According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think - We Are The Mighty
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According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think

This article is sponsored by Victory Capital.

Many principles of physical fitness are similar to those of financial fitness. They both require patience, discipline and consistency to be successful.

Fitness and lifestyle content creator and Navy veteran, Austen Alexander, recognizes the benefits and challenges of both. During his first years of service, Alexander accumulated debts that impacted his financial future as well as his mental and physical health.

By applying physical fitness principles to his financial well-being, Alexander was able to pay down debt and start a business. Today, he is also in the best shape of his life. The lessons Alexander learned along the way are an inspiration to others – both in and out of uniform. 

Growing up in Florence, Alabama, Alexander was interested in working out and staying physically strong. When he went into the Navy, the military kept him fit.

Mission-focused military life places a high priority on physical health. But for some, financial health may be an afterthought.

Although his family was frugal when he was growing up, Alexander says he went “a little haywire” while at his first duty station in Bahrain. He admits there was a void he was trying to fill being away from home, leading him to purchase things he couldn’t afford. 

As his physical fitness became more robust, Alexander’s financial fitness was quickly declining. During his brief periods of relaxation, he purchased a GoPro, a laptop and stayed in expensive hotels…all purchased on credit. The discipline he used in the gym didn’t translate to his finances.

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think
“I was living the good life on money I didn’t really have,” Alexander said. (Image courtesy of Austen Alexander, Instagram)

In Navy boot camp, recruits have to pass a physical assessment twice to test their capabilities. There is no financial class to show them how to manage their money, how to open a savings account or when to begin investing.

At his low point, Alexander started to educate himself on financial fitness. He was resourceful and dove into books. He taught himself financial terms like Annual Percentage Rate and 401(k) – a retirement savings vehicle offered though civilian employers. He learned about different types of investments like mutual funds and IRAs.

He realized that credit card companies were charging him high APRs and the money he was paying was mostly covering interest (the cost of buying on credit). He learned that minimum payments reduce only a tiny portion of the principal (the actual money he borrowed). So, he decided to reduce his credit card debt.

Alexander transferred the balance of his highest card to a new card with a 15-month 0 percent APR. This allowed his payments to go directly toward the principal, not interest.

financial fitness allowed this couple to reduce debt
Austen and his girlfriend in front of their new home. Image courtesy of Austen Alexander, Instagram

In addition to this method of paying down his debt, Alexander created a six-tiered approach to paying off debt quickly:

  1. Make an Attack Plan

Create a monthly budget to track expenses and designate amounts spent in various categories. Budgets are organic and can change. Alexander suggests using three months of expenses to catalog what you or your family typically spends. Once an inventory of spending is taken, determine what money can be used to attack debt. If there isn’t enough to make a dent each month, consider where to cut back. Channel extra income to start paying back what you owe.

  1. Set Goals

Set financial goals that are practical, measurable and have a deadline. Macro goals like paying off debt, paying cash for consumables and buying a house are all long-term goals. Alexander suggests establishing micro goals as stepping stones to help reach macro goals. These might include paying off one credit card by Christmas or staying under your monthly grocery budget.

  1. Pay early

Credit card statements generally arrive weeks before payment is due. Alexander suggests automating monthly payments to arrive a day (or even a week) early. This practice may help reduce late payments, which incur additional fees and can negatively affect your credit score. Higher credit scores can help reduce the cost of borrowing and, over time, can lower lifetime debt.

  1. Create a Debt Snowball

Alexander recommends a snowball effect to reduce debt. The debt snowball is the total monthly principal and interest payment of all your credit cards. He suggests shifting all principal payments to the smallest balance first and making only minimum payments on the other cards. After eliminating the card with the smallest balance, add that payment to the next card’s monthly minimum. Continue the practice until you’re making that same huge monthly payment on just the one remaining card.

  1. Pay more

Making just the minimum payment is like firing a squirt gun on a burning building. It won’t be very effective to accomplish the bigger goal. Even if it is $40 more each statement, this actively pays down the principal instead of just the interest.

  1. Pay with a plan

Many resources, including free financial counseling, are available to military members. On base Family Support Centers have counselors that can help you create a debt snowball, establish investment accounts, or answer questions about the Thrift Savings Plan. Services that you would normally pay for in civilian life may be available for free while you’re in uniform. The finance officer at your deployment location may be another helpful resource.

The path to military financial readiness is paved with steps to show you how to make interest work for – not against – you.
Additionally, savings vehicles like the TSP, mutual funds, IRAs and 401(k)s are great ways to build wealth. For more financial tools and tips visit Victory Capital.

This article is sponsored by Victory Capital.

