Our Macho Money area has videos filled with valuable financial information including, Definitions, Military Spouse Investing 101, Financial Advice, and Money Do's and Don'ts.
Whatever 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?
As a male military spouse, I know how important it is to stretch every dollar as far as I can for my military family. I'm always looking for tips on how to save money and I really appreciate money saving tips for the Military Family.
Here are some questions to think about:
Do you have an emergency fund? Are you saving enough money for retirement? Do you have a budget? How close are you to financial freedom?
Military Saves Week is an annual opportunity for installations and organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for servicemembers and their families to assess their own saving status. Typically hundreds of organizations participate in the Week, reaching millions of people.
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.
A CEO is that one person who embodies the entirety of the business they represent. They internalize everything about the business and then direct their energy and effort into making good decisions that (hopefully) fall in line with strategies designed to grow the business into profitability.
What makes an Entrepreneurial CEO so special is their humble starting point. While CEOs of existing companies have resources, a staff, and money to operationalize their actions, an Entrepreneurial CEO typically has none of that. You are the resource. You set the framework from which to organize, then layout the business' milestones and timelines in pursue of the desired end state. You also have the challenge of simultaneously balancing present-day tasks with long-range planning and being able to effectively communicate that to the team. And ultimately, you are the one responsible for how well (or not) things turn out. Sound intimidating? It is! But you have some things working in your favor.
Guys, the APA has determined that men and women share cognitive skills, we are fundamentally the same. The whole notion of guys being better at math and women being better at communication is simply a social construct. I firmly believe that statement, but that doesn't change the social construct.
This same social construct demands that we take care of our families and makes us feel like lesser men when our combat boot wearing women make more than us.
Throw that idea away, after all it's just an idea. Who makes what, doesn't have to matter.
Is it possible to buy a home with no money down? If you or your spouse qualifies for a VA home loan, the answer is yes. VA home loans are a special benefit available to current and ex-members of the U.S. military only and they can save homebuyers a lot of money. Veterans and active members of the U.S. military are eligible for some of the lowest interest rates on the market but that's not the only way VA Loans save buyers money. VA Loans are also "No Money Down" home loans.
Understanding "No Money Down"
"No money down" means homebuyers don't have to provide a down payment to obtain a VA Loan. Traditional mortgages or home loans require as much as 5% to 20% of the purchase price as a down payment on a home. On a $200,000 home that is between $10,000 and $20,000 that must be provided at the closing. Saving up that much money for a down payment is a huge stumbling block for many would-be buyers. They may have the credit and income qualifications needed to obtain a home loan, but just can't come up with the down payment. Too often they end up not buying their own home or they miss out on the home they really want.
The VA Loan program changes that and makes homeownership more accessible by waiving the down payment requirement. VA Loan mortgage lenders are willing to forego this requirement because VA Loans are backed by the U.S. Government. This minimizes the risk to lenders if a buyer defaults, which is one of the primary reasons down payments are typically required.
One of the great resources we have at Macho Spouse is the Men's Room for Military Spouses (sorry ladies, this is a private Facebook page designed for all male military spouses only). We plan to start sharing some of the more informative/interesting conversations on our website, the thread below is our first "share." Some of the names have been hidden for privacy purposes, see if you can figure out which names are fake...
Jar Jar Blinks: OK, what is this "Rule of 72?"
Yoda: Interest multiplied by time equals 72.
C-3PO: If you're not good at exponential math, it's a quick way to estimate how long your investment will double, given an interest rate. For example: if a CD is earning 3%, then it will double in value in 24 years (72/3=24)
Yoda: To double your investment.
Yoda: ^C-3PO's way is easier to follow. Way easier.
Jar Jar Blinks: So where do these investments live? Seriously, do savings accounts work the same way, assuming you can find one that offers interest?
Yoda: NFCU has a 3% CD right now.
C-3PO: It's all a matter of risk vs. reward/return. The S&P 500, aka TSP C Fund, returned about 30% last year. But it was down 37% in 2008.
Yoda: I was taught to expect a 10% rate of return on index funds back in 06, so my ROTH would double in 7.2 years.
â€ªJar Jar Blinks: I guess I have a trust issue... Can I trust the folks at USAA to steer me in the right direction eggs
Jar Jar Blinks: Eggs... Heheheh
Jar Jar Blinks: When asking to set up investments?help
Yoda: Not 100%. Their funds are kind of expensive compared to vanguard and the TSP. But it's better than nothing and their life insurance is fairly priced.
C-3PO: "It depends" USAA only has 2 real index funds, but together they match the entire US stock market. They are not the MOST expensive. Their insurance is pretty well priced, but you're probably find even better at NMAA or the equivalent for other services.
Yoda: If only all branches could use NMAA...
I'm not as conservative as some. Instead if having 6 months of expenses on hand I have 6 months of expenses in a USAA ROTH IRA (no fee for withdrawals of principle with some caveats), and now put everything into ROTH TSP index funds (lowest fees in the world!).
