Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move - We Are The Mighty

Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

The idea of relocating immediately sparks a desire to jump online and start looking at houses. It is a natural curiosity to start visualizing where home will be. One late night jump down the rabbit hole of internet home searching will have you falling in love with the stainless steel kitchens, shiny polished floors, and before you know it, you’ll be itching to book a realtor and make this possibility a reality! What I’m about to tell you goes against everything in your gut, but I promise it makes sense to press pause.

Four reasons you NEED to talk to a lender first:

    Time is valuable

    Any realtor that values their time and takes their jobs seriously is going to ask you if you are pre-approved. A realtor will want to make sure they get you in front of homes that are within your budget and not waste time researching and showing homes that are outside of this range. A realtor also wants to make sure you’re in a financial position where homeownership is the right choice for you.
    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    Be ready to jump on your dream home

    You want to have a solid pre-approval once you begin browsing homes. Some markets are more competitive than others. Especially here, you want to be financially ready to jump in with that solid pre-approval (and not a pre-qualification) to have your offer taken seriously.

    Solid financing=increased offer acceptance rate

    If you start a pre-approval before home shopping, you are better positioned for a quicker closing time, which makes for happier agents and sellers. Bonus points when your lender calls the listing agent when you make an offer to tell them that you have a full-document pre-approval, which is a reassuring sign that financing is not going to fall through.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    Expectation management

    Once you start looking at homes online, if your price range drops, nothing will meet the same expectations that you had when you started imagining moving into those larger, fancier homes. To set the right expectations up front, it’s best to have an honest conversation with a lender about short term and long term financial goals.

    Once you start home shopping, there is a lot coming your way between contracts, inspections, addendums, moving boxes, and more. Taking the time to understand various procedures and costs ahead of finding your dream home will leave you less stressed and more confident in your choice. Having the right lender to be your partner in the process is key!


    Budget proposal prioritizes pay increase, quality of life, modernization

    With soldiers increasingly being asked to shoulder heavier workloads, the Army hopes to compensate them for their efforts with a 3.1 percent pay raise.

    The Army’s $182.3 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 includes the highest pay increase for soldiers in a decade. Additionally, the service plans to raise basic housing allowances by 3.2 percent and basic subsistence allowances by 2.4 percent.

    After launching a new recruiting initiative this year, the Army is aiming for a modest end-strength target next year, hoping to have 480,000 active-duty soldiers, 336,000 National Guard members and 189,500 reservists by 2020.

    While much of the Army’s fiscal year 2020 budget focus has centered on modernization efforts, Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy and Lt. Gen. Thomas Horlander, the military deputy for Financial Management and Comptroller, discussed the importance of readiness and quality of life during a budget briefing at the Pentagon March 12, 2019.

    “Readiness will continue to be the number-one priority for the Army,” McCarthy said.

    McCarthy said two-thirds of the Army’s brigade combat teams are at their “highest state of readiness.” Army leaders have asked for steady and consistent funding to supplement its readiness efforts, which helped support 32 combat training center rotations this year.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy.

    “Because of the consistent funding that we’ve gotten at a higher level here over the last couple of years, [it] has really allowed us to make some readiness gains,” Horlander said.

    To meet its readiness goals, the Army proposes to increase its operations and maintenance budget to .6 billion. The plan covers an increase to infantry one-station unit training from 14 to 22 weeks. It will also provide funding to train 58 brigade combat teams, six security force assistance brigades and 11 combat aviation brigades. The service additionally plans to increase spending for flight crew hours for both active-duty and National Guard members.

    The operations budget funds multi-lateral exercises in the Pacific region and in Europe to help bolster partnerships with allies, a crucial element identified in the National Defense Strategy.

    “There are a lot of efforts to strengthen the partnerships with our allies,” Horlander said.

    The service has prioritized improving housing standards, as senior leaders have visited post housing at different installations in recent months. The Army is asking for an additional 0 million for the restoration and modernization of soldiers’ barracks and installation facilities. Some funding will go toward three new housing projects, Horlander said.

    The Army is seeking billion for its research, development and acquisition funding that will go toward newer weapons systems.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    Capt. Bryson McElyea fires the M16 rifle.

    (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach)

    The Army will cut funding from certain weapons platforms and legacy systems will be cut to funnel more funding toward the Army’s modernization efforts. McCarthy said that 93 programs were eliminated and an additional 93 will be reduced or delayed beginning in fiscal year 2020 to fiscal 2024.

