by Lila Quintiliani, AFC®
Military Saves Assistant Coordinator
The Better Business Bureau and McGraw-Hill recently released a free iPhone app called Military & Money (if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, you can also access the app online at www.militaryandmoney.com). The app features instructional videos and calculators to help reduce debt, increase savings and build budgets while on the go. This past weekend, I downloaded it and gave it a try. I found that overall the tool is pretty useful, especially if you’re looking for general information on a variety of personal finance topics, with just one area that could use some beefing up.
Lots of tools
The app is divided into three areas (the website only has two), Video Basic Training, Financial Resources Toolbox and Action Center. The Toolbox section has a list of personal finance topics including budgeting, credit cards, deployment, retiring and home buying. Clicking on a topic will bring up a good general article on it along with links to other resources. I found the retirement section particularly informative, as it brought up topics that many servicemembers are not familiar with, such as the need to replace your SGLI and health insurance once you leave the service, and to prepare for a bigger tax bite.
Get a piece of the action
The Action Center is where the app really shines. This is an interactive section where you can enter your own data to create a budget, a debt reduction plan, and a savings plan. You can then email yourself the information. While the budget section is great for creating a snapshot of your cash flow, it would be even more awesome if a future version allowed you to track spending over time. This section is unfortunately not available if you are accessing the online version of the app.
Very Basic Training
The one section that could use a little work is the Video Basic Training. The videos here are really just a retelling of the information that is listed below, sort of a narrated PowerPoint presentation. But it might be useful if you are driving or would just like to listen to the information (hands-free, of course.)
Overall the new Military & Money app is a useful tool, and it’s great that the BBB and McGraw-Hill invested such effort to bring a free tool that servicemembers can take with them wherever they go.