CFPB Launches Financial Education Tool for Servicemembers
By Jessica Easto
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced last month the launch of a new financial education tool for active-duty servicemembers.
The tool, called Misadventures in Money Management, was originally launched in 2016 for young recruits who were awaiting their basic training. According to the Office of Servicemember Affairs, “the goal of the tool is to teach future servicemembers they can avoid common financial mistakes that can cause significant problems with their personal finances,” including information about:
- choosing a bank or financial institution
- understanding the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
- avoiding impulsive purchases
The CFPB describes it as “a cutting edge, graphic novel meets choose your own adventure virtual learning experience.” As of May 2017, there were 10,000 users of the tool with an overall completion rate of more than 60 percent.
Participants can view the leaderboard to see how their branch of the military stacks up. As of this writing, the US Coast Guard was on top with a 78.61 percent completion rate while the US Air Force ranked the lowest, with only a 25.71 percent completion rate.
In 2017, the program launched a second course specifically designed for students enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) for the Army, Navy and Air Force. Now, the tool is available to all active-duty service members, including the ROTC and the National Guard, so that they, too, can “fight zombies, time travel, save the world from aliens and learn how to make smart financial decisions.”
“Misadventures in Money Management is a valuable resource for servicemembers and their families that will help them understand their options in the financial marketplace so they can avoid the most common mistakes,” said CFPB Director Kathleen L. Kraninger in a statement. “Improving the financial readiness of our military servicemembers is important so they can focus on the mission at hand.”
Financial stress has increased among military families in recent years, and military life comes with unique financial challenges, including frequent moves that bring additional expenses and difficult job searches for partners and spouses.
Predatory lenders, such as those that deal in payday loans (aka cash advances) and title loans, frequently prey on servicemembers, and studies have shown that military families have more debt and fewer assets than civilian families.
According to the CFPB, 8,000 servicemembers are discharged each year due to financial problems, and the cost to the government to replace these servicemembers is about $450 million a year.