    “These choices were complex and difficult. At times people will focus in on … winners and losers,” McCarthy said. “But what we look at is the choices we had to make from a modernization standpoint to be the Army that we need by 2028.

    While the Army will shift its focus from legacy programs, McCarthy said that some of the platforms will still be needed. Those programs will be gradually enhanced to bridge the gap between newer and older weapons systems.

    The Army’s FY20 budget request now awaits approval from Congress.

    This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.


    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.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    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

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


    Here’s how veterans can get a head start to become a successful entrepreneur

    We all know that when you leave the military, it can be a cruel employment world out there.

    Despite the confusion that often comes with transitioning from service, there’s potentially never been a better time to take a stab at becoming your own boss. And fortunately, there is a host of organizations out there to help former service members crack the code on starting a successful business.

    At the end of March, the organizers behind VETCON are hoping their roster of A-Listers in the tech and business world will open more than a few veterans’ eyes to the opportunities out there. Billed as an “annual gathering of visionaries, hustlers, and game-changers from around the world,” the folks at VETCON say they represent a wide community of so-called “vetrepreneurs” that want to pass on their secrets to their military brethren.

    “Military veteran entrepreneurs are an untapped market with huge potential,” said Ian Faison, VETCON co-founder, West Point graduate and former U.S. Army Captain. “Despite mutual interest from both venture capitalists and veteran founders, there’s never been a conference that delivers true ROI to entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors at the same time – until now.”

    Hosted in Redwood City, California, this year’s VETCON is slated to feature more than 200 veteran entrepreneurs and more than 35 professional investors, including “The Godfather of Silicon Valley” Steve Blank, Mike Maples of Floodgate Ventures, Trae Stephens of the Founders Fund, as well as leaders from Andreessen Horowitz; Facebook; GrowthX; Wildcat Ventures; HubSpot; IBM; Salesforce; and Indiegogo.

    Held between March 23 and March 25, the conference is intended to “develop a 30-day plan to take your business to the next level … [with] a mixture of fireside chats, workshops, solo talks, networking events, and Action Hours.”

    “VETCON changes the game for veterans and investors alike,” VETCON’s Faison said. “With programming that rivals any startup event in the country, we’re catalyzing the nationwide veteran ecosystem, providing investors with genuine business opportunities and helping entrepreneurs boost their customer pipeline and raise funding faster in 2017.”


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

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    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.


    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.


    Navy announces applications for tuition assistance are due

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    Petty Officer 1st Class Abdul Yusef teaches a Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) business course in a training classroom aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

    The Navy announced Wednesday that sailors interested applying for fall classes should get their applications for tuition assistance turned in as soon as possible.

    The Navy tuition assistance program covers up to 100 percent of tuition for eligible sailors. Eligibility depends on grades, active duty time (for activated reservists), accreditation of the chosen institution, and whether the sailor agrees to fulfill an obligatory 2 years of service beyond the his or her scheduled end of active service.

    Covered under tuition assistance are high school and general equivalent degrees, vocational and technical programs, undergraduate and graduate programs, and certification programs. The funds can only be applied toward tuition, and may not be used for books, fees, and other course materials.

    Tuition assistance is capped at 16 semester hours at $250.00 per semester hour, 24 quarter hours at $166.67 per quarter hour, and 240 clock hours at $16.67 per clock hour.

    The Navy requires that sailors wishing to utilize tuition assistance follow these steps:

    • Notify the command
    • Complete required training
    • Complete education counseling and formulate an education plan
    • Submit education plan to Navy and review with counselor
    • Submit WebTA application at My Education Portal
    • Generate voucher and submit to institution

    Command approval is required for tuition assistance, and that approval must come from the sailor’s commanding officer or by Direction Authority. Sailors will be required to enter their commanding officer’s email into the application.

    There are specific obligations required for sailors utilizing tuition assistance. Grades must be a C or higher for undergraduate studies and a B or higher for graduate studies. Tuition assistance must be reimbursed for any grades that are determined to fall below those requirements.

    Sailors must notify their Virtual Education Center of any changes in courses (including those changes which are not controlled by the sailor). Failure to notify the Virtual Education Center of changes can result in loss of tuition assistance and a requirement for reimbursement to the institution.

    For more information and to apply for tuition assistance, Sailors can visit the Navy College Program.


