5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MONEY

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate

Why Should You Invest in International Real Estate?

There are many reasons why you would want to stick to a familiar real estate market. Investing in your state or country is a good way to keep your assets close to you so you can manage them easily. What’s more, is that you’re able to learn about the market faster, discover lucrative opportunities quickly, and use the advantage of operating within a familiar legal system to make good long-term business decisions. Still, the allure of the international real estate market should not pass you by.

In the modern real estate world, success stories are built by diversifying your portfolio, not only by the asset class but also the geographical location of your assets. Imagine all of the lucrative opportunities that await in emerging economies around the world– particularly those that are undergoing rapid urbanization. With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the best tips that will help you expand your real estate portfolio into international markets.

International Real Estate Investing Tip 1: Do Your Market Research

Every good business decision in real estate investing should be founded on tangible information and actionable reports. Your first step should be to research international markets that have a lucrative opening for foreign investors (such as yourself). You don’t want to enter an overly-competitive market only to get pushed out by the established local investors. Instead, you want to find a market that is experiencing an economic ascent and one that will allow you to enter a lucrative niche.

Start by researching real estate trends in one country at a time. Then analyze projections and forecasts for those up-and-coming economies of the Asian market–like Indonesia. Next, try to discover which regions are becoming commercial and which are emphasizing residential property development. Finally, keep close tabs on the local competitors so that you can learn from their best practices and capitalize on their mistakes.

International Real Estate Investing Tip 2: Choose Your Niche

To become a successful investor, you need to diversify your portfolio in numerous ways. One of those ways is to invest in a niche. This is especially important when you’re looking into international since you want to tap into the most lucrative sector right off the bat–even if it’s passively.

For example, many countries are focusing on sustainable real estate development–meaning that overseas investors should try to obtain properties within the green niche to capitalize on the emerging trend and appeal to the local buyers. Choose your niche and you will be able to secure your foothold in a sector with few competitors and a lot of long-term development potential.

One of the most important considerations, when you’re investing internationally, is that the local legal system will most likely be quite different than what you’re used to in your home country. This is why it’s important that you learn about the local real estate investment strategies and connect with local real estate professionals who can guide you through the legal processes that will help you acquire land and properties quickly. 

It’s important that you work with someone who understands the ins-and-outs of the market, the local culture, and what the local buyers want. This will allow you to make better investments over the long term.

Investing in International Real Estate Tip 4: Market Your Properties

Marketing is a big part of success in the real estate world. This is especially true for investors who are trying to solidify their position in a new and unfamiliar market. Your goal should be to build brand recognition and to sell or lease your properties quickly without getting overpowered by the competition. You should invest in marketing to build awareness, capture the attention of the buyers, and inspire them to put their trust in your brand.

Investing in International Real Estate Tip 5: Scale and Manage Your Growth

Finally, always remember that the road to long-term success in a new market starts with a small-but-smart investment. You shouldn’t go all-in on your first investment abroad, even if you have a lot of capital. Instead, find an affordable opportunity with a sound ROI potential and scale your growth by investing in bigger projects as time goes by.

Wrapping Up

By investing in international real estate, you’re tapping into exciting new markets and capitalizing on lucrative opportunities – especially if you find the right niche. Be sure to implement these tips into your strategy to become a successful international investor.

About the author: Mike Johnston is an avid blogger and content writer with a focus on real estate, home improvement, and the construction industry.

This article originally appeared on Active Duty Passive Income. Follow them on Facebook.

Articles

The Pentagon can’t seem to explain why the cost of moving military families is going up

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
Airman Michael Butler, 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron receiving technician, uses a forklift to retrieve a crate at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.


Permanent Change of Station has gotten more expensive, and the Department of Defense doesn’t know why. That’s the general findings of a report released by the Government Accountability Office last year.

Military.com reported earlier this week that the Defense Department would begin a review of the system that oversees military moves as a result of the report.

Accounting for inflation, the cost of a PCS was up by 28 percent between 2001 and 2014, capping at around $4 billion that year, or 3.7 percent of the overall military personnel budget.

The study found that “the services have not reported complete and consistent PCS data, thereby limiting the extent to which DoD can identify and evaluate” the current PCS system. It went on to explain that the Pentagon had not maintained required data nor required the services to independently maintain data that would help the DoD in determining how to reduce the cost of PCS.

PCS moves ranged on average from $2,289 to $13,336, with the Air Force spending the most on average per move and the Marine Corps spending the least.

In a review between services, the Marine Corps was most likely to accurately and consistently report PCS data outside of the direct cost of moving, i.e. the cost of temporary storage, lodging expenses, and tour extension incentive payments. The Air Force and the Army were least likely to report the data.

Because of the lack of proper reporting by the services and the DoD, the report found, it is impossible to determine exactly how to address the rising costs of PCS.

In addition to a lack of complete data on the cost of PCS, the report found that the DoD was not able to explain why personnel were not meeting “time-on-station requirements” because it had not required any of the services to maintain that data themselves.

Of the services who could provide any data on time-on-station requirements, the Air Force was most likely to have some data, and the Marine Corps was least likely to have any data.

