Your money matters – it’s probably one of the key motivators that gets you out of bed and keeps you coming into work each day (that and a kick butt stapler, we hope). But how you handle your paycheck also has career implications in your national security career. We say it so often we sound like a broken record, but financial issues top the causes of clearance denial and revocation for Department of Defense applicants. What do you need to be aware of, and what can you do about it?

ClearanceJobs sat down with Kate Horrell, a certified financial counselor and military spouse to talk about financial issues and your military or government career.

  • 1:54: Why you shouldn’t spend your pay raise before you get it.
  • 3:16: Financial benefits of a military or government career.
  • 4:05: Career implications of financial issues -being careful and being transparent.
  • 9:55: Financial pulse points anyone should know.
  • 11:45: Tax issues and your clearance

Financial Challenges for Military and Government

Military and government careers come with some built in financial and career security. Horrell noted that medical bills are the cause of 46% of bankruptcies – something military and government professionals typically don’t have to worry about. That said, there are also unique financial challenges that go along with the opportunities. And one of those may surprise you – the episodic raise or promotion structure.

“There is opportunity to make some bad decisions because you’ll say, ‘oh, next year, I know I’m going to get a pay raise,'” said Horrell. “I think it’s human nature. If you feel pretty confident that increase in pay is going to be coming, it makes sense – sort of.”

But a key to financial health is making sure you don’t go ahead and spend that check before it’s in the bank, emphasized Horrell. The other piece of it is to properly plan and pay attention to your finances.

“In my experience and observation, digging your head in the sand is often a bigger concern than the financial issue itself,” said Horrell.

How to Protect Your Security Clearance From Financial Issues

“Reaching out for help is the biggest step that I can identify that makes the difference if your security clearance does come up for review based on financial concerns,” said Horrell. “Being able to say, ‘here’s where I went off track, and here’s what I did about it,’ seems to be the biggest factor in turning that issue around.”

Horrell also advises there are a few basic questions individuals can ask to monitor their financial health:

  1. What’s my credit score doing?
  2. Can you pay your bills every month?
  3. Is this preventing me from sleeping at night?

Tax Issues and Your Clearance

And with tax season on the horizon, Horrell notes there are a few issues that often come up for national security workers – and one of those is answering the simple question of which state to file in. She noted state taxes can be an issue, particularly for a service member who may have lived in or served in several states or potentially worked in an OCONUS location. Advanced child income tax credits are also muddying the tax return process for many. Horrell notes that when in doubt, this may be the year to consider bringing in the help of a certified tax professional.


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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer