Last week in this blog I wrote about how the Pentagon views soldiers and sailors who are deep in debt as security risks. For this reason, the Pentagon is not clearing certain enlisted men and women to serve overseas. As a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana, my reason for focusing on this topic was that I had read that most of the high debt load weighing down military families started with payday loans. (The 2007 Military Authorization Act made it illegal for creditors to grant payday loans and car title loans to members of the military, but that law did not affect the many loans already in place.) As a consumer bankruptcy specialist dealing with thousands of people each year, I know that payday loans are almost never a good thing for borrowers, and I wanted to emphasize that again in the blog.
Well, interestingly, I just received a note from a friend who is a financial planner. It seems the Foundation for Financial Planning started, just one month ago, to visit Marine bases around the country, presenting financial planning programs. These Moneywise courses are specifically aimed at teaching Marines and their families about money management. The most fascinating thing from my point of view was that the volunteer financial planners found, while visiting the bases, that nearly 30% of all enlisted Marines have financial problems serious enough to affect their security clearances! In a bulletin put out by the Foundation asking for charitable pledges to support the education program, it was mentioned that some military jobs are going unfilled, which of course jeopardizes individual careers in addition to posing problems for our country’s security. The article specifically mentioned pay day lending loans and maxed out credit cards as playing a large role in the problem.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Even if filing bankruptcy is not the best choice in a given situation, there are more productive ways to deal with money problems than payday loans!