The Government Accountability Office described four recommendations to improve the issue of rising PCS costs:

  • Improve the completeness and consistency of PCS data
  • Complete periodic evaluations of whether the PCS program is efficiently supporting DoD’s requirements for assigning military personnel… [and] identify changes in PCS per-move costs
  • Improve the completeness and consistency of data on exceptions
  • Improve the completeness and consistency of data on waivers

The Pentagon agreed most of the recommendations in the report, writing in its response, “We recognize the importance of improving the availability of information needed for effective management of the PCS program.”

MIGHTY MONEY

DoD says military doesn’t spend enough taxpayer dollars on MWR

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Alexandria Hall poses for a picture with a camel during the Sunset Safari tour sponsored by USS Dwight D. Eisenhower’s (CVN 69) Morale, Welfare and Recreation office. (Photo: U.S. Navy)


The Department of Defense says the service branches aren’t spending enough taxpayer dollars to fund their morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) programs, according to a memo sent to each of the services last month.

Military Times reported this week that Todd Weiler, assistant defense secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, sent the memo to each branch to remind them that they were responsible for using a specific percentage of taxpayer funds to operate MWR programs.

“These standards are not optional and are not subject to Military Department waiver,” Weiler wrote.

MWR programs are required to receive a percentage of funding from Congress through either appropriated funds or non-appropriated funds, or a combination of the two.

The DoD requires that programs determined to be “Category A” must receive 85 percent of funding from taxpayer dollars. “Category A” are considered “mission sustaining programs” and “promote the physical and mental well-being of the military member,” according to Military One Source.

“Category B” requires 65 percent of operational costs to come from taxpayer dollars. Those programs consist of community support programs like child development centers, which charge families for use and therefore get some funding from customers.

“Category C” are programs that are nearly fully self-funded and include golf courses, base clubs, and recreational lodging. These programs are authorized some limited appropriated funds.

Weiler had previously sent a memo in June to remind the services to return their feedback on MWR funding by August, but both the Army and the Navy missed their deadlines.

Rather, the Army decided to cut $105 million from MWR funds, and the Navy only sent feedback on its Category A funding.

“I thought we needed to up our communication,” Weiler said in response to the Army’s planned slashing of the MWR budget.

The executive director of The National Military Family Association, Joyce Raezer, told Military Times that, due to budget cuts, sequestration, and changes to various other budgetary items, she believed families didn’t expect much from the services. “There are too many other worries,” she said.

Of the services, only the Marine Corps did not meet the 85 percent requirement, coming in at 77 percent of Category A program expenses funded by taxpayer dollars.

Every service fell short of utilizing the required percentage of taxpayer funding for Category B programs.

Weiler called out the Air Force specifically for not having met the requirements for four straight years, with no plan in place to correct the issue.

In the memo sent to the Army, Weiler asked Army Secretary Eric Fanning to halt the planned $105 million cut, a plea that was accepted and approved by Fanning. The Army plans to complete an analysis of its MWR programs and funding later this year.

Military.com reported that Colonel James Love told them that the $105 million cut would go into effect once the Pentagon approved the Army’s requested changes. He blamed a lack of “good business” practices, such as not raising prices for MWR programs, for the decision to cut the Army MWR budget.

“It’s good for families,” Love told Military.com. “But it’s not sustainable.”

MIGHTY MONEY

This Combat Camera vet used his skills to launch a civilian career as a photojournalist


CLEVELAND, Ohio — There was a bit of irony in Bill Putnam’s first job as a civilian who’d just transitioned out of the military: He was sent back to Iraq to cover the war, the same place where he’d honed his skills as a photographer for the U.S. Army.

“I knew before I got out of the Army that I wanted to specialize in news photojournalism,” Putnam says. “I happened to meet a lot of people along the way who saw my work and told me I had the drive and talent to do it in the civilian world. It was all about reaching out to people and meeting the right people at the right time.”

Among “the right people” that Putnam ran into along the way was Michael Ware, Time magazine’s bureau chief in Baghdad.

“When I was a soldier going home from Iraq I ran into Michael,” Putnam says. “I was getting out of the military, and I told him I was willing to go back to Iraq. He wrote a letter on my behalf and that helped make it happen.”

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate

Putnam explains: “This one was made fairly early in the morning after an all-night raid. The unit, Centurion Company, 2-1 Infantry, had been sent out with an SF team and bunch of Iraqi Army to hunt down a car bomb builder. They didn’t find him. This was early in the unit’s deployment (they were the guys who were extended in 2006 for three months during an early and not so effective ‘surge’ into northwest Baghdad). To me it says a lot, not really about that war, but just war in general, especially war down at the nasty end of the spear. Hunter, the guy pictured, just looks exhausted. War is exactly that – exhausting in every sense – but this is physical exhaustion. The kid waving the gun (it was unloaded) was actually playing with a newly-installed laser pointer.” (Photo: Bill Putnam)

After working in the war zone for nearly a year, he returned to the U.S. and freelanced his way from Washington, DC to Oregon, diversifying his portfolio and expanding his network. Eventually, he was picked up by Zuma Press Agency, and the assignments started coming in at a more regular clip.

