When the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange rang out on Monday, July 23, 2018, it was Chris Isola, head of Veterans Affairs at UBS, ringing the bell. You may not know who Chris is, but you will be interested in what he’s bringing to the New York Stock Exchange: Veterans – and in a big way.
Isola represent UBS, an investment bank like many others on Wall Street, providing financial advice and other products to wealthy institutions, individuals, and corporate clients all over the world. The bank has indexed the price movements of certain companies’ stock — companies with policies, practices, and outcomes that support the employment of American veterans.
From that index, you can now buy into an Exchange Traded Fund that supports the best companies that meet UBS’ liquidity and stability standards while being the best example of military veteran employers. It’s all based on Viqtory’s Military Friendly employer rating.
In a world where both Main Street and Wall Street are increasingly removed from the wars and conflicts currently fought by the military, the economic powerhouse that drives America is working to create jobs and opportunities for the men and women who make the world’s largest economy possible: U.S. military veterans.
“We believe this is an innovative way for investors to express their support for the veteran community,” said Richard Cea, Executive Director of Exchange Traded Products at UBS. “This ETF provides investors with exposure to companies that recognize the value of our nation’s veterans to the workforce.”
ETFs are financial products that trade like common stock, complete with a ticker symbol, but is essentially a pool of different stocks owned by the fund. Investing in an ETF means you’re buying shares of the pool of companies owned by the fund. The overall value of the pool is divided into shares.
In this case, the ticker symbol HONR represents the InsightShares Patriotic Employer ETF and the fund owns stocks in businesses that value veteran employees, based on Viqtory’s Military Friendly employer reviews. The HONR fund also actively donates portions of its profits to veteran-related charities. Some of the stocks held by HONR include:
JPMorgan Chase Co.
General Mills, Inc.
So when you buy into the HONR fund, you’re buying into a fund that supports only corporations who proved their mettle in hiring America’s veterans, are genuinely good business investments, and will routinely give back to military-veteran oriented charities and nonprofits.
It’s a small way of giving a buck to veterans while doing something good for your retirement portfolio.
The U.S. military has a reputation for being overworked and underpaid.
But we all knew that going in.
The virtue of service and pride of wearing the uniform makes up for much of the disparity in pay compared to the civilian market. Still, it’s nice to get that bump in our paychecks every year.
Yet, the pay increase for 2017 won’t be so big. In an August 2016 letter to Congress, President Obama announced a 1.6 percent raise for the armed forces, consistent with the budget he sent to The Hill earlier in the year.
Across-the-board pay increases for other federal employees will be 1 percent.
“These decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified Federal workforce,” Obama said in his letter to Congress.
Pay raises for the military peaked in 1983 when President Reagan instituted a 14.3 percent pay raise. Since then, the increase hovered steadily between 3 and 5 percent, with an average of 4.2 percent, according to the Congressional Research Service.
“What is your interest rate?” This is the most frequently asked question in the lending world. Without a doubt, personal experience compounded with all of the social media questions prove the point every single day. Because I take an educator-first mindset, it is imperative to explain why this is only one small piece of a much larger puzzle when comparing lenders.
An interest rate can be manipulated to look better than it actually is by throwing on origination fees, processing fees, underwriting fees and points to lower the rate. All of these things mean you are actually paying to have a lower interest rate. The VA regulations allow for up to one percent of the loan amount to be charged by the lender in addition to reasonable discount points. This one percent is outside of the other fees paid to outside parties such as an appraisal, credit report, title examination, title insurance and more. This flat (up to) one percent is specifically designed to cover the lender’s services.
While the VA may allow up to a one percent fee, that doesn’t mean that it is necessary. Many lenders, including myself, will never charge a veteran a fee for doing a VA loan. It’s just not how we envision taking care of each other looks like. Additionally, many financial institutions that typically do charge this fee will occasionally run promotions that eliminate it for a short window of time. It is important to read the fine print when looking up any advertised interest rates, as many will have a disclaimer such as “Rates quoted above require a 1.00% loan origination fee. The origination fee may be waived for a 0.25% increase in the interest rate”.
