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MIGHTY BRANDED

Why now is the perfect time for military families to refinance home loans

In recent weeks, Wall Street has talked a lot about the fears of a coming recession, fueled by a drop in government bond yields. The casual investor may have no idea what this means for them, but for homeowners in the military and beyond, it means now is the perfect time to refinance a mortgage.


What any potential refinancer needs to know is that the falling bond yield is pushing mortgage rates to their lowest levels in three years. In November 2018, the interest rate was steady at five percent. Eight months later, the interest rate in now at 3.6 percent and looking to fall further.

This isn’t some shady internet ad, promising easy money on Obama-era mortgage laws or new Trump-era government home loans – those certainly exist and everyone should be wary about trusting easy money. But the drop in mortgage rates comes directly from Freddie Mac, whose rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.6 in August 2019. The reason is that the 30-year rate is linked to 10-year Treasury Bonds. The rate of return on those bonds just fell to their lowest since October 2016.

4 simple ways to start saving money

(St. Louis Federal Reserve)

What this means is that suddenly your homeowner dollar goes a little bit further, considering the cost of taking out a new loan or refinancing an old one just dropped. According to Caliber Home Loans, a lending company who specializes in military and veteran homebuyers, the rule of thumb used to be that the interest rate for a new mortgage must be about two percentage points below the rate of a current mortgage for refinancing to make sense.

With new low- and no-cost refinancing from Caliber and other lenders, refinancing could make sense any time – especially right now, given the latest interest rates. A refinance could reduce overall interest while reducing a monthly payment. If you acted right now, you wouldn’t be alone, not by far. Falling rates boost the U.S. housing market.

4 simple ways to start saving money

It’s important to think of your home as an investment, too.

“My applications are up across the board,” said Angela Martin, a Nashville, Tenn.-based loan officer told the Wall Street Journal. “Every time the Fed starts talking is when my phone starts ringing off the hook.”

What Martin means is the Federal Reserve just cut the benchmark interest rate after a few successive rate hikes. This is when people start looking for a better deal. But be wary – lenders will sometimes employ different perks after a rate drop to entice customers to accept things like credits at closing instead of a lower rate.

For military families and veteran homeowners, look into military-oriented lenders like Caliber Home Loans. Caliber and companies like it specialize in the needs and benefits afforded to military members and veterans. Caliber is also a proud sponsor of the 2019 Military Influencer Conference, a three-day conference of service members, veterans, and spouses who work to elevate the military veteran community.

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7 deals to remember when PCS’ing

4 simple ways to start saving money


When it comes to the military move, there are certain truths we all know. Moving dates are subject to change. Something you love will get broken. Babies don’t sleep well in hotel rooms. And you’re going to have some out-of-pocket expenses.

But you can find all sorts of deals to help lessen some of those pesky PCS expenses. Here are 7 deals to look into before, during and after your PCS move:

1. Storage

Are you planning a Personally-Procured-Move (PPM)? Do you need to stash some of your stuff in storage? Before you store, remember to use the military discounts available from companies like PODS Moving and Storage, CubeSmart, Oz Moving & Storage,SMARTBOX and Zippy Shell. Local storage facilities, like Simply Storage in Virginia Beach, may offer discounts for military as well, so make sure you ask wherever you go.

2. Transportation

If a PPM is in your future, you’re probably going to need to rent a moving truck as well.Penske and Budget Truck Rental offer military discounts on truck rentals to get you and your belongings where your orders take you.

Need help shipping your vehicle? iMovers, an auto transport brokerage that provides shipping services to every state but Alaska and Hawaii, offers military discounts to those who need assistance transporting their vehicles.

Want to learn more about shipping a car overseas? Click here for details.

3. Pets

Moving your family is hard enough. But moving with a pet can make a move even more complicated, especially if you’re moving overseas. Pet Air Carrier offers military discounts when moving your pet internationally. They also help with clearing customs when returning to the States.

4. Organization

Whether you’re trying to set aside the personal items you don’t want the movers to pack or you’re attempting to figure out how to make the most of the space in the world’s smallest closet, PCS moves go so much more smoothly when you’re organized.

It’s also essential to keep important documents such as copies of military orders, birth certificates, powers of attorney and packing checklists organized before, during and after your move. Store them all in one place by creating a PCS binder as soon as you as you start the moving process.

Stores like A.C. Moore, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft and Michaels have military discounts that can help with with any organizational needs you might have.

5. Home décor

Whether you sold some of your belongings so you would have less stuff to move, you’re upgrading to a larger house, or your PCS is just a good excuse to redecorate, you’re probably going to be shopping for items to decorate your new home. Whatever you’re looking for, there’s likely a military discount to help you out, including Build.com, Blinds Chalet, Crate and Barrel, Overstock.com, Pottery Barn Kids, BJ’s and Sam’s Club.

