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Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

As the POLICE Web editor, Paul Clinton contributes posts about patrol cars, motorcycles, and other police vehicles. He previously wrote about automotive electronics as managing editor of Mobile Electronics. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter.



William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.
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Start Financial Survival Now

Saving for a rainy starts with your first paycheck.

May 11, 2010  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Congratulations. You finally got that job you've been trying so hard for. Now, the real work begins. Yes, that includes the police academy and the FTO program, but there's more. You will have to go to human resources office and fill out a ton of forms. Don't just sign and go. Remember the three premises of legal paperwork. Did you have time to read it? Was it in a language you understand? Did you sign it?

Now, no FTO worth his salt will tell you to go in, sign it, and get out. Stop and understand what you are doing. Before this happens, do you have a financial plan, strategy, or timeline? Many departments offer payroll options for savings, credit unions, contributions to 457 retirement funds, and so forth.

I'm not going to recommend any one plan. My expertise is not in the money world, but I will share some insights on this topic that will help you get started on the right path.

In my decades of police work I have seen far too many coppers get in over their heads by living large and not preparing for a rainy day. I don't care what you call it - rainy day fund, emergency money, or disaster cash - just have some.

My advice is to have it taken out of the check before you can get your hands on it. I know, you will drop it off at the bank on the way home; which does not happen. If you want to avoid working extra, off-duty, or scrapping for overtime, start saving now.

If you are single now and even think you are going to get married, have kids, or whatever plan you have, it will require financial planning. Money does not just happen; it requires some preplanning. I know far too many recruits that have tactical plans for short of nuclear attacks, tons of guns and equipment, yet no personal financial survival. This is a reality of life that will hit you sooner or later.

I was very fortunate that my FTO went with me to the "personnel department" and not only explained but assisted in my plans. FTO Steve Hood carried me to the credit union as well. Before I left that afternoon, I had several deductions coming out of the check but they did not hurt me. I had been making it (barely) on recruit pay, and after graduation you get a higher rate of pay....there was his math.

Bottom line: Stick with what you can get by on and save the rest. It worked then and it still works. A secondary teaching point here is that FTOs need to be somewhat versed in not only tactical training but living life as a copper. God rest Steve. He was a one in a million.

I am not the budget specialist. You may have a trusted person in your life, friend, banker or just some crusty old FTO who can help you. Getting into this vocation involves having a thousand things flying at you at first. Your plans should extend past tactical considerations to include personal survival. Start your plans now. Life can be hard, but there is no reason to make it difficult.

Train with your future in mind.

Tags: Officer Psychology


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