Surviving the unexpected

  • Published
  • By Heidi Hunt
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Unexpected disruptions like accidents, illness or government shutdowns can cause hardships for those who are not prepared.

Earlier this month, military families and Federal Department of Defense employees were sent scrambling when their pay was threatened by the lack of a budget agreement. Fortunately Congress was able resolve its differences and passed a budget for the remainder of the year, ensuring federal employees received their full pay.

But while military members and their families were waiting for a resolution, the Airman and Family Readiness Center was already receiving phone calls.

"People wanted to know where they would make up that extra money," said R.D. "Smitty" Smith, 509th Force Support Squadron readiness consultant. "We told them there were a few things they needed to do to be proactive.

"The first thing we told them was to call their creditors," he said. "Actually talk to someone and tell them about your situation."

The more you talk to them, the more they are willing to work with you; rather than being late and not making a payment and hurting your credit score, according to Smitty.

"Inform them that there will be a loss of income for a period of time and ask them what options are available," he said.

According to Smitty, people can arrange for their situation in advance by doing the following:

- Ask creditors to be receptive - "Explain to them that you are going to be late on a payment and request they work out a plan that will not negatively affect your credit report," Smitty said.
- Ask if the creditor will forgo a month's payment and charge only the interest on your bills instead of making the full payment. "Pay the interest, but don't pay the full principle on the loan," Smitty said.
-Or, tie in the payment to the end of a loan and forgo that month's payment altogether.
-Simply ask your creditors what options are available and make an arrangement.

"This way you are armed with education about what to expect," Smitty said. "By communicating what your options are, you can be involved in a plan to be proactive with your creditors."

For questions about financial assistance or to schedule a consultation about your credit situation, contact Smitty at the A&FRC at (660) 687-7123.

(Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part series highlighting financial readiness from the Whiteman Airman & Family Readiness Center.)