Members of the military face challenges every day. Beyond the obvious, they also contend with unique financial hurdles.
Military pay tends to be low, particularly for more junior soldiers, and federal budget cuts and sequestration have pared some military benefits. But when it comes to financial education, service members just don't get much—despite efforts by every branch of the military.
For Jason Ruediger, the lack of financial preparedness nearly cost him his home.
When Ruediger exited the Navy to be more present in his young children's lives, he had high hopes for landing a civilian job. Sure, he had racked up debt, but he figured he could land a college degree, with help from the Navy, and find work in the field of his choice near his San Diego home.
It took 16 months, during which the family fell behind on loans and bills, narrowly avoided eviction, and saw Ruediger's credit score sink to below 500.
Ruediger had received financial advice and tips on resume writing from the military, but he said they just didn't do the trick.
"They talk to you a little bit about finances during training, and within divisions, but it's not really enforced," he said. "I think if it would have been enforced a little bit and constantly touched on, it would have seeped into people a lot more."
Ruediger found another problem with the military's financial education efforts. "They really don't have anybody teaching that you can look up to because you know they're doing well. It's just your supervisor, and you probably even know they have debt and they're up there telling you to stay out of debt."