NEWS | Feb. 14, 2012

Financial advice doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Brannon Deugan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs Office

Are you living paycheck to paycheck or have you run up an unmanageable amount of debt?

Do you have an emergency fund established for an unforeseen hardship?

Are you buried under a sea of bills and just need advice on financial management?

The Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station Fleet and Family Support Center and the JB Charleston - Air Base Airman and Family Readiness Center can help you dig out from under your bills by offering free financial advice for all active duty, Reserves, retirees and dependants.

"The FFSC is here to assist our service members and their families with many quality of life issues, including their finances," said Kim Brown, FFSC financial specialist. "The FFSC financial educators can help provide advice for most financial needs a Sailor, Airmen, Soldier, Marine or family member might face."

"Individuals tend to seek financial advice from people who they are familiar with and trust such as family members or friends," said Elsa Summers, A&FR community readiness consultant. "The A&FRC provides this familiar support for Airmen or Sailors in need of some financial guidance."

Military members are not exempt from making financial mistakes that can lead to financial hardships, so there are several free services available from trained professionals to help.

"The biggest issues we tackle are debt; student loans or credit cards with high interest rates as well as automobile loans. Many of these debt situations can lead to problems with security clearances and can jeopardize a young service member's career." said Suerjee Lee, FFSC financial education specialist. "We teach and provide the proper personal financing tools as well as referring service members to the right organization for assistance if necessary. Financial educators, specialists and counselors are here to assist all service members."

One way FFSC furthers their mission is by training Command Financial Specialists. These Sailors help educate other service members in their command on the importance of being financially healthy and counsel those seeking advice on the proper steps to take to be financially ready.

"Command Financial Specialists are crucial to their commands because they work one-on-one with the service members in their jobs every day," said Lee. "Service members can relate to each other and often it is easier to talk to their peers than going to the FFSC when seeking financial advice. The CFS works as a mediator and really helps us out."

A variety of financial orientated courses are offered by the FFSC and the A&FRC to meet nearly anyone's needs and include topics such as saving and investing, car buying, home buying and the Thrift Savings Plan.

Both, the FFSC and the A&FRC also offer one-on-one personal finance counseling sessions which can teach service members how to develop a budget along with more personalized guidance.

"It is important to offer these courses so service members can maintain their security clearances so they can keep their jobs," said Brown. "These courses are also extremely important for families because when it comes to deployments, the service members go overseas or on a submarine or ship and leave their families behind. This means the whole family needs to be financially ready."

For more information on upcoming courses or to schedule an appointment with a financial specialist, Call the A&FRC at 963-4406 or the FFSC at 764-7480 or see your CFS.