    Warrior Rising helps vetrepreneurs build sustainable businesses

    Almost every military career ends with the service member making a decision: find a job or start a business. For those in the National Guard or reserves, this choice parallels time in uniform.

    Veterans who choose the path of entrepreneurship have an added resource to lean on. Jason Van Camp founded Warrior Rising — a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping veterans and their immediate family members start their own businesses.

    “When you were getting out of the military you had a question, and that question was ‘now what? What am I going to do with myself?'” Van Camp said. “You probably thought to yourself ‘you know I could just sit back and collect my retirement or I could get a job or I could start a business.”

    Starting a business after leaving the military is a journey Van Camp knows well. The former green beret left the Army after a seizure disorder forced him to medically retire. He founded Mission 6 Zero, a leadership development firm with high-profile clients including the NFL and Major League Baseball.

    Warrior Rising was launched to help other veterans make the transition to business ownership. The resources provided by the organization are free to veterans and their immediate family members. It is funded by donations with 82.4% of every dollar going to veterans. The rest, Van Camp said, goes to overhead. He added that initially, 100% of donations went to veterans, but the company grew too large and he had to hire paid staff to keep up with demand.

    In the five years since its founding, Warrior Rising has grown exponentially. In 2015 the company helped six veterans establish businesses. Last year the number was 1,016. This year, Van Camp said, Warrior Rising on pace to help 1,500 veterans start new businesses with about 40 signing up every two weeks.

    Despite frequently saying during an online interview that “business is hard,” Van Camp said Warrior Rising already has some success stories.

    Firebrand Flag Company, for example, recently sold out on a limited run of fireproof American flags.

    “They’re ramping up business right now and I have no doubt this is going to be a multi-million-dollar company,” Van Camp said.

    People interested in using Warrior Rising’s free services should first go to the organization’s website to sign up. Van Camp said an intake specialist will call the applicant within 48 hours.

    “So, you have an intimate one-on-one conversation with someone about your business idea, what you’re trying to accomplish, why you’re trying to do it. Is it a good idea? Do you have the money for this? Does your spouse support you?” Van Camp said. “Questions about the actual journey you’re about to embark on.”

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    From there, applicants are sent to Warrior Rising’s education platform, Warrior Academy – online training that translates a military operations order into a business model. Van Camp said the training is designed to be difficult to prepare would-be entrepreneurs for the realities of owning a business.

    “You can’t start out with 0,000 salary. That’s not how it works in business,” he said. “You’re going to have to grind and go without pay and suffer for a while before you start seeing revenue — before you start seeing everything start to pay off and you see a return on investment.”

    After the training is complete, applicants are paired with mentors who are successful in the industry the veteran hopes to succeed in. Van Camp said the mentors are usually, but not always veterans.

    Eventually, after the veteran has met all of the requirements, they can ask Warrior Rising for financial assistance and the organization will assist them in finding investors, loans or grants.

    But that’s not the end of a veteran entrepreneur’s journey with Warrior Rising.

    “What I realized is it wasn’t just about starting a business and finding your purpose through business ownership, it was also about creating a community and joining a community and joining a tribe of people that can support you and you can feel comfortable with like you’re part of the family with,” Van Camp said. “We have platoons all over the country.”

    In the past, the organization hosted numerous in-person events, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced Warrior Rising to turn to online venues for events.

    Van Camp described coronavirus as a game changer in many ways for those hoping to start businesses. First, he said, more people are applying for Warrior Rising’s assistance.

    “It’s been even more prevalent because of COVID,” he said. “Because people are at home looking for that next step because they ask the question ‘now what’ and they come to Warrior Rising for help.”

    He said the pandemic will continue to affect the business world for the foreseeable future. He said trucking and logistics, online services and recreational vehicle sales businesses are doing well. His outlook is equally optimistic for credit card processing companies, home security and solar sales.

    The outlook is less rosy for commercial real estate.

    “Clients of mine that have office space, they’re realizing right now that they don’t need office space. They can work from home,” Van Camp said. “They’re putting as much product out the door as they did before. Private equity firms, venture capitalist firms, the companies that basically control their finances are going to say ‘listen, anything that doesn’t affect the bottom line, get rid of’. They’re going say ‘we don’t need office space. We don’t need to pay rent.’ Coronavirus is going to change the game.”

