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Pendleton's financial classes offer help during economic uncertainty

Today’s economy has forced many people to search for ways to improve their financial situation with hopes to better the life of themselves and their loved ones.

Service members are no exception to the effects of the economy, and thanks to programs offered on base, financial stability is still attainable.

Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Family Services is offering financial management classes to Marines, sailors and their family members.

Two classes are held at building 1350 every Friday at 8 and 10 a.m., that cover a vast array of useful topics such as budgeting, credit management and investment.

“One of the most basic questions in dealing with your finances is to know how much you make, spend, owe and save,” said Beth Middleton, Family Services financial management consultant. “We are here to show you how.”

Budget planning is the first essential step to financial planning, she said.

“If you have a spouse, it’s important to create your budget plan together,” said Middleton. “It will be simpler to follow and easier to reach your goals.”

Another subject discussed in the class is credit management and how it affects an individual’s financial position.

“Credit can be a useful financial tool,” said Middleton. “It can also become a nightmare if not handled right.”

The most important things that affect ones credit rating are defaulted and unpaid debts, slow payment history, the “debt-to-net income” ratio, the number of companies you have applied for credit even if you did not use it, and the total debt limit compared to income.

“My goal is to improve my credit score,” said Pfc. John Espinoza, data network specialist, Combat Logistics Regiment 15. “Just having a peace of mind (of having a good credit score) would mean a lot to me.”

During the class, Middleton suggested that the most basic ways to keep and improve your credit scores include paying your bills, credit cards and loan payments on time, and by keeping your debt level low.

When it comes to investing, some tips to remember include putting a large down payment when buying, negotiating for lower interest rates, and avoid co-signing on behalf of others.

“If you have a 30-year fixed mortgage on your house and make one extra payment a year, it will take seven years off the loan,” said Middleton.

Participants also discussed debt management, saving and investing by sharing their own experiences and situations.

For more information, call the Camp Pendleton’s Family Services Financial Management Office at (760) 725-9790.

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