FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow Profiles
"There is such a need for military families to be supported in so many different ways, and getting my accreditation was another way for me to support them and have a career."
Andia Dinesen, a 2010 graduate of the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program, learned valuable lessons in managing personal finances the hard way.
"I knew what it was like to make stupid financial decisions and then learn from them," she said. "With this accreditation, I can help military families avoid making the same mistakes I did."
Andia and her husband, Major Ian Dinesen, made financial decisions earlier in his military career that they ended up regretting. For instance, when stationed abroad, they received a cost-of-living allowance (COLA) and got used to the extra cash flow each month.
"We got used to living on our cost-of-living allowance, instead of realizing that at any moment things could change and the checks would stop coming," she said.
When the assignment unexpectedly shortened from three years to 15 months, they no longer had that extra money to depend on and resorted to taking out money against their Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).
"It was something I wished I could go back in time and shake myself for doing. We ended up losing money in the end, and if I had been more informed we could've avoided it," she said.
Andia's past experiences and passion for helping military families are what inspired her to apply for the fellowship. After working at the Airman and Family Readiness Center at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, where she was voted 2009 Laughlin Volunteer of the Year, she realized that her calling was to work with military families on a more permanent basis.
"There is such a need for military families to be supported in so many different ways, and getting my accreditation was another way for me to support them and have a career," she said.
At first, Andia was most interested in the counseling training she would receive as she worked toward her accreditation since it related to her bachelor's degree in psychology. But after working through the curriculum, she realized that she had a passion for personal finance as well.
"Having made bad financial decisions, I thought I could use the program to make me a better-rounded person in terms of my own finances," she said.
Currently, Andia is the Coordinator for the Military Saves campaign, a national effort designed to help and encourage military families to save money every month.
"I don't think I would have been able to get this position if I didn't have the accreditation under my belt," she said. "It gave me an edge against other candidates that I wouldn't have had otherwise."
Andia and her family are presently living in Northern Virginia while her husband is stationed at the Pentagon—their seventh permanent change of station move in 11 years.
"I'm just glad that I have the ability to help military families make better decisions when it comes to finances, because I know what it's like to look back and wish you did it differently," she said.