Well gang, if you're interested this post will be a long one. Buckle up your spacesuits.
Some key points of discussion with MGySgt were focused on the finances of we Freelances Corporal and what the future of financial literacy in the armed forces should look like.
FreeLCpl offers the idea that maybe the way things work now and have worked for Marines historically might not be the ONLY solution. One of the biggest issues I've seen is the way we punish and reinforce a lack of care and accountability when we seek to educate our junior enlisted wardogs on wealth management. So I proposed what's been working here. Positive and engaging methods to encourage consistency and improve financial literacy among our "flat-black" community.
Buzz (MGySgt) : "I wasn't told immediately what resources I had available. Pain was the primary financial education that most of us had when I was LCpl Lightyear."
Woody (FreeLCpl Black) : "That aligns with most experiences in the military. One thing I've noticed beyond the scope of orders and regulations is the idea of mentorship programs and networking as an open forum to express grievances and seek solutions and accountability. Is there anything that sticks out as a way junior enlisted might gain financial knowledge beyond just hard knocks?"
Buzz (MGySgt) : "I'm not sure a singular solution exists, but as for financial readiness and education, there's command financial specialists, financial coaches on base free of charge, and aid in the form of programs like the Navy-Marine Corps Releif Society.
Woody (FreeLCpl Black) : "Not to go too far off topic, but as far as the resources you've mentioned, we might be falling into a trap. Sometimes finding these professionals might be an afterthought... while the availability is a significant step in working through existing crises, the effort I've seen hasn't been placed on seeking the Marines at the source. This was highlighted when speaking to the Director of Financial Readiness, Mr. Andrew Cohen. The efforts that exist focus on a very bureaucratic system that depends on perceived value in Retention, Readiness, and Morale. When someone is asked by their boss, supervisor, or directed to provide a response on their own issues with company policy or concerns they have... such a request might be met with lackluster or disingenuous comments. When we instead think in a mindset that we've moved away from over time it's easy to see how big the little things are... 'how can I invest if I can't even pay my debt?' As an example if this is the average American (80% of Americans carry debt outside of assets like housing) then the narrative can't be INVEST. SPEND LESS. GET PROMOTED. 😂 such narratives have grown tired and not met the desired results. Morale is down. Retention is down. Readiness is down. We can do better"
Buzz (MGySgt) : "Touching back on mentorship, if implemented correctly, the ability to perform the most basic skill or task is almost always a taught experience. Education can be done well if the material is relatable. Some of our senior folks struggle with the failures they experienced very early on. Money is a tool and can be very damaging if mismanaged. When we put that same tool in someone's hand and leave them to their own devices, provide limited guidance, and minimal demonstration...that's the recipe for disaster"
Buzz (MGySgt) : "Our shared Intelligence Community background also brings some financial stress and questions of character to the discussion. Our clearances and the maintenance thereof requires a continuous evaluation of our financial health and outstanding debts are reported to the agency we are granted clearance through. While this policy is effective in helping to determine 'at-risk' individuals and behavioral ties to finances... one thing it doesn't do is immediately resolve the problem at hand. Often people find themselves in risk taking and potentially damaging situations involving money, and that's a critical issue when we talk about who we're sending to fight our nation's battles. A key factor in determining how stable someone may be financially involves the planning factors around the gain and loss of financial standing. Gambling and credit card debt will be looked at differently than inheritance and family expenses. One issue in finding financial solutions is the diverse and granular uniqueness of each and every servicemember's financial life. We all have our own struggles and own financial burdens. The solutions have to be one on one, and cater to each individual."
Woody (FreeLCpl Black) : "That's exactly right, but with each person being different we also have noticeable patterns. Predatory lending, poor planning, and debt management are all aspects of life that have formed patterns and ultimately the enigmatic LCpl Schmuckatelli we know and love. I myself have benefited from things we talked about, whether that's mentorship (I had a solid Maj. that kicked a weekly finance class on Friday), personal experience (loss in my family, a second job, caring for my brother in law), or even learning from new people I've met (Brandon and all of you wonderful FreeLCpl's). I think some of these things on their own may seem insignificant but together they're key tenants of what we're doing now so significant. Freelance Corporal has developed a community around building financial literacy for those who need it most, we've built tools that teach the fundamentals of budgeting and allow us to step back and work on the think about what we spend (mindfulness)... not to mention I've found purpose here working with others to help have those hard discussions and make what was once taboo, an open door."
The opening of such a door allows us to create a space where we now have discussions with impact.
The memes we share, they have impact.
The polls on the app, they have impact.
The conferences we attend, they have impact.
As FreeLCpl's we have unlimited potential. It's time to open the floodgates and talk what matters at the highest levels we can shout our diddies.