    Van Camp said it’s hard to predict what kind of businesses will be successful. The deciding factor usually has more to do with the would-be entrepreneur than the business itself. Even those with ideas others think are bad might succeed if they’re tenacious and adaptable, he added.

    “We try to make it difficult for them and if they continue to try to move forward and if they say ‘I don’t care what you think. I don’t care if you laugh at me, I’m doing this no matter what’, those are the guys that succeed,” Van Camp said. “We try to make sure they understand all the risks. We try to help them understand there’s no guarantees and they’re probably going to fail. We give them all the stats. For some people it scares them off. That’s a good thing because they would have been scared off during their business endeavor anyway. I’ve seen some things that I thought ‘well that’s a dumb idea.’ Because they didn’t quit, they proved me wrong.”

    Veterans interested in starting a business can find resources on the Warrior Rising website at

    This article originally appeared on Reserve + National Guard Magazine. Follow @ReserveGuardMag on Twitter.


    The Air Force just escalated its war with the airlines

    The Air Force has just escalated its response to efforts by the airlines to hire away military pilots. They’re throwing huge retention bonuses to the pilots and boosting flight pay to $1,000 a month.

    According to a report by, the flight pay boost will add an additional $1,800 a month to the paychecks of officers. Enlisted men will see their flight pay go from $400 to $600 a month, a 50 percent increase, and taking their pay up $2,400 a year.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    Maj. Kurt Wampole, assisted by Capt. Matt Ward, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron pilots, taxis a C-130H Hercules back to its parking spot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ben Bloker.)

    “We need to retain our experienced pilots and these are some examples of how we’re working to do that,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in an Air Force release. “We can’t afford not to compensate our talented aviators at a time when airlines are hiring unprecedented numbers.”

    In addition to announcing the increased flight pay, Secretary Wilson announced the creation of an “Aircrew Crisis Task Force” under Brig. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski. This task force’s formation is a sign that the pilot shortage the Air Force is facing has not improved. The Air Force release noted that at the end of Fiscal Year 2016, the Air Force was short 1,555 pilots overall, including 1,211 fighter pilots.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, assigned to Detachment 1, 138th Fighter Wing, dons his helmet in preparation of a barnstorming performance for reporters, Feb. 1, 2017, in Houston. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Drew A. Egnoske)

    The Air Force is looking to bring back 25 retired pilots to fill staff positions through the Voluntary Rated Return to Active Duty program, allowing pilots who are still current to be returned to front-line duties. The staff positions are non-flying, but retired pilots could have sufficient expertise to handle them.

    This past June, the Air Force increased its Aviation Bonus cap from $25,000 a year to $35,000. These bonuses are paid to pilots who commit to stay past their service commitment for up to nine years.

    The Air Force was also seeking to reduce the number of non-flying assignments for pilots, including headquarters positions and developmental opportunities. The Air Force is also trying to reduce additional units and add more flexibility for Airmen with families and children.


    5 GI Bill rates that will increase this year

    The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced the Post-9/11 GI Bill rates for the 2019-2020 school year. These rates will be effective on Aug. 1, 2019. The Montgomery GI Bill and Dependents’ Education Assistance programs will see a rate change on Oct. 1, 2019.

    By law, the GI Bill rate increase is tied to the average cost increase of undergraduate tuition in the U.S. For the 2019-2020 school year, that increase will average 3.4%.

    More than 80 percent of those taking advantage of their GI Bill benefits are doing so through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

    Private & foreign school GI Bill rates

    Effective Aug. 1, 2019, those using the Post-9/11 GI Bill at a private or foreign school will see their maximum yearly GI Bill rate increase from ,671.94 to ,476.79.

    Flight training

    Those who are enrolled in flight schools will see their annual maximum GI Bill benefit increase from ,526.81 to ,986.72.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    An F-22 Raptor from the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 199th Fighter Squadron returns to a training mission after refueling March 27, 2012, over the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian Islands.

    (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Holzworth)

    Licensing/certification/national testing

    You can be reimbursed up to ,000 per test for licensing and certification tests. For national testing programs, there is no maximum amount of GI Bill reimbursement. Your entitlement will be charged one month for every ,042.06 spent; currently, that trigger point is id=”listicle-2634152786″,974.91.

    Correspondence courses

    You can be reimbursed the actual net costs, not to exceed ,888.70 annually. That’s up from ,497.78 currently.

    Monthly housing allowance

    The Monthly Housing Allowance is also scheduled to change on Aug. 1, 2019.

