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Members of the military, including those who are stationed at Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Integrated Support Command Miami or the AUTEC Complex, are sometimes thought of as people who are enjoying the benefits of serving our country. While it is true that members of the military do get paychecks on the 1st and 15th of every month plus medical care and some other stipends, some members of the military are in a bad financial state.

One area where the difference between civilians and members of the military is very apparent is the credit score. Using the averages of credit scores between the two groups, civilians tend to have a higher credit score than service members. Civilians have an average credit score of 692, while active duty military members have an average credit score of 592.

In a 2012 survey of 1,300 active duty military members, the FINRA Foundation found that nearly half of the respondents who had a credit card reported using credit cards for cash advances, paying late fees, paying over-the-limit fees, paying late or paying only the minimum payment. Sadly, one financial counselor who works with members of the military notes that many of the military members live paycheck-to-paycheck.

One of the issues with members of the military is the frequent moves. These moves sometimes necessitate dual rent payments or mortgage payments. In some cases, the spouse of the service person isn’t able to find employment.

The incidence of bankruptcy is elevated in members of the military. Combat fatigue might play a factor in the spiraling debt of some service members since they tend to live in the now instead of focusing on the future. In some cases, the spouse of the service member might hide true financial issues from the service member in an effort to shield the service member from the stress of the financial difficulties.

For members of the military, financial difficulties can have a profound effect. Members of the military can be suspended, downgraded or separated from the service because of how it affects the member’s security clearance.

Anyone who is facing mounting bills, late payments or a delinquent mortgage might have legal options available to help them get back on financial track or stop foreclosure. Learning about these options is the first step to reclaiming your financial future.

Source: StarTribune, “Financial readiness can be a challenge for soldiers” John Ewoldt, Apr. 12, 2014