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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Uprooting a family and moving halfway around the world to the United States can be a trying time. The urgency to buy a vehicle or a home can make it even more complicated.

To help those moving soon make sound financial decisions, Marine Corps Community Services’ Personal Services Centers have scheduled a May 1-5 “financial week,” said Tim Gillen, the Operational Readiness Support Program manager.

Financial weeks are held two or three times a year. The upcoming week’s classes will cover car buying, first-time home buying and money management. The classes are free and open to all.

When buying a car, Gillen said, most mistakes occur when the buyer doesn’t read the contract thoroughly and lacks “financial coaching.”

The car-buying class is broken into three areas, he said: purchasing, financing and trade-in value.

Gillen said instructors will discuss with future buyers whether they need to buy add-on services such as rust-proofing and extended warranties but won’t tell individuals what they should or shouldn’t do.

“We’re here for consumer education,” he said. “We want to give out the information, point people in the right direction and help them make an informed decision.” When his staff asks the financial areas in which people have encountered problems, he said, “95 percent of the time it’s tied to a car.”

Anthony Green, one of three MCCS financial specialists on the island, said most people buying a car “ask the wrong person the right information” by letting the dealer determine the prices of the cars being purchased and being traded in.

The home-buying class is for both first-time buyers and those who’ve purchased homes before but need a refresher course, Gillen said.

Subjects such as how to select a real estate agent, estimate closing costs and be aware of hazards such as termites and lead-based paint are among topics touched on during the training.

“We look at it from the 30,000-foot level,” Gillen said. “We just give them some basic information that they can do research on later.”

Green said homebuyers’ common mistakes include lack of preparation and not understanding the impact of credit ratings.

Usually, the better the credit rating, the lower the interest rates financial institutions will grant on mortgages. “Two points [difference on a credit rating] over 30 years can equate to $100,000” in extra interest paid, Green said.

The money management workshop is designed to help individuals do everything from develop a budget and create a savings plan to learn how to build good credit and reduce debt, Gillen said.

The financial specialists also give classes in investing and offer personal financial counseling. The Personal Services Centers help about 17,000 people each year through their financial classes and counseling, Gillen said.

Call DSN 645-2104 for more information on a class or to schedule a unit briefing.

MCCS “Financial Week”

Class schedule at Personal Services Centers:

May 2: Car buying, Camp Kinser, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

May 2: Money-management workshop, Camp Courtney, 8 to 11 a.m.

May 3: Money-management workshop, Camp Schwab, 8 to 11 a.m.

May 3: First-time home-buying, Camp Foster, 5 to 7 p.m.

May 4: First-time home-buying, Camp Courtney, noon to 1:30 p.m.

May 4: Car buying, Camp Foster, 5 to 7 p.m.

For more information on any of the classes, contact any of the Personal Services Centers below:

Camp Foster, Building 445, DSN 645-2104Camp Kinser, Building 1220, DSN 637-2815Camp Courtney, Building 4425, 622-7332Camp Hansen, Building 2339, DSN 623-4522Camp Schwab, Building 3327, DSN 625-2622Source: Marine Corps Community Services

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