To date, his photos have been published in The Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek, Army Times, The Oregonian, Columbia Journalism Review, The New Republic, NPR.org, and digitaljournalist.org. His work also appeared in the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience.”

He opened a 40-print solo exhibition of his Afghan work titled “Abu in Bermel: Faces of Battle” in February of 2011 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. That exhibition moved to Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa., in April 2011. His work has also been included in group shows at Glen Echo Photo Works in Glen Echo, Md., and Montgomery College in Rockville, Md. And in August 2013 Putnam opened a 60-image solo exhibition at Healthy Rhythm Gallery in Fairfield, Texas. Life as a civilian photographer was quite different than military life, but his hard work paid off.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate

“It’s really all about hustle,” he says. “You gotta hustle to make that transition. You have to constantly be on the phone with people, you have to constantly think about new projects and what you want to do next.”

And that sort of proactive stance is what brought him to Cleveland to cover the Republican National Convention for Verify Media, a new agency that specializes in mobile device video. At the same time, Putnam has his classic 4-by-5 film camera, which he uses to capture the atmosphere surrounding the convention for Zuma.

Putnam is an imposing figure — tall and bearded — but he possesses a casual manner and calm demeanor that allow him to blend into the background — a very desirable attribute for a photojournalist. As he takes in the scene along Fourth Street, Cleveland’s famed walk lined with bars and restaurants, he’s barely noticed even though he’s a full head taller than the crush of delegates, pundits, TV personalities, protesters, and regular civilians around him.

Watching Putnam in action it’s obvious that he loves his work. He moves through the crowd with an easy gait, taking everything in, at once in the weeds and mindful of the big picture. But for all of his apparent satisfaction with his career choice, he’s quick to note that getting to where he is was a hard-fought series of rejections and missteps. He points out that — unlike the military — oft times pursuing an unorthodox civilian career is a non-linear proposition.

“When I got back from the war, I was dumbfounded that I had to find all of this on my own,” Putnam says. “I like going out and doing stuff, but to get from Point A to Point B, I had no idea how to do that.”

In the face of that reality, Putnam says, “You just do it and hope you find the right path.”

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
Capt. Adam Lackey, Abu Company commander and a tribal sheikh at a meeting outside Bayji, Iraq, May 6, 2006. (Photo: Bill Putnam)

For more about Putnam’s work, visit his website here.

Articles

Military Saves Week kicks off worldwide

Military Saves Week kicked off at U.S. military installations worldwide on Monday.


Every year, America Saves, a non-profit foundation designed to help Americans make smarter financial choices, hosts Military Saves Week, a military oriented campaign observed aboard military installations and sponsored by various financial institutions and other organizations.

Military Saves Week focuses on helping to educate military service members and their families on healthy saving and spending habits as well as assessing their own savings status, reducing their debt, and increasing their wealth.

Military Saves Week offers events and classes across all branches of service at over 100 installations worldwide during the week. Some of the events include luncheons, workshops, youth focused savings discussions, and prizes.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Military Saves Week runs from Feb. 27 to March 3. The Financial Readiness Program is offering financial counseling, classes, and other events to help service members and their families manage their money. (U.S. Army photo by Kristen Wong)

Most of the events will focus on benefits and how best to use them, with nearly every installation hosting at least one event focused on the new Blended Retirement System.

Military Saves Week works alongside the Department of Defense’s Financial Readiness Campaign.

General Dunford wrote in a memo for the chiefs of the military services on Oct. 7, 2015, in preparation for last year’s Military Saves Week:

“Military Saves Week is an opportunity for our military community to come together with federal, state, and local resources, to focus on the financial readiness of military members and their families and help them reduce debt and save their hard-earned money.”

Dunford went on to write, “We are asking our military members to commit to feasible financial goals.”

Participants in Military Saves Week are asked to sign a pledge that reads “I will help myself by saving money, reducing debt, and building wealth over time. I will help my family and my country by encouraging other Americans to Build Wealth, Not Debt.” The pledge goes on to help the participant set goals for savings, with the option to receive text message updates for savings tips and financial advice.

Lists

10 gifts for the man in your life who’s operator AF


5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate

My Marine husband is the worst to shop for.

The worst, I tell you.

The man sees something he wants and he hauls off and buys it. It makes Christmas shopping extremely difficult.

So in an effort to put together a good Christmas list I asked him to consult with me on an article for WATM’s “10 gifts for the man in your life who’s operator AF.”

This is what he sent me:

1. Operator Stocking

This stocking is definitely operator AF.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
High Speed Operator Stocking / Accessory Pouch

Specs:

  • Double Zipper Main Pocket
  • Santa Clause Approved & Compatible.
  • Modular Webbing for Pouch Attachment
  • 3x Polymer D-Rings
  • Integrated Drag / Carry Handle
  • 2x Hanging Hooks
  • External Small Pouch with Elastic Cord Closure
  • 3″x2″ Patch Panel
  • Made from High Durability Nylon Fabric

2. Hidden gun rack

No one will ever catch him by surprise as he’s flexing in this mirror.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
N.J. Concealment Furniture surface mounted wall mirror

Specs:

  • 16″x52″x3.75″ inside 12″ x48″ 2 3/4″
  • Construction:
  • Solid hardwood with hardwood plywood back.
  • Includes:
  • 2 1/4″ Kaizen foam
  • mounting hardware
  • Includes magnetic lock and one magnetic key.

