A lot of people have been asking me what to do about being in debt and having bad credit with regards to passing a background investigation.  For starters, it’s important to know I am not a background investigator and don’t know what they actually look for, I just have a good idea.  While in the military, my finances were continually reviewed by civilian background investigators every time my security clearance was upgraded and in order to get hired as a police officer, my finances were reviewed again.  The following is just my story and my experience.

I came straight from living overseas as a Marine U.S. Embassy security guard for 4 years, and bam! I thrust myself back in the United States as a civilian.  At the time, LAPD was not doing out of state testing, therefore I was not afforded the opportunity to apply while I was in the Marine Corps.  I had to start the process of applying to LAPD when I was finished with my contract and in California.

My experience is this: Being in debt is not a problem, it’s the reason why you are in debt that can become problematic.  I was in debt because I was stuck, like the old adage says, between a rock and a hard place.  My goal was to become an LAPD officer, not a police officer.  I dropped my application with San Francisco PD (and two other departments), Despite having trekked up north several times, I realized that was not my true goal.  I could have potentially been hired faster elsewhere, as other friends of mine did.  After they were forgotten or flat out rejected by other police departments, including LAPD, they got hired elsewhere for substantially higher pay, too.  However, I stuck to my own path.

Because I was in the process of getting hired by LAPD, it was difficult to get a job.  There are many reasons for this, but one major reason was the fact that employers don’t want to hire someone for less than a year.  Additionally, I was told by people in the city, including my background investigator, that I would be hired quickly.  History turned out differently.

In my case, I had a strange situation in which I went from being financially ok to barely scraping by as my time unemployed continued to extend.  At first, I went through the entire hiring process with no problems, only delays due to my file being lost not once but twice!  The real trouble occurred when I was disqualified by the psychologist and had to undergo an appeal.  After I successfully appealed, many of the milestones I had achieved started to expire.   That meant I had to actually do the background investigation twice! (I also did the department interview twice).

The first time he reviewed my back ground, my background investigator cleared me in about 30 days.  The second time, he cleared me even faster despite the fact that I had racked up more debt.  Basically, it was understandable that being unemployed for so long would cause my financial situation to worsen. My problem was not so much mismanaging money; the problem was I didn’t have much money coming in due to transitioning directly from the military to law enforcement.

Point is, if you are broke it’s not necessarily bad.  Based on my experience, background investigators understand life is not always easy and financial times get dire.  Being in the poor house doesn’t mean you won’t get hired.  There are many plausible excuses for carrying debt, such as college expenses or sudden loss of employment.  However, if you are broke because of a plethora of bad habits, then get yourself reeducated! You don’t have to read the books I’m about to suggest, but you definitely need to learn how to fix your situation.

You don’t have to read the books I’m about to suggest, but you definitely need to learn how to fix your situation.  If you don’t like books, thanks to YouTube you still have other options.  Gambling problems and spending on materials to uphold a certain image will definitely be frowned upon. What background investigators want to avoid, is allowing someone to be hired who is so bad at managing money they are willing to make bad decisions which will make them susceptible to corruption.  Corruptions such as stealing money from suspects to pay their own bills, or selling intel for cash to pay off a loan shark.

The most important recommendation I have is figuring out how to take control over as much of your financial troubles as possible.


New book suggestions:

  1. How to Be Richer Smarter and Better Looking Than Your Parents, by Zac Bissonte


      2. I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi

I read those two books prior to leaving the Marine Corps and the lessons I learned helped me survive with minimal resources.  Keep in mind, the problem I had was sudden loss of stable income.  If you have a stable position but have simply made some bad financial decisions, you are already ahead of where I was.   I was living on an uncertain timeline with no foundation in a new culture starting a completely new life.  I was going to leave a steady paycheck, acquire a family, and provide for them in a land unknown to me: civilian life.  I knew I had to get good at money.  The costs of these two books were one of the best investments I made.

For example, I purchased a car that was 7 years old, a 2005 Ford Mustang.  (Had I known that I was going to be unemployed longer than a year I would have purchased a 98 Honda Civic).  Either way, I didn’t purchase a car more expensive than $10,000 despite being offered a loan for $40,000.  The story doesn’t end with buying an older car.  After reading the books listed above, I was able to devise an actual script for haggling.  The car was listed for about $10,000 dollars and I brought the price down to $8,500.These savings would have never been possible if I had never bothered to flip through some knowledge (“knowledge” is Marine term for“book”).

This is just one example of how I started changing my spending habits and becoming savvy about spending.  Taking the time to add to my financial education on a practical level went a long way in my success.

During the two years I was transitioning from the military to law enforcement, I never failed to pay bills or rent.  I kept my priorities straight to the point of foregoing even meals.  If I was able to delay certain debts, I did, but in the end, I paid everything I owed.  I didn’t rack up bills for unnecessary things, I mainly ate what I cooked myself, and I shopped around for savings.  I had to make many changes in my life and at times, excuse myself from hanging out with friends in order to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to afford the same activities anymore.  Despite some heavy expenses from life, the first year went frugal, but as planned.  The second year was rough.  Nevertheless, I managed to get by.  Click here for a window into a minute of what that life was like.

If you are worried that your financial situation might hamper you from passing a background investigation, you should stop worrying.  No one should be disqualifying you from a job simply because you are poor.  At the same time, you should not be content with being poor.  Grab the bull by the horns and get yourself some practical education on finances and continue working towards your dreams.  Just like I don’t know what exactly is going through a background investigators mind, you don’t know either.  If I had worried about my bad financial situation and quit, I would have ended up starting a different career just to clear my debt, and years later applied for LAPD.  I consider that utterly impractical but 100% safe.

Dreams aren’t achieved by playing it safe.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story.  My goal is to provide you with entertaining content that both inspirational and educational.  If you would like to support this project, check out my new online store.  If you don’t find anything you like, feel free to send me an email with the products you would like to see.  I am here to serve YOU, even off duty!