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Male Military Spouse 101 - Everything You Should Know About Military Life

Male Military Spouse 101 - Military Life


America Saves week is coming!



Heres a quick note about an upcoming social-media campaign thats already ramping up across the nation (and at military bases around the world).

27 February-March 4th is the annual 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 out what part of your financial life could use a boost. If youve seriously been meaning to raise your contribution to the Thrift Savings Plan, or really need to set aside an extra amount to boost your emergency fund, then this is the week to get started. No more delays. There wont be a better time.

Its also a great time to consider retirement: not just military retirement but the What do I want to DO all day?!? type of retirement. Military Saves week will help you focus on that goal. For those of you who joined the military after 2005, its also time to consider whether youll save more with the upcoming Blended Retirement System<

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. |

Is this how you review your life insurance?

It seems all too easy for it to happen to you. Most people have a poor understanding of probabilities and statistics, and its surprisingly difficult for even an experienced actuary to estimate the risks. You want to be protected against all of the bad things that can happen in life, and its all too easy for the industry (with insurance agents) to use fear marketing.


A short history of selling life insurance

Life insurance traces its roots back over two millennia to Roman centurions who contributed to a pool of money for the legions burial expenses. American insurance companies appeared in the 1700s (mostly for the Atlantic shipping industry) and early American churches insured their preachers. By the mid-1800s every responsible wage earner was expected to carry life insurance to protect their su

From: Military Retirement

Marine to Veteran to Entrepreneur.



(This post is brought to you by military veteran, entrepreneur, and startup founder Nick Bradfield.
If youre interested in contributing at, please see our 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 Eagle, Globe and Anchor insignia |

I served four years and got out as a Sgt of Marines, the best job in the entire Marine Corps. Throughout my time in the Corps I was taught many life lessons. I became comfortable with calculated risk. I was confident in my ability to move forward on an 80% solution knowing that Id be able to adapt and overcome whatever was thrown at me. I learned about perseverance. I experienced huge highs and lows filled with excitement and terror, ultimately f

From: Military Retirement

Military Blended Retirement System Spreadsheet

This post is brought to you by
If youre interested in contributing at, please see our posting guidelines.


A lot has been written about how to decide if the new Blended Retirement System (BRS) is better than the US militarys old retirement system. Most calculators, however are overly dependent on the service member forward projecting their:

  • likelihood of achieving 20 years
  • the inflation rate
  • the cost of living increases
  • their future rank
  • their future contributions to the TSP.

Overly cautious or optimistic guesses can have huge consequences.

It is stone cold obvious, to me, that anyone who plans on never staying to 20 years should jump on board the new system. It gives you access to a TSP match, continuation pay, and transferable benefits.

What does a member stand to gain from the BRS, in real terms?

Some assumptions:

  • Assumes all members contribute 5% in order to get the match.
  • Ignores the fact that the match is really 4%, with a 1% involuntary contribution.
  • Ignores all member contributions, and only examines the value of the government match and its return.
  • Assumes the member does NOT invest any of the 12 year continuation bonus. Again, member contributions happen with or without the government match. For those interested, the pay would be $17,217 and $10,665, taxable, respectively.
  • Assumes no COLA adjustments, inflation, or other macro economic factors, such as the cost of money.
  • Demonstrates annually compounded rates of return of 4, 5 &amp; 6%.
  • The members in this scenario are an Officer and Enlisted member with 5 years of service. This makes them eligible for the old system. However, they decided to enter into the BRS. Their TSP match is calculated based on 2017s pay chart.
  • Assume they achieve their terminal rank of O-4 and E-7 after 10 years, promoting regular beforehand.
  • Assumes 35 years of survivability after retirement, had they stayed for 20 years.
  • Ignores the .029% TSP fee.

Doug Nordman gives us two ways to calculate a pension: Lump sum and TIPS

[Nords note from other reader comments: I realize TIPS and I bonds arent exactly equivalent to a lifetime inflation-adjusted annuity, yet theyre close enough for these comparisons. The following examples used an interest rate of 2.5% w

From: Military Retirement

3 Steps to Retire Early on a Military Salary

This post is brought to you by Rich of RichOnMoney! If youre interested in contributing at, please see our posting guidelines.


BLUF: In college I paid off $32k in student loans in a year. On a military salary I paid off a $280k mortgage in seven years. Ive bought several rental properties with cash. I did this through paying off debt, having a high savings rate, and investing well.

My name is Rich. Im an Air Force Lt Col of 16 years. Im married with 2 young kids.


Here is my message:

Dont work until youre 65. Not even 55. You can save enough money to retire in 20 years or less. I mean after 20 years of work, NEVER WORK AGAIN (unless you want to). This method doesnt depend on a military retirement, thats just a bonus!

I currently make enough money from my investments to live on. I could quit working today, but Im less than four years from a generous military retirement.

I worked for Fidelity Investments as a stock broker during college. Ive read almost every finance and real estate book out there.

Most of what Ive read is useless. Money is strikingly simple.

Image of piggy bank with hundred-dollar bills falling into it |

Less than 20 years!

  1. Get out of debt
  2. Have a high savings rate
  3. Invest



From: Military Retirement

Lets Go Streaking But Please No Nudity

Youve probably seen Will Ferrell in the movie Old School. If so, you probably remember the streaking scene. If not, youve certainly heard of crazed fans streaking across a sporting field completely naked and completely alone as they dodge security. This may seem like a strange analogy for financial independence / retiring early, but just hear me out.




