FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow Profiles
"In the end, we try to coach service members financially as much as possible so they can focus on their mission. If they're worried about their families, they're not going to be mission oriented."
Tamara Scace says she's "old school."
She's been a military spouse for 39 years and is a graduate from the 2008 class of FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellows. Today, she is the director of the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.
"When we were moving around in the old days," Scace said, "we would work with checks through a checking account, the old-fashioned way. We didn't have access to credit the way kids do now. And sometimes they don't understand that each time they swipe the credit card, it's a mini-loan with interest and they have to keep track of that."
Through her work with NMCRS and in the Military Spouse Fellowship Program, Scace learned that psychological factors play a role in military families' financial habits.
"What can be more depressing than your service member leaving on a six-month deployment or always worrying about them being in harm's way?" she asked. "There you are all by yourself or with your kids, and you think, ‘perhaps a little retail therapy might help.' And then you realize that it doesn't really help, but it might be too late."
Whether it's dealing with deployment or struggling with debt, Scace's advice is simple.
"Plan, plan, plan," she says. "You must have a plan. And that's the first step, you plan and you organize. And a lot of our clients say, ‘OK, how do I do that?' and then we give them the tools they need."
Scace and her husband, retired Brig. Gen. Daniel Scace, stuck to a savings strategy that has gotten them to where they are today.
"Sometimes people think that planning and saving is the old fogey way of doing things," she says, "But my husband and I planned our savings strategy and did our best to stick to it through the years. We are now looking forward to an enjoyable retirement."
Scace first heard about the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program through two volunteers in her NMCRS office, and watched them go through the accreditation process. She thought it would be a good fit for her with her experience with NMCRS.
Scace says the program provides spouses with portable skills that can travel with them from one duty station to another. "I think what the FINRA Foundation offers to military spouses is important because when we move, we lose our employment. With this financial background and training, it's easier to get a job in a growing field." She firmly believes that her accreditation helped with her promotion to director of the Groton NMCRS office last year.
"Helping other military families better understand their finances and prepare for the future is a vital role in every military community," she said. "In the end, we try to coach service members financially as much as possible so they can focus on their mission. If they're worried about their families, they're not going to be mission-oriented."
"They count on us to take care of their families," she said, "so that's what we are trying to do."