FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow Profile - Trysha Upton

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Trysha Upton

Waldorf, Maryland

"I just want to help military families reach their financial goals and point them in the right direction."

Trysha Upton understood the importance of managing money from a very young age. Pregnant and married soon after high school, working full time and enrolled in college, for Trysha, it was just a matter of making ends meet.

"I was interested in financial issues for as long as I can remember, I was married as a teen and had limited resources," Trysha said. "I had to learn to use my money wisely and prepare for the future."

Trysha grew up on the Central Coast of California and worked for the San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services for nearly 14 years as a public assistance case worker, staff development trainer and program review specialist in the benefit recovery unit.

Trysha's first marriage ended and in 2005 she married her current husband, an active-duty Marine Corps servicemember, and moved to Maryland. After the move, Trysha found herself without a job and in an unfamiliar community. Since they were not living on base, Trysha was not in regular contact with other military spouses and unable to share in their experiences.

"It was a big transition," Trysha said, recalling her move to Maryland. "Luckily we were able to live off of one income and anything I brought in was supplemental, but I found myself out of a job and out of my comfort zone."

In 2007, Trysha obtained her bachelor's degree in business administration through an online program from Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri, and was quickly looking to get her master's degree. After searching online, Trysha came across information about the FINRA Foundation's Military Spouse Fellowship Program.

"I was looking for an opportunity to transition back to the workforce in the financial field, and the fellowship provided me with the education and training I needed. It wasn't easy to change career paths, but this program gave me that bridge," Trysha said.

Trysha worked at H&R Block, where she prepared taxes and provided many military families and veterans with information on budgeting, retirement accounts, identity theft and education financial aid. Trysha also presented Financial Readiness Training to the Army ROTC graduating class at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Through the fellowship, Trysha was able to connect with other military spouses and hopes to use her life experiences and education to help military families reach their financial goals. In particular, she makes sure to communicate the value of the benefits military servicemembers and their families receive—some of which even she wasn't aware of—and encourages each family to explore those options.

"It's mostly interesting to see how many of these military families are not aware of the benefits that are available to them," Trysha said. "As a civilian, you just don't get housing allowances or retirement. And on base, the service to update your will is free. That service alone literally saves hundreds of dollars. "

After returning from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan, Trysha’s husband is currently stationed at the Pentagon. Trysha continues to work toward a career helping members of the military community reach their financial goals.

In 2011, Trysha will graduate from the CFP Professional Education Program at the College for Financial Planning and has recently completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Columbia College. Trysha is still a personal financial counselor with MHN Government Services and volunteers as a caseworker for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society at the Washington Navy Yard.

"I just want to help military families reach their financial goals and point them in the right direction," Trysha said.

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