The origination or other lender fees like in the above scenario are similar to discount points, but are not tax deductible. This is yet another downside of lender fees. Discount points, however, are a tax deductible fee in exchange for a lower interest rate. One point is equal to one percent of the loan amount, and will reduce the interest rate by .25%. Let’s practice some mortgage math on a scenario I pulled up today from an undisclosed lender’s website:
“VA 30 yr fixed loan – Interest rate as low as 3.625% – discount points 2.00
*Rates quoted above require a 1.00% loan origination fee. The origination fee may be waived for a 0.25% increase in the interest rate”
As the disclaimer states, to not pay an origination fee of 1%, the rate goes up by .25%. Now the rate is at 3.625 +.25 = 3.875 … but we still have those two points to deal with!
2 points *.25 each = .5 increase to rate without paying for them. 3.875 +.5= 4.375
That 3.625 advertised rate comes with so many points and fees that it is actually a TRUE rate of 4.375 – a far cry from what was seen on the surface. In a 0,000 home loan, this would make the difference of 9 each and every month if you chose not to pay any of those fees, OR ,000 upfront, out of pocket in addition to the regular closing costs.
Even if you have a motivated seller offering to pay your closing costs, you have a choice to use that money to pay a lender’s fee or you could use that money to buy down points with a lender that doesn’t charge. That 1% lender’s fee could actually be you saving .25% off of the interest rate elsewhere if the seller’s contributions aren’t already maxed out. This is just one way to make your closing cost contributions work for your bottom line instead of your lender’s. All financial matters are based on trust, and this is likely your largest life purchase, so it’s important to be in the know!
“Oh, beautiful friend,” begins an email from Nigeria, “I am in need of your help to move the sum of 30,987,544.36 out of my country but, alas, I cannot.” This email scam is old as email itself but is a spin on an even older scam, one that involves a man claiming to be a political prisoner during the Spanish-American War. Apparently, he’s hidden money away and is desperate to get it before the Spanish find it. Thankfully, through friends, he’s found you, a person of considerable trust. Now if you could just send him some money…
Well, the Spanish-prisoner-turned-Nigerian-prince has transformed yet again. This time, he’s turned into an American soldier… In Nigeria.
This letter con is actually even older than the Spanish-American War. The resurgence of the scam in 1898 was just a play on American anti-Spanish sentiment. In the 1700s, it was a different kind of Spanish prisoner who needed money to smuggle a wealthy family member into or out of a country. Then there’s the 1800s’ “Frenchman in Jerusalem,” or the 1920s’ “German Winemaker Investment.”
These are all different flavors of the same scam. You pay a comparatively small amount up front for the promise of a great windfall down the road, but nothing ever comes. Like all of these schemes, the fraudster is taking advantage of a political situation, economic frustrations, or the recipient’s general lack of knowledge about the subject or region.
This is the new Nigerian Prince.
Now, schemers are looking to take advantage of all three of those weaknesses. Americans love their military, but don’t always know where the U.S. military is operating — sometimes because it’s undisclosed and sometimes because Americans don’t really care where U.S. combat troops are deployed (before anyone gets indignant about this statement, ask yourself if you really know).
This is not a trick. That’s really where Nigeria is.
But the latest scam isn’t coming from Nigeria. It’s coming from Syria. Well… it claims it’s coming from Syria.
“How are you doing my friend, great I guess! Now I know this mail will definitely come to you as a huge surprise, but please kindly take your time to go through it carefully as the decision you make will probably go a long way to determine my future and continued existence. First, let me introduce myself. I am Capt. Christopher Townsend, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force in Syria.”
For civilians who may be susceptible to this scam, I hope you tried to show this to a military friend because there are many glaring irregularities between this first paragraph and the photo of the ID sent along with it.
Blurring the edges of an ID photo is something no one does ever.
