Camp Mustache 4 Encore (And A Free Book!)


[Nords note: My spouse and I are still on Mainland slow travel, and well head back to Oahu in mid-July. Maybe well see you at a military Space A passenger terminal!]


We spent another Memorial Day weekend at the Rainbow Lodge in the bustling megalopolis of North Bend, WA. (Snarkasm! Its a lovely little town.) This was my second Camp Mustache, and they just keep getting better. Unlike last years chilly rainy mosh pit, this years Seattle-area weather was sunny, cloudless, and warm.

Image of Doug Nordman at Camp Mustache 4 talking about "How I Wish I'd Invested Back Then" to other attendees |

The usual aloha shirt!

Camp Mustaches are nonprofit events which are crowdsourced by readers of the Mr. Money Mustache blog and the members of its forum. Instead of a formal licensed franchise with rules and brands and other guidelines, its an extended meetup of like-minded people with food & lodging. Its limited to 50 attendees and this year it sold out via a lottery. Its nearly unstructured free time: we spent the weekend with a few breakout sessions on specific topics, but most of it was random person

From: Military Retirement

The Military Blended Retirement System: Dude, Wheres My Calculator?


[Nords note: Im on Mainland travel through mid-July: Seattle, Norfolk, and Ocean City. Ill update this post as DoD rolls out the changes.]

[Ah, good, the DoD BRS calculator has been officially released.]


A reader asks an outstanding question:

Does it make sense to opt in to the militarys new Blended Retirement System in 2018?

One of our NCOs has a pessimistic view of the BRS, especially since theyre over 12 years of service and dont see how the BRS will benefit them. In fact, they dont see how it will benefit any servicemembers. I think the best way to decide whether theres a benefit or not is to actually show them numbers, via the calculator.


Image of three servicemembers. Two of them joined the military before 2018. One of those has more than 12 years of service and is not eligible for the Blended Retirement System. One of them has less than 12 years and has a choice of the old High Three or new Blended Retirement System. The third joins in 2018 and is only eligible for the new BRS system. |

First, let me establish some credibility. Im not just re-writing press releases here, and this discussion came from months of patient pers

From: Military Retirement

How To Turn Your Next PCS Into A 20% Raise

How to Choose Your Next Duty Station

Choosing your next duty station or even creating a list of potential new homes is possibly the most stressful part of being a military member. For me, on the officer side, I know that I will move every 3-4 years like clockwork and thats at a junior CGO level. This rate will likely increase towards the end of my career.

So how do you know where you should move or PCS to? My argument here will be that your next duty station could hold the key to upping your Effective Income by over $15,000 per year. This is due to the difference in locality pay also known as Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).


Why is BAH so Important?

Every zip code has an associated value for your BAH. Its important to remember that you dont use the zip code your house will be in but instead use the zip code that your office will be at and in some cases where the nearest base is. BAH is such a beautiful thing because not only is it huge in some areas, its also tax free.

This is part of the reason military members have such low effective tax rates. Currently 40% of my income is non-taxable because I live in a high BAH city. So instead of paying taxes on my true $91,200 salary, I only pay taxes on $55,000.

The tax difference comes out to be $7k vs $16k owed to the IRS. Another way to look at this is that for every $1 of BAH, you are getting the same worth as about $1.25 of normal income, depending on your tax bracket of course.


Ok, So How Do I Pick My Next Base?

First, I would narrow my list down to areas that are even potential spots for yourself. For some career fields you may be able to go just about anywhere and for others you may only have a handful of bases to choose from. Once you have a list, you can go check all the BAH rates over at You will probably begin to notice some wide ranging figures.

For instance an 0-3 would receive $1083 per month without dependents if you were stationed at Malmstrom AFB in Montana. The same 0-3 stationed at Hanscom AFB in Massachusetts would receive $3063 per month. Your first thought might be that theyre so different because Hanscom is near Boston which is vastly more expensive than Montana.

This is potentially true in some situations but certainly not mine. To make this simpler I want to introduce a term I call Effective Income. Effective Income, is the amount of money I receive each month once you take away any location based costs. This allows you to compare apples to apples.


From: Military Retirement

Free Mentoring And Networking For Military Entrepreneurs


Sharks And Stripes 2: Camp Pendleton, CA, 13 June and live online.

Do you need a little help with your business idea? Are you growing your revenue but not sure how to reinvest it for growth? Are you worried about financing or interested in talking with an investor?