Yoda: I do keep some liquidity (cash or accounts that can very easily be converted to cash), but since we run a surplus each month even after investing, and the military pay is as stable as it gets, I don't keep much in that account (plus I "float" all my expenses other than car insurance, so I don't pay July's expenses until mid-September (if we have to spend more I can transfer assets as needed, has never happened, but just in case), and the "float" on credit earns us rewards and consumer protections).â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨ Blue Cash Preferred, 6% back at the commissary, 3% back at the gas station and 1% everywhere else (no fee for military).
C-3PO: â€¨â€¨ I haven't dealt with them, but I hope AAFMAA is as good as NMAA.
â€ªC-3PO: PenFed has pretty good credit cards for military too.
â€ªJar Jar Blinks: .... all these damn acronyms....
Yoda: FUBAR right?
C-3PO: (image that can't be shared)
C-3PO: Sorry about being a wiseass
â€ªJar Jar Blinks: Better than being a wide ass
Yoda: C-3PO, you've got to take it easy on Jar Jar Blinks, he's a submariner. Just think how many bumps to the head he's suffered.â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨ But on a serious note, it's pretty cool how many guys in this group have an understanding of personal finance.
C-3PO: If I only had a nickel for every time I hit my head while underway (says the 6'3" Marine)
Mace Windu: Personally, I would put my money in a multitude of investments. Like savings,cd's, 401k, TSP, money market fund and precious metals. Never have all your eggs in one basket.
Admiral Ackbar: â€ªLuke, to be excruciatingly technically correct, it's the rule of 69.3. Here's the math behind the answer:
I like the way they cheat by assuming that for small interest rates, the natural log of the quantity (1 + interest rate) is approximately equal to (interest rate). So it's not much of a stretch of radcon math to assume that 69.3 is about the same as 72.
You can also use the math to figure out when you'll be financially independent:
Luke Skywalker: I think NFCU has a special going on that if you open an IRA with $100 they will give you $100. I have 4 IRA's at USAA, IRA at NFCU, TSP and a 403(b) at Fidelity. Saving about $500 a month between all the IRA's.
â€ªLando Calrissian: Boy you guys are starting to make me worry about my future. Where do I start when I have no job and only a limited amount that my wife has volunteered to me over the years in some sort of retirement account?
Yoda: â€ªLando, my wife and I each maxed out our Roth IRA's for her first four years of service so we could build up our emergency fund (with the stability of military careers I feel as though the ROTH IRA is a good place to stash an emergency fund that is a very low probiotic of being utilized).â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨â€¨ Now all the money goes into her TSP, but it's our retirement account.
**If you are a male military spouse and would like access to this private page, please send a request through Facebook and we'll usher you in as soon as possible.
In Part 1 of Nurturing the Money Tree we chatted about creating income by working for someone else. But if you are like me, maybe working for someone else isn't for you, and many military spouses actually choose to own their own businesses. I know I did.
This option gives them the flexibility and control that they are looking for while building something for their future at the same time. Being a business owner has some great advantages, but if you don't know what you are getting into and you don't have a plan of action it can quickly take over your life or worse leave you in a financial pickle.
To work or not to work that is the question on all of our minds at one time or another in our military careers.
It seems that the subject of employment comes up whenever money is tight, when the kids are all finally in school, or you PCS to a new duty station. I can't tell you how many times I have thought about getting a job outside of our home just so we could have a little wiggle room in the budget.
I even tried it one year to get some extra holiday cash, and frankly it was a disaster. Nothing got done, the kids were disappointed because I wasn't home when they came back from college, and my husband hated the fact that his life had to change, not to mention my home business began to struggle as well. (Yes, he is spoiled but the fact that he is a genius on the grill makes up for it)
For some military spouses working outside the home works for them, but for many of us the constant changes, multiple moves and unpredictability of our lives make employment very difficult unless you are fortunate to have a career that can move with you.
Guys, this effects you directly. If you're a little unsure of just exactly what's happening and what this is all about, please visit this cool new page from MOAA (Military Officers Association of America). They do a great job of laying out the issue, why we should care, and they also make it very simple to help the cause of defending your benefits. Today's "small cuts" to our retirement COLA will effect every one of your families in the future. But what's most important is that these cuts represent a breach of contract, a breach of faith, and a broken promise our government made to each and everyone of our families. Please don't just do nothing, help the cause and join the fight.
You have captured your small business idea, now what do you do? If you are like me, once the idea is seeded in your mind, you begin to brainstorm the best way forward. But what is the best way forward. Depending on your own personal experiences, getting your mind caged to help your idea might be one of the most challenging things you do.