Aside from a clearly photoshopped ID photo, the CAC card above was taken from a U.S. Army Sergeant Major, not a captain of Marines. Secondly, unless that captain was also a journalist, it’s unlikely that he would abbreviate his rank using the Associated Press style. Military personnel have many different ways of abbreviating ranks, but the Marines don’t use a period. Finally, no sergeant major or captain I have ever met talks or writes like that.
And a Marine isn’t likely to make that kind of mistake, even in an informal email. Are the Marines in Syria really with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment? That doesn’t matter.
It matters, but not for the purposes of deciding to send them money.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert)
“Some money in various currencies was discovered and concealed in barrels with piles of weapons and ammunition at a location near one of President Assad’s old Presidential Palaces during a rescue operation and it was agreed by all party present that the money be shared amongst us.”
Do dictators just leave money around, hiding in barrels with arms caches? My guess is that President Assad probably keeps his money in a bank, like most of the world. Keeping illicit cash in barrels laying around one of your many houses is a surefire way to lose it. Besides, rich dictators don’t have to horde cash — they don’t care if people know they’re stealing.
The Syrian Presidential Palaces are located in Damascus and if U.S. Marines are/were in Damascus, even on a rescue mission, we probably would have heard about it by now. Most importantly, Assad never lived there.
It would not be this clean after a visit from United States Marines.
Finally, this is something more akin to the plot of Three Kings than something U.S. Marines would really do. The Marine Corps is renowned for its discipline and adherence to its core values on the battlefield. If they came across a cache of million dollars in a Presidential palace, you’d see Marines posing with it and their small arms on Instagram right before you read about it in the New York Times. Then, they’d turn it in.
If you ever have a question about something fishy sent from someone claiming to be a U.S. troop, just ask a veteran. We all need a good laugh.
The residents alleged they were being intimidated into not fighting the overages, and sources told WATM Navy investigators were looking into the issue.
But according to a Feb. 14 statement from Naval Criminal Investigative Service spokesman Ed Buice, Navy officials closed the inquiry into accusations of over billing “after it became evident the allegations being made were unfounded.”
“No criminal misconduct was discovered,” Buice added in the email statement to WATM.
Buice did not reply to a request for additional comment.
Residents of the San Onofre II neighborhood at Camp Pendleton say they were within the margins for monthly electricity use that would preclude an overage charge.
Military families there pay a lump sum rent that includes a certain amount of energy usage. When they consume less electricity than the allotted amount, they are refunded; when they go over, they receive bills, officials say.
Several residents told WATM that they had seen sudden sharp increases in their electric bills and were threatened with eviction if they didn’t pay up. Many claimed they were rebuffed when they approached base housing officials about the alleged billing problems.
Marine Corps Installations West spokeswoman 1st Lt. Abigail Peterson told WATM in a Feb. 16 email that “all of the official complaints received regarding this situation were addressed and resolved,” adding that Lincoln Military Housing had “implemented a new process to monitor requests to ensure all concerns are addressed in a timely manner.”
“We take feedback very seriously and want to ensure responsible measures are followed to alleviate any issues for our Marines, sailors and their families living here on base,” Peterson said.
Military family advocate Kristine Schellhaas — who originally brought the billing allegations to light — wasn’t satisfied Pendleton’s response, arguing base residents aren’t simply misreading their bills.
“There are systematic flaws with how this program has been implemented,” Schellhaas told WATM. “The facts are that this program needs to get audited.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced the Post-9/11 GI Bill rates for the 2019-2020 school year. These rates will be effective on Aug. 1, 2019. The Montgomery GI Bill and Dependents’ Education Assistance programs will see a rate change on Oct. 1, 2019.
By law, the GI Bill rate increase is tied to the average cost increase of undergraduate tuition in the U.S. For the 2019-2020 school year, that increase will average 3.4%.
More than 80 percent of those taking advantage of their GI Bill benefits are doing so through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Private & foreign school GI Bill rates
Effective Aug. 1, 2019, those using the Post-9/11 GI Bill at a private or foreign school will see their maximum yearly GI Bill rate increase from ,671.94 to ,476.79.