Articles

10 back-to-school deals for military families

As summer camps wind to a close and kids make their final splashes at the pool, parents have one thing on their minds: back-to-school shopping.


But when you add up the cost of all the items on your kids’ classroom supply lists, backpacks, clothes and shoes, back-to-school is expensive! The following is a list of discounts to help military families get the kids off to school in style while staying within your budget.

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Willis

1. Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade

Operation Homefront partners with Dollar Tree to collect school supplies for military children as part of their Back-to-School Brigade. Dollar Tree stores put out collection barrels from July 5 through August 11, and then Operation Homefront volunteers distribute them to military children at events throughout the country during the back-to-school season. Click here for more information and to find programs in your area.

2. Tax-Free Shopping Days

For a few days each year, some states offer a “sales tax holiday” right around back-to-school time when shoppers can buy specified items tax-free. This is a great way to save on back-to-school necessities like clothes, shoes, and other school supplies. To see if your state participates in the sales tax holidays, click here.

3. Clothing and Accessories

By the time summer is over, the kids have either outgrown all their school clothes or worn them ragged from vacation and camp. Update their wardrobe with new clothes and accessories using military discounts at Banana Republic, Claires, eBags, New York and Company and Old Navy. If you’re mall shopping, be sure to ask for a military discount in every store you stop in. Some malls, like the MacArthur Center in Norfolk, Virginia, offer military discounts in many of their stores. And outlets like Tanger Outlets offer discounts and free coupon books.

4. Shoes

No back-to-school wardrobe is complete without new shoes. So take advantage of the military discounts offered by Payless and Rack Room Shoes.

5. Classroom Supplies

Most schools now expect parents to help stock classroom supplies like pencils, crayons, notebooks, folders, scissors, glue, and binders, as well as necessities like tissues and hand sanitizer. Find these supplies and use military discounts as Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabric and AC Moore.

6. Backpacks and Lunch Bags

Looking for backpacks and lunch bags? Pottery Barn Kids has an adorable collection of both, and they offer a 15% in-store military discount.

7. Tutoring and Test Prep

Does your child need a little extra help with homework and studying?Tutor.com, where expert tutors are online 24/7, offers free tutoring for military families.

Do you have older kids getting ready for college testing? eKnowledge donates their SAT and ACT College Test Preparation Programs to service members and their families. You pay only a minimal price per standard program to cover the cost of materials, processing, distribution and customer service.

8. Computers

If you’re looking to buy a computer or other necessary electronics, check out the military discounts offered by Dell.

Need tech support? My Nerds offer military discounts as well.

9. Wireless Communication

AT&T Wireless, Boost Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular and Verizon all offer military discounts, so if you’re in the market for new cell phone plans to keep in touch with your active student, you have a great variety to choose from. (Some offer military discounts on devices and accessories as well.)

10. Exchange Price Match Policy

Don’t forget that the Navy Exchange (NEX), the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) and the Army and Air Force Exchange (AAFES) all offer price matching. That means if you see a lower price for the same item at another store, bring proof to the Exchange and you can buy that item for the competitor’s price.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Recent changes with the 2020 NDAA and how they impact you

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an annual piece of legislation which gives authority and funding to the United States Military. While it is a detailed body of work that doesn’t make for light reading, it should be read. This legislation is filled with items that impact the military family directly.


It addresses military pay

The 2020 NDAA provided a 3.1% pay raise to military service members. This pay raise was the biggest one to be received in the last decade and was reflected in the first paycheck received by service members of 2020. The bill also extended specific bonuses and special pay. One of the big take-aways of this bill is the focus on supporting not just the member, but the military family as a whole.

Military spouse education and employment

Within the bill there are increases in support of professional licensure for spouses. With the new 2020 bill, spouses are currently eligible for up to 00 in reimbursement for licensure costs accumulated when moving. This is twice the amount that was authorized in last year’s bill. It also addresses license portability by giving authorization to the Council on State Governments to research ways to create reciprocity across state lines.

The bill also extended opportunities for spouses for education. The My Career Advancement Account program is an example of this, as it is a valuable resource for military spouses. It offers up to 00 in assistance for licensure, certification, or an associate’s degree in a field that is portable. The eligibility for this is limited to E-1 through E5, W-1 through W-2, and O-1 spouses. The initial pilot program had it available to all spouses but rising costs and enrollment forces restrictions in who can utilize this benefit. In this bill language, Coast Guard spouses were also included even though they fall under the Department of Homeland Security.

