A&FRC advises people to prevent financial problems before they arise, impact security clearance Published Aug. 18, 2015 By Holly Logan-Arrington Robins Public Affairs ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Staying financially healthy isn't just good for your wallet; it's also good for your career. The Airman & Family Readiness Center has recently seen an increase in financially related security clearance problems, many of which could've been prevented if the issues had been addressed earlier. Anthony Pope, a certified personal financial readiness program manager at the A&FRC, said he's concerned about the possible financial impact the 2013 furlough may have had on some Robins employees and the negative consequences it could have on security clearances. Pope said financial problems need to be resolved immediately, and plans should be put into place to prevent future problems. It all starts with a budget, Pope said. "To create a budget, you need to establish broad categories such as housing, transportation, food, personal spending, savings, debts, and then review bank statements to identify funds spent in those areas," he said. "Your savings must be included as part of your budget. In developing a savings plan include regular, emergency, and goal-getter inputs." Setting financial goals for large purchases like car tires, Christmas or vacation, and putting away small amounts each payday will help you reach goals and will help prevent running up credit card (or store) debts, Pope said. "At least $1,000 should also be built up for emergency savings and only used for real emergencies," he said. "Your investments also need to be part of your spending plan. Setting up an allotment for your savings is an excellent idea." Pope said tracking cash flow can help a person identify where to cut back on spending, prioritize bills and increase savings. Once a budget is set, Pope said people should track their expenses - a step he said many people neglect. "Remember, the furlough of 2013 was 20 percent less of your regular pay, and no overtime was allowed, so it's vital to stay well below your income level," he said. "To do that, you must track your expenses every day and three or four times a week and compare it to your spending plan to ensure you're on track. Watch the food and personal spending areas as those are the most flexible and can easily cause overspending." Pope suggested that people determine whether each purchase is a need or a want, and buy only items that are truly needed. "Changing spending habits isn't easy but it's critical to preventing long-term financial issues," he said. Financial problems won't go away if left unresolved; and they often hurt not only your personal life, but your professional career as well. "First, if there are possible issues, don't avoid them," he said. "You must address each negative item on the credit report to prevent issues with your clearance. Don't wait; fix any and all problems now as it may be too late to address them when your clearance comes under review." Getting financial management counseling begins with contacting the A&FRC at 478-926-1256. "We can assist with all financial management issues, to include budget analysis, credit repair, debt reduction and, best of all, all our services are free," Pope said. "Establishing good financial habits such as budgeting, saving and tracking expenses, combined with monitoring your credit and taking action quickly, will help secure your financial future and prevent monetary issues in the future."