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By Laura Royer

When working with military families that are experiencing a financial setback, there are many ways to support clients, beyond providing financial advice. Personal Finance Managers (PFM) can also provide some tips for how to manage the stress itself while your client is navigating a financial storm. Here are some tips to share with the clients you may be working with during a financial crisis.

Encourage your client to give themselves permission to feel

Oftentimes many military Service members don’t allow themselves to go through the emotions of a crisis because they’ve been trained to focus on the solution and push through. However, it’s important for them to give themselves permission to own how they feel and give themselves grace for feeling it.

Set a time limit

While your client needs time to process and embrace how the crisis is impacting them personally, it is also important they make progress toward resolving their financial problems. If your client is having a difficult time moving past the emotional impact of their financial strain, it may be wise to refer your client to a counselor or therapist who can help.

Keep lines of communication open with family

While money is a personal topic and often triggers emotions of guilt, shame, or regret, it is important for your client to communicate about the situation with their family. Encourage the family to talk about how they feel, discuss options for resolving the problem, and agree on how they can work together to resolve the problem. If your client has children, they should talk to their children about the situation and get them involved in the solution process. This will help minimize the additional stress that children often add to the financial household.

Help your client look for the opportunities the crisis may be opening up for them

If the military family is experiencing unemployment or reduced hours in their household, help him or her see that this situation could be providing other opportunities for them, such as a change in their career path. Additionally, you can help your client focus on any positives of the situation, such as having more time to spend with their children, spouse, or other family members.

The situation could mean that the family or individual now has time to explore other ways to generate income that aligns with his or her passions, talents, or skill set. Oftentimes when life, as usual, is occurring, there are many other important things that get put on the back burner. During the financial setback, encourage your client to take advantage of the time to address their interests.

Do something that brings joy

A great way to relieve stress is to fill up the time with things that bring your client happiness and peace. Some examples of things to do to help ease the stress include:

    • Taking walks or going for a run more often
    • Exercising
    • Listening to music
    • Going for a drive
    • Gardening
    • Stretching
    • Spending time doing something fun with the family

Help your client brainstorm ideas that bring the family joy and encourage him or her to take action by doing those things. This will help relieve stress and help the family cope better when pressing on toward resolving the financial setback.

For more information on helping a military family navigate a financial crisis, check out this post for ideas on how to help.

Some other resources for helping military families cope with stress:

Stress Management During Deployment

Coping With Change: Young Children in Military Families

COVID-19 Family Social Science Offers Coping Resources

Are You Prepared to Provide Mental Health First Aid

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