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A good sense of dollars and cents

PATICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Hello Sharks. I'd like to take this opportunity to expand a little more about something I talked about briefly at last week's wing commander's call: fiscal responsibility.

As I mentioned then, we are living in some very volatile times right now, and the financial world we find ourselves in is no different. Just ask anyone who bought a home in Brevard County a few years ago and then ask them what they can sell it for today. In the talks I've had with several of you in the recent months, the average reduction in selling price is somewhere in the $50,000 range.

It doesn't matter what rank you are, how old you are or where you are in your life, that's some serious money - and it takes a serious effort on your part to make sure you do the right thing.

If you are PCSing soon and find yourself in this position, please understand the banker, mortgage lender and real estate agent may - or may not - be looking out for your best interests. That's for you to figure out - not me. All I ask is that you take advantage of the legal and professional finance people we have here on base and get the right answers that make the most sense for you. And please try to avoid the "quick-fixes" that could lead to more trouble in the long run.

The cost of seemingly everything - especially gasoline - seems to be getting higher and higher, and the pressures of making ends meet can seem overpowering at times.

My advice in times like this is simple: please, don't let something like a temporary financial bind lead you to do something that can severely affect your military career. Trust me, you are not the first person to find themselves in a financial squeeze - and you certainly won't be the last. Many of us have been there.

If you find yourself short of cash and need short-term financial help you can apply for an Air Force Aid interest free Falcon Loan up to $500 at the Airman and Family Readiness Center - no questions asked, with a 10 months repayment plan. I would also encourage you to visit the Airman and Family Readiness Center to set up an appointment for a home finance plan to track expenditures and talk to them about setting up a savings and investment program.

For those in real need, "Operation Warmheart" offers checks up to $100 with no repayment schedule. It's a gift. Talk to your supervisor if you need help. No one on this base needs to think they are on their own because they are not.

In closing, let me suggest you resist those "impulse buys," the ones where the salesperson tells you "it's the best deal in town." It probably isn't.

Wait until you can afford it. You'll feel better and so will your bank account. Go Sharks!