3. Plate carrier

…Because every operator should wear this every time he leaves the house.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
Plate Carrier With Cummerbund Molle Style

Specs:

  • tab “panes”
  • External cummerbund that offers a more stable MOLLE platform
  • Cummerbund is fully adjustable and removable
  • Small/Medium has three rows of MOLLE webbing
  • Large/ X-Large has four rows of MOLLE webbing
  • Carrier is not releasable
  • Armor not provided

4. SureFire weapons light

…For seeing under the couch and shit.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
Surefire X300U-A 600 Lumen LED WeaponLight Rail Lock

Specs:

  • Virtually indestructible LED regulated to maximize output and runtime
  • Tactical-level output with TIR lens for close- to longer-range applications
  • Quick-detach rail clamp
  • Accepts optional pistol grip and long gun forend switches
  • Weatherproof—O-ring and gasket sealed
  • Construction—High-strength aerospace aluminum with Mil-Spec anodizing; impact-resistant polymer; coated tempered window
  • Includes high-energy 123A batteries with 10-year shelf life

5. A sweet 1911 handgun

Because every SureFire needs a firearm attached (..and because this is MARSOC AF!).

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
M45A1 Close Quarter Battle Pistol

Specs:

  • M1070CQBP SPECIFICATIONS
  • CALIBER .45 ACP
  • WEIGHT 2.8lbs (1.27 kg)
  • CAPACITY 7+1 Wilson Magazine
  • OVERALL LENGTH 8.5in (21.59cm)
  • BARREL LENGTH 5in (12.7cm)
  • FIRING ACTION Single Action
  • FIRING SYSTEM Series 80

6. JetBoil stove

Because even operators need their coffee.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
Jetboil Flash Cooking System

Specs:

  • Best Use Backpacking
  • Fuel Type Canister
  • Fuel Isobutane-propane
  • Auto Ignition Yes
  • Integrated Pot Yes
  • Burn Time (Max Flame) 100g canister: 42 minutes
  • Average Boil Time 4 min. 30 sec.
  • Dimensions 7.1 x 4.5 x 4.1 inches
  • Liquid Capacity (L) 1 liter
  • Liquid Capacity (fl. oz.) 33.8 fluid ounces
  • Weight 15.25 ounces

7. Kevlar helmet

Holidays are coming. So are the in-laws. Enough said.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
3M Combat High Cut Helmet with Rails and NVG Shroud

Specs:

  • Meets or exceeds NIJ Level IIIA ballistic standard for penetration
  • Meets a minimum of 650 mps V-50 for 17 grain tested according to STANAG 2920
  • Shell sizes: S-XL
  • Variable thickness, 7 impact absorbing pads can be adjusted or removed for individual comfort
  • Pad thickness sizes: standard size 6 @ 3/4″ or optimal size 8 @ 1″
  • Weight: starting at 2.4 lbs (small)
  • Includes: Wilcox NVG mount and side accessory rails

8. Hammock

Sometimes an operator just needs to hang shit in the back yard and sleep there.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
OneLink Sleep System – JungleNest

Specs:

  • JungleNest Hammock
  • Your Choice of Atlas or Helios Straps
  • Your Choice of Rain Tarp
  • Set of Carabiners Included
  • Set of Stakes Included

9. Combat boots

For stomping on all those battery operated toys his mother-in-law is going to send the kids this year.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
Nike Special Field Men’s Boot

Specs:

  • Quick-drying synthetic leather overlays for durability and support
  • Multiple ventilation zones that allow the boot to breathe and drain quickly
  • Genuine leather footbed for durability, flexibility and comfort
  • Nike Free-inspired outsole, designed for traction and natural range of motion
  • Sticky rubber forefoot lugs for exceptional traction on all terrain
  • Weight: 15.9 ounces (men’s size 9)

10. Backpacking stove

For when the holidays get to be too much and he takes his SureFire, JungleNest and JetBoil out to the woods for a few days. He’ll need to cook.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate
MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove

Specs:

  • Best Use Backpacking
  • Fuel Type Canister, Liquid
  • Fuel Auto, Isobutane-propane, White Gas, Kerosene
  • Burn Time (Max Flame) (20 oz.white gas) 1 hr. 50 min. / (8 oz. isobutane) 1 hr. 15 min.
  • Average Boil Time (White gas) 3 min. 30 sec. / (isobutane) 3 min. 45 sec.
  • Dimensions 6 x 6 x 4.75 inches
  • Weight (Stove, pump & canister mount) 13.7 ounces
MIGHTY MONEY

This is the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits transfer exception for your dependents

The Department of Defense (DoD) has granted a temporary exception to policy to allow select service members to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to dependents until July 12, 2019.