Image of Mr. Rey Ybarra standing on stage behind a podium to host the Sharks And Stripes entrepreneur conference |

Scenes from a previous Sharks And Stripes

Rey Ybarra has worked with entrepreneurs for years, and he even wrote the book about it. These

From: Military Retirement

USAAs Military Retirement Comparison Tool And The Blended Retirement System


Are you ready to make your choice about the militarys Blended Retirement System?

Are you a leader who has to advise younger officers and enlisted how to decide between High Three and the BRS?

Are you a veteran like me whos asked the question several times a week by their family (and their readers)?

USAA can help with that.

The Department of Defense is feverishly hustlingbuilding a calculator that will analyze which retirement system is better for servicemember careers and finances. The calculator was supposed to be launched back in January 2017 but its run into delays. (The contractors are fixing the last few bugs.) A few of us bloggers with DoDs BRS roundtable are helping with the beta testing, and its expected to go live at the end of March.

Meanwhile USAAs Military Retirement Comparison Tool is ready now. Its available to anyone through both their website and the USAA app. You dont have to login, and you dont even have to be a USAA member to use the website version.

This post is brought to you by Daniel Kopp, an Air Force officer and founder of

If youre interested in contributing at, please see our posting guidelines.



[Nords note: this post was updated on 4 March 2017 with a direct link to the DoDs PSMC website as well as a sample statement. Scroll down to the Summary section for the links.]


For any servicemembers who are transitioning out of the military or perhaps daydreaming about what that might look like someday, many of them have never considered the full impact that transition will have on their finances and total compensation. Most of the servicemembers that I counsel are surprised after they separate and dont have the same salary, benefits, or total compensation than they did in the military. So what can you do about this if youre set to separate or are thinking about it?

Every year, usually in early April, DFAS publishes the Personal Statement of Military Compensation (PSMC) with the intent to help make servicemembers full compensation more readily visible. While DFAS states that this may be helpful in applying for credit or loans, the true benefit lies in understanding what your equivalent compensation would need to be outside of the military to maintain your same standard of living.


So what is compensation?

In this context, compensation refers to the entire sum of salary, benefits, and other financial support that servicemembers receive. The majority is direct compensation money paid directly to you while the rest is called indirect compensation things that financially benefit you but arent a direct payment. Indirect compensation can either be financial compensation or non-financial. One example of indirect financial compensation is healthcare. When an employer helps pay for your healthcare coverage, thats indirect financial compensation since you otherwise would have to pay that amount. Indirect compensation can also be non-financial like leave. Direct compensation is readily apparent because these are clearly listed on your LES while indirect compensation might not be as immediately clear. The goal of this post is to help you understand the full picture of all of your compensation.

Its important to take a look at each detail of the PSMC since each analysis can differ based on personal circumstances. You can access your PSMC through Military Saves Week. (Its part of the 11th annual nation-wideAmerica Saves week, whichstarted in some regions as early as 2001.)

Logo of the military version of America Saves Week |

What are you saving for?

Its an awareness campaign with youropportunity to figure

From: Military Retirement

Lower Life Insurance Premiums From USAA

USAA is cutting the rates on their new life insurance policies. Let me explain why in less than 1800 2000 words but its all good.

Ive learned a lot about insurance over the last 30 years, and its a necessary evil. We buy it to help ourselves (and our families) recover from disasters, and we only keep it as long as we need it.

Everyone knows a story about someone who was devastated by a personal catastrophe which destroyed their finances.

Image of file cabinet with life insurance file next to family and finance files. | The-Military-Guide.comour posting guidelines.)


Ive always been drawn towards challenges. One day after high school I woke up and decided to look for the biggest challenge I could find. I quit my job and enlisted in the Marine Corps infantry. That night during our family dinner I broke the news like this Mom, I quit my job, joined the Marines, and leave in two weeks. Can you pass the salt?

In hindsight I probably should have softened the blow a bit, but my parents came around after a brief nervous breakdown.

I entered USMC boot camp in the late 90s weighing 115 pounds. This resulted in more than my fair share of quarterdeck time. Fast forward six months (bootcamp + school of infantry) and what seemed like 10 million pushups later, I weighed 165 pounds. The Marine Corps pushed me harder, mentally and physically, during that first six months than I knew I could go. But I liked it. Sure there was a lot of BS but I understood the bigger picture. They were breaking me down to build me up stronger. They were forcing me to rely on others. They were forcing others to rely on me. They were teaching us to rely on each other to move towards common goals.Image of U.S. Marine Corps Eagl</p><p>From: Military Retirement</p></div>
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