ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - What can you do when a bad credit rating is preventing you from obtaining a government civilian position'

One Aberdeen Proving Ground civilian knows firsthand, after poor credit scores made her ineligible for a promotion that required a secret clearance.

The Edgewood Area employee-who agreed to be interviewed but asked not to be named-has been working at APG for 25 years and said she's a very responsible person, "but there were seven items on my credit report from when I was divorced years ago that I couldn't afford to pay at the time."

When she interviewed for the position and learned that a recommendation was dependent on her obtaining a security clearance, her boss at the time referred her to budget counseling offered by the installation's Financial Readiness Program.

"I had to develop a plan and answer for each item, and I was given a certain amount of time to correct them while attending budget counseling," she said. "[Arcelio] Alleyne, [the Financial Readiness Program manager] helped so much. I learned so much from him; my Family too."

She said her budgeting plan forced her to make several worthwhile sacrifices.

"We cut out unnecessary expenses and started making lunch instead of buying it, skipping the stop for coffee on the way to work every day, going to movies and other things like that," she said. "We learned to be frugal. It wasn't bad if you like to eat Ramen Noodles."

The counseling worked to her advantage. She obtained the position and said she maintains many of the habits she developed through counseling.

"I highly recommend this program," she said. "Don't wait until you need it."

Army Community Service's Alleyne helps commanders sustain deployment readiness by maintaining unit financial readiness and counsels clients on financial self-sufficiency. He said he has had the privilege of helping many people improve their credit scores and obtain the necessary skills to balance their personal budgets.

He also noted that budget counseling is just one of several financial management tools available to Soldiers (active duty, Guard and Reserve and retirees), civilians, contractors and Family members through Army Community Service.

Alleyne has 16 years in the financial services industry with nine years as the ACS Financial Readiness Program manager. He holds a bachelor's degree in Management Studies from the University of Maryland, is a current member of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, a former registered representative with a member of the National Association of Securities Dealers and is an accredited financial counselor.

In addition to conducting one-on-one budget and financial counseling, Alleyne also develops and conducts training for groups, units and organizations throughout the APG community. Classes include banking and credit union services, budget development and record keeping, debt management, using credit wisely; getting insurance; making large purchase; consumer scams; consumer rights and obligations; financial planning, savings and investing; retirement planning; Thrift Saving Plan; money management; and principles of personal finance.

And all counseling is, "first and foremost," confidential, said Alleyne.

The Financial Readiness Program also refers customers to local resources, on and off post. These may include Army Emergency Relief, Family Advocacy, Relocation Assistance, the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate for legal services or the APG Tax Center. Off post referrals may include nonprofit organizations such as Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Maryland or Delaware or local social services agencies, churches and food pantries.

Alleyne said financial assistance is for everyone though most people make the mistake of not seeking financial assistance until they are in crisis.

He said the value of obtaining and maintaining a financial plan for the future cannot be overstated.

"Only 10 to 20 percent of people will come here with no problem, and out of a desire to do better," he said. "Financial counseling is not only remedial, it's also productive. We also look at where people should put their money."

Alleyne said most customers come into the Financial Readiness Program through command referral and that training is mandatory for first-term Soldiers.

For more information, contact Alleyne at 410-278-2450 or email arcelio.v. alleyne.civ@mail.mil.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16