Those who are enrolled in flight schools will see their annual maximum GI Bill benefit increase from ,526.81 to ,986.72.
An F-22 Raptor from the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron returns to a training mission after refueling March 27, 2012, over the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian Islands.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth)
You can be reimbursed up to ,000 per test for licensing and certification tests. For national testing programs, there is no maximum amount of GI Bill reimbursement. Your entitlement will be charged one month for every ,042.06 spent; currently, that trigger point is id=”listicle-2634152786″,974.91.
You can be reimbursed the actual net costs, not to exceed ,888.70 annually. That’s up from ,497.78 currently.
If you are attending classroom sessions, your housing allowance is based on the ZIP code of the campus location where you attend the majority of your classes.
If you are attending classes at a foreign school, not on a military base, your maximum housing allowance will be id=”listicle-2634152786″,789.00. This is prorated based on the length of your active-duty service and how many classes you are taking.
If you attend all your classes online, your maximum housing allowance will be 4.50. This is also prorated.
Keep up with your education benefits
Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, Military.com can help. Sign up for a free Military.com membership to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
If someone were to ask me what the best advice is for someone buying a home, I would have to say “educate yourself.” I realize that sounds vague, but there is SO MUCH information, more importantly, incorrect information, out there and every family situation is unique. I’m hard-pressed to say what is most important, but breaking barriers to getting started would be first. Unfortunately, I see a lot of myths repeated on a daily basis, sometimes from fellow mortgage professionals! I will continue to share digestible pieces of information, but first, need to get these common myths out of the way, so no military family is deterred from getting started:
There is no debt-to-income ratio cap.
The VA’s deciding factor on whether or not you can afford a loan is based on “residual income” (p.57), meaning how much money is left over every month after your debt obligations are met. This is a formula based on loan amount, geographic location and family size; it’s not always a one-size-fits-all answer. Some lenders have “overlays,” which are additional requirements that reach beyond what the VA themselves require, which is why the DTI myth is still floating around. The big takeaway here is that if you’re told by one lender your DTI is too high, they might have extra requirements on top of what the VA states, and you should SHOP AROUND! Not all lenders are created equal.
The VA has one residency requirement (pp.12-13), that you intend to make the home your primary residence and occupy “within a reasonable period of time” – usually deemed as 60 days. A spouse or dependent child can fulfill this residency requirement, but no other family member. I continuously see the myth of “one year,” circulated, but it is simply a myth. Last-minute moves and orders happen; the VA knows that, and according to their guidelines, you are not tied to live in any home for any period of time that doesn’t work for your family – period.
County loan limits still apply for multiples.
The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Sec.6(a)(1)(C)(ii) that went into effect January 2020 lifted the VA county loan cap for how much money you can borrow with down, but that’s only if you have full entitlement available. A borrower can have multiple VA loans out at once, but if any entitlement is currently used, the county loan limits DO apply for bonus entitlements. You may be subject to a downpayment requirement if you exceed your remaining entitlement available.
Work history – what counts?
I repeatedly see posts in social media about a service member transitioning, receiving a new job (or job offer), and they don’t think they can qualify for a loan until two years into the job. This is totally false! Military active duty counts towards work history. The VA allows future employment income to be counted if the lender can verify a non-contingent job offer, including start date and salary. Documented retirement and disability pay also count towards qualifying income, but GI bill benefits do not.
Social media can give instant access to other people’s experiences, but some of the answers to your VA loan questions can only be found in a licensed professional. Make sure you’re talking to a lender that is passionate about educating you and your family, allowing you to make smart financial decisions. Not all financial institutions lend “by-the-book,” so ask more than one lender if something doesn’t feel right, or you’re not satisfied with the answer. An ounce of prevention, in this case, is certainly worth well more than a pound of cure!
Turning conventional wisdom on its ear, one former Army Drill Sergeant has built a multi-million dollar apparel business by uniquely applying military operational techniques and culture.