    If you are attending classroom sessions, your housing allowance is based on the ZIP code of the campus location where you attend the majority of your classes.

    If you are attending classes at a foreign school, not on a military base, your maximum housing allowance will be id=”listicle-2634152786″,789.00. This is prorated based on the length of your active-duty service and how many classes you are taking.

    If you attend all your classes online, your maximum housing allowance will be 4.50. This is also prorated.

    Keep up with your education benefits

    Whether you need a guide on how to use your GI Bill, want to take advantage of tuition assistance and scholarships, or get the lowdown on education benefits available for your family, can help. Sign up for a free membership to have education tips and benefits updates delivered directly to your inbox.

    This article originally appeared on Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.


    Time to slay the myth around the magical unicorn called the “VA Loan”

    Since transitioning out of the military, I’ve had the, um, “pleasure” of being around a lot more civilians. Some of the questions I’m asked on an annoyingly regular basis are, “Aren’t VA loans awesome? Don’t you get a free house? Did you get yours?”

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    After polling some veterans, I realized I should give a little brief on the subject. Time to slay the myth around what a VA loan is or isn’t.

    First: The VA loan is, in fact, not a loan at all.

    The VA Loan Program, created in 1944 as part of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, is a service the Department of Veteran Affairs created to help veterans returning from WWII buy a home.

    According to the VA website, “VA Home Loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies. VA guarantees a portion of the loan, enabling the lender to provide you with more favorable terms.”

    Essentially, the VA will co-sign a loan with you, and that gives you a few perks.

    Why is co-signing helpful?

    When new adults try to rent an apartment or buy a car, most people won’t trust them unless they get a “guarantor” to co-sign the loan or the lease, usually in the form of a parent or older family member. After faithfully paying rent and payments on a loan or two, civilians in their 20s build up credit and no longer need anyone to sign off their financial choices.

    Military personnel and veterans are a bit different. Our lifestyle inherently makes us look financially untrustworthy.

    How are you 24 with no rental history?” I live in a barracks.

    You seem to have moved every two years...” Yep.

    You disappeared from our system for over a year except for credit card transactions from… Afghanistan. Are you a terrorist?” It’s called deployment!

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    Luckily, we have an Uncle Sam willing to co-sign on such a big purchase, or what’s called a Purchase Loan. You’ll be able to get better interest rates than your credit alone could get you, and you can skip the down payment.

    Bonus: Uncle Sam will also insure the transaction, allowing you to skip Private Mortgage Insurance.

    The Devil’s Details

    Just because you can get a loan for down, doesn’t mean you should. Regular people are expected to drop at least 20% value of the house as a down payment.

    Here are three different scenarios. Same house, same interest rate, same 30-year loan.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    The less you pay upfront, the more you have to pay in compounded interest for the next 30 years. 30 years. That’s your entire military career plus half your next career!

    Being able to do less of a down payment is useful in a few scenarios. For example, if you live in California, chances are you won’t ever have 0K cash for a 20% down payment on the crazy prices out here.

    A few resources to see how much you can afford while buying a house: RedFin has a quick calculator (above) as well as a more in-depth option. USAA also has one with different loans they offer.

    Warning: Anything offered by Uncle Sam comes with a catch

    According to the VA website, “VA-guaranteed loans are available for homes for your occupancy or a spouse and/or dependent (for active duty service members). To be eligible, you must have satisfactory credit, sufficient income to meet the expected monthly obligations, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE).”
    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    A few takeaways:

    • VA Loans are only for houses you will live in, NOT commercial or investment properties.
    • You have to live in the house for at least one year.
    • You can’t buy a multi-family or multi-unit property. No duplexes or apartment buildings (Trust me, I tried).
    • Banks set the terms of the loan (interest rate, payment schedule, etc.) based on your credit and current job, not the VA.
    • The VA might not approve you.
    • Requires at least 181 days active duty completed to be eligible.
    • Dishonorable discharge not eligible
    • Some dependents are eligible
    • Can be used to BUILD a house
    • Receiving a Certificate of Eligibility is required
    • There is a loan fee charged by the VA
    • Closing costs still have to be paid (typically 2-5% of the loan)
    • There is a limit on how much you can borrow without making a down payment based upon where in the country you live.

