MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., --
Marines can face a dangerous threat, not just on the battlefield, but in their wallets.
“They don’t know where their money is,” said Sandra Little, financial specialist, Marine Corp Community Services. The surefire way for Marines to get into financial trouble is “not keeping track with their expenses.”
To help with this, the Marine Corps has personal financial managers like Little to help start properly managing their money.
“The first thing (they need) to do is set up a budget,” Little said.
This first step requires the Marine or sailor to be completely honest with the specialist about his or her spending habits. This conversation can also provide an eye-opener as to how much cash they actually have and how much they waste.
“What I find most of the time is that most of the money is there, but it is being spent frivolously,” Little said. “Provided they stay on this budget that we are going to establish together, they are going to see this residual cash and start doing better things with it.”
For individuals who need help right away, despite responsible spending habits, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is an emergency source that can offer help.
“We provide financial assistance and education for our Marines and sailors for any verifiable need,” said Raymond Caldwell, director of the NMCRS aboard the Combat Center.
The NMCRS provides interest-free loans and grants for emergency transportation, funeral expenses, medical/dental bills (patient's share), food, rent, utilities, disaster relief assistance, childcare expenses, essential vehicle repairs and unforeseen family emergencies, Caldwell said.
The organization even has its own squad of financial counselors who are familiar with life in the Corps and are eager to help
However, the organization will not lend money for just any reason, such as Christmas shopping.
“If a Marine has a need, then he will have to bring certain documents to prove the need,” Caldwell said. “Loans and grants are given on a case-by-case basis.”
Mismanaging finances can affect not only personal goals, but also have a negative impact on professional ones, too.
Security clearances are one of the many ways Marines can be affected.
When Marines and sailors apply for their security clearances or to receive credentials, they receive a background check from the Department of the Navy Central Adjudication Facility. The DONCAF looks into multiple security problems, including the applicant’s financial history.
During 2010, about 79 percent of the investigations for security clearances that were denied or revoked were related to poor financial responsibility, said Michael Sanford, the Combat Center’s security manager. This could mean losing a job or being denied a lateral move into another job field.
“If they are in a [military occupation specialty] required to handle classified material, they will have to be removed [to another MOS,]” Sanford said.
Before making any major financial decisions, Little recommended consulting a financial specialist. These major decisions can include marriage, renting or buying a home, buying a car or any other major purchases that might require applying for a loan.
For more information or to set an appointment for financial counseling, contact Little at 830-7342. For more information on the NMCRS, visit their website at http://nmcrs.org or call the Combat Center’s NMCRS office at 830-6323.