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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.
March 25th 2014, the day I sent Dana off on a seven-month deployment, was a low point in my life. I vividly remember the emptiness and sorrow in my heart as I watched her walk down the jetway, away from her family…away from me. I also remember how incredibly difficult it was to maintain composure while giving a TV interview just as Dana walked out of sight, it was all I could do to hold back tears. I struggled to hold myself together long enough to walk back to my car before breaking down in tears. Many of us have been to this dark, empty place before; it's definitely a low point for many military marriages.
I write about military financial independence, but Im getting a lot of e-mail about navigating the drawdown and starting a bridge career. Im also hearing from Reserve and National Guard servicemembers about balancing their military careers with their civilian employers. Veterans (and military spouses) know that their transition to a civilian career will be like transferring to a duty station in a foreign country. Theyll spend lots of time explaining their military skills and achievements to civilians and translating their military culture into a foreign language.
Then theres the challenge of competing with hundreds of other potential employees who are also reporting for duty at these companies. The drawdown is adding several hundred thousand more veterans to the usual crowd of people who are already leaving the military, and this exodus will continue until at least 2017.
Over the last three years the U.S. Department of Labor and the Veterans Administration have rolled out a number of initiatives. By now youve seen at least a half-dozen programs for translating your military career into a civilian resume, or creating your elevator pitch, or finding your ideal company. Theres plenty of advice on Linkedin about researching your company, tapping into the right networks, and handling interviews. There are many government and non-profit programs to guide you through the transition process,
Those programs are helping veterans and spouses figure out what employers want and showing them how to navigate the job search. Wouldnt it be nice if someone taught the employers about you? Wouldnt it be a huge relief to meet hiring managers who already understands who you are and what you can do? Wouldnt it be great to work for a company that actually wants to hire military veterans?
Last week I interviewed a group of people who have started doing just that. Theyve spent months building the programs and the infrastructure, and theyve already educated a number of companies on military veterans & spouses. They held their first hiring conference two weeks ago, and now theyre coming to a base near you.
The interview was arranged by USAAs staff. (Thanks, Jamia & Pete!) I talked with Geoff Grant, their Program Director of Supplier Diversity. (Hes also an Army veteran.) We were joined in the call by Jennifer Giering, the Director of Business and State Engagement at Hiring Our Heroes. We also talked with Bryan Goettel, the Chamber of Commerce Founda
“Don't hit it right. Don't hit it right. Take a deep breath…relax…that's it…listen to the birds cheerfully chirping, sounds of a distant lawnmower, a breeze gently moving leaves around the treetops…nice, smooth swing. No need to kill this ball…just hit it off the tee. AND DON'T HIT IT RIGHT!”
As I stand on the 14th tee box at the L'auberge Casino Resort golf course, I look down at my dirty, dinged-up golf ball and realize I'm griping my old 3-wood way too tight. I had to take a step back, re-focus my brain. How did I get to this moment? Well, I guess I had USAA to thank since they're the ones who helped my wife and I get out of town for a much needed break. But how did I get here, here on the 14th tee box with only one ball left in my bag? Was it my braggadocios attitude on hole two where I thought it would be fun to tee off over the water? (lost one ball) How about the long, beautiful par four, fifth fairway where I pulled two balls into the creek. And then again on hole six, another two into that same damn creek! (Come on L'auberge, why are all the water hazards to the left of these fairways!?) The par four seventh? Yep, another ball in the water, again to the left. And then we had gorgeous hole number nine, a fairway so picturesque it belongs on the cover of Golf Digest, where I surprisingly didn't hit the ball left into the water, I hit them to my right…into the water. (2 balls)
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.
It's the holiday season and to me that means spending time with family and friends while reflecting on the year that was. How many had a good year? How many of you feel as if you've accomplished, overcome, loved and laughed as much as possible? There have been a few bad years in my life where I just wanted the damn thing to finish so I could start fresh with a clean slate, it's a mindset, but we all know that reality doesn't work that way. I usually judge my life in a similar way as to how we judge football coaches, “what have you done for me lately.” My year was a good one, a net-positive. So congratulations, you get “happy Chris,” or at least “less grumpy and sarcastic Chris.”
