 

While there are many factors to be considered by anyone who is considering purchasing a vehicle, there are some special considerations that need to be made for service members. The bottom line is that a vehicle is a major investment, and military members and their families need to be armed with the right information before jumping into purchasing a vehicle.


First, you need to know how much car you can afford. Remember that when you purchase a vehicle, you need to calculate not only the cost of the vehicle, but also the cost of gas, registration, insurance, and maintenance. In addition, be sure not to negotiate based on the monthly payment. You want to get the best price possible on your new car, and if you negotiate based on how much you can afford to pay monthly, the dealer may just extend the terms of your learn, effectively lowering the monthly payment, but costing you a lot more in the long run.

 Avoid Gimmicks

When shopping for a vehicle, military personal should be keenly aware of any gimmicks that may be geared toward them. Examples may include “special financing” with no or low credit (which will end up costing a lot more than necessary), praising military service to lower resistance to a sales pitch, and attempting to sell the individual more car than they can afford because they have “earned it.”


Generally speaking, most people take out a loan to purchase a vehicle. A huge factor affecting financing will be your credit score, so it is important to pull your credit report and see if there are any areas that may be negatively affecting your score. If you have little or poor credit, it is better to buy a less expensive, used car as a temporary solution instead of getting locked in to a high interest loan. This will give you time to improve your credit, save some money, and be able to purchase the car that you really want without paying way too much for it.


There are several factors involved in negotiating a good deal on a vehicle. First, shop for financing in advance and know what you can afford. Check with a local credit union or lender that specializes in military car buying and then compare the offers you receive with the offers the dealership puts forward. Next, do your research and compare prices in advance. Know what kind of car you want, how much it has been selling for in your area, and how much you are willing to pay for it. You can use websites such as and to do your price shopping. Lastly, for the reasons that were mentioned earlier, do NOT negotiate based on monthly payment. In fact, do not even tell the salesperson how much you want to pay monthly.

Walk Away

Once you have driven the vehicle, negotiated a good deal, and secured financing, you are good to go, right? Wrong. Take a few hours or a night to make sure that this is what you really want to do. Too often, people get swept up in the excitement of purchasing a new car and end up in a situation that is damaging to them financially. Taking a step back and reviewing the decision you are making can only help you.

 Special Considerations

Military members have several additional issues that need to be considered when purchasing a vehicle. First, many military car-buyers are young, first time buyers with little experience managing finances or making big financial decisions. Remember that just because you have money doesn’t mean it needs to be spent on a car. Second, deployment can cause added financial stress and unique issues that can be difficult to resolve. Remember that being deployed does not mean that you do not have to make a car payment. It is important to designate someone to take care of these financial issues for you while you are away. Lastly, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently opened the Office of Servicemembers Affairs (OSA). The OSA is an important tool to help you stay informed about your financial rights and to protect you from abusive practices.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on April 17 2014.

Personal Finance Virtual Learning Event

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Money Behavior.001

The Personal Finance team will host a 3-day interactive virtual conference June 3-5 on Money Behavior: How People Make Financial Decisions. The event will include three 2-hour webinars and one 90-minute panel discussion. AFC-credentialed participants of the entire event will be eligible to earn 7.5 free CEUs. However, that’s not the only reason to save the dates of this exciting learning opportunity.

The speakers we have selected for this 3-day session will focus on the psychology of finance and the process behind the decisions we make that impact our financial actions. The schedule includes:

  • Culture of Personal Finance with presenter Dr. Barbara O’Neill on Thursday, June 5 at 11 a.m. ET. This 120-minute session (including 30 minute Q&A) is worth 2 AFC CEUs

You may submit questions to our panelists by emailing them to or by tagging your question on Twitter with #MFLNPF.

So mark these dates on your calendar now and plan to join us for all 4 of these great learning opportunities.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on April 10, 2014. 


Military Home Buying & Selling

Monday, March 31st, 2014

By Molly C. Herndon changes of station (PCS) make moves frequent for military families. The complexity of buying and selling a home is compounded by deployments, one-earner incomes, and the slow-to-rebound housing market. In fact, the 2012 FINRA Military Capability Study found 38% of military families have mortgages that are underwater.  So how do military families ease the burden of buying and selling a home? Fortunately, many programs are in place to assist service members and their families with this process.

The Service Member’s Civil Relief Act protects active duty service members and their families from foreclosure, termination of leases, and eviction. In the event a service member has been a victim of a wrongful foreclosure that violates the terms of the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act, they should take legal action.

Service members can also qualify for low-interest home loans using VA home loans or other special loans available to military members.

On April 15, Dr. Barbara O’Neill and Personal Finance Manager Barbara Lang will present Military Home Buying & Selling, a 90-minute webinar that will discuss these and many other home buying and selling options available to service members. This session will be worth 1.5 CEUs for AFC-credentialed participants.

To join this session, click here. Here, you’ll also find supporting resources, the PowerPoint Slides, information about the speakers, and connection information.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on March 31, 2014. 