    When good loans go bad

    After nearly an hour and being transferred 7 times, I finally spoke to the most unenthusiastic Federal Employee in existence to answer my unanswerable question: “Are VA loans any different in foreclosure or the foreclosure process than a regular civilian mortgage?”

    The answer: No, mostly.

    The VA will not step in and save you, there are no cash handouts, and the VA will not shield you from the banks that are after their money. The VA will take care of a few fees dealing with the lenders, but that is about it. For more questions: 1-877-827-3702 or visit the payment problems page.


    5 ways USAA is still the leading financial institution for veterans

    There are a lot of choice for veterans to leverage their time in the military to get great financial services at a competitive cost. The fact that so many businesses and bank are geared towards veterans is a blessing but one institution stands out among the rest – and has for nearly a century.

    The financial institution was founded in 1922 after a group of Army veterans took it upon themselves to secure their own need for auto insurance. In doing so, they provided for their fellow veterans. The USAA of today carries that tradition on, with 12.4 million members and offering auto insurance, along with insurance for homeowners and renters, retirement planning, and, of course, banking services. When other banks were teetering on the edge of failure during the financial crisis, USAA actually grew. This is an institution that is as solid as a dollar.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    Auto Insurance

    USAA’s original purpose is still one of its best offerings – and one of the best offerings. Even in competition with the civilian world’s best insurers, going with USAA can save its membership at least 0 on their premiums, even for high risk drivers who may have a DUI or more on their records. JD Power even gave USAA a 5/5 rating on their customer service and satisfaction records.

    They also offer a car buying service that can sometimes save their members money in buying any kind of vehicle.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    Credit Cards

    Everyone knows too much credit debt is not a good thing, but having a card open with a low balance enlarges your purchasing power and is actually good for your credit report. Still, it’s important to be responsible with your credit. That being said, that kind of responsibility includes deciding which card is right for you. USAA offers a few credit cards designed to fit the lives of military members, veterans, and their families. The USAA Rewards American Express Card and Reward Visa offers the best cashback bonuses a military member can find. USAA’s credit cards also offer some of the lowest interest rates and APRs found anywhere.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    Easy banking services

    Any bank or financial institution who says they offer the best interest rates on savings accounts may have a bridge to sell you. Most savings accounts can offer two percent at the most. While USAA doesn’t offer quite that much, its banking services are stellar. Since they have few physical locations or ATMs, the bank offers reimbursements on ATM fees and no monthly service fees. On top of that, there’s no minimum balance and their rates are still competitive. They also offer free funds transfers between accounts.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    Retirement services

    If you’re planning for retirement and want a low-risk security, you could hardly do better than some of USAA’s mutual fund offerings. USAA manages its own mutual funds and, in the face of the 2008 financial crisis, the USAA Income Fund (USAIX) posted a 19 percent return while much of the rest of the market struggled to break even or even minimize their expected losses. The reason? While USAIX invests heavily in corporate debt, the fund’s mantra is still about minimizing risk.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    TV doctor pose!

    Other services and support

    There are a couple of life insurance options, including one for military members only if SGLI isn’t enough. On top of that, they can get great rates for health, dental, and vision insurance as well as umbrella insurance for protection against things not covered by other kinds of insurance, like legal judgements. For per month you can be protected from lawsuits up to id=”listicle-2640236181″ million. But this veteran-oriented financial institution does so much more

    USAA sponsors amazing veteran-oriented events and organizations – like the Military Influencer Conference, a three-day conference of service members, veterans, and spouses who work to elevate the military veteran community. The 2019 Military Influencer Conference is sponsored by USAA and brings together the brightest stars in the military-veteran entrepreneurial community to learn and share their business-building knowledge.


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

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move

    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.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    High Speed Operator Stocking / Accessory Pouch


    • 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.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    N.J. Concealment Furniture surface mounted wall mirror


    • 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.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    Plate Carrier With Cummerbund Molle Style


    • 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.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    Surefire X300U-A 600 Lumen LED WeaponLight Rail Lock


    • 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!).

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    M45A1 Close Quarter Battle Pistol


    • 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.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    Jetboil Flash Cooking System


    • 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.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    3M Combat High Cut Helmet with Rails and NVG Shroud


    • 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.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    OneLink Sleep System – JungleNest


    • 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.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    Nike Special Field Men’s Boot


    • 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.

    Finance Friday: 4 reasons why talking to a lender should be your first move
    MSR WhisperLite Universal Backpacking Stove


    • 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