I think one of most amazing aspects of starting a business is the pure creation of the endeavor. I think the concept of turning your thought, a series of synapses that fired in your brain, into an existing and tactile entity is one of the best attributes to being human. I personally think this pure creation provides is what provides deep satisfaction and feeds the soul of man and woman. Despite the feelings that great ideas provoke, it is still hard to see the path forward if you don't know how to proceed. This is where the business plan fits in nicely.
Buying a house can often times seem like an impossible dream for the average American. But as military family members, many people believe it's “easy” because, when eligible, we can buy a house with “no money down.” Now when you hear this what do you think? What does “no money down” mean to you? Do you relate it to buying a car where you walk into the first dealership you find, you sign some papers and then drive off in your new car? Well, for most people, this is not the case. Buying a home is a wonderful thing, but if you are going to take on the single largest debt in your life, you may want to prepare yourself, take some time, and do it right.
Hey guys, have you taken this survey yet? Stuff like this is important because it may help you find work in the future, as well as, future generations of military spouses!
The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), a non-profit organization that advocates for military personnel and their families, is teaming up with Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) to launch the Military Spouse Employment Survey.
Military spouses face many challenges to both employment and career advancement as a result of the military lifestyle. This imperative study will look at the employment pattern of all military spouses, especially related to their long-term career trajectories. We encourage all active duty, National Guard, reserve, veteran, and surviving spouses who are 18 years and older to participate by sharing their stories, experiences and lessons learned.
According to the 2010 Department of Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), there are approximately 725,877 spouses of Active Duty service members and approximately 413,295 spouses of Reserve and Guard members. In addition, it is estimated that there are more than 15 million veterans' spouses in the United States and over 5.8 million surviving spouses. By adding their voice, we can build a stronger foundation for military spouses' professional needs, identify any barriers to career development and share their stories with government officials, state, and federal policy makers in order to overcome obstacles and improve the quality of life for our service members and their families.
The Military Spouse Employment Survey will open on September 16, 2013 and remain open for 30 days. This survey is completely anonymous, for research purposes and therefore completely voluntary. The survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
At the basic level, I think it is safe to say that human beings fundamentally get tremendous satisfaction out of creating something that is uniquely their own. I personally think this spirit is at the core of all human beings. I see this everyday in my own children when they develop their arts and crafts and proudly show my wife and I the bounty of the effort they put in. As we grow older, graduate from high school, college (or both) and enter the work force, we become part of an organization. While jobs vary widely (as does job satisfaction!), an objective person walking into any organization can see that waning passion is not an uncommon theme. I often wonder if that lack of passion is the cumulative result of getting farther away from your own interests and passions over time.
Guys, I personally attended this event last year in Phoenix and it was the best conference I've ever attended. Inc. goes out of their way to make you feel welcome and feel as part of their family. They offer a high-level of support even when the conference is over...hell, especially when the conference is over. If you have your own business, or are thinking of starting one, I highly recommend you apply for this program. If you don't get selected, I highly encourage you to go anyway.
An active-duty entrepreneur is a military service member or spouse who deliberately plans and carries out the steps required to conceptualize, develop, and (perhaps) launch a small business while still on active duty. They understand that utilizing their unique military ecosystem (which provides job security, a dependable salary, health-care, and a predictable career timetable) provides them a built-in advantage over other aspiring entrepreneurs. In fact, the military ecosystem might be the ideal place to begin small business development. Think of the untapped well of entrepreneurial potential energy the Department of Defense has to offer! If only a small percent of the overall military population mobilized this new approach, it would be a game-changer by spurring small business development, innovation, and job creation resulting in an overall positive affect on the sluggish US economy.
[These aren't real questions that avid readers have sent in, yearning for my sage advice. I'm just paraphrasing some discussions I've had about money with family, friends, and co-workers]
I just changed jobs. Should I leave my 401(k) with my old employer, or roll it over to my new employer's 401(k) plan?
You shouldn't do either. You should rollover your old 401(k) into an IRA with low-cost mutual funds, like Vanguard. There are 2 main problems with 401(k) accounts in general:
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UPDATE: The link to the DFAS Military Pay Tables has changed. Visit the DFAS website to get the latest Military Pay Tables and charts and get other information to help you manage your money.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) military pay tables have current and historical pay tables including Reserve pay, special pays, and allowances.
The DFAS website has the following regarding the military pay tables it provides:
"The following pay tables are provided for reference use only and not for official purposes. The effective dates of certain pay rates may differ from dates for various allotments and other pay entitlements.
Pay tables are presented in .pdf (Acrobat) format."
Very early in my experience as a male military spouse I encountered the PowerPay Money Tool. I remember the day my wife brought home a floppy disk with the DOS version of this financial software. (Yeah, that just took me waaaaaay back.) It didn't have any frills, but PowerPay helped us calculate, plan and execute our path to debt elimination.
I know that there are plenty of money management tools out there. PowerPay is worth a look, especially if you need to develop your debt-elimination plan. This money management tool helped my family.