News: Marine Corps offers ways to avoid, eliminate debt
Story by Cpl. Thomas Bricker
BARSTOW, Calif. — A Marine may be able to keep his or her calm in a combat zone but on the home front there are still many looming threats, including financial security that can bring even the most iron willed warriors into a stressed environment.
While many may never experience debt, sometimes it is unavoidable. With some precautions Marines and their families can remain debt free. For those living with it, utilizing several tools provided by Marine Corps Community Services can eliminate debt over time.
When purchases are made with borrowed finances, such as a credit card, debt is accrued and can sometimes add up to, what seems to be, unheard-of amounts.
“One of the biggest and easiest ways people can become indebted is not having any plan for their finances,” explained Lynda Schmidt, a personal financial management program specialist aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow. “Making purchases on impulse without thinking about what your needs are can make things hard later on,” she added.
Avoiding debt can be done through many means. Marine Corps Community Services has specialists ready to offer advice and consultations for developing stable financial living.
“If Marines and their family members need any help in situating their finances, they can come to my office and I can help set them up with a financial plan,” explained Schmidt. “We offer several different ways to help people get their finances in order to help avoid debt or eliminate it,” she added. There are ways to make major purchases, such as a car, without bringing debt into the situation.
“Many people think buying a car means taking out a loan and paying on it over an extended period. This isn’t the only way to go about making a purchase,” Schmidt said. “You can do what I call ‘test driving car payments.’ Research what kind of vehicle you’re interested in and the car payments that would come along with it. Take a length of time and set away money equal to the amount of the car payments. When you’ve finished, you can purchase a vehicle in cash, something many people don’t even think is possible anymore,” she added.
A majority of the United States has been affected by debt at one point in their life. With the right mindset though, there is a way to become debt free.
“At one point, my family was in debt from credit cards,” explained Chief Warrant Officer 3 Keoni Kim, military personnel officer and Headquarters Battalion executive officer aboard MCLB Barstow. “Starting in 2009, we started to pay off our debt and this year, we were able to finish it off. I took a 13-week house study course and it taught me a lot about finances and budgeting. Now, my wife and I sit down every other week and plan a budget for the next two weeks. It keeps us from having to worry about debt and it helps keep the communication about finances open between us,” he explained.
MCCS offers meetings with interested Marines or their family members to help create plans for resolving debt. They also offer programs to set up budgets for those wishing to have a better understanding of their finances.
For more information on financial awareness or counseling, contact Lynda Schmidt at (760) 577-6533.