Daren's Story

"I was so happy to be approved for my first ever car loan."

For many active duty and retired military personnel, financial hardship is often an unexpected battle scar that significantly hinders their goals and aspirations. A 2020 report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that debt and delinquency are an epidemic among military service members, and the ranks are filled with stories of financial challenges.

Of course, these experiences are unique, playing out in the personal stories of our dedicated soldiers. Some are struggling to navigate an economic landscape without savings and sometimes deeply in debt. Meanwhile, others need support developing financial wellness that empowers them to reach their goals. That’s Daren’s experience.

No credit, no car

As an active-duty Air Force service member, Daren was stationed in the United Kingdom. When he returned stateside in the spring of 2021, he needed to purchase a car to travel from his hometown San Antonio, Texas, to his new duty station in California.

However, Daren was challenged by a low credit score, blemished credit history, and a debt-to-income ratio that did not qualify him for a loan from several national lenders. Daren contacted Soldier On, an MMI partner nonprofit dedicated to supporting military veterans.

Doing the work

Soldier On’s homeownership and credit program manager recommended Money Management International (MMI) to help Daren with his credit problems. In early April, Daren connected with Mark McBride, a 30-year veteran counselor at MMI. Mark helped Daren understand exactly what he needed to do to obtain his first auto loan.

Together, they reviewed Daren’s income, expenses, credit score, and credit history. The review revealed that a previously paid debt was reporting negatively by one credit bureau, adversely affecting his credit score. Daren was able to identify, dispute, and have the harmful impact mitigated.

“Many veterans come to us with a similar story. They want to improve their credit, develop a budget, and become a homeowner by taking advantage of VA home loans and other mechanisms,” Mark explains, “However, each person has a unique story, and we are proud to support their development, one soldier at a time.”

Reaping the rewards

Daren worked with Mark to create a budget and action plan to achieve his goal. Mark suggested that Daren first find a car and then speak to both the local banks or credit unions and the dealership about a loan to compare terms and make an informed decision. With up-to-date information, Daren secured a low-rate auto loan through the sales consultant at a local dealership in May.

“I was so happy to be approved for my first ever auto loan,” Daren recalled.

Equipped with a new car, Daren is heading west, continuing his life of service while mitigating the financial stress that made reaching his goals more difficult. Daren says, “I am excited to be driving to California at the end of the month to my new duty station and will have less stress knowing I have reliable transportation. I’m forever grateful for the help I received from MMI and Soldier On through the credit education program, which is instrumental in educating our military on financial matters.”

At MMI, we are proud to collaborate with Soldier On to support active and retired military members in achieving financial well-being. While we have many partnerships with success stories like Daren's, you don’t have to be affiliated with any of them to receive services from us. Contact our experts 24/7 to learn more about our free and low-cost programs, including debt management, disaster recovery coaching, and personalized financial counseling.

Daren'’s success is a result of his personal dedication and hard work. Similar results are not guaranteed. Soldier On and MMI are not credit repair services.  

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