Helping Military Families Assess Their Skill Set to Generate Extra Income

By Laura Royer

The "skills" in white on a black background
Image by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels

Keeping a consistent income for military families can be much more challenging than for civilians due to the frequent moves that most active military families make every 3 to 5 years. Moving especially impacts the spouse’s ability to contribute to the household because they must find a new job every time a transfer takes place.

As a Personal Finance Manager (PFM), you can help the military spouses you are working with learn about work-at-home opportunities that will not be impacted by frequent moves. Opportunities for steady remote work are growing daily, and working from home has never been easier or more accessible for generating income.

PFMs can help military spouses understand ways they can generate income from home, by learning about their skill set, knowledge, or talents. The following activities can be used to help your client or their spouse identify their monetizing skills.

  • Identify Soft Skills. Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Examples include being a good listener or communicator, being confident, being a natural leader, ease in delegating, being a problem solver, being empathetic, or being a critical thinker. Help your client assess what comes naturally to them, and discuss how they may use this skill to their financial advantage.
  • Identify Hard Skills. Hard skills are people’s abilities that are learned and are easy to quantify or measure. Examples include things like copywriting, graphic design, photography, website development, teaching, coaching, engineering, or mechanical work. When working with your client, have the client brainstorm a list of hard skills they have learned. Then discuss with them which skills they enjoy the most and why they enjoy those particular skills. Have your client place an asterisk next to the skills he or she enjoys the most.
  • Additional Assessment. In addition to identifying the soft and hard skills, it is important to ask your client additional questions to help them focus on what they are really good at and also enjoy. Some additional questions to help them gain clarity for ways to generate income are:
    • What comes naturally to you that may not come naturally to others?
    • What do friends, family, teachers, bosses, colleagues, etc. tell you that you are naturally good at doing?
    • What do you love doing that you would do for free because you enjoy it so much?
    • What three life experiences have helped define or influence who you are today?

Putting it All Together

Once you have accumulated all the answers to the above questions, have a discussion with your client about what insights they have gained. Ask them the following questions:

  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What stood out to you when doing the skill set assessment?
  • Which ideas or skills made your heart flip or made you feel a quick sense of excitement?
  • What was it about that particular idea or skill that made you the most excited?

Once the assessment is complete, have your client narrow down his or her ideas down to no more than three. Then discuss ways your client can research how to use this skill to generate income while working from home or online. MySECO has a job search portal that connects military spouses with potential employers.