Military housing reforms

One of the key elements of this bill is that it addresses the issues within military privatized housing. The bill created new accountability for these companies by enforcing quality assurance measures. It also increased the number of required inspections. This bill provides an additional 1.8 million dollars to make sure that each housing office has the vital personnel it needs to ensure military families are taken care of.

One of the tools that will be utilized going forward is a way to assess and evaluate for risks within military housing. This includes things like mold and lead. It also allows for the BAH to be withheld from the private housing entity until issues or disputes are solved. Another key piece is that it forces transparency by requiring these entities to disclose repairs or issues prior to lease signing. There will also now be a required Tenant Bill of Rights and minimal livable standards established.

Military family needs

The NDAA also authorized million for the STARE BASE program, which is a DOD youth program. It is an American military educational program for grades K-12 that teaches science and math in hands on ways. It was created to tackle the low rates of readiness in these subjects by implementing a program that makes math and science fun and interactive. To learn more about this program and to see if it’s located in your area, click here.

One of the chief concerns outlined in the 2018 Blue Star Families survey was that 72% of military families cannot find reliable childcare. An amendment was included in the NDAA for 2020 that creates more coordinator positions on bases to assist with childcare and extends childcare hours for families.

Another key piece to this legislation is that it created the ability of military service members to sue under administrative claims for medical malpractice by a military provider. Although there was existing legislation for under the Federal Tor Claims Act, the United States itself was immune. After countless hearings within congress over a decade, this amendment passed within the NDAA. If a service member sustains injury or death they can file a claim and receive up to 0,000 as long as they file it within two years.

Surviving spouses receive relief

Finally, one of the biggest parts of the 2020 NDAA is the elimination of what is known as the “widows’ tax” in phases. For multiple decades surviving families have not received their full benefits as they deserve, even though they paid into the benefit programs. This is a piece of legislation that has been debated and fought over for almost twenty years. Finally, change is coming and it will be finalized by 2023.

If you’d like to look through the 2020 NDAA, you can find it here. Fair warning, it is 1119 pages long. However, a pro tip is to utilize the search ability within the document to enter terms that you want to specifically read about. This will bring you exactly where you need to go. Happy reading!

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

Articles

Here’s how one drill sergeant rewrote the book on veteran employment

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think
Dan Alarik, founder and CEO of Grunt Style, Army vet. (Photo: Daily Herald)


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.

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think
Alarik on the Grunt Style factory floor with an employee holding up the 1,000,000 t-shirt the company has manufactured. The company has since surpassed the 2,000,000 mark. (Photo: Grunt Style)

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.”

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think
Piles of printed t-shirts sit ready to enter the fulfillment stage. (Photo: Grunt Style)

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.

Check out Grunt Style’s special-edition We Are The Mighty t-shirts here.

And watch what happens when Grunt Style delivers a morale boost to the WATM offices:

[shopify embed_type=”product” shop=”shop-wearethemighty.myshopify.com” product_handle=”watm-we-are-the-mighty” show=”all”]
Humor

15 last-minute Valentine’s Day gift ideas from actual military spouses

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think
Pfc. Harley Dennis, of Anderson, who serves with the Missouri National Guard’s 276th Engineer Company in Pierce City, assists Sgt. 1st Class Eric Corcoran to deliver more than 300 Valentine’s Day balloons to area school kids in the southwest Missouri town. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Dennis Chambers/Missouri National Guard)


In our house, Valentine’s Day isn’t really a thing. As a general rule, the Marine isn’t home for the “holiday,” and since there are a lot of holiday’s he spends away, courtesy of the USMC, this is one day we just don’t really concern ourselves with.

But this year we ran into a snag. Their names are Bethany, Zachary, and Christopher — also known as the three youngest members of the Foley Fire Team.

On the edge of the dreaded teenage years, Bethany came home a few days ago armed with a love note from her “boyfriend” (that asshole), and sat down with her younger brothers to plot out “The Best Valentine’s Gift Ever;” it apparently consists of a lot of bacon (they DO take after their mother, after-all), and a seven-hour nap time while they’re at school. Because adulting is hard.

They presented their plan to the Marine, and then waited with bated breath for him to tell them his grand scheme for the Day Of Love.

“I just bought Mom curtains and a new curtain rod. I suppose I could hang them up before she wakes up?”

The two youngest of the fire team promptly ran off to tattle on Daddy. Not buy Mom a “love” gift? He’s practically an abomination to them right now.

While the boys were relaying the horrifying ordeal to me, I wondered how the Marine was going to get out of this one. It’s perfectly fine to explain to the 12-year-old that sometimes Dad just doesn’t really subscribe to romantic things. As a girl she’s going to have to come to terms with the fact that dudes like him really do exist.

