5 Financial Issues to Consider Before Joining the Military

Advice for when it’s just you and your wallet in a foxhole.

You should consider your financial future when deciding whether to join the military.
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Payday loan stores are barred from having military members as customers, ever since the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act was passed. Even so, not all states have the legislation to enforce the law properly, according to a 2012 report by the Navy Times. In general, con artists and shady lending companies know you may be struggling financially, and they will do their best to cater to you.

That is why Holly Petraeus, wife of former CIA director and retired general David Petraeus and assistant director for Servicemember Affairs for the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, turned up at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, on April 10. According to local media, she was there expressly to educate troops about predatory lending practices that are aimed squarely at military members and their families.

She told her audience that many of the loans designed for the military have annual percentage rates that range from 85 to 400 percent, and that, "the No. 1 cause for service members losing their security clearance is for financial reasons."

You will at least have many advocates trying to keep you and your money together. It isn't only Petraeus on the move, of course, who it should be noted was also promoting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's website for service members. There are numerous organizations throughout the country that exist to help the military, such as VeteransPlus, which offers financial literacy and education programs to the armed forces.

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There are also many retail businesses that offer discounts to members of the military; the site Military.com has a discounts page that features a comprehensive list of them. Just know that by enlisting in the Army, Navy, Marines or what have you, you will constantly be in a tug-of-war against people who want to empty your pockets with high-interest loans and advocates looking out for you.

As Negherbon says, "You join your country to serve your country. You don't join it to get rich."