In a streaking situation youve got a person who just comes out of nowhere. They may not have a 100% plan, but they hit the field full steam ahead. This will hopefully be the first parallel you can find between your financial journey and the journey of the naked field rusher. This takes me back to the biggest problem most have that is commonly referred to as paralysis by analysis. I talk about this some in my Investing Made Easy post. In short, this is where you refuse to start a process because you dont feel confident in your plan or have complete understanding of a situation but the time for streaking is now!


The beautiful thing with the fusion of technology and the ideology of Jack Bogle is that powerful and low-cost investing can be done on your cell phone in just a few minutes through Vanguard. Simply open an account, purchase some VTSAX if you have $10K to invest, VTSMX if you have $3K to invest, or heck VTI if you have $116. Once you have an account set up simply develop a focus on savings and put every extra penny in those accounts through automated deposits and extra lump sums (if you have already padded your emergency fund). Grab your phone, open an account on Vanguard, shove money at it, then rinse and repeat.


For us military members its actually even more simple because we all have access to TSP (keep in mind this money isnt designed to be touched until age 59.5). A minute of free time on the MyPay site along with a decision on the percentage you want to save puts you well on your way. Take some time and read about the different funds you can invest in. I prefer the C fund because it tracks the S&amp;P 500 much like the index funds I recommended from vanguard but with even lower fees. Youll also have to make the decision on whether to go the Traditional o

From: Military Retirement

The 5 Best Personal Finance Books Ive Read All Year


Im a voracious reader. I was that six-year-old kid you saw staggering out of the public library with a two-foot stack of books, and 50 years later Im still doing it. Over the first 45 years of my life I accumulated over 3000 paperbacks, which made me a fun guy to be around during military household goods moves. Hawaiis tropical climate (and critters) eventually forced me to give away that collection, and a Kindle app has restored our domestic harmony. Now Ill never run out of storage, and financial independence gives me even more time for reading.

Image of Amazon's &quot;Buy now with 1-Click&quot; button on the order page |

To order, click on any of the book covers.

Today my weaknesses are NetGalley, BookBub, and the Buy Now With 1-Click button on my Amazon account. (I know better than to go for Kindle Unlimited.) I also share a huge number of manuscripts and PDFs from other personal-finance bloggers. My reading pile works out to well over a hundred books per year.

Were going to share the top five of this years survey. You can buy one of them with a discount (rightfully so!), and well update this post when the others have deals. This site might earn a small commission when you click on the links, but your price is the same either way.

The books cover widely different topics, so pick the subject thats suitable for your situation. You could gift one of these over the holidays or you may decide to wait for New Years resolutions.

First and foremost:


Your Playbook For Tough Times

Donna Freedmans full title is Your Playbook For Tough Times: Living Lar

From: Military Retirement

USAA Provides Answers To The Most Important Member Questions

Ive finally recovered from jet lag, my voice has returned to normal (from Darth Vader), and Im caught up on sleep. Lets review USAAs answers to your biggest reader questions.


Doug and JJ talking money

DigitalMilEx is USAAs annual conference for military influencers. Were bloggers, personal-finance experts, and entrepreneurs. Many of us are veterans, and some of us are servicemembers. (A few of us might be a big deal on the Internet.)

We cover the age groups from Millennials to Baby
I was invited as one of USAAs sponsored guests while others applied for the opportunity.

USAA shares information on their programs and services while we attendees give presentations on skills like entrepreneurship, blogging, social media, and public speaking. I even recorded a short podcast episode with J.J. Montanaro.


FTC Affiliate Disclaimer
But first, lets get the blogger disclaimer out of the way. The Federal Trade Commission wants you to know that my objectivity and credibility may be suspect because USAA paid for my four nights in a nice hotel, most of my meals, and all of my coffee.

I got a bag of very cool swag (especially from the Innovation Lab!) and a chance to share The Military Pocket Guide To Financial Independence And Retirement with 120 other attendees. The rest of this post will help you draw your own conclusions on whether Ive turned into a USAA fanboi.


You can read more about USAAs Dig

From: Military Retirement

5 Ways For Families To Save Money While Christmas Shopping



Its crunch time! Hey, someone has to finalize the Thanksgiving menu, make the grocery list, and decide whose turn it is to sit next to Uncle Ted this year.

And before you even have enough time to regret how many helpings of pumpkin pie you indulged in, it will be time to drink eggnog and unwrap presents.

While the expectations of Christmas seem to have risen drastically over the years, here are five practical ways military families can save money and have a remarkable holiday without breaking the bank.

Cyber Monday


Yes, you could stand in a line that extends outdoors on Thanksgiving night or wakes up before the roosters on Black Friday to score a tablet for a ridiculously low price, and that would perfectly fine.

Or you could wait until the Monday after Thanksgiving and score the same and often even better deals online without changing out of your pajamas or even breaking a sweat. For those of you who struggle with a calendar, Cyber Monday falls on the 28th.

Cyber Monday is quickly becoming a preferred alternative to the hassle of Black Friday. In 2013, Adobe reported that REDUX Career Status Bonus because many military members (and their families) are tempted by a big number like $30,000. But an earlier post showed that the CSB is usually only a good deal for the DoD.

At first, a military retirement doesnt seem to be worth very much. Even a relatively large pension of $3000/month is only about $100/day. A soldier just ending their 10th year of service might not be very motivated by the thought that theyll have to work another 10 years for that guaranteed cash flow of inflation-protected income. Emotionally, $100/day just doesnt seem worth the sacrifice even though the payout rises with inflation for the rest of their life.

The challenge behind analyzing a lump-sum question is to figure out how much money has to be invested to yield the pensions stream of income.Military Retirement Worth $1,000,000

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