But try explaining that to two 8-and 9-year-old boys who are currently at the dining room table gluing pink and red hearts all over their camouflage Valentine boxes because they know that, while they like camo and guns, girls sometimes like hearts. How Daddy doesn’t understand this is totally beyond their capacity.

“Maybe Daddy is planning a surprise and he doesn’t want to ruin it,” I whispered conspiratorially. The boys nodded and agreed that that’s exactly what was happening. It was the only thing that made sense to them.

“You’re going to want to brain storm some last minute ideas, dude,” I told the Marine later.

“Can you do that crowd-sourcing thing you do on your Facebook and I’ll pick something from that?” he asked.

So that’s exactly what I did, and let me say, I was surprised. Not one girl said she wanted flowers, chocolate, jewelry, or even anything expensive or time consuming, and a lot of their gift suggestions included food.

In fact, because I know the Marine isn’t the only one out there who is finding himself in a gift pickle at the last minute, here’s what actual military spouses said they really want for Valentine’s Day, word for word and complete with all their annoying little emoji things:

1. Bacon roses

Because Valentine’s Day just screams “pork,” right?

2. Not celebrating Valentine’s Day at all.

Jeesh, more “romance” in our marriage/dating? We already have enough of that already…

3. Homemade vouchers for cool stuff

How about a movie night, a kiss and makeup session no matter how upset I am, free kisses anytime all day, etc.

4. Stay at home “date”

My husband is hitting up the USO tomorrow during lunch for flowers and cheap chocolate. ?. Yes he told me he wants to do that. He’s ridiculous. Lol. But in seriousness, even a nice walk or living room picnic on the floor. Super cheap, corny, and fun

5. Waffle House

Hands down. If you sneak them like $10, they’ll let you smuggle in wine sometimes (not that I’m speaking from experience or anything).

6. Beach stroll

This year we are going to take a few hours during the day to run to the beach and just put our toes in the sand before kids get home from school.

7. Mom time

Netflix movie, homemade desert, and pjs. 🙂

8. Cheap sushi

We went to Hamazushi last night because it’s very inexpensive (most items are ¥100 a plate), all you can eat, good quality sushi. Plus it’s all served on conveyor belts and ya can’t beat the novelty of that. 😉 Also, [He] started college again and has a lab tonight, so he won’t be home for “actual” Valentine’s date stuff.

9. A cuddle

After being apart—just being together is enough. I know that may sound cheesy, but it’s so the truth. Being preggo and sick, I’m hoping our date will include pj’s and our couch and the latest “this is us” episode.

10. Couch time

We spend all our budget on the kids. We will stay home with popcorn and a movie to celebrate it.

11. Old School necking

In the car…in the driveway!! ??

12. A load of beef … with love

I’ll make him his fave meal at home… meat loaf!

13. Learn something new

We are taking a couples cooking class tomorrow ❤️

14. A full-on pizza and bubbly extravaganza

[He] & I have done the same thing every year since we’ve been together: Heart-shaped homemade pizza (with mini heart pizzas for the puppies) + our favorite prosecco (the same brand from our wedding) and chocolate covered strawberries (sometimes homemade, sometimes from HEB)… and then turning on a cheesy movie or tv show on Netflix.

It started out the first year or two as our “thing” because we really couldn’t afford too much else. But now it’s a special, almost sacred ritual for us. I wouldn’t trade our little cozy tradition for a world-class meal. It’s just too important to me. I should clarify and say “every year he was actually HERE to celebrate.”

15. Some shootin’

Well, we got married Valentine’s day. We celebrate by hanging out and we go to dinner either the day before or the day after (since payday is always afterwards)because it’s always less crowded. This year is our 20th and we both took the day off. We’re having a range and lunch date. Since it’s a work day, lunch isn’t as crowded and definitely cheaper.

So what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

And if the Marine is reading this, bacon roses are totally appropriate.

MIGHTY MONEY

6 ways veterans and service members can get their taxes done for free

It’s time for taxes! Whether you are a single service member living in the barracks, a retired four star spending your days fishing in Hawaii, or a veteran with a family working your way through college, taxes have to be done.


I used to have this elementary school teacher, Mrs. West.

I remember Mrs. West standing in front of our class and telling us with extreme seriousness that only two things in America were guaranteed: eventual death and taxes.

