Become Debt Free with Financial Peace University: Military Edition Style

By Lance Cpl. Timothy Norris, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

MCAS BEAUFORT, S.C. – The average American household has $54,000 of debt, according to statis­

Twenty per­cent of 18 to 24 year old Americans say they have debt hardships.

Air Station Marines, spouses, and Depart­ment of Defense employ­ees are taking control of their finances through the Financial Peace: Military Edition course spon­sored by Marine Avia­tion Logistics Squadron 31.

The free 13-week course, created by syndicated ra­dio show host Dave Ram­sey, meets once a week in the MALS-31 conference room to learn new princi­ples and lessons then fol­low up on their progress in an open forum setting.

“The course helps you make the right money decisions to achieve fi­nancial goals and experience a to­tal money makeover,” said Capt. Bill Spink, MALS-31 operations officer and fi­nancial counselor. “It is a problem in our society that we don’t have good financial management skills.

“America has a culture of debt and we accept that as the norm. Our spend­ing habits reflect that line of thinking,” he said.

The course begins with budgeting and creating and emergency fund of $1,000. Then students start a debt snowball roll­ing by paying payments on all debts. The concept works by paying the max amount toward the smallest debt to pay it off quickly. The more debts are paid off more money be­comes available to pay larger debts.

“It’s easy to absorb be­cause it’s a step by step [process] and there is consistency in the way the material is presented,” said Lt. Col. William Gray, MALS-31 commanding officer. “It’s a simple no debt philosophy and the results speak for them­selves.”

Recently, 21 families who participated in the program at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., collectively paid off $93,000 of debt and saved $59,000 by the end of the 13 week program. Five of those families became debt free.

“You can’t imagine that feeling!” Gray said. “If Marines don’t have to worry about their financ­es they can focus on their job.

“I want Marines to be financially sound on their own.”

Couples are strongly encouraged to attend the course together so finan­cial decisions can be made together and prevent fur­ther financial stress on the relationship.

“I have had Marines tell me that it has changed their lives and saved mar­riages because the Marine and their spouse are now on the same page,” Gray said. “They agree on what their long term goals are financially and how they will jointly achieve those goals.”

Financial Peace Uni­versity provides a guided path supported by Marine Aircraft Group 31 com­mand to break the cultur­al cycle of debt.

“I would recommend [the course] to a lot of people,” said Sgt. Hel­ena Almaguer, MALS-31 advanced automatic test equipment technician and participant of the course.

“Your finances can al­ways be better,” continued Almaguer. “One of the leadership traits is to ‘know yourself and seek improve­ment.’ This is one way you can improve yourself.”

For more information about upcoming courses or to sign up, contact Spink at 228-7571.