By Marcus Hill | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 50th Force Support Squadron’s Airmen and Family Readiness Center understands finances aren’t easy to discuss, but works to strengthen Airmen’s knowledge for their financial futures.
Everyday decisions affect the financial freedom, lack thereof, Airmen will experience in the future. Lenea Lance, 50th FSS A&FRC personal financial readiness manager, aims to highlight that point.
“We help educate them,” Lance said. “Every Airman has different dynamics whether it’s family or personal. I have to meet them where they are. When I first meet them, I have to build that rapport to learn what their goals are and from there, develop a plan based on where they currently are and then getting them where they want to be.”
Establishing a plan allows the center to develop guidelines for budgets and assist Airmen to track their finances each month. It also helps eliminate potential pitfalls.
“[Some Airmen] spend [money] before their bills are paid or when they get paid, and they’re eating out too much — those quick stops to buy food add up,” Lance said. “Then they realize it’s the 13th and they don’t have money for their car payment or insurance. I have a saying that goes, “Don’t save what is left after spending but spend what’s left after saving.”
Lance emphasized planning to curtail emergency expenses. Airmen need to be as prepared for their financial lives as they are for their day-to-day missions.
“It’s more about your mindset,” Lance said. “For a service member, even if it’s not COVID-related, if they’re [permanently changing stations] or deploying, you need to plan. Life is going to happen and emergencies are going to happen.”
The pandemic illustrated that point as it forced a cease in travel for many Airmen, physical distancing and layoffs that affected many spouses. While the A&FRC worked remotely, Lance and the A&FRC continued to provide support.
“I had to assess [Airmen] on all different levels, which was important because once I asked questions, I could peel back the layers and see there might be more compounding issues,” Lance said. “From there, it was coming up with a plan and finding resources for them since the community shut down. I’d call around to different community resources we have and find out what their protocols were and call back to that family and let them know what needed to be done.”
With the A&FRC re-opening its physical location, Airmen can access its numerous services including spouse employment services, Air Force Aid, relocation services and deployment and family readiness to ensure Airmen have sustainable work-life balance.
“All of our programs are free,” Lance said. “When [Airmen] come to me, I can refer them to our resources and provide other information that may be beneficial on their financial journey. I can also pull their credit report for free or help with any negative or derogatory marks on their credit. If there are collections on their account, I can call creditors and work with service members to get [Airmen] back on path and get those expenses paid.”
The A&FRC also has the Transition Assistance Program, which helps to ease the shift from military to civilian life. Heidi Goodbar, 50th FSS TAP manager, said it’s important Airmen create and follow a financial plan after separation.
“That’s one of the biggest things people are worried about when they’re leaving the military — what is their financial situation going to look like?” Goodbar said. “[We need to know] how will they meet their financial obligations or what can they expect to make to meet their needs. That’s a big piece of transition.”
Goodbar noted the value of multiple meetings with Airmen prior to their separation to tailor a blueprint specific to the Airman.
“We want them to have the tools to be financially stable and to give them the education that’s important for them to be able to do that,” Goodbar said. “It would probably take several visits and having a plan. Holding them accountable is important. That can’t just happen over the duration of one visit.”
To schedule an appointment with the A&FRC, email Lance at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 719-567-3920.