NAVADMIN 020/19, released Jan. 24, 2019, announces that for a limited time, sailors with at least 10 years of service who are unable to serve four additional years, due to statute or standard policy, may transfer their education benefits to dependents if they agree to serve the maximum time authorized. For example, enlisted sailors within four years of high year tenure or officers within four years of their statutory limit of service are eligible.


The policy exception is retroactive to July 12, 2018, and ends July 11, 2019, after which sailors will need to commit to the full four years of service to transfer their benefits.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate

Sailors aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Billy Ho)

Sailors with at least 10 years of service whose transfer of education benefits applications were rejected due to the policy changes announced in NAVADMIN 170/18, and who are still serving on active duty or in the selected reserve (SELRES), must reapply for transfer of education benefits by following guidance in NAVADMIN 236/18, including completion of the new statement of understanding at https://myeducation.netc.navy.mil/webta/home.html#nbb.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY MONEY

Now you can directly invest in hiring veterans – here’s how

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:

  • Devon Energy
  • Proctor Gamble
  • Boeing
  • Verizon Communications
  • Coca-Cola
  • IBM
  • Walmart
  • JPMorgan Chase Co.
  • Honeywell
  • Southwest Airlines
  • T-Mobile US
  • Starbucks Corporation
  • 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.

MIGHTY MONEY

An easy 9-step car buying guide for the military spouse

It’s happened to the best of us. The second our service member boards that plane to deploy, Murphy decides to insert himself into our world.

It’s almost a given: someone gets sick, one of your spouse’s bills doesn’t get paid, or something inevitably breaks down…and often it’s our mode of transportation that ends up busting out on us.


If this happens to you, I PROMISE, you aren’t alone. But if your car breaks down, how are you going to do all of the things? Well, if there’s no getting around having to purchase a vehicle while your service member is away, we have some tips and tricks to help you through the car buying routine WITHOUT breaking your bank in the process. We realize that big purchases are usually done as a team, and these decisions should (when possible) be made together. Obviously, that isn’t always possible, but here are some things you can do if/when you find yourself squaring off with Murphy over your car.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate

(Flickr / David Wall)

1. Power of attorney (POA)

If you plan on having your service member’s name on the loan or registration, you’ll want to make sure you have your POA handy. This legal document will allow you to act on behalf of your service member for transactions that would otherwise require their physical presence. NOTE: Depending on the financial institution you use to finance your vehicle, a general POA may not pass muster with their terms, so make sure you call to make sure. Some banks just require a faxed copy of the general POA, while others have a special form of their own or require a “special” or “limited” POA.

2. Research, research, RESEARCH!

What kind of vehicle do you need? How much can your family afford each month? Are their certain dealerships in your area that are known for inappropriate practices? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself before you even think of stepping foot into a car dealership.

There are plenty of websites that will help answer these questions so that you’re better able at making an informed decision. One of the first things you can do is figure out the type of features you need and find a few makes and models to look over. It’s not just about the price…it’s about knowing what it is you’re looking to buy. Kelley Blue Book is a one stop shop that has plenty of research tools to help spin you up on the “must-knows” of car buying.

3. Get financed FIRST

When it comes to financing, it’s best to get pre-approved BEFORE you start your search. You aren’t required to know what kind of vehicle you’re purchasing before being approved for financing because the financial institution is approving you…not a certain vehicle. Make sure you understand the terms of your financing as well. If you end up negotiating, say, 00 off the sticker price of the car when you’re haggling with the dealer, that isn’t going to matter in the long run if your interest rate is out of this world.

4. Don’t rush

Buying a car is a big deal, so take your time and don’t rush the process. You need to make sure the car is everything you need/want, both literally and financially. Make absolutely sure you know exactly what your family can and cannot afford. If you find a car you want but it’s a bit over budget, other websites, like Auto Trader, might be able to find you the same car at a lower price somewhere else.

5. When possible, find the right time to buy

Of course there’s no real way to know when Murphy will strike…if we could plan that, Murphy’s Law wouldn’t even be a thing! But it doesn’t hurt to know that timing is everything in the car buying business.

Yes, There Really IS a Right Time to Buy

Of course there’s no real way to know when Murphy will strike…if we could plan that, Murphy’s Law wouldn’t even be a thing! But it doesn’t hurt to know that timing is everything in the car buying business.

The end of the month is usually a good time to buy because dealers often have a quota that needs to be met each month. Each car on their lot needs to be paid for at the start of each month, so car salesmen are looking to unload as many as possible to meet their quota. But buying a car at the end of the year is even better (though, again, Murphy can rarely be planned for).

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate

6. History reports are KEY

If you’re not out to purchase a brand new, right off the assembly-line vehicle, you’ll really want to get your hands on a vehicle’s history report. Don’t just take someone’s word that it’s “good to go” as is.

Most dealerships (if they’re worth a darn) will pay for the cost of a vehicle history report themselves, but you can do this as well. Car Fax is a great resource for consumers, and they provide a report that will tell you just about everything you need to know about the car: hidden issues, who owned it last, where it came from, etc. It does cost money to obtain a history report, but it’s chump change compared to the investment you’re making in a vehicle.

