Macho Spouse


image for How Much to Spend on Christmas Gifts
How Much to Spend on Christmas Gifts

RobSitePic.jpgWhatever your Winter Holiday tradition, now is the time when many cultures have historically livened up the dark days of winter (in the Northern Hemisphere) with celebrations of community, charity, and gift-giving*.  Going into debt, however, should not be a part of your tradition.

How much should you spend on Christmas?


I'm big on using percentages when budgeting.  Except for the really, really poor or really, really rich, it makes sense to me that if Martha gets paid 50% more than George, then Martha can spend 50% more than George.  That generally goes for housing, cars, or Christmas presents. In other words, don't try to “keep up with the Joneses,” especially if you get paid less than the Joneses.  That's the idea behind the 60% Budget: keep regular, monthly expenses down to 60% of your gross income, so you can save 10% each towards retirement, long-term savings, and short-term savings; the last 10% is 'fun money' for Starbucks, beer, wine, pizza, McDonald's, toys, etc. Ideally throughout the year you've saved up enough in your short-term savings to pay for Christmas, even after you've paid for oil changes, shoes for the kids, and a trip to the beach over the summer.

 

image for Top 5 Ways to Show Appreciation to Military Spouses
Top 5 Ways to Show Appreciation to Military Spouses

MSShirt.jpgA few weeks ago AT&T contacted me about writing a couple blogs on how best to appreciate a military spouse. Now, since Military Spouse Appreciation Day is on May 9th, I thought this was a great gesture by one of America's largest corporations to ask this question specifically of male spouses. Plus, AT&T offered a couple iPad gift baskets in exchange for my thoughts. The deal is that I have to share one of those iPads with you guys. I felt that offer was a no-brainer, so here you go. My top five ways people can acknowledge the sacrifices military spouses make on behalf of their families and nation. Before I begin, I want to make it clear that the following list is how I want to be appreciated; we're all different and I know other guys have different ideas. That's great! If you add your ideas below this story, I will put your name in a hat for a chance to win one of those AT&T iPad gift baskets (the only disclaimer I'm putting on this is that you must have your entry in before midnight on May 4th.)

One more thing, I feel a little self-conscious writing this because I really don't think anyone needs to appreciate me as a spouse. I'm happy and proud to live this lifestyle without any recognition. Tens of millions of people go to work everyday, many in not such great environments and/or circumstances. I do believe military spouses have it more difficult than most, but we're just doing our part to help make this country great.

image for 30 Ways of Thanks Day #4
30 Ways of Thanks Day #4

30Still.jpgOne great way for business owners to say "thank you" this November is by offering military families discounts. Most military families live on a modest budget, and especially around the holidays every little bit helps!

 

November is Military Families Appreciation Month, and the 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Branch Spouses of the Year (Branch SOYs) want to help everyone, everywhere participate in thanking and honoring military families.

Americans love our military, but many people don't quite know how best to express their gratitude. As National Guard Spouse of the Year Dr. Ingrid Herrera-Yee notes, “saying "thanks" to our military families is something that many want to do, but are at a loss as to how to do it –or in the case of Guard and Reserve, how to find us!”

So the Branch SOYs created #30Ways of Thanks to help. Each day in November, the Branch SOYs will release a video with an action item that people around the country can participate in virtually or locally, individually or in groups. Participants can hash tag #30Ways so that their messages, photos, or videos are spread far and wide. Hash tags #GratefulNation and #MilFamsRock can also be added as a short-hand way to say “You are amazing, military families!” Best of all, the entire #30Ways video collection will be stored on the Branch SOYs' YouTube channel so that it can be repeated in Novembers to come, or whenever someone is looking for a way to say “thank you” to military families.

image for Drink, Drank, Drunk: Wading Though Military Life
Drink, Drank, Drunk: Wading Though Military Life

Daddy-Ian-Beer.jpgThe author, Chris Field, demonstrating some "top-shelf" parenting while at Epcot's Biergarten.

