Financial Wisdom For Military Families With Amy Miller

The Fellowship of Penny Calling Penny
January 11, 2024
Financial Wisdom For Military Families With Amy Miller

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Meet Amy Miller, an experienced Money Coach specializing in assisting military families.

In this insightful interview, Amy shares her journey from banking to becoming an Accredited Financial Counselor®, shedding light on the unique challenges and opportunities that military families face.

With a focus on her personal experiences as a military spouse, Amy unveils practical strategies for achieving financial stability, unlocking benefits, and embracing the unique journey of those who serve.

If you’re part of this special community, or just curious, Amy’s got practical tips and real-life stories to share.

Q1) Can you share a bit about your background and what inspired you to become a Money Coach, particularly focusing on military families?

I started my career in the financial services industry working as a branch manager in a large bank.

I was coming from an 11-year career in hotel sales and marketing and knew nothing about banking. 

My first couple of years in the industry were just about learning… operations, cash flow, credit, lending, and wealth and investment management. 

This was the start of my love for the financial industry and helping individuals with their money.  

After several years and working in many different branches and communities, I moved to a position with a credit union that was created for service members and located on an Air Force base. 

There I saw the financial challenges military families face firsthand. 

Even as a military spouse of many years, I was unaware of certain hardships and financial challenges some service members and their families faced until then. 

My time at this credit union is what inspired me to do more, learn more, and help military families with money.  

Although I loved the credit union, my life had changed, our family had grown and my husband’s military career was keeping him very busy … .which made trying to maintain my home and properly take care of my children when working full time (plus some) very challenging.

I knew I needed to make a change but didn’t want to sacrifice my career entirely. 

Then I heard about a scholarship for military spouses to become an Accredited Financial Counselor®.

I immediately knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. I applied and won the scholarship. 

After finishing the course studies, I completed an internship with a military-affiliated non-profit that helps service members, veterans, and their families in financial need. 

This experience once again opened my eyes to even more hardships than I had previously seen and reinforced my desire to help military families. 

I completed the internship and received my accreditation in 2018. 

Since then, I’ve been counseling and coaching military spouses on making the most of their money, careers, and home life when married to the military. 

Q2) How has your experience as a current military spouse influenced your approach to financial coaching for military families?

Military spouses live a very unique life….you must be one to truly understand it! 

They face frequent moves, they hold down the home front while their spouse is away on duty, tackle parenting alone at times and often put off their own education or sacrifice their career to keep their family functioning. 

No one other than a military spouse can truly understand the sacrifices made by our service members and the spouses who have vowed to support them.

I’ve done all of the things mentioned above and have lived this life for many years. 

These real mil-life experiences have given me a better understanding and familiarity of the true challenges that they face that others wouldn’t completely comprehend.

Q3) In your opinion, what are some of the unique financial challenges that military families face, and how do you help them navigate through them?

Military families typically move (or change duty stations) every 2-3 years, which can cause many financial challenges and hardships. 

It’s reported that military families spend an average of around $5000 in unreimbursed moving expenses with each change of duty station (PCS). 

In addition to the cost, these frequent moves can also make it difficult for spouses to build a successful career. 

Spouse unemployment and underemployment is another leading cause of financial stress for military families. 

These challenges coupled with the current cost of housing and soaring inflation, have left many military families experiencing housing burdens, food insecurity, and little to no emergency savings. 

I work with military families to help them gain control of their finances, careers, and home life. 

I help them create plans, set goals, and put together action steps that will help them build a strong financial foundation, based on where they are in life and what is important to them for their future.

Q4) As a Money Coach, what are some key strategies you recommend for military families to increase their income or find additional sources of revenue?

I always encourage eligible spouses to take advantage of the available education scholarships and career advancement programs offered. 

I also recommend considering career fields that are “portable”, meaning one that they could easily move with them or one that is prevalent in many locations, like healthcare or education, which can make it easier to find positions in different areas.

I’m also a huge fan of remote work and entrepreneurship for milspouses. 

Whether it’s going back to school, starting an online business, or a “side hustle”, there are lots of opportunities for spouses to build something for themselves and their families future. 

I work with the milspouses that I coach to determine what options are right for their individual situation and help them create a plan that puts them in control and helps them make the most of their money and the resources available to them.

Q5) Can you share practical tips for military spouses looking to balance employment or entrepreneurial pursuits with the demands of military life?

First and foremost, they need to determine what is most important to them and what works for their current life situation. 

Knowing what matters most is imperative when balancing education, careers, and childcare while living a military lifestyle!    

For some it may be staying home with the kids and making ends meet, maybe it’s making a little extra income, or for others, it could be starting a new career outside the home or maybe building a business that can be moved when they PCS. 

Make a list and then start prioritizing the things that are at the top.  

Once you have your list of top priorities, it’s time to get organized, maximize work & class schedules, look for resources that can help you along the way, take advantage of the unique opportunities available to you if possible, and use your network of other military spouses for support. 

Q6) In your experience, what are some effective ways for military families to maximize their savings while still enjoying a comfortable lifestyle?

I believe that saving is not just about pinching pennies and making sacrifices – it’s about having a plan, setting goals, controlling expenses, and spending mindfully. 