Common Consumer Frauds & How to Avoid Them Webinar

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

The next Personal Finance webinar will be held Thursday, March 20 at 11 a.m. ET. Dr. Barbara O’Neill will present Common Consumer Frauds & How to Avoid Them. This 90-minute session is worth 1.5 CEUs for AFC-credentialed participants. For more information about the CEU process, click here. 

Several groups of Americans are particularly susceptible to fraudulent practices including older adults and young enlisted service members. In addition, some frauds, such as hacked data bases, are beyond an  individuals’ ability to control. Thus, everyone needs to know about common consumer frauds and how to reduce the risk of becoming a fraud victim. This 90-minute webinar will focus on three common types of consumer frauds: identity theft, investment fraud, and income tax refund fraud. It includes a description of fraud risk factors, a personalized identity theft risk assessment quiz, resources for personal and/or professional use, research findings about identity theft risk reduction practices, and a discussion of how to adjust income tax withholding to have a low or no refund for potential tax identity thieves to steal.


To join this webinar, simply go to a few minutes before 11 a.m. ET on March 20 and click on the location link. Enter the room as  a guest. If you have not joined one of our webinars in the past or if you will not be joining from a military installation, you may need to install security certificates. Instructions are available here. 

The slides and other resources for this webinar will be available here. We hope to see you online on March 20!

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on March 18, 2014. 

Factual Friday: February 28, 2014

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Factual Friday February 28

*Underemployed, as defined by the parameters of the survey, means “they possess more formal education/experience than needed at their current or most recent position.” 

Source: Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF).

This post is part of a series of Factual Friday posts published on the Military Families Learning Network blog.

Earn AFC CEUs 24 hours a day

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Did you know you can view the recordings of any of our 29 Personal Finance webinars and earn 1.5 Continuing Education Credits by simply taking a short quiz? That’s right. Choose from a variety of topics ranging from the financial implications of divorce to tax issues for military families, take a quiz, score 80% or higher and you’ll receive a certificate of completion.

This allows personal finance professionals to earn CEUs at a time that is most convenient. In addition to the nearly 30 recorded webinars, the MFLN Personal Finance community will continue to produce live 90-minute webinars throughout 2014. We typically host one webinar per month. Our next presentation will be March 4. Tax Planning Updates for Military Families is worth 1.5 CEUs for AFC-credentialed participants.

For more information on how to earn AFC CEUs from the Military Families Learning Network’s Personal Finance webinars, click here.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on February 27, 2014. 

Tax Season and Military Families

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

By Molly C. Herndon

Tax season is upon us and military families may be overwhelmed with the changes that may affect their 2013 return. To help navigate this complicated process, it is best to seek the help of a professional. Members of the Armed Services and their families are eligible for free tax preparation online. Through this program, up to three state returns and a federal return can be filed at no charge. Military OneSource is hosting an online chat today at 2 p.m. ET. Join this chat to ask questions about filing from military tax professionals.

Unfortunately, tax season is a popular time for scams. These scams run from common identity theft to more complex types of fraud. Learn about the scams the IRS is looking out for this season, and report any suspicious emails to More information is available here.  The Military Saves blog also lists 5 popular scams to lookout for this year.

The Military Families Learning Network will present a personal finance webinar on Tax Updates for Military Families on March 4 at 11 a.m. ET. Speaker Dr. Michael Gutter  will discuss income taxes and how understanding this process can relate to many financial management behaviors military families must engage in. The 90-minute session will cover:

  • Basics of tax calculationsScreen Shot 2014-02-18 at 9.48.11 AM
  • An overview of common deductions, exemptions, and credits.
  • The three Ds: deductions, deferral, and division.
  • Complex issues facing families such as phase-outs of deductions, exemptions, and credits.
  • Tax-advantaged accounts including flexible spending plans, TSPs, IRAs, and such that can help manage tax burdens today and in the future.

This webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense and if you are not joining from a military installation, you will need to install security certificates. Alternatively, the webinar will be streaming live on Ustream which may be accessed online or via an app available for Droids, iPads and iPhones. Details about how to join are available here. 

The slides for this presentation have been added to Slideshare. View them here, or download a copy from the link above.

AFC-credentialed participants will receive 1.5 CEUs for attending this webinar and following the instructions given during the presentation. No registration is required and this presentation is free of charge. View a list of all of the MFLN webinars presented and scheduled here.

This post was published on February 20, 2014 on the Military Families Learning Network blog.

Savings Strategies for Non-Savers

Friday, January 31st, 2014

By Molly C. Herndon

Dr. Barbara O’Neill will present a 90-minute web conference on Savings Strategies for Non-Savers on Tuesday, February 4 at 11 a.m. EST.

