TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Let’s says it’s been a while since you’ve paid more than the minimum amount due on your credit card. (Or worse, cards.)
With your credit limits nearly maxing out, you’ve been thinking about applying for new cards.
Or you feel stressed whenever you reach for plastic again to pay for routine expenses and bills.
All of those situations are signs of credit trouble. JR Webster, a financial educator with Tinker Federal Credit Union, recently gave some advice about handling credit pitfalls at a “Plastic Surgery” class at the Airman & Family Readiness Center.
“Don’t look at the situation as it is now, and panic,” he said, “because that’s one of the first things that people do. They look at the situation where they stand now and it seems hopeless.”
Webster teaches financial smarts to audiences large and small. Air Force policy expects Airmen to pay their financial obligations in a proper and timely manner. Allowing debt to pile up can cause security clearances to be revoked or denied.
Webster said people often attend his classes when they’re “panicking a little bit.”
“Sometimes it’s the first shirt who will say, ‘Hey, I notice some things about your situation and I’d really like you to take this class.’”
Webster said climbing out of debt involves assessing the extent of the problem, examining and tracking spending, making new financial goals and changing old habits. And it’s not necessarily a quick fix.
“For most people, if you have a really good workable plan, three or four years is a pretty good timeline for being debt-free,” he said. “Not for everybody, but most. Once you’re debt-free it provides a lot of freedom to be able to do things and spend that money on things that you need without having to pay a lot in interest.”
Webster is one of several instructors who host financial education classes at the A&FRC. The center’s Personal Financial Management Program offers information, education and personal financial counseling to active duty, Guard and Reserve members and their families, plus retired veterans and families.
Class topics can include the Thrift Savings Plan, the Blended Retirement System, home and car buying and financial planning for life changes. For more information, contact the center at 739-2747.
Some upcoming financial classes at the A&FRC are below. Sign up by calling the center.
- Breezing Through the Holidays. Plan early to ease the hit from the annual spending bump at the end of the year. July 19, 11 a.m.
- How to Organize Your Financial Life. Topics include bill paying, filing systems and long-term organization to keep finances flowing smoothly. Aug. 16, 11 a.m.
- First-time Home Buyer. A big-picture look at a person’s first big-time purchase. Sept. 20, 11 a.m.