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Consumer Watch: Fill the kids' closets, stock your survival kit and go racin' - all for less

Jun. 29, 2012 - 11:44AM   |   Last Updated: Jun. 29, 2012 - 11:44AM  |  
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From a special behind-the-scenes package for race fans to great deals on kids' clothes, here are some new ways to get more bang for your buck this summer.

• The American Salute Ticket Package is for active-duty military and veterans, to include members of the National Guard and reserves, for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 on July 7 in Daytona Beach, Fla. The offer is limited to 500 people. Packages start at $83 and go up to $99, depending on where you sit — the $99 seats are closer to the center of the track. Add $14 for a processing fee.

In addition to a grandstand ticket, the package gets you access to a 15-minute question-and-answer session with driver Kevin Harvick, a photo of you with his car, and a 20-minute meet-and-greet with four Medal of Honor recipients. These special events are not open to other attendees.

To purchase the package, http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Harvick">click here or call 800-PITSHOP (800-748-7467).

If you're not able to get this deal, other military discounts are available for the Daytona races through your installation's Morale, Welfare and Recreation tickets and tours office, although the extras are not included.

On-base ticket offices offer adult tickets from $70 to $80, depending on the seats; that's a $59 savings off regular price, said Bill Bradner, a spokesman for the Army's Installation Management Command. Children's seats for July 7 are $11, a $13 savings. Tickets to Daytona's Subway Jalapeno 250 — a July 6 NASCAR Nationwide Series night race — are $24, a $20 savings, and free for kids under 12. Tickets for the Sprint Fanzone on July 7 are $30, a $49 savings.

• All kids' clothing at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service is now $20 or less, with all items at five simple price points: $5, $10, two for $15, $15 and $20. This approach has lowered prices of current clothing and introduced lower-priced items, said Dani Hebert, AAFES's softlines senior policy program manager. The reductions don't apply to children's furnishings, accessories, jackets or coats.

Styles range from the exchange private label brands Buzz Cuts and Ponytails to national brands such as Nautica, Union Bay, Levi's and Skechers.

• Check out your commissary for deals on survival kit items as part of the Defense Commissary Agency's "severe weather promotional package" running through Oct. 31. Those items include canned chicken, powdered milk, batteries, weather-ready flashlights, all-weather tape, first-aid kits, lighters and matches, candles and hand sanitizer.

A few examples provided by Russ Moffett, vice president of commissary affairs for the American Logistics Association: Scotch-brand duct tape, up to 45 percent off retail prices outside the gates; and Energizer items at 42 percent off retail prices.

Short sales and security clearances

In a previous column, I explored the issues of how banks report short sales to the credit bureaus and how that reporting can affect your credit scores as well as your security clearance. The Navy hadn't yet weighed in with its perspective, but it has now.

"It is unlikely that one single event — such as a short sale — would by itself cause a person to lose their security clearance," said Reynolds Peele, director of the Navy's Central Adjudication Facility. That is, unless there are indications of trends in behavior or judgment that resulted in a short sale.

"That event would be weighed together with other background information over time, and any actions taken on the part of the individual to mitigate security concerns," Peele said.

Also, one of the mitigating factors is whether "the conditions that resulted in the financial problem were largely beyond the person's control (e.g., loss of employment, a business downturn, unexpected medical emergency, or a death, divorce or separation), and the individual acted responsibly under the circumstances."

In a short sale, the bank agrees to sell your home for less than what you owe on the mortgage. In a settlement reached earlier this year, the five largest banks — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial — must provide mandatory short sale agreements and deficiency waivers to certain troops forced to sell their homes at a loss because of permanent change-of-station moves.

The Navy's perspective generally mirrors that of the other services — a short sale alone should not hurt your security clearance.

If you've had a different experience, kjowers@militarytimes.com?subject=Tell%20us:%20Short%20sales%20and%20security%20clearances">click here and send me an email.

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