Image by Barbara O'Neill

Savings Strategies for Non-Savers will begin with a discussion of the importance of saving money, types of savings, reasons to save and reasons why people don’t save. Dr. O’Neill will describe the process of using SMART goals to determine how much periodic saving is needed to reach a financial goal. Other topics that will be discussed include:

  • A Savings Coat of Arms activity and webinar chat discussion
  • 15 specific ways to save money
  • 10 ways to reduce expenses and find money to start saving
  • A discussion of online resources about saving money


Resources for the upcoming Savings Strategies for Non-Savers web conference, including the presentation slides, worksheets, and articles, are available here.

This web conference will be hosted with the Department of Defense. If you are not located on a military installation, you will need to install security certificates to access this presentation. Instructions are available here.  For those who cannot connect to the DOD host site, the presentation will be streaming on Ustream and can be viewed here: Additionally, Adobe apps for iPhone, IPad and Driods devices are available; search for “DCO Connect” in respective stores.

AFC-credentialed participants will be eligible to earn 1.5 continuing education credits from this presentation. Details on this process are available here. This web conference is free and requires no registration. Simply click here  and join the web conference as a guest at 11 a.m. EST on Feb. 4. We hope to see you all online!

This post was originally published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on January 31 , 2014. 

Using Twitter, Games & Video in Personal Finance

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

By Molly Herndon

Photo by stevegarfield (

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, the Personal Finance community will change things up by presenting interactive teaching tools rather than financial subject matter. Join us for this exciting session! Dr. Barbara O’Neill present Using Twitter, Games & Video in Personal Finance at 11 a.m. ET.

This webinar is approved for 1.5 CEUs for AFC-credentialed participants. Instructions on how to receive these CEUs are available here. 

Dr. O’Neill has an active Twitter following and during the webinar, she will cover how to use the social media tool, types of information to Tweet, how to engage with followers, and how to measure social media impact. Participants will then each tweet a message to other webinar participants via the chat box.

Dr. O’Neill will also present two PowerPoint-based games, based on Jeopardy! and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Participants will then collectively create an interactive Military Money Millionaire Game by each contributing a multiple choice question with four possible answers. The game will be finished after the webinar and e-mailed to registered participants.

The use of animated videos will also be discussed and Dr. O’Neill will explain how to create these videos using animated avatars.

This is sure to be an exciting web conference that will cover a great deal of new information. As our audiences and clients collaborate and spend more time online, we continue to work and craft ways to meet their needs.

To join this free session and to read supporting materials in advance, visit this link. No registration is required.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network Blog on January 14, 2014.

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Secrets of Smart Car Buying

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Elaine Courtney and Dr. Michael Gutter of Florida Extension will present a 90-minute session on making a smart car buying decision. This webinar will offer PFMs and other financial educators resources and tips to help service members navigate the overwhelming process of buying a car. Photo by rachel_titiriga

For many young service members, the purchase of a vehicle is the first major financial obligation he or she may make. By taking advantage of discounts offered to military service members, avoiding scams and risky sales, and maximizing savings, buyers can make the most of this big purchase.

Elaine Courtney has been presenting on this topic in Florida Extension programs for a number of years. She has extensive experience teaching financial management, nutrition education and volunteer development programs. She received a B.S. and M.S. degrees from Florida State University, has done post graduate work at University of Minnesota and University of West Florida.  She is a member of the Association of Financial Counseling, Planning and Education and is an Accredited Financial Counselor. Employed for 30 years with the University of Florida Extension Program in Okaloosa County (faculty member; ranking IV).  Her primary responsibilities are in the areas of Family Economic Stability; Nutrition and Health; and Volunteer Development.  She is the coordinator of the Okaloosa Saves program and helped begin the Military Saves program.  She works closely with the military and has personal experience as a military spouse.  For the last seven years, she has co-taught the Eglin AFB First Term Airman Class (FTAC) section on personal finance. She has served as co-chair of the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Focus Team for Financial Stability; UF/IFAS Tenure and Promotion Board 2008-2010; and on the America Saves/USDA-NIFA Extension Leadership Team. Received numerous awards from professional organizations, including FEAFCS Distinguished Service Award and state and national Continued Excellence Award.

Michael Gutter, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor, Interim Family and Consumer Sciences State Program Leader, and Financial Management State Specialist for the Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, in the Institute for Food and Agricultural at the University of Florida. His BS is in Family Financial Management and his PhD is in Family Resource Management from The Ohio State University with a specialization in Finance. Gutter currently explores how financial education and financial socialization are related to financial capability. His Extension Programming includes the Florida Master Money Mentor Volunteer Program, Florida Saves, and Fresh$tart Florida. He recently won Outstanding Conference Paper Award for the 2010 Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education.  The common theme that connects Dr. Gutter’s Research, Teaching and Outreach is helping households achieve financial security. His projects focus on enabling access to resources and services as well as improving people’s knowledge and understanding about family resource management. These projects have had funding from the Consumer Federation of America and Bank of America.

This webinar is approved for 1.5 AFC continuing education credits.

This free webinar requires no registration. To discover more on this topic, including supporting resources, and to connect to the webinar, visit:

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network Blog on January 7, 2014.

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