The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program Center for Excellence has teamed with the Penn State Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness to provide our military families with high-quality resources that have been reviewed and considered to be the best of their kind based on several criteria. Each of the resources provided below has been vetted for relevance, organization, ease of use, and resource content. All resources listed are also free to use; however, some of the online resources may require registration to access some of their features.
AnnualCreditReport.com is the only authorized credit reporting site by the federal government and is a joint venture of the three major credit reporting agencies (i.e. Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax). Federal law requires each of the three major credit reporting agencies to provide, upon request, a free credit report to consumers once every 12 months. All three reports can be requested at once or spaced out over the course of a year.
Credit.org is a nonprofit organization with a mission to “improve the lives and financial wellbeing of individuals and families by providing quality financial education and counseling”. Credit.org provides free resources including, education on credit improvement and other personal finance matters, budgeting tools, and financial calculators. Of these features, Credit.org prides itself on their educational components. The self-guided courses they offer are in-depth and cover a wide variety of topics.
Please note that not all features on Credit.org are free. This site offers upper-tier counseling services such as home buyer workshops and student loan review that require a nominal fee. Services that require a fee are not reviewed in the compiling of the final resource list.
FinancesOnline.org provides information about different saving options such as checking accounts, savings accounts, certificate of deposits (CD), and money market savings accounts. This resource also highlights a number of useful savings tools and calculators. For example, FinancesOnline.org has a compound interest and CD calculator. These calculators can help determine the potential growth of your money based on current principal and interest rates and find the savings option that is right for you! FinancesOnline.org also organizes their information by life stages (e.g., “Homeowners” and “Retirees”) so that you can find the information most relevant to you now or help your future planning!
Are you unsure where your paycheck went? Well, you can find out with Mint! If your spending habits surprise you, Mint allows you to set notification alerts when you are approaching your budgeted amount. You can also set monthly savings or debt reduction goals and Mint will send you reminders to encourage you to meet your goals and pay your bills on time.
Mint is a free and secure resource that brings together everything from balances and bills to your credit score and more. Mint allows secure read-only viewing of all your bank accounts, loan payments and credit cards to help you budget and track your income and expenses. Mint automatically updates to categorize your recent transactions so that you can get an understanding of your spending patterns.
Smart About Money (SAM) promotes itself as a personal “wealth health” service. As a subsidiary of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), SAM offers a variety of resources to help you learn about a range of financial topics including, retirement and debt reduction. SAM’s largest offering is its financial literacy courses. Also, SAM offers individual assessments such as “financial identity” and “life value” quizzes. These assessments can help you identify your financial personality and explore specific financial health strategies that fit your lifestyle. Other tools include worksheets, calculators, and general FAQs about financial topics.
It is never too early or too late to start saving for retirement. The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a long-term, tax-deferred retirement program for Service members and federal employees. The tools and calculators on the TSP website can help you plan and answer those nagging questions: How much should I save for retirement? How much do I need to contribute? How much will I get back once I retire?