7. Don’t skip the test drive

Once you’ve narrowed down your choice(s), it’s time to take it for a test drive.

Sure, the car’s body looks fantastic, but the only way you’ll know that everything is in working order under the hood is if you take it for a spin. Listen for noises that shouldn’t be there, trouble shifting gears, service lights on the dashboard, etc. Many people will return to test drive in the evening, but if that isn’t feasible (because, you know…who wants to pay for a babysitter ON TOP of having to pay for a new car), a lot of dealerships allow you to take the car home for 24 hours to see how it works out. Either way, do NOT skip the test drive.

Again…Don’t Rush!

If you’re just not sure it’s the right vehicle for you or need a night or so to sleep on it, don’t rush it. Take the time you need to mull it over. This is YOUR money, YOUR time and YOUR choice; don’t let anyone push you around. Speaking of which…

8. Don’t be intimidated

It’s not uncommon to feel intimidated when buying a car…especially if that role isn’t really your jam (i.e. it is SO not MY jam). But there’s a difference in FEELING intimidated and BEING intimidated. If, at ANY point in the negotiation process, you feel uncomfortable, or don’t like how you’re being spoken to, SPEAK UP. You hold all the cards and the ball is in your court. If you don’t feel like you’re being treated fairly, tell the service manager. Or better yet…

9. Don’t be afraid to walk out

If you feel like you’re being pushed into signing a contract, or just aren’t picking up what the dealer is putting down…WALK IT OUT. There are plenty of other places that would love to have your business. Do not feel guilty about keeping your money, and your family’s financial security, safe.

This guide is a great way to get started on your car-buying adventure, but we want to add to it! If you have a strategy or a story about buying a car when you were flying solo, we want to hear it!

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

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This military spouse grew her own business despite 2 PCS moves

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Lakesha Cole was named the 2014 AFI Military Spouse of the Year in a ceremony in Washington, DC in May, 2014


In many ways, Lakesha Cole is the typical military spouse. A mother and wife, Cole has spent the last five years like many other military spouses: focused on a passion while juggling her family responsibilities.

But it’s the way she’s done it that sets her apart. Recently, Cole and her husband, Gunnery Sgt. Deonte Cole, and their children completed a Permanent Change of Station from Okinawa, Japan, to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

And along with their kids and personal effects, the Coles also took their successful business inside the Okinawa Exchange with them.

This was the second time Cole packed up her company, She Swank Too, and hauled it overseas. Two years after debuting their company aboard Camp Pendleton, California, the Cole’s took on a PCS to Okinawa, embarking on a mission to open the first brick and mortar She Swank Too there.

Cole spoke with We Are the Mighty about her experience just trying to get a meeting with the retail manager in Okinawa.

“He was reluctant to do business with me,” she recalled, after waiting for six months to secure a meeting with the manager. He argued that military spouses didn’t believe “the rules apply to them,” citing spouses who formerly ran businesses in the retail space with poor business practices.

Cole says she presented her business plan, complete with financial reports, customer data and testimonials, and samples, to the manager. They agreed to a 30 day trial run of a brick and mortar She Swank Too. Three years later, the store accompanied the Coles on their PCS.

When asked what steps an entrepreneur should take during a PCS, Cole was quick to answer, “Stay active and… communicate with your customers.” Customer interaction is one of the focal points of the company. “We tapped into the hearts and homes of our customers,” Cole said.

The motivation behind the company was simple. “We debuted our first children’s collection … to introduce entrepreneurship to our daughter,” Cole recalled.

Cole’s husband is equally involved in the business. “The least recognized role in a business is … that person’s spouse,” Cole said. Cole’s husband is not only an active participant in the company, but a financial investor as well.

Cole isn’t just a business owner. In addition to She Swank Too, Cole is a military spouse retail coach, the founder, CEO and owner of Milspousepreneur, and an active advocate for military affiliated entrepreneurship in hopes of reversing high milspouse unemployment.

“My focus remains in using this business as a vehicle to give back,” Cole said

MIGHTY MONEY

Patience pays: What happened to the mortgage market and why it will get better

The decade-long month of March 2020 brought many swift changes and confusion to the financial industry, especially mortgages. Just a few short weeks ago, mortgage rates dropped to a 50-year all time low. The market was flooded with refinance applications as homeowners across the country were scrambling to capitalize on the opportunity to save up to several hundred dollars of their hard-earned money every month. Refinance applications were pouring in at a pace 168% higher than last year, forecasted to well exceed one trillion dollars. While this sounds great on a consumer level, it’s what happens behind the scenes that caused these rock-bottom rates to disappear almost as fast as they emerged.


At the dawn of the Coronavirus threat in February, many were concerned about what would happen with the economy. In a protective measure, investors began selling stocks in exchange for purchasing government bonds due to their track record for being more stable. The influx of bond purchasing drove up the price which, in turn, affected the mortgage rates. Refinance applications were pouring in at levels that companies simply could not support, and the law of supply and demand kicks in.