During his time on active duty, Dan Alarik was deployed to Bosnia and Kosovo. Following his overseas duty, he served as a drill instructor at Fort Benning — a tour that changed his life in a very unorthodox way. Alarik pooled money with a few of his friends and they started to make t-shirts for the various units stationed there. In 2009 he had enough success that he decided to separate from the Army after 13 years and move back to his hometown of Chicago to start a t-shirt company.
Alarik’s vision for what he called “Grunt Style” was very clear. He wanted to bring the best parts of his Army experience — especially the elements of patriotism and service — to the rest of the nation.
As the company grew, Alarik took two bold steps: He moved the business out of his apartment and into an office space and he hired an employee — a fellow vet. From there growth was rapid. The company outgrew the office within five months and moved to a bigger space that they, in turn, outgrew five months after that.
But, as any entrepreneur knows, rapid growth can hobble a startup as much as the absence of it unless there’s a sound strategy behind it. And that’s where Alarik leveraged his military pedigree.
He modeled Grunt Style after the most effective military units he’d been part of during his time on active duty. The company is organized into two platoons: Maneuvers (marketing sales, and design) and Support By Fire (production and fulfillment).
And, more importantly in terms of being true to his business vision, Alarik has populated that military-themed organization with veterans. Seventy percent of his 100-plus employees are vets. (Also of note, manpower-wise, is that his wife, Elizabeth, is the chief financial officer.)
“I had my own challenges with fitting into office culture right out of the Army,” Alarik said. “From the beginning, one of my goals was to make Grunt Style feel familiar to vet employees. Not only do I love working with people who are patriotic and proud, there’s a strong business case behind that idea.”
Another military best practice that Alarik has put in place is pushing responsibility and authority to the lowest level possible. For instance, on the shop floor, “sew leaders” (the title given to front-line manufacturing personnel) work with very little oversight. He also instituted a “battle buddy” program for new hires that ensures the onboarding process is smooth and tackles any issues quickly.
“A paycheck is important, but for vets a job is more than that,” Alarik said. “They joined the military, for the most part, to be part of something bigger than themselves, something of consequence. That’s how we want them to feel about Grunt Style.”
“I knew when I met Dan that I wanted to be part of Grunt Style,” said Tim Jenson, COO and first sergeant. “It feels like ‘home’ working alongside people that get each other and work towards a common goal.”
The result of Alarik’s strategy is a $36 million business with a large facility complete with multiple warehouses for designing, printing, and packaging product. And every shirt comes with what the company calls a “beer guarantee.”
“What that means is if you’re not satisfied you can return a shirt for whatever reason — even if it’s soaked in beer — and we’ll give you a refund,” Alarik said.
And Alarik isn’t done yet. He recently launched “Alpha Outpost,” billed as “the best monthly subscription box for men.” Each month subscribers are mailed a box of interesting items around a specific theme. Previous themes have included “BBQ and Chill” (knives, grill gloves, spices, cookbook), “The Medic” (first aid equipment), and “The Gentlemen” (silk tie, flask, leaded glass).
Companies that struggle with hiring and retaining veterans can learn from Grunt Style’s approach. Alarik has found that the best way to get the most from veterans is not trying to force them into a corporate culture but rather to create a military-friendly environment where they can quickly assimilate and immediately make meaningful contributions to the company.
Almost every military career ends with the service member making a decision: find a job or start a business. For those in the National Guard or reserves, this choice parallels time in uniform.
Veterans who choose the path of entrepreneurship have an added resource to lean on. Jason Van Camp founded Warrior Rising — a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping veterans and their immediate family members start their own businesses.
“When you were getting out of the military you had a question, and that question was ‘now what? What am I going to do with myself?'” Van Camp said. “You probably thought to yourself ‘you know I could just sit back and collect my retirement or I could get a job or I could start a business.”
Starting a business after leaving the military is a journey Van Camp knows well. The former green beret left the Army after a seizure disorder forced him to medically retire. He founded Mission 6 Zero, a leadership development firm with high-profile clients including the NFL and Major League Baseball.
