Categories: 4 items(s) found
Posts: 19 items(s) found
What is an investment? According to the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (3rd Edition), an investment is, “The purchase of property with the expectation that its value will increase over time.”
Seems straight forward enough, but for those who want a more thorough explanation with examples from USAA Financial Counselors J.J. Montanaro and Scott Halliwell, click on the short video.
Since I've been married, one of the best summers I've had was when my wife was deployed. Sounds crazy and maybe a little insensitive to my wife...but it's true!
First of all, don't get me wrong -- holding down the home front during the deployment was one of the hardest things I've been through. But without the structure of my wife's workweek I was able to spend the summer exploring the great outdoors with our 2 boys. We went on one camping trip after another, any day of the week. A couple times I didn't even bother unpacking the truck when we got home. I just did some laundry, re-packed the cooler, and after a day or two at home we headed back out to another National Park.
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?
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.
What is a “bond?” No, not a secret agent from England, but an investment tool used to grow wealth. According to the Wall Street Journal, bonds are a form of debt. Bonds are loans, or IOUs, but you serve as the bank. You loan your money to a company, a city, the government – and they promise to pay you back in full, with regular interest payments.
Pretty understandable, but for greater detail and examples, click on the video and listen to Scott Halliwell from USAA explain.
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.
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.)
[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:
First, the investment choices they offer are usually going to be fairly limited. They might not even have index funds. Opening an IRA with someone like Vanguard, Charles Schwab, or Fidelity gives you access to just about all of the mutual funds each company offers. It's like comparing a state-run grocery store in the Soviet Union to a well-stocked Wal-Mart in the United States.
Rob Aeschbach is a male military spouse who spent 12 years as an active duty Marine before becoming a Navy spouse. Since then he has been a stay-at-home-dad for more than 10 years, served in the Marine Corps Reserve until his recent retirement, and started a personal finance blog.
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.
Macho Money Investing 101 is a video series based on the fundamentals of investing. These videos will discuss many different types of investment accounts, some basic investment philosophies, and offer advice on how to find the right financial planner to fit your needs. Investing is a risk we take to build financial wealth, and even though the level of risk varies from one military family and investment to another, there will always be an opportunity to lose money. Anyone remember 2008? So before we begin investing our hard-earned cash, we really should have our basic life needs covered just in case something goes wrong. In this video, Certified Financial Planners, Scott Halliwell and JJ Montanaro, discuss what anyone's first steps to investing should look like. Wrestling with the idea of cutting money from your budget to build a savings account? Below is some great advice from both JJ and Scott on why it's important to have some cash readily available in a savings account.
Macho Money "What Worked For Me" videos are a series of short videos that highlight some financial successes people have accomplished. These quick interviews are not from Certified Financial Planners, bankers, or any other type of sophisticated financial gurus...they are normal, hard-working people who made some smart decisions with their money. In this video, Alan Brown shares a quick tip on what helped him start a savings plan nearly 20 years ago. We can only imagine how much he has in savings today!
Macho Money "What Worked For Me" videos are a series of short videos that highlight some financial successes people have accomplished. These quick interviews are not from Certified Financial Planners, bankers, or any other type of sophisticated financial gurus...they are normal, hard-working people who made some smart decisions with their money. In this video, Julie Finlay shares why she is looking at a potential early retirement. If you've already seen Alan's video, we think you'll start to notice a patern.
If you hear someone use the letters “CD,” they are abbreviating the term “certificate of deposit.” And according to Investopedia, a CD is A savings certificate entitling the bearer to receive interest. A CD bears a maturity date, a specified fixed interest rate and can be issued in any denomination. CDs are generally issued by commercial banks and are insured by the FDIC. The term of a CD generally ranges from one month to five years.
It can get a bit confusing, but for a more clear explanation with examples, click on the video and listen to Scott Halliwell from USAA.
What is a “market index?" According the SEC, a market index tracks the performance of a specific "basket" of stocks considered to represent a particular market or sector of the world stock market or the economy.
There are indices for almost every conceivable sector of the economy and stock market.
USAA Certified Financial Planner, Scott Halliwell, does a great job in this video of giving a more thorough explanation of a market index with some examples.
According to Investopedia, a mutual fund is an investment vehicle that is made up of a pool of funds collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments and similar assets. Mutual funds are operated by money managers, who invest the fund's capital and attempt to produce capital gains and income for the fund's investors. If you're still a bit confused, click on the video and watch USAA Certified Financial Planner, Scott Halliwell explain in further detail.
What is a stock? According to Dictionary.com, a stock is:
1. the outstanding capital of a company or corporation.
2. the shares of a particular company or corporation.
3. the certificate of ownership of such stock; stock certificate.
Click on the video and listen to a couple cool USAA Financial Counselors give a more thorough explanation with examples.
An investment account is defined by the web as an account that allows you to invest in a wide variety of securities including stocks, bonds, mutual funds and fixed income products. InvestorWord.com defines an investment account as an Account held at a financial facility for the purpose of a long term investment for capital preservation, growth or fixed income. Both are correct, but you can get a more thorough explanation in this video that features USAA Certified Financial Planner, J.J. Montanaro.
When talking investments, IRA is the abbreviation for “Individual Retirement Account,” not “Irish Republican Army.” According to About.com, IRAs are basically savings plans with lots of restrictions. The main advantage of an IRA is that you defer paying taxes on the earnings and growth of your savings until you actually withdraw the money. The main disadvantage is the tax law imposes stiff penalties if you withdraw the funds before you turn age 59.5 years old. There are different types of IRAs, each with their own tax implications and eligibility requirements. And here is a little fun fact, IRA's stem from the early 1970s when NBC broadcasted a television special called “The Broken Promise,” which showed Americans the consequences of poorly funded pension plans. In this short video, USAA Certified Financial Planner Scott Halliwell explains IRAs in further detail.
OK, so you've taken the advice from our last video, "Before We Invest," and built-up a cash savings account. Great. But now that money is looking pretty good in savings, why risk any of it playing the stock market? Having something is better than having nothing...right? When it comes to planning for retirement, not exactly. In this video, Scott and JJ (Certified Financial Planners with USAA) share some great insight on why it's important to start an investment account, what we should consider before beginning, and why it's not a good idea to simply start throwing money at random stocks.
Macho Money Investing 101 is a video series based on the fundamentals of investing. These videos will discuss many different types of investment accounts, some basic investment philosophies, and offer advice on how to find the right financial planner to fit your needs.