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Holden Smith, 633rd Air Base Wing Judge Advocate paralegal, assists Senior Airman Terrence Eaton, logistics readiness squadron vehicle maintenance journeymen, in filling out a form at the Langley Air Force Base, Va., tax center Feb. 5, 2013. Joint Base Langley-Eustis tax centers are set to open Feb. 2 for the 2015 income tax season. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Aubrey White/ Released)

I remember that half of my class got super interested in science in hopes of figuring out how to one day live forever, and the rest of us just kind of groaned and decided that our parents were going to do our taxes forever if the other kids figured out that whole science thing.

And so far those damn science kids still haven’t come through for us, and we still have to pay taxes.

Adulting is hard AF, amiright?

Don’t have a heart attack yet, because there is hope — not for science, they still haven’t come through — but for taxes.

There are a lot of ways and places to get your taxes done for free or almost free, and this is really great because math and I got a divorce in my freshmen year of college and we haven’t spoken since.

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think
Army Spc. Coltin Jenkins, tax preparer, works with customers of the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Consolidated Tax center in Building 205 on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base March 17, 2015. (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO photo by Rachel Larue)

1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

VITA, is sponsored by the IRS. Most larger military installations have a VITA office on base during tax season. VITA isn’t military specific, but they generally help tax payers who make less than $54,000. Check out VITA, what you need to take with you on a visit, and where their offices are.

2. Military OneSource

This outfit prepares and files taxes for free for active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve, and their spouses; retirees who were honorably discharged and are within 180 days past their discharge date, eligible survivors of active duty, National Guard and Reserve deceased service members, and family members who are in charge of the affairs of eligible service members are also eligible.

3. IRS Free File

Get this, the IRS lets you do your own taxes. For free. Sweet deal? Or worst nightmare. You decide. Either way, the IRS will allow you to download software to do your taxes for free if you make below $64,000, and they’ll give you a free form if you make above $64,000. I guess the folks sitting right on $64,000 are just SOL.

4. TurboTax

Uber popular TurboTax has a sweet deal right now. You can download their 1040EZ or 1040A for free, and the rest of their products are fairly well discounted. E1 – E5 can get the Deluxe Edition from TurboTax for free (normally $54.99), and E6 and above get a discount on all products. The best thing about TurboTax is if for any reason the IRS comes back and says “You done effed up,” TurboTax will pay you for the IRS penalties.

5. TaxSlayer.com

This service has a great military discount. Currently, its website advertises 50 percent off classic or premium editions. They have free email and phone support, and boast about being 100 percent accurate. They do not, however, guarantee no penalties from the IRS if there is a mistake.

6. H&R Block

These guys have a cool thing for filing online for anywhere from free to $38.49. The program is called H&R Block More Zero (because “Taxes are Lame” and “You Think These Taxes are About You” was apparently taken). H&R Block does offer peace of mind. For a fee. And it really is called “Peace of Mind.”

Here’s how it works: You get your taxes done. You pay an additional fee, and they promise that if you’re audited, they’ll send one of their lawyers to court with you and pay up to $6,000 in fees if they lose. If you don’t pay the extra… no peace of mind for you.

Also, they don’t offer any kind of discount for military.

Articles

What is SGLI and do you actually need it?

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think
The white gloved hands of a member of the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard hold a folded United States flag. The triangular shaped folded flag and accompanying ceremony is an inspiring way to honor the flag and what it represents during solemn ceremonies. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot 185th ARW Wing PA


In the military’s acronym-packed lingo, SGLI stands for “Service Members Group Life Insurance,” and according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it is a “program that provides low-cost term life insurance coverage to eligible service members.”

Troops that are eligible for SGLI are active duty in any of the service branches; commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the U.S. Public Health Service; cadets, or midshipmen of a U.S. military academy; members, cadets, or midshipmen of an ROTC unit and engaged in authorized training or practice cruises; a member of the reserve or National Guard and are scheduled to attend a minimum of 12 periods of inactive training per year; or a service member who volunteers for mobilization in the Individual Ready Reserve.

Service members who are eligible for SGLI are automatically enrolled at the maximum rate of $400,000, though they may choose to decline or lower their coverage and make changes to it.

Service members retain their SGLI coverage for 120 days after separation from the service, though completely disabled veterans may extend that coverage for a maximum of two years after separation.

Reserve members who do not qualify for coverage are allotted “part-time” coverage.

So why do you need SGLI anyway?

Being a service member is obviously a high risk job. High risk jobs, according to CheatSheet, can cost as much as $2000 extra annually for life insurance companies, which is roughly 500 percent more than you’ll pay through your SGLI.

The bottom line is that SGLI is incredibly inexpensive, at just $29 a month, and it’s worth it for your family to have some peace of mind should something happen to you in the line of duty.

