“My background in finance was very poor,” she said. “I didn’t expect my sons to make better decisions without finding out for themselves. My training was, you don’t buy things you can’t afford. But we’re trained by the media that you have to have things and you owe those things.
Captain Sloan said he hid his debts from most of his friends and relatives. His mother, who opposes the war, said she had not tried to talk him out of it.
“I think the defining moment for me was when he called and said, ‘I want you to know that I have taken out life insurance. You have $ 100,000 if something should happen to me, ”she said. “It left such a sour feeling in me.”
Captain Sloan said the toughest sale was his fiancée.
“She made the toughest decision ever,” he said. “At first, she was against it. I think I finally won her over. It was about looking at the numbers. We could start our marriage in debt, or I could. The figures were very revealing. Drastic measures are needed.
In the green zone, where he works in intelligence, he has few opportunities to spend money.
All of his income is tax-exempt under the combat zone tax exclusion, and he receives an additional $ 225 per month imminent danger allowance and a “safe” allowance of $ 100 to improve his living conditions. “The real benefit is that it’s tax-free money,” he said. “I really don’t feel in imminent danger on a daily basis, but there have been times my heart skipped a beat or two. “
Other than an occasional haircut or dried fruit, he said, “every paycheque I get goes straight to my debt.” His full monthly military pay, including dangerous duty bonuses, is $ 6,031.74. He pays Social Security and Medicare, leaving a net amount of $ 5,695.76 per month. He earns $ 100 a month renting his house in Colorado Springs after paying the mortgage. He also sold things and simplified his life. He eats in restaurants rather than Pizza Hut and uses a Sony reader to scan free books from the Internet.
But even in the relative safety of the Green Zone, Captain Sloan said, he sees his military colleagues taking unnecessary risks – not saving their combat pay.