Lenders are forced to slightly raise rates to slow down applications until new loans are closed and sold in the secondary market, giving the lenders the money to start the process all over again. Consider it the mortgage market’s own version of “flattening the curve” to give some stability to all working parties behind the scenes taking care of all moving parts required to close these loans.

5 Great Tips for Investing in International Real Estate

When coronavirus strengthened its force, economists realized that the impact could be so severe that it could cause a large number of people to not be able to afford their mortgage payments. Unemployment numbers were being predicted to exceed those of the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Companies and people were concerned about liquidity so now stocks and bonds were being offloaded in exchange for cash. This perfect storm meant rates would go even higher.

High mortgage rates in hard economic times are no good at all, and the government knows this all too well. The Federal Reserve swoops in with a bailout, including their promise to buy billions of dollars in mortgage backed securities – daily. This, in theory, should restore confidence in investors to put their money back into the bond market. But, this volatile market means a risk of even more refinances of recently closed loans, before the servicers have a chance to break even on their cost. Rates now have to build in insulation from massive losses servicing is incurring. It is like a roller coaster ride for all involved, but there IS end in sight.

The good news is that all signs point to low rates in the future. The Federal Reserve is going to continue purchasing mortgage backed securities. Mortgage companies are going to close up the deals currently on the books to free more capital to write more loans. The economy struggling to recover will keep rates at affordable levels so we don’t come to a grinding halt. This is great news considering the majority of our active duty families are at a stop-movement. The forced patience will likely pay dividends in the long run in saved interest.

For those of us that don’t like to sit on idle hands, there are steps you can take now. Start interviewing lenders and make sure you find one that is a good fit. Fill out the application and start sending in supporting documents so you can take advantage of low rates as soon as the time is right. We in the real estate and financial sectors are essential workers because “home” is something no one should be without. While all parties involved have modifications in place, rest easy knowing that it WILL get better and we are here to help.

MIGHTY MONEY

9 expert tips for negotiating an alimony settlement

Second only to child custody, alimony is one of the most contentious and difficult-to-navigate processes in any divorce. When two people are splitting up, particularly when that split is acrimonious, the last thing either of them wants to discuss is the prospect of giving money to each other.

But, the topic has to be dealt with and the only way to do it successfully is to go in armed with as much knowledge as possible.


“Alimony is one of the very last pieces to fall into place,” says Lili Vasileff founder and President of Wealth Protection Management and of Divorce and Money Matters LLC and the author of Money Divorce: The Essential Roadmap To Mastering Financial Decisions. “Everything else happens and that’s the last piece of the puzzle that completes the whole picture and it’s usually the most complicated and complex because it’s interdependent on so many other things.”

It helps, adds Vasileff, to really go into this with realistic expectations because, by the time you’re negotiating alimony, you should have a very good idea of what all the other elements are as you close out this deal. Vasileff, who has decades of experience walking clients through alimony, offered these best practice tips for negotiating alimony.

1. Know your finances

One of the most important things, per Vasileff, to know when entering into alimony negotiations is what it actually costs for you to live — to understand what you can get by on, what you can’t live without, and what you’d love to have. By knowing that range, she says, you can negotiate from a better place of understanding in terms of what you might be accepting or even giving up.

Additionally, she says to have an idea of your own earning capacity. “Often I’m working with individuals who are perhaps out of the workforce permanently or temporarily or not fully employed and there’s a fear factor in not knowing what you’re able to attract in terms of your own capabilities,” she says. “And it’s really a great time to at least think about it and plan of how you need to be financially independent more or less at some point in your own life and what does that mean?”

2. Study the law

Take the time to learn all of the ins and outs of the laws in your state and how they apply to alimony payments. There are many different types of alimony out there and doing the research as to what you can realistically ask for in your state will not only help you build your case but also help you manage expectations. “If you’re expecting lifetime alimony and, let’s just say there’s a rule of thumb that it’s half the length of your marriage,” says Vasileff, “you could be in for a really bad surprise and be unable to negotiate without that kind of knowledge.”

3. Know your budget

You’re going to be paying retainers and attorney fees, so make sure that you actually have the resources available to make those payments on time. “Attorneys are not sympathetic and do not work for free often,” Vasileff says. Additionally, as you begin preparations for your divorce, make sure you figure out a budget. It’s an expensive process and going into it without a plan can set you up for a problem down the line. “Everybody plans for weddings or a bar mitzvah or a cruise,” Vasileff says. “Very few people budget for a divorce and you need to understand that there is a cost to divorce and it helps to think about it ahead of time so that you’re not taken by surprise and unprepared.”

4. Manage your expectations

While every state has uniform guidelines for child support, very few states have such guidelines when it comes to alimony. “It’s very discretionary,” Vasileff says. “It’s weighted by certain factors and the factors are enumerated in case law and in legal statutes. But how you apply those factors results in very different outcomes.”

An example from Vasileff: “Let’s be happy and say we have million and we’re going to divide million between the two of us. I could probably live off of the interest on million, which then kind of impacts what kind of alimony I receive because it’s taken into consideration. However, if we have 0,000 in debt, no savings and we’re paycheck people, alimony becomes even more critical as an element in this calculation. It’s case specific.”