The tremendous amount of progress within the male military spouse community is one reason why 2015 was a good year. Guys, we're finally starting to get some recognition. People, businesses, and other organizations are starting to approach us and ask for our input, insight, and yes, our business. Marketers are finally recognizing that we are a demographic worth pursuing; just check out this holiday spot from Toys R Us. (I just bought 4 gift cards for my nieces from them because of this commercial.)
In 2015, Macho Spouse was approached by the Sonoran Desert Institute's School of Firearms Technology to hold the first ever “Male Military Spouse Appreciation Day” where SDI donated a full-tuition scholarship to their popular Gunsmithing certificate course. (Male military spouses are a large demographic for them.) USAA asked for our participation to help raise awareness on the importance of life insurance during “Life Insurance Awareness Month.” Yeah, I didn't know that month existed before this opportunity either, but USAA sure knows that we exist! And Marriott really knocked us off our feet when they offered several nights worth of hotel stays in return for a few reviews on their TownePlace Suites properties. TownePlace Suites made it very clear that they are interested in helping military families who are on the road, from PCSing to family vacations, TownePlace Suites wants our business! And it's not like this is some shabby hotel chain guys, their rooms are usually very spacious, clean, come with fully equiped kitchens, and hot breakfasts. I was surprised to learn how many were actuallyl located near military installations, which makes them a great temporary housing option, or vacation get-a-way. In full disclosure, I dispersed their generous offering quietly among those guys who have helped keep Macho Spouse up and running over the last few years. We don't make any money here, so when a top-notch organization such as Marriott offers us some swag, I like to spread it out amongst our volunteers first. If you want access to some of this cool stuff, contact me and be prepared to help build our community. But while I'm speaking of TownePlace Suites, you guys should check them out because they're really showing their appreciation and commitment to our military community! That goes for USAA and Sonoran Desert Institute as well, these organizations aren't just talking about supporting male military spouses, they're actually doing it. So let's not forget to return this generosity in 2016.
While I'm patting others on the back, I can't forget the amazing content NextGen Military Spouse, Military.com/SpouseBuzz, and Military Spouse delivered on behalf of male military spouses in 2015. When I started Macho Spouse in late 2011/early 2012, there was nearly nothing…nothing, written for or about us male military spouses. No blogs, no websites, no Facebook pages, no nothing. Now look at us, male spouses are popping up everywhere! (We've probably had absolutely nothing to do with this trend, but I will take full credit.) So despite terrorism, politics, war, and racial unrest, life hasn't been all bad this year. It's been good enough for me to crack a cold one, light a cigar, sit back and reflect on how far we've come and how many goals are still left to accomplish. Don't worry, I won't be consuming and driving while reflecting, Dana and I have already booked our New Year's Eve room at the San Antonio Riverwalk TownePlace Suites. Happy 2015 everyone, have a safe holiday season!
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.)
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.
Did you know that there are virtual career fairs held that allow you to meet and interact with recruiters from the comfort of your own home? Check out this press release from Veteran Recruiting Services about an upcoming virtual career fair for military spouses.
PHILADELPHIA, May 7, 2013 -- /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Veteran Recruiting Services, the recognized leader of virtual career fairs for the military community is pleased to host the Military Spouse Appreciation Day Virtual Career Fair in support of the White House Joining Forces Initiative on May 10th.
Military Spouses from all over the world with have an opportunity to meet and interact live with recruiters in the virtual career fair, and from the comfort and convenience of their home or office. Each employer will have a virtual booth that will provide everything the spouse will need to consider when looking at their next career choice.
Thirty of America's leading employers will participate including: 24 Hour Fitness, Aetna, Airgas, Citi, Comerica Bank, Convergys, DaVita, DialAmerica, DISH, Exelon, Graybar, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Lowe's, Military Spouse Employment Partnership, Nordstrom, Penske, Pfizer, Progressive, Sears Holdings Corporation, The Mission Continues, Travelers, TSA, USAA, Union Pacific Railroad, Verizon, Volt, Walgreens, Waste Management, Wells Fargo, and Xerox.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day
Friday, May 10th
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Join us for a great event exclusively for Military Spouses, and be entered to win some great prizes such as;
$50 Visa gift cards every 30 minutes
$200 Coach gift card