Warrior Rising was launched to help other veterans make the transition to business ownership. The resources provided by the organization are free to veterans and their immediate family members. It is funded by donations with 82.4% of every dollar going to veterans. The rest, Van Camp said, goes to overhead. He added that initially, 100% of donations went to veterans, but the company grew too large and he had to hire paid staff to keep up with demand.
In the five years since its founding, Warrior Rising has grown exponentially. In 2015 the company helped six veterans establish businesses. Last year the number was 1,016. This year, Van Camp said, Warrior Rising on pace to help 1,500 veterans start new businesses with about 40 signing up every two weeks.
Despite frequently saying during an online interview that “business is hard,” Van Camp said Warrior Rising already has some success stories.
Firebrand Flag Company, for example, recently sold out on a limited run of fireproof American flags.
“They’re ramping up business right now and I have no doubt this is going to be a multi-million-dollar company,” Van Camp said.
People interested in using Warrior Rising’s free services should first go to the organization’s website to sign up. Van Camp said an intake specialist will call the applicant within 48 hours.
“So, you have an intimate one-on-one conversation with someone about your business idea, what you’re trying to accomplish, why you’re trying to do it. Is it a good idea? Do you have the money for this? Does your spouse support you?” Van Camp said. “Questions about the actual journey you’re about to embark on.”
From there, applicants are sent to Warrior Rising’s education platform, Warrior Academy – online training that translates a military operations order into a business model. Van Camp said the training is designed to be difficult to prepare would-be entrepreneurs for the realities of owning a business.
“You can’t start out with 0,000 salary. That’s not how it works in business,” he said. “You’re going to have to grind and go without pay and suffer for a while before you start seeing revenue — before you start seeing everything start to pay off and you see a return on investment.”
After the training is complete, applicants are paired with mentors who are successful in the industry the veteran hopes to succeed in. Van Camp said the mentors are usually, but not always veterans.
Eventually, after the veteran has met all of the requirements, they can ask Warrior Rising for financial assistance and the organization will assist them in finding investors, loans or grants.
But that’s not the end of a veteran entrepreneur’s journey with Warrior Rising.
“What I realized is it wasn’t just about starting a business and finding your purpose through business ownership, it was also about creating a community and joining a community and joining a tribe of people that can support you and you can feel comfortable with like you’re part of the family with,” Van Camp said. “We have platoons all over the country.”
In the past, the organization hosted numerous in-person events, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced Warrior Rising to turn to online venues for events.
Van Camp described coronavirus as a game changer in many ways for those hoping to start businesses. First, he said, more people are applying for Warrior Rising’s assistance.
“It’s been even more prevalent because of COVID,” he said. “Because people are at home looking for that next step because they ask the question ‘now what’ and they come to Warrior Rising for help.”
He said the pandemic will continue to affect the business world for the foreseeable future. He said trucking and logistics, online services and recreational vehicle sales businesses are doing well. His outlook is equally optimistic for credit card processing companies, home security and solar sales.
The outlook is less rosy for commercial real estate.
“Clients of mine that have office space, they’re realizing right now that they don’t need office space. They can work from home,” Van Camp said. “They’re putting as much product out the door as they did before. Private equity firms, venture capitalist firms, the companies that basically control their finances are going to say ‘listen, anything that doesn’t affect the bottom line, get rid of’. They’re going say ‘we don’t need office space. We don’t need to pay rent.’ Coronavirus is going to change the game.”
Van Camp said it’s hard to predict what kind of businesses will be successful. The deciding factor usually has more to do with the would-be entrepreneur than the business itself. Even those with ideas others think are bad might succeed if they’re tenacious and adaptable, he added.
“We try to make it difficult for them and if they continue to try to move forward and if they say ‘I don’t care what you think. I don’t care if you laugh at me, I’m doing this no matter what’, those are the guys that succeed,” Van Camp said. “We try to make sure they understand all the risks. We try to help them understand there’s no guarantees and they’re probably going to fail. We give them all the stats. For some people it scares them off. That’s a good thing because they would have been scared off during their business endeavor anyway. I’ve seen some things that I thought ‘well that’s a dumb idea.’ Because they didn’t quit, they proved me wrong.”
