Sens. Murray, Schmitt, Reps. Sewell, Moylan Introduce New Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Improve Financial Literacy Training for Servicemembers

Over 80 percent of military families said their finances were a source of stress, and more than half of military and veteran families reported experiencing barriers to saving over the past two years, according to recent survey data

The SMART Save Act makes long overdue updates to improve DoD’s financial literacy training program, better preparing servicemembers and their families for their transition to civilian life

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Eric Schmitt (R-MO), and U.S. Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL-07) and James Moylan (R-Guam), introduced new bipartisan, bicameral legislation to improve and expand the financial literacy training the Department of Defense (DoD) provides to servicemembers prior to their transition to civilian life. The Servicemembers Are Ready To (SMART) Save Act would make important and overdue updates to DoD’s mandatory financial literacy training: expanding the training to reach servicemembers of more ranks as well as military spouses, increasing standardization across all branches of the military, boosting in-person instruction, and bringing the training up to speed with evolving best practices, among other things. The legislation will help ensure servicemembers and their spouses receive comprehensive financial literacy training that will help them succeed in the civilian world.

According to the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN)’s most recent Military Family Support Programming Survey, over 80 percent of respondents said their finances were a source of stress, and more than half of military and veteran families reported experiencing barriers to saving over the past two years. Over 22 percent of currently serving military families and 38 percent of veteran families have less than $500 or no emergency savings at all, according to the most recent survey. 

“As the daughter of a World War II veteran, I take our nation’s responsibility to help servicemembers transition to civilian life seriously—making sure they are equipped with the tools and skills they need to succeed after their service,” said Senator Murray. “Financial literacy is a huge part of that—everything from knowing how to create a budget to getting a mortgage, planning for retirement, doing your taxes, and just having the knowledge and the confidence to make smart decisions with your money. Our bill is straightforward: it will update and improve DoD’s financial literacy training to better prepare servicemembers for the transition to civilian life and set up their families for success. This is something we should all be able to agree on—I’ll be working hard to get our legislation included as part of next year’s NDAA, and I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get it across the finish line.”

“While serving as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have welcomed feedback from of servicemembers, veterans, and military leaders across Missouri on how to improve lives during and after their time in the military. The SMART Save Act is a solid enhancement to an existing program—aimed to provide members of the military a critical baseline of financial literacy for a smooth transition back into civilian life. I’m proud to work across the aisle with Senator Murray on this commonsense legislation for our servicemembers,” said Senator Eric Schmitt (R-MO).

“Financial literacy is the key to financial security. Our service members deserve access to the best financial curriculum that sets them up for success, both during and after their service. This bill will improve DoD’s financial literacy training, providing lifelong skills to our military families to help them budget, save, and feel a much-needed sense of security,” said Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL-07).

“It is a privilege to co-lead the SMART Save Act of 2023 with Representative Terri Sewell. No military personnel or their family should leave the service and be forced to encounter financial instability as a result of a lack of education. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Sewell to pass this bill and help ensure our veterans receive the financial education they need to thrive post service. I thank the Congresswoman for her tireless work,” said Rep. James Moylan (R-Guam).

“Financial literacy is a cornerstone of financial readiness and thus, military readiness,” said Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, USAF (Ret), president and CEO of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). “While we need to take a hard look at how we are compensating our servicemembers, especially junior enlisted, we must also prioritize financial education that helps them make good choices and make the most of their money. MOAA supports the SMART Save Act of 2024 and thanks Senators Murray and Schmitt for their tireless support for those in uniform.”

“Financial decisions are family decisions,” said Besa Pinchotti, CEO of the National Military Family Association (NMFA). “Providing financial literacy education only to service members is hurting our military families—especially when military spouses take on so much family responsibility. We appreciate Senators Murray and Schmidt introducing this important legislation that will help arm spouses with information to contribute to and make critical financial decisions that strengthen our military families.”

“MFAN’s research consistently shows the connection between financial health and overall well-being. At a time when the economic landscape continues to evolve, personalized support and emphasis on those who may be most vulnerable to hardships is critical,” said Shannon Razsadin, President & Executive Director of the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN). “We commend Senators Murray and Schmitt for remaining focused on the economic security of all those who serve and the critical role that family members play in supporting family finances.”

The SMART Save Act of 2024 would improve DoD’s financial literacy training to ensure that transitioning servicemembers have the tools they need to succeed in the civilian world. Specifically, the legislation:

  • Requires the development of a standard financial literacy curriculum across all military departments based on best practices in the financial services industry.
  • Shifts the focus from completing training modules to truly developing proficiency in financial literacy.
  • Prioritizes financial literacy classes that are held in person with fewer than 100 attendees or held as one-on-one financial counseling sessions, using computer-based methods only as a last resort.
  • Makes financial literacy classes and resources available to military spouses.
  • Increases access to retirement information, including how to contribute to military savings, leading to increased financial stability in the civilian world. 
  • Expands financial literacy training program requirements for servicemembers ranked E-5 and E-6, ensuring that more servicemembers receive this training before they move off base with their families.  
  • Requires a report on the effectiveness of the financial literacy training and counseling and recommendations for improvement, leading to a program that adapts to the world’s evolving financial environment.

The SMART Save Act is endorsed by the Military Family Advisory Network (MFAN), National Military Family Association (NMFA) and Military Officers Association of America (MFAA).

A one-page summary of the legislation is HERE.

The full text of the bill is HERE.