MIGHTY MONEY

Apple just announced a game-changing new credit card

At an event on March 25, 2019, at its Cupertino, California, headquarters, Apple announced the next stage in the evolution of Apple Pay: a rumored Apple rewards credit card.

The card, issued by Goldman Sachs called “Apple Card,” will offer cash rewards and various features and integrations with Apple’s Wallet and Apple Pay apps.

The card will earn “Daily Cash,” Apple’s version of cash back. Daily Cash is issued to the user’s Apple Pay Cash balance each day. From there, it can be spent on purchases using Apple Pay, applied as a credit toward the user’s Apple Card balance, or transferred to contacts through Apple’s peer payment feature in iMessage.


It was not immediately clear whether Daily Cash could be withdrawn to an external bank account, including Goldman Sachs accounts.

The card will earn 3% Daily Cash back on purchases made with Apple, 2% cash back on purchases made with Apple Pay, and 1% Daily Cash on purchases made with the physical card, or online without Apple Pay. It was not immediately clear if purchases made online through Apple Pay would qualify for the 2% back.

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think

(Apple)

According to Apple Pay VP Jennifer Bailey, who presented at the event, the new card is “designed for iPhone.” People can apply directly on the iPhone, and start using the digital card immediately upon approval. Cardholders can update information and review transactions through iMessage as the card uses machine learning to recognize transactions.

iPhone users can view their balances and transactions within the Wallet app, including automated breakdowns of spending by category and merchant.

The card will have no annual fee, late payment, or foreign transaction fees. The Apple Card features in Wallet will show various payment options, and help users calculate “the interest cost on different payment amounts in real time,” according to a news release. The Card app will also offer automated suggestions to pay down any carried balances sooner.

The card has several built-in security features, including some that are native to Apple Pay, and offers various privacy features. While users will get a physical card to use at point-of-sale terminals that do not accept Apple Pay, it won’t have a printed number, expiration date, or security code. For online purchases, that information can be accessed in the Wallet app, with Touch or Face ID used to authenticate the user.

The card runs on MasterCard’s payment network and will be available summer 2019.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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How life changed in one moment for this Marine


At age 18, Cpl. Andrew Richardson was serving in the Marine Corps in Iraq. His squad maintained a perimeter around a medical sanctuary where local civilians could get treatment. Doing so gave Richardson an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and value.

Returning to civilian life, Richardson struggled to find that same sense of value. For five years he floated from job to job, doing construction and working as a roadie and security guard, among other gigs.

Today, he enjoys a fulfilling career in the tech industry, working at Microsoft, and has discovered a passion for programming — all thanks to a chance encounter while tending bar and an intensive 18-week technical training and career-development program.

Curious? Check out the video to see Richardson’s story and then go learn more about Microsoft Software & Systems Academy.

MIGHTY MONEY

Why these female veterans will never struggle for work again

Female post-9/11 veterans are the fastest growing demographic within the veteran population, but they’re also the greatest risk of experiencing homelessness after their service ends. Just like their male counterparts, they experience all the financial trappings that come with leaving the military. As of this writing, the national unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent and is falling. But for female post-9/11 vets, unemployment is a solid 5.5 percent.

That’s why the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University decided to change all of that — by showing women veterans how to start their own businesses and never have to look for a job again.


Female vets are a valuable, knowledgeable part of the workforce. More than half of transitioning women have a college education and are twice as likely as men to have a background in science, technology, engineering, or math career fields. Despite this, many women have difficulty transitioning to civilian life and navigating their benefits, taking up to three months longer than male counterparts to find a job once they leave the service.

With this in mind, Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families launched its premiere entrepreneurship training conference, Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), with the help of the U.S. Small Business Association. It helps female veterans and military spouses find their passions and teaches them the skills they need to turn passion into a profitable business venture in just three phases.

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think

65 percent of these women will start businesses after the V-WISE conference and 93 percent of those will still be in business five years later.

(Institute for Veterans and Military Families)

Phase I of the V-WISE program is a 15-day online learning experience designed to teach participants the “language of business,” how to understand opportunity recognition as it relates to growing a sustainable venture, and present actionable strategies related to new venture creation.

The conference phase of the V-WISE experience is a three-day training offered to cohorts of 200 women at locations across the country. Participants must complete Phase I before attending Phase II.

The conference includes more than 20 distinct modules of training (representing over 40 hours of coursework) designed for both new business owners and to support the needs of existing ventures. Topics addressed include business concepts, financing, guerrilla marketing, human resources, legal challenges, profit models, and more.

Phase III, V-WISE Biz Support, provides program graduates with technical assistance to start and grow their business. Graduates will have access to incorporation services, financing services, mentorship, and opportunities for further education and skill-building with the IVMF and its partners, often at a reduced or waived cost. These services are available through a password-protected website.