First, everyone must be on the same page about the current state of their finances and what they would like their finances to be in the future. 

Then write it down – having written goals and a plan is crucial to success. 

Look for ways to make the plan work by utilizing the resources available, including shopping at the commissary, taking advantage of military discounts, reducing debt and lowering interest rates (through SCRA if possible), and taking advantage of any education and employment opportunities. 

Q7) You have an extensive background in banking and investments. How does this experience enhance your ability to provide financial advice to your clients?

My time in banking and working with investment clients gave me experience and 

knowledge key to helping others, regardless of their financial situation.

It allowed me to work with a variety of individuals from all walks of life with different financial experiences and values. 

It also provided me with a deeper understanding of how money really works and how individuals can make it work for them when managed properly, no matter how much they are starting with!

Q8) Financial literacy is crucial, especially for military families. Can you tell us about your role as an FDIC-certified financial literacy instructor and how it benefits your clients?

The Money Smart program is designed to help people of all ages grow their financial knowledge and skill set while creating a more positive relationship with money. 

Having this financial education training and having delivered the program for several years helps  me connect with a variety of people in individual and group settings to address their financial needs and mindset.

Q9) As an Accredited Financial Counselor, could you explain how this certification sets you apart in providing financial guidance and support to military families?

The AFC® is considered the gold standard and most respected accreditation for financial counseling and education in the industry. 

It is also one of only 10 financial designations recognized by FINRA

This recognition sets the AFC® apart from all other financial counseling certifications in the field and is a testament to the qualifications of those who hold the accreditation. 

Being an AFC® has equipped me with the knowledge and experience to meet individuals and families from all walks of life where they are and help them build a strong financial foundation while achieving their goals and long-term financial well-being.

Q10) Could you share a bit about your work with Operation Homefront in providing Critical Financial Assistance to wounded veterans? How has this experience shaped your approach to financial counseling?

My time at Operation Homefront opened my eyes to the real financial challenges and needs of our military and veteran families that we don’t regularly see or hear about. 

I assisted in helping secure needed housing and utility payments as well as medical equipment, transportation, and food assistance to Veterans as well as active duty families. 

This experience gave me a deeper understanding of their needs and how financial health directly affects mental health and overall well-being. 

This experience reinforced my desire to work with military families. 

Q11) What are some lesser-known financial benefits or resources available to military families that they might not be aware of but can greatly impact their financial well-being?

First, I would love to see more spouses attending the informational briefings like newcomer’s welcome, readiness programs, key spouse events or TAP offered. 

These briefings and events provide a lot of beneficial information to both the service member and the spouse. 

Spouses are welcome and encouraged to attend but many do not. 

The information provided is key to being aware of and understanding all the benefits and resources available.

A couple of other things that I’ve learned many spouses aren’t aware of is the Military Spouse Preference Program which gives eligible spouses preferential placement when filling some DOD civilian positions. 

This can be a tremendous help when trying to find employment at a new duty station. 

I have also found that many spouses are not aware that they can use the legal office to create a will and powers of attorney, etc. 

The military mandates it for the service member but not the spouse. 

I highly recommend spouses take advantage of this free service and create those documents for themselves – especially if they have children. 

Q12) Deployment and separation can bring about financial challenges. What advice do you have for military members and their families to prepare financially for these periods?

Deployment and separations come with many challenges and can result in a lot of financial stress for military families. 

Not only do they bring time apart but they often come with income fluctuations and unexpected expenses. 

Being prepared and having a plan that includes an emergency fund is key to navigating them successfully. 

They will also want to ensure all their legal documents are in order including insurance policies, any necessary automatic payments are set, and know any financial benefits and protections or tax advantages that may be available to them. 

Although you can’t altogether eliminate deployment stress, being in control of their finances and having a financial plan can help reduce the stress. 

Q13) Finally, for military families just starting their financial journey, what is one piece of advice you would give them to set them on the path to financial success?

Military life is full of ups and downs….it’s important to be prepared for them, especially financially.

Financial stress is the biggest contributor to overall mental health and well-being and one of the top stressors reported for military families. 

That’s because it’s directly tied to our emotions, beliefs, and behaviors.

This stress in addition to the many other challenges that military life brings can take a toll on the entire family if they aren’t prepared.

Start with an open and honest conversation around money and the things that are most important. 

Then set goals and create a plan that works for your family. It takes commitment and teamwork to truly be successful. 

I also encourage everyone to seek help and guidance along the way. 


In wrapping up, Amy Miller’s vast experience and dedication to aiding military families provide a clear roadmap for financial strength. 

From our exploration of her insights, it’s apparent that getting ready, talking openly, and planning smartly are crucial for financial success in a military setting. 

Whether tapping into educational opportunities, considering flexible careers, or venturing into entrepreneurship, Amy’s advice acts as a guide for military families setting out on their financial path.

Her emphasis on communication, goal-setting, and seeking support underscores the teamwork needed for financial well-being. 

If you’re seeking additional insights and support similar to what you’ve gained from Amy Miller, look no further – Penny Calling Penny is here for you. 

Our platform offers a variety of resources, tips, and guidance tailored to your unique financial needs. 

Whether you’re exploring debt relief options, looking for practical savings strategies, or curious about different investment avenues, Penny Calling Penny has you covered.


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