We’re down to the wire at our house for Christmas gifts. Due to our crazy travel and flight schedules over the last two months, my husband and I have barely even scratched our shopping list for gifts this year.
And yeah, I know we suck.
So we decided we’d find a few quick gifts that are still awesome and won’t totally break the bank.
1. You almost can’t go wrong with Disney
Disney offers a special program for the military called the Armed Forces Salute. Service members or their spouses can purchase either a five-day or four-day package for $224 or $209, respectively. This is a savings of nearly 50 percent.
Total cost of taking my family to Disney for five days: $1,120 (does not include lodging).
2. Buy an iPhone and get $250 off an iPad
Verizon does this thing where, if you buy an iPhone, you pay for it monthly, and only pay the tax up front. But right now, if you buy that new iPhone your daughter has been eying, you’re going to get $250 off an iPad — which puts the iPad mini at around $150.
Don’t forget to sign up for your military discount if you haven’t already. Total cost of my Verizon shopping trip today for tweenager gifts: less than $250.
3. Great news those of you who wear Oakleys
If you don’t already know, Oakley has a thing called the Oakley Standard Issue, offering approved eye-pro sunglasses to service members at about a 25 percent discount. Total cost of my husband’s preferred shades: $128.
4. Pretty much anything from Best Buy, amiright?
Best Buy has a 15 percent military discount, so it looks like tomorrow I’ll be buying a bunch of electronic gifts I won’t know how to use.
But the kids and husband will be stoked!
5. Last (but certainly not least), adult grape juice
It’s kind of like a gym membership, except you don’t have to go anywhere, and you don’t have to wear yoga pants (though I do recommend wearing something comfy).
The only thing is that instead of the gym, you get a case that you pick up and set down. Okay, it’s wine — a wine club membership, to be exact.
With the military discount at Twisted Roots Vinyard, it’s $255 every four months. That’s a lot of wine, and it’s worth it.
The stock market took a massive dive just before and moments after Donald Trump was declared the President-Elect around 0230 today.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that there was a moment of panic felt around the world as countries like Australia, Mexico, and Japan had market slumps in response to voting results showing Trump’s gradual climb.
Fortune reported that the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped almost 650 points during after hour trading; SP 500 was down 4 percent, the Nikkei was down 5 percent, and the Mexican peso had plummeted almost 12 percent. The drop in the Mexican peso was the largest the currency has seen in over 20 years.
The Economist reports that “vague and erratic” statements from Trump in regards to trade and foreign policy have the rest of the world worried.
This might motivate some service members and veterans to pull their funds out of Thrift Savings Plans, 401(k)s, and other investment tools. Before they do that, take note that the dive was temporary and seems to be recovering. According to The Guardian, U.S. yields (interest rates) on U.S. debt is on the rise.
That bounce, according to The Guardian, is due in part to Trump’s acceptance speech.
Alex Edwards of UKForex wrote “[Trump’s] appeasing tone has definitely helped” the market response.
Jeremy Cook of World First writes “It’s because he sounded more presidential.”
That said, Paul Krugman from the New York Times writes “If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.”
So how does this impact your investment and retirement dollars?
Most experts would say don’t panic just yet. Right now, it’s still unclear how exactly Trump’s election will impact the U.S. and global economies in the long run. It would be premature to pull funds out of the TSP and other market investments, but should you decide to do that, consult a financial advisor.
You’ve probably seen it plastered all over billboards by now. The Army is offering “up to $40k in an enlistment bonuses!” Some hopeful recruits will learn that they can, in fact, get that down-payment for a Corvette. Another guy could come in that same day and walk out with just the “honor of serving.”
What’s the difference here? Why does one guy get a ‘vette and the other nothing but a hardy handshake? The determination process is kind of convoluted, but it all comes down to the military trying to get the right people in the right places.
I mean, it’s better to have a brilliant lawyer become an infantry officer than to have an idiot defending troops at a court martial, right?
