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Service members across the country are feeling the heat because of the woeful economy over the past year. Marines and sailors aboard the air station can seek financial assistance at the Family Services Counseling Center if they are having trouble on their mortgage payments.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

Economy woes hit home for Marines

2 May 2009 | Lance Cpl. Manuel F. Guerrero

Home ownership is a giant step into building a foundation for life,families and the future. When faced with financial trouble, Marines must learn to adapt and overcome before it’s too late.

Over the past year, the number of Marines with trouble making payments on their residence have grown, said Craig Hughes, an accredited financial counselor at the Family Services Counseling Center here.

Service members of all ranks and ages are feeling the pressure from the falling economy, added Hughes.

A foreclosure adversely affects the Marine’s credit, which can hinder their future financial plans. It goes in the individual’s record as an unsatisfied debt and stays on their record for seven years.

“Anybody that accesses your credit report, like future employers and creditors will see that, and it makes it more difficult for them if they want get to a job or are trying to purchase another home,” said Hughes.

Some Marines jump into home ownership uneducated and unprepared, which usually leads to future financial struggles, commented Bruce Nieman, a financial consultant at the Family Services Counseling Center.

“Marines must do the fundamentals of planning before going out and making major purchases,” said Nieman. “They need to take the time to educate themselves about finance.”

If a Marine feels pressured on whether they will make their monthly payments, they need to seek help.

“If a Marine is having trouble like missing bills, or juggling payments those are signs of financial trouble,” said Nieman. “Using loans and credit cards to pay monthly expenses are also obvious signs of financial struggles.”

Aboard the air station, Marines can get preliminary assistance if they are faced with a potential foreclosure on their home.

“We can sit down with them and give them advice on the course of action they want to take,” said Hughes. “We can help them set up a budget and a financial plan going forward so they won’t run into this problem again.”

If the problem cannot be rectified and needs a more in-depth look, service members should contact a housing and urban development approved housing counselor. The National Foreclosure Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 888-995-4673 for anybody experiencing these problems.

“Instead of foreclosure, the counselors work with the mortgage company to change the terms of the loan,” said Hughes. “They’ll help negotiate and give the individual the appropriate guidance.”

Since the cost of homes has plummeted over the past year, more Marines are thinking about taking the leap into home ownership.

“It is an excellent time because property value and interest rates are so low,” said Hughes. “It is a good time only if they are in a financial position and are able to fit their monthly mortgage payment in their budget comfortably – the monthly mortgage payment should be no more than 28 percent of their gross monthly income.”

Marines struggling with the financial stress of a mortgage, or are thinking about taking that step into home ownership should contact Hughes at 858-577-9802.