And the system works. The V-WISE program is only six years old and has many of the three-phase programs under its belt but can boast more than 3,000 entrepreneurs — 93 percent of whom are still in business to this day. On Sept. 14, 2018, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families will host its 20th event in San Diego, Calif., where the slate of speakers will include:

  • Remi Adeleke, Transformers actor and former Navy SEAL
  • Angie Bastian, Co-Founder of Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn
  • Larry Broughton, Co-Founder and CEO of BROUGHTONadvisory and Founder and CEO of broughtonHOTELS
  • Neale Godfrey, founder and CEO of Children’s Financial Network
According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think

The V-WISE class in Phoenix, Ariz. in 2017.

(Institute for Veterans and Military Families)

The V-WISE conferences are open to all women veterans, active duty female service members, and female partners/spouses of active service members and veterans who share the goal of launching and growing a sustainable business venture. It is just one of a slate of eight national entrepreneurship programs and three resources offered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families — a slate the IVMF calls, “The Arsenal.”

Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Its dedication to veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement allows IVMF to provide in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community.This one-of-a-kind dedication to the military-veteran community creates real, sustainable changes in the lives of military veterans, as showcased by the successful women who have graduated from the V-WISE program.

To learn more about the V-WISE program and learn how you can be in the next cohort, visit the V-WISE website.

MIGHTY MONEY

5 important investments that every veteran should make

Returning to civilian life after active duty can be confusing and somewhat daunting. Whether you have been in the military for many years or if you have returned home after a grueling tour, adjusting to your previous life is definitely not an easy task. While there is a myriad of questions you need to answer and many issues you need to tackle during this adjustment period, one of the most pressing questions is how to achieve financial freedom for your family.

5 Investment Opportunities for Veterans

Achieving financial stability can seem like a huge task for a veteran, but you can achieve it by creating passive income and even returning to the workforce. Most importantly, to achieve financial stability and freedom down the road, you need to make the right investments in your professional and personal realms. 

These investments range from setting up a retirement plan to actively investing in real estate, but this can also include upskilling and getting certified to take on a completely new career path. Let’s put the best options into perspective and look at some important life investments every veteran should make. 

Investing in health and life insurance

First and foremost, you need to set up your health insurance, which is especially important for veterans requiring long-term medical treatment, professional counseling, and more. Unless you have been in the service for 20 years and have health insurance through Tricare, you will have to look into health coverage outside of the military. Keep in mind–if you have a medical condition that is a direct result of your time on active duty, you may be eligible for Veteran Affairs health care coverage.

If you’re not eligible for either of these, then private health insurance is the way to go. You can find a plan that works for you through the Affordable Care Act or a new employer. Take your time to learn the key terms like deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums and how different insurers use them in their policies. You can extend your military healthcare coverage for up to 36 months post-service through the Continued Health Care Benefit Program to buy more time and sort out your health insurance. 

Consider Investing in Real Estate

The next big move you should make is to invest in real estate as a retired veteran. Due to rapid urbanization across the US and the world–real estate continues to be a thriving sector with many opportunities for long-term professional growth. Becoming a real estate investor allows you to sell properties for a quick influx of cash or rent real estate to business leaders and tenants to create a steady income. Both commercial and residential real estate investing are good options–and you should strive to invest in both over time.

Now, starting in real estate investing is best done with an experienced professional at your side – and by educating yourself first. There are many online platforms where you can learn the ropes quickly. The most -important step is to do your research to find up-and-coming real estate markets and good deals on properties and new developments. Over time, you should diversify your investments into commercial and residential properties–with a focus on sales-oriented and rent-oriented real estate. 

Get Certified and Invest in a New Career Path

Another great way to build financial stability over the long term while actively working is to change career paths through upskilling and online certification. For example, if you were a corpsman or a medic in any military branch– you might want to pursue a career in medicine and continue helping others in the civic healthcare system.

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a need for highly-trained medical professionals– investing in advanced medical certification online is a great way for veterans to transition quickly into the healthcare industry and find stable employment. As a medic, you are already familiar with emergency response techniques and practices–now all you have to do is get the right certifications to work in a hospital or private practice. 

Because of the pandemic and many other socio-economic factors, the healthcare industry will be booming in the years to come, which is a great opportunity for you to thrive professionally. 

Set up a retirement plan

When you leave active duty, the first thing that can come to mind is how to ensure a healthy retirement. Naturally, you need money to do so, and you can do it by ensuring a steady cash flow from your real estate and other investments. However, you can also set up a retirement plan in other ways, mainly by saving up over the next few decades.

