Preparing the Navy’s Peer Financial Counselors

Contact: Carol Allison, Financial Program Manager, Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren/The Navy’s Command Financial Specialist (CFS) program

Situation: Use Money Habitudes cards in preparing Navy Command Financial Specialist Counselors to be financial first responders to their colleagues

Who: Command Financial Specialists are specially trained service members who act as financial peer counselors to complement the more formalized financial counseling and advice provided through Fleet and Family Support Centers. The Navy sees them as the first stop for the Military member who has questions or issues about financial readiness. CFSs are generally slightly higher in rank than their peers (E6 or enlisted), and have demonstrated financial stability, are able to speak publicly or facilitate forums and have additional training.

Why:

  • Allison knows that her counselor corps must get past what may be judgmental or inaccurate notions about how others view and use money. She says the Money Habitudes exercise opens them up to the fact that, “Just because you feel this way, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all your [peer] clients will feel the same way because of their background, their heritage or the baggage that people carry with them.”
  • The cards provide an activity that makes it easy for the counselors to comfortably engage their peers on the difficult topic of money.

How: Allison integrates the Money Habitudes Solitaire game during their FCS training to help them see, understand and talk about their own habits and attitudes related to money and how these “habitudes” affect their financial situation. Then she trains them to use the cards in one-on-one peer counseling and makes the cards available for specialists to use in their counseling sessions with their peers.

Outcomes:

  • Helps to produce non-judgmental, open-minded counselors.
  • Allows for more open communication.
  • Helps CFSs see various sides of people’s habits and attitudes related to money.
  • Some trainees come away with new insights about themselves and their fellow counselors.
  • Some trainees brought the decks home to do with their own families.

Observations and Comments:

It’s interesting to see the communication open up…It’s not uncommon for a sailor to see his rigorously controlled spending as a strength and call it “thrifty” while those around him may see those same traits as a negative and brand him as a”tightwad.”

They’re pretty unique cards. I really don’t know that I’d be using anything else (in their absence) because I really haven’t seen anything else that does the same thing.

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