(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Ayana Pitterson)
Troops get a bonus based on what they bring to the military, how long they plan on staying in, and when they sign the contract.
So, if you have just a high school education and you want to enlist in a field that’s pretty crowded at a time when everyone is trying to get in for just the 3 years required to get full access to the GI Bill, your bonus prospects are looking pretty bleak. If you have a college degree and plan to use said degree to benefit the military at a time when it’s almost impossible to find others like you — the cash is yours.
With that being said, the stars need to align for everything to work out perfectly. Even if, say, you have a doctorate in law and decide to use your skills in JAG, if you arrive a time when the Army needs more infantry officers, you’re going infantry. Uncle Sam will always have the final say.
Obviously I’m making fun of water dogs (because they’re so used to enduring jokes by everyone that they won’t flip sh*t in the comments section).
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Adam Dublinske)
Highly trained and highly skilled troops, like cyber security NCOs, often leave the service and jump into higher-paying, civilian-equivalent jobs. The troop that was once the backbone of their unit is now working the IT help-desk at Google, dealing with a quarter of the stress for double the pay. The civilian sector is gunning for these troops by offering sweet cash deals — and the military can’t sustain this kind of personnel hemorrhaging.
If the military didn’t offer retention bonuses, those cyber security NCOs would all jump ship. Suddenly, offering that bonus of 0,000 over a four-year period for an indefinite contract doesn’t seem too unreasonable.
All that being said — and this isn’t to diminish the service or need of anyone who didn’t get an enlistment or a reenlistment bonus — the more competitive your specific skill set is to the outside world, the more of an incentive the military will offer to keep you in.
Military leaders want families who are thinking through the choice to be armed with as much information as possible, said Lt. Col. Steven Hanson, who heads the Army‘s compensation and entitlements office.
He discussed three military retirement myths at a recent Association of the United States Army conference.
Myth 1: You’ll be forced into the new military retirement system.
That’s false, Hanson said.
Everyone who joins the military after Jan. 1, 2018, will be a part of the new system whether they like it or not. But those who are currently serving at that time will have to make a choice: Keep the old system or opt into the new one.
“One of the big misconceptions about this is that people will be forced into the new system and that is simply not the case,” he said. “Nobody will be moved into the blended system unless they actively choose to do so.”‘
The current retirement program is based on a pension system. Under that plan, if a military member serves 20 years, is medically retired or is forced out and qualifies for early retirement, he’ll be able to walk away with a pension based off his rank at retirement.
But most troops don’t retire out of the military — they simply leave the service. And thanks to the way the current system is set up, that means they walk away empty-handed.
That’s a problem the new “blended” retirement system is designed to fix. Instead of retirement or nothing, it gives service members a savings that is closer to what’s used by employers in the civilian sector.
Under it, troops can contribute money to their Thrift Savings Plans (TSP), and the Defense Department will match it up to a certain percent, much like a 401(k) plan. Even if a service member opts to put nothing in his TSP, the DoD will still contribute an amount equal to one percent of his base pay to the account each month.
And service members who stay in long enough to become retirees will still get a version of the pension system in the new military retirement plan as well, although payments will be based on a lower amount than they are today.
Myth 2: It’s easy to tell which plan you should use.
False. While it would be nice to know if the new system is the right choice for you simply based on how many years you’ve been in, that’s not the case. Whether the new system is right for any given service member is going to be based on a whole slew of information specific to that person and his or her family, Hanson said.
“There’s no cookie-cutter answer. Every service member is going to have different circumstances,” he said. “Everyone should do what’s best for their personal circumstances.”
Myth 3: You’re going to have to figure out which plan is best for you on your own.
Mostly false. While the final choice ultimately will be up to each individual service member, the law that required the retirement plan change also requires the Defense Department to provide a lot of education about what the change means — and how service members can pick which plan is right for them.
“We need to make sure that they have the tools, the skills and the knowledge to make an informed decision,” Hanson said. “We are putting together a training and education plan to make sure service members understand the old system versus the new system so they can make an informed choice.”