5. Plan for contingencies

“If you’re dependent for the moment on your other spouse supporting you, you need to make sure that you’ve planned for contingencies, that you have an emergency fund in case something happens and you don’t receive support for that month or six months or if he or she falls off the face of the earth,” says Vasileff. You also want to make sure that their obligations to you are secured in case they die or something unforeseen happens. Vasileff stresses that it’s important to protect yourself against any unwanted surprises.

6. Think twice before waiving alimony

In some divorce cases, one party may choose to waive alimony, figuring that they’re earning enough on their own that they don’t need anything from their ex to get by. However, Vasileff suggests that keeping the door open slightly, even with a small amount like a dollar year, allows for renegotiation if something catastrophic happens. “If you have waived alimony, it is waived forever,” she notes. “The door has closed and you can never go back for support under any circumstances. So waiving alimony is a huge deal. There are reasons to waive alimony, but for the average person who’s on a paycheck, I would think twice about it.”

7. Don’t agree to anything out of court

Once the alimony is finalized in a judgment, one party cannot change it unilaterally and decide that, for example, they’re now only going to pay once every other month. A decision like that can only be made by going back to court. However, some couples might come to some kind of a handshake agreement and allow one partner to skip a payment here and there. This is something Vasileff advises against because of the slippery slope it leads to. “What if it becomes routine behavior?” she asks. “‘This month I don’t want to pay you but I’ll pay you in three months as a catchup.’ And then in three months they go on a vacation while you’re waiting for your check. Once you start to slip and allow that and enable it, it’s much harder to enforce.”

8. Keep emotion out of it

The notion of taking someone for “everything they’ve got” in court has become a cliche in divorce-related conversations, but the truth is, you don’t want to approach an alimony negotiation with anything like malice or greed, as it’s only going to fuel more negatively. “You’re telling me you’re going to go after everything I have and go for my jugular. What do you think I’m going to do?” Vasileff says. “I’m going to strike back. You need to come back to, ‘How does this transaction get executed and what’s in my best interests to make that happen?'”

9. Do your homework

Even if you think you’ve read everything there is read about alimony, read more, and then read it again. The better prepared you are, the less likely you are to be tripped up by something unexpected. “Preparation is the best defense you can possibly have. Because managing expectations will save you money, it’s going to save you in legal costs, therapy costs, everything. And it sets the tone for you to understand that it’s a process. It’s not a sprint. It’s going to be a marathon. And you’re going to have to last and preserve your energy at different points in time.”

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

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Are there any military spouse retirement benefits?

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Mrs. Hyun Crites, wife of Chief Master Sgt. James Crites, 9th Operations Group superintendent (right), is presented the Military Spouse Medal during her husband’s retirement ceremony. | U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bobby Cummings


Military retirement often marks the end of a long road.

As a military spouse, you’ve put in months of waiting on your service member to come home from long trainings or deployment, all while holding down your home and taking care of your family. You’ve battled career challenges for yourself, planning disasters, cross-country moves and everything Murphy’s Law could throw at you.

But other than the long-sought break from the challenges of military life, what’s in military retirement for you? Although your service member is who put on the uniform every day, military retirement isn’t without perks for military spouses or ways that you can still benefit from the community.

And while all of the benefits available to you are by virtue of your spouse’s service, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take full advantage of them.

Military spouse retirement benefits

Health and dental care. After military retirement, you are eligible to continue using Tricare, the military’s health care system. If you are near a base, you may even still be able to be seen in the military treatment facility or hospital if that is your wish. You can also sign-up for a dental plan for military retirees.

Commissary and shopping privileges. Now that you’re not a part of the active-duty military anymore, you might find that your living expenses go up. But as the spouse of a military retiree, you still have access to the military commissary and exchange systems. Although just how much you save at those stores over civilian markets is an often-debated topic, everyone agrees there is some benefit to shopping at them.

Military lodging and recreation. As a military retiree, you still have access to the military lodging and recreation systems. Although there are some rules restricting who can stay in military lodges overseas, most allow military retirees. Maybe now is the time to take that girls’ or guys’ vacation you’ve been dreaming about for the last 10 years.

GI Bill and education benefits. If your service member transferred the Post-9/11 GI Bill to you while he or she was still on active duty, you can use it to go back to school. Through it, you will receive a monthly housing allowance, an annual books stipend and, depending on where you are going to school, all of your tuition costs and fees covered. The GI Bill must be transferred while the service member is on active duty for this to be available.

If you don’t have the GI Bill and your service member has died, you might be eligible for Survivor and Dependents Educational Assistance.

Survivor Benefit Plan. If your service member chooses to set up the Survivor Benefit Plan, an insurance policy, at the time of his retirement, you will have access to that money after he or she dies. That plan can be complicated and confusing, so go here for the full explanation.

VA benefits after your service member’s death. Although a service member’s pension checks end with his or her death, you may have access to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, and the Veteran’s Death Pension.

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