Standards for Military Family Readiness programs

2020 Edition

Financial Readiness Programs (MIL-FR) 4: Financial Readiness Education, Training, and Counseling Services

The MFR program provides financial readiness education, training, and/or counseling services to meet the customer’s request or need for service. 

2020 Edition

Currently viewing: FINANCIAL READINESS PROGRAMS (MIL-FR)

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Purpose

Customers who participate in Financial Readiness Programs gain personal financial management skills, learn strategies to prevent and resolve financial problems, and identify short and long-term actions to achieve financial goals and ensure personal, family, and mission readiness.
1
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the programs’ practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions; exceptions do not impact service quality and/or overall performance.
2
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance 
A rating of (2) indicates that a programs’ infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement. The majority of the standard's requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented.  Minor inconsistencies and practices that are not fully developed are noted, however, these do not significantly impact service quality and/or overall performance.
3
Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that significant aspects of the programs’ observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement. The program has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework. Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  Service quality or program functioning may be compromised. Capacity is at a basic level.
4
Unsatisfactory Implementation and Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all. Observed infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.

Please see Rating Guidance for additional rating examples. 
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Description of complaint resolution and reporting assistance provided to customers (MIL-FR 4.09)
  • Interview:
    1. MFR program director
    2. Relevant staff
    3. Customers

Fundamental Practice

MIL-FR 4.01

The MFR program informs customers about:
  1. military benefits and resources that are available to them;
  2. the impact poor financial management can have on security clearance; and
  3. applicable laws and regulations.

Interpretation

Examples of Military benefits and resources include the Thrifts Savings Plan, the Savings Deposit Program, Service Members Group Life Insurance, and financial resources available to plan for relocation and transition such as allowances and entitlement programs. Examples of laws and regulations include the Military Lending Act, the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), Credit Card Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Gramm-Leach Bliley Act, Public Law 109-290 The Military Personnel Financial Services Protection Act and Personal Commercial Solicitation on DoD Installations Instructions, and other Service member credit legislation and regulations.


MIL-FR 4.02

The MFR program offers information on the advantages of developing a spending plan, including how to:
  1. establish and achieve short- and long-term financial goals;
  2. calculate gross and net monthly income and debt to income ratio; and
  3. identify and classify monthly expenses as fixed, variable, or periodic.

Fundamental Practice

MIL-FR 4.03

The MFR program offers information on money-management including information about:
  1. budgeting;
  2. maintaining adequate financial records;
  3. making prudent decisions about purchases based on wants and needs;
  4. saving money, including saving for emergencies, periodic expenses, and long-term goals; and
  5. changing buying habits.

Fundamental Practice

MIL-FR 4.04

The MFR program offers information on financial management planning including information about:
  1. investing, including the difference between saving and investing;
  2. taxes;
  3. researching and maintaining insurance coverage;
  4. financing educational goals;
  5. preparing for transition/retirement; and
  6. information on how to evaluate and select assistance with in-depth financial planning needs.

 


Fundamental Practice

MIL-FR 4.05

The MFR program offers legal affairs information and referral on the following topics:
  1. estate planning;
  2. power of attorney; and
  3. predatory lending and compliance with SCRA.

 

Lending practices that have been identified as risky or predatory include: “pay-day” loans, pension advances, “yo-yo” automobile loans, “mutual fund contractual plans,” “cash-value” life insurance plans, consumer collections, and “periodic payment plans.”

Fundamental Practice

MIL-FR 4.06

The MFR program offers information on handling debt and maintaining good credit, including:
  1. appropriate use of credit and alternatives to credit use;
  2. types, sources, and costs of credit and loan products;
  3. obtaining and understanding credit reports;
  4. causes of debt;
  5. affordable levels of debt and debt warning signs;
  6. solving credit problems and re-establishing credit;
  7. options for negotiating with creditors on payment or interest rate relief, including SCRA;
  8. establishing a payment schedule and spending plan for the repayment period; and
  9. implications of all options for reducing debt, including bankruptcy, debt management plans, and self-administered payment plans.

Interpretation

Examples of bankruptcy information includes the impact it may have as a life changing event and its potential effect on the customer’s military career.

MIL-FR 4.07

The MFR program offers information on housing and homeownership including:
  1. pre-purchase home buying;
  2. home financing; and
  3. mortgage delinquency services, including SCRA.

Interpretation

For some MFR programs, this service may be provided as a collaboration with the housing office and other appropriate organizations.
 

Interpretation

Examples of pre-purchase home buying counseling and education topics include evaluating renting versus buying; how to assess readiness to purchase a home including developing a spending plan that identifies projected costs of homeownership; the benefits and responsibilities of owning a home; an overview of the home buying process; how to calcuate the affordability of owning a home; and the importance of setting financial goals and maintaining good credit.
 
Examples of home financing topics include various types and sources of mortgage loans; understanding how lenders evaluate credit and determine mortgage readiness, including reviewing the customer’s credit report when available; how to avoid predatory loans; resources available to assist with home financing; what to do if the loan is denied; and loan closing costs and procedures.
NA The MFR program does not provide any housing counseling and education services.

MIL-FR 4.08

The MFR program offers information on identity theft, including:
  1. deterring identity theft by safeguarding personal information;
  2. protecting against theft by placing appropriate alerts on a credit report;
  3. detecting suspicious activity on financial accounts; and
  4. defending against identity theft once it is suspected.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends several actions to deter, detect, and defend against identity theft. To deter against theft, the FTC recommends: shredding financial documents, protecting one’s Social Security number, refraining from giving out personal information, safeguarding one’s military ID, refraining from lending out credit cards, avoiding clicking on unsolicited emails, utilizing passwords that are difficult to decode, securing all personal information, and collecting mail regularly.
 
To defend against identity theft once it is suspected, the FTC instructs victims to inspect credit reports and financial statements, place a “Fraud Alert” on credit reports, close accounts that have been affected or established fraudulently, discuss the situation with a commanding officer, file a police report, and report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. 

MIL-FR 4.09

The MFR program provides customers with complaint resolution and reporting assistance in coordination with appropriate authorities.