If you have 20 years of service, you are eligible for regular military retirement and a steady pension. If not, then you should start saving up now to meet your goals when you reach your retirement age. You can do this by opening up an individual retirement account (traditional or Roth), or you can contribute to a 401(k) plan. 

Invest in reducing your debt

Finally, make an investment plan to reduce your debt over the long term. It might not sound like an investment at first, but reducing and eliminating debt is one of the best ways to ensure a financially stable future. Make sure to set up a debt-repayment roadmap, and consider working with a financial advisor to minimize your losses and retain as much of your wealth as possible. 

Coming home from active duty can be tough–, and while you might want to deal with other immediate issues first, you should prioritize your finances and long-term stability. Consider making these investments now and over the next few years to build financial stability and freedom.

This article originally appeared on Active Duty Passive Income.

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What is Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay and why do you need it?

According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Alex McClendon, 633rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineer technician, prepares to enter a simulated contaminated area during Integrated Base Emergency Response and Capability training at Langley Air Force Base, VA


Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay is part of the U.S. military’s Special and Incentive pay system and is intended to help the services address their manning needs by motivating service members to volunteer for specific jobs that generally otherwise pay them more in the civilian sector.

Each hazardous duty incentive pay amount is in addition to base pay and other entitlements.

Title 37 U.S. Code, chapter 5, subchapter 1, outlines several types of S&I pay, and sections 301a and 310 specifically address Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay and Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger pay, respectively.

HDIP is payable to both enlisted and officers of all the service branches unless specified.

Section 301 (a) addresses the following S&I:

1. Flying Duty (crew members)

Who: Flight crew who are not aviators and regularly fly.

How much: $110 – $250 per month, determined by rank

2. Flying Duty (non crew members)

Who: Anyone on flying duty who isn’t crew, but still performs duties related to flight.

How much: $150 per month

3. Parachute Duty

Who: The crazies who jump out of perfectly good planes.

How much: $150 per month, except for High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jumps at $225 per month

5. Pressure Chamber Duty, Acceleration and Deceleration Duty, Thermal Stress Duty

Who: 301 (a) (5-7) all pertain to those service members who agree to be guinea pigs.

How much: $150 per month

8. Flight Deck Duty

Who: Those on a flight decks that are more dangerous than normal, because aircraft hurtling towards them at breakneck speeds is just another Tuesday (i.e. on ships).

How much: $150 per month

9. Toxic Pesticides Personal Exposure

Who: Those who are regularly exposed to toxic pesticides in relation to their jobs.

How much: $150 per month, because nothing says “thank you for your service” like toxin poisoning and $150

10. Toxic Fuel/Propellants and Chemical Munitions Exposure

Who: Those doing jobs that expose them to toxic fuels or propellants or chemical munitions.

How much: $150 per month

11. Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) – Maritime Interdiction Operations

Who: Navy personnel who are part of a team that conducts VBSS in support of Maritime Interdiction Operations — basically modern-day American pirates on the good guys team.

How much: $150 per month. Commence to booty jokes.

Section 310 Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay

Who: Those who are subject to hostile fire, explosions of hostile mines; on duty at/ deployed to areas where their status as a service member could put them at risk of threats of physical harm as a result of civil unrest, civil war, terrorism, or wartime conditions

How much: $225 per month

For more information on hazardous duty incentive pay and S&I, check out Military Compensation.

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Filing for effect: some troops’ tax refunds may not come quickly

Many taxpayers plan their holiday shopping and other purchases around getting their tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service at the earliest possible date.


According to this Navy vet, physical and financial fitness are more similar than you think

In 2017, that may no longer be the case.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, signed into law in December 2015, requires the IRS to hold tax refunds for people claiming Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit until at least Feb. 15, 2017.

Also, new identity theft and refund fraud safeguards by both the IRS and individual states may mean some tax returns and refunds face additional review.

Beginning in 2017, the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC. The IRS said the change helps ensure taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the agency more time to help detect and prevent fraud.

“This is an important change, as some of these taxpayers are used to getting an early refund,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We want people to be aware of the change for their planning purposes during the holidays. We don’t want anyone caught by surprise if they get their refund a few weeks later than in previous years.”

As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins. All taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should submit returns as they normally do.

Although the IRS cannot issue refunds for some early filers until at least Feb. 15, it reminds taxpayers that most refunds will be issued within the normal timeframe: less than 21 days after being accepted for processing by the IRS.

The Where’s My Refund? tool on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone app remain the best way to check the status of a refund.

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