Photo Information

Vondi Irwin Martinez, a Personal Finance Management Program specialist, teaches a Personal Readiness Seminar in building 279, Jan. 12, 2015. The program offers classes, briefs and counseling throughout the year about managing finances. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Kristen Wong)

Photo by Kristen Wong

Managing money for a new year, new beginning

16 Jan 2015 | Kristen Wong Marine Corps Base Hawaii

As 2015 enters its third week, financial woes may be setting in for many. Funds have been depleted for holiday gifts and travel, while tax documents will soon be in the mail.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii personnel can turn to on-base organizations to help ease new year financial stress through creating budgets, setting goals and decreasing debt.

Marine Corps Community Services’ Personal Financial Management Program and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society both offer support to active-duty service members and their families when it comes to saving and spending.

Jacqueline Walker, the PFMP manager, suggests that for the new year, people can make a “fresh start” in 2015 and think about what’s important to them financially. Walker encourages people to set goals for themselves, and create budgets.

The PFMP offers individual counseling, unit briefs and classes throughout the year for service members and spouses on various topics. This month, participants can also learn about purchasing food from the base commissary with their health and budget in mind. Naval Health Clinic Hawaii Health Promotions and PFMP will be taking participants on a commissary tour Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m.

Among other types of support, NMCRS offers interest-free loans. In December 2014, the NMCRS Kaneohe Bay office distributed $30,000 in quick assist loans, which are interest-free loans that qualified service members can apply for in emergencies.

“Even if (service members) don’t need a loan they can come in and work on a helpful budget,” said Julie Duszak, a caseworker and communications lead for NMCRS. “They can get a good picture of where their money is going.”

Service members can meet with caseworkers at NMCRS to work on a budget. The NMCRS website lists all people in addition to active duty eligible to use NMCRS services. When arriving for an appointment, the website recommends clients generally bring a military identification card, a recent leave and earning statement or retired annuity statement.

However, Duszak said depending on the client’s needs, they will be advised to bring other specific items, such as an estimate for assistance with car repair or a copy of a lease for assistance with rent.

For those who would like to see a caseworker to make a budget, Jane Paquette, a casework lead at NMCRS, said there are several caseworkers available next week. Clients must make an appointment, she said; walk-ins are not accepted. For those going in to make a budget, Paquette asks clients to bring in a military ID, their most recent LES, a list of bills and a completed budget worksheet. The worksheet is a link available at on the right-hand side, under “Documents you need.”

If service members are married, Paquette said couples can meet the caseworker together or as individuals.

Both organizations also have projects in the works in the coming months. Duszak said the society is planning to create a financial boot camp class catering to newer service members. Walker said PFMP will be promoting the annual Military Saves Week, which runs Feb. 23 through 27, 2015. As for now, the society and PFMP have tips for service members as they begin the new year.

“Have a strong understanding of how much money you have coming in and how much money you have going out,” Duszak said.

Paquette recommends that service members track their expenses, read their LES each month, and educate themselves on their pay and entitlements.

“There has not been a person who hasn’t been truly surprised where the money is going,” Paquette said.

Walker added that “paying yourself,” in other words putting away money, even as little as 10 percent each paycheck, can be helpful for emergencies.

“Consider yourself a bill,” Walker said. “Your savings is just as important as any other bills you have to have.”

To contact NMCRS, call 257-1972. To register for the commissary tour, call 471-2280 or visit

Marine Corps Base Hawaii