FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow Profiles
"I would encourage other military spouses to apply to the program—it is a great thing to do as far as personal and professional growth, and you can help servicemembers in the process."
Lila Quintillani has always had a keen interest in financial issues. "I didn’t always do things by the book, but I have always been a thrifty person—it’s just the way I was brought up."
Sitting in a doctor’s office, Lila came across a profile of a FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow in a woman’s magazine and she was drawn to the position.
"The program really appealed to me because of the military aspect. I have always wanted to help fellow spouses and servicemembers," Lila said.
Even with her keen interest in finances, Lila fell victim to what she says is a common issue in the military—"new-car excitement." Without sitting down to develop a budget or calculate the cost of monthly payments, Lila and her husband, currently an active duty Army major stationed at Fort Eustis, Va., purchased a brand-new pickup truck and immediately felt the consequences; it’s a lesson they often reflect on today.
"It was a domino effect—having that killer car payment made us have credit card debt—because we had to make the car payment," Lila said. "We’ve really, really taken that lesson to heart."
The impulse to buy a new car without proper planning is something Lila has seen servicemembers struggle with.
"One thing we always stress to them is to make sure you understand what you are taking on—all the costs that come with a car, like insurance, tires, gas—and make sure you can truly afford it," Lila said.
As a graduate of the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program, Lila has acquired more knowledge and better planning skills to continue serving the military community, while also improving her own family’s financial stability. The fellowship has provided Lila with a wealth of resources—one of the most important being the encouraging community of FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellows.
"I learn so much from my fellow spouses and they are all so supportive. We share opportunities, resources and best practices," Lila said. "It is an awesome group to be a part of."
Lila currently serves as an Assistant Coordinator at Military Saves, drafting newsletters, managing social media and writing blog posts. Lila also volunteers with Peninsula Saves, providing financial tools and tips to enable participants to save, while also working to train other program volunteers.
Thanks to the fellowship program, Lila has been able to acquire the skills necessary to help servicemembers stay away from making common financial mistakes, including those she made herself.
"It has been a great experience. I would encourage other military spouses to apply to the program—it is a great thing to do as far as personal and professional growth, and you can help servicemembers in the process," Lila said.