 

There seems to be a common thread running through military sociability: booze. It's the thread that allows you to tie one on just about anytime. It's everywhere. At the Exchange, at the local Class Six…hell, you might even score some free booze from those distributors hosting tasting events throughout the year. Play your cards right, and you could be half in the bag before the sun even goes down.
When I first drive through the gates, there's always the sign telling me how many days it's been since the last alcohol related incident on post. And when that sign 'resets' back to 1, I'm always tempted to check it out: “Uh oh, what did (one of a handful of likely suspects) do now?” Thankfully, I've never triggered it myself. Yet.

image for How Do I Shop for New Health Insurance Coverage?
How Do I Shop for New Health Insurance Coverage?

OK, here is an important topic USAA wrote about a few months ago and we obtained permission to re-post on Macho Money.  For those of you who are new to the military, you will receive your health insurance from Tricare.  Tricare is offered to all active duty members and their dependents.  Once your active duty spouse retires, your family is eligible for Tricare For Life.  However, if you guys decide to separate from the military before retirement qualifications are met, you aren't eligible for Tricare.  At this point the VA may be an option, but there are specific eligibility requirements so not everyone will qualify...plus the VA doesn't cover dependents.  So, for many of us, the pain of shopping for health insurance is inevitable.

 

Health insurance coverage is available to more Americans than ever under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which created a marketplace of plans with a range of costs and benefits.

But before you start shopping around, it's wise to think about your needs and budget to find the best plan for you and your family.

Here's how to weigh your health insurance coverage options:

  • Figure out your budget. Your first move should be determining whether you're eligible for a health care subsidy under the ACA, says Bob Lord, product management director of health solutions for USAA. If your income is less than 400% of the federal poverty level, you may qualify. The subsidies are based on the second-lowest cost silver ACA plan in your area and can be applied toward more or less costly plans. "Understanding what you can afford outside of whatever the ACA is going to provide for you is powerful knowledge," Lord says.

  • Estimate your household health care expenses. If you are young, single and healthy, you likely won't be using services that often, and preventive visits are one of a range of essential health benefits covered under all plan levels. But families with young children can find themselves on a first-name basis with the staff at their pediatrician's office, so they should consider a plan that offers co-pays for office visits.

  • Peruse prescription benefits. If someone in your family is on maintenance prescription drugs, see what they'll cost. Health plans have a formulary — a list of prescription drugs they cover. Lord suggests choosing a plan where the formulary includes any brand-name drugs you use, as they are covered at a higher level.

  • Decide if you'll see Dr. Who. If keeping your current health care provider is important to you, find a plan with your provider in its network. Out-of-network providers are covered at a lower rate, if at all, than those in network. Conversely, if you find a plan that saves you a lot of money but makes your doctor or specialist out of network, weigh the savings versus having to switch providers.

Members with questions about health insurance coverage should contact USAA.

"We can help point them in the right direction if we have policies available or to the appropriate state-regulated or federal exchange," Lord says.

To get started, visit the USAA Health Insurance Marketplace.

(Note: USAA did not pay for this post, we re-posted because it is good information.  If you, or your company/organization, would like to offer more insight on this subject please feel free to contact us.)

image for Macho Spouse Has A New Sponsor!
Macho Spouse Has A New Sponsor!

SDI_Logo_2.pngMacho Spouse is excited to announce our new partnership with the Sonoran Desert Institute (SDI) and their School of Firearms Technology (SFT). Throughout the year, SDI will provide Macho Spouse with content on Gunsmithing, firearms, and different educational opportunities. In fact, we will be introducing a new Macho Spouse Scholarship to their School of Firearms Technology in May!

Why did we chose SDI to be our first educational-based sponsor? Well, because they've demonstrated the ability to meet criteria for academic and consumer right standards from federal and state agencies as well as non-governmental agencies. These standards ensure quality education through sound financial operations, approved programs of study, qualified instructors, and approved recruitment and admissions policies. Click here to learn more about their accreditations.

SDI also has an interest in specifically helping military spouses find work through their programs of study. They participate in the G.I. Bill Program, the Montgomery G.I. Bill Program, REAP, and MyCAA.

These guys are the real deal and we're happy to have their support! Please take a minute to visit their site and learn more about what they have to offer. Who knows, maybe you can start on a new career in Gunsmithing this year!