6. Home improvement

Unless you live in a perfect world where grass doesn’t grow, pictures hang themselves and appliances don’t break, you’re bound to face some home improvement tasks when you reach your final destination. Both Home Depot and Lowes offer a year-round military discount to help you either spruce up the house you’re trying to sell or turn your new house into a home.

7. Tech support

Part of getting settled into your new home is hooking up computers and other electronics. But sometimes that daunting task requires some help. Need tech support? My Nerds offer military discounts.

What are some of your PCS tips?

MIGHTY CULTURE

11 valuable tax tips and benefits for military families

The holidays are over, and we are now in the year 2020. It’s a good time to start working on our 2019 taxes, because April 15 will be here before we know it. Taxes are overwhelming and complex, but there are numerous tax benefits for military families, so it is important to understand the basics.


4 simple ways to start saving money

Income

Servicemembers receive different types of pay and allowances. It is important to know which are considered as income and which are not. For servicemembers, income typically includes basic pay, special pay, bonus pay, and incentive pay.

Exclusions

Items normally excluded from income include combat pay, living allowances, moving allowances, travel allowances, and family allowances, such as family separation pay.

Combat pay exclusions are a substantial benefit to servicemembers and spouses. Combat pay is that compensation for active military service for any month while serving in a designated combat zone. This may also include a reenlistment bonus if the voluntary reenlistment occurs in a month while the servicemember is serving in the combat zone. Note that for commissioned officers, there is a limit to the amount of combat pay you may exclude.

The most common living allowances are Basic Allowance for Housing and Basic Allowance for Subsistence. Moving allowances are those reasonable, unreimbursed expenses beyond what the military pays for a permanent change of station.

Sale of Homes

Servicemembers and spouses often decide to purchase homes when moving to new duty stations. Often, we then turnaround and sell the homes a few years later before moving again.

What happens if you make a profit from the sale of this home? If you are fortunate enough to profit, you may qualify to exclude up to 0,000 of the gain from your income, or up to 0,000 if you file a joint return with your spouse. This is referred to as the Sale of Primary Home Capital Gain exclusion. Normally, this exclusion requires that you owned the home for at least two years and lived in it for at least two of the last five years. There is an exception, however, for servicemembers. If you were required to move as the result of a permanent change of station before meeting these requirements, you still may qualify for a reduced exclusion.

Claim for Tax Forgiveness

If a servicemember dies while on active duty, there are circumstances where the taxes owed will be forgiven by the IRS. Contact your closest Legal Assistance Office immediately for assistance using the website provided later in the article.

Extensions

If April 15 is quickly approaching and you are running out of time, remember, there are several different extension requests that military families may make. If the servicemember is in a combat zone, an automatic extension covers the time period the servicemember is in the combat zone plus 180 days after the last day in the combat zone.

Avoid Tax Scams

In November 2019, I wrote an article on common scams during the holidays. Unfortunately, scams are not limited to the holidays. There are numerous tax scams that have stolen personal information and millions of dollars. Scammers use the mail, telephone and email to initiate contact. Please remember that the IRS never initiates contact by email, text messages or on social media pages to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contact through the regular U. S. Postal Service mail. Finally, the IRS never uses threats or bullying to demand payments.

If you have any questions, contact the IRS with a telephone number you find on its website (www.irs.gov) and verify what you received is legitimate before doing anything. To protect yourself, only use an IRS telephone number from its website. Do not use a telephone number you received that you suspect may be part of a tax scam from an email, text message or social media page.

4 simple ways to start saving money

Signing Tax Returns

Normally, both the servicemember and spouse must sign jointly filed tax returns. If one spouse will be absent during tax season, it is advisable to have an IRS special power of attorney, IRS Form 2848 (Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative). You may access this form on the IRS website.

Military Tax Centers

Annually, many Legal Assistance Offices worldwide help servicemembers and spouses file their federal and state income tax returns starting in early February. Last year, for example, Army Legal Assistance personnel and volunteers prepared and filed over one hundred thousand Federal and over sixty-four thousand State income tax returns saving servicemembers and their families more than million in tax preparation and filing fees.

If you don’t live near a military installation, visit the Department of Defense Military One Source website at https://www.militaryonesource.mil for additional information on accessing free online tax assistance.

Legal Assistance Offices

If you have specific tax questions or receive correspondence from the IRS, contact the closest legal assistance office to schedule an appointment. Use the Armed Forces Legal Assistance website (https://legalassistance.law.af.mil) that I provided in the October 2019 blog to locate your nearest legal assistance office. The quicker you address your issues, the better likelihood that you will successfully resolve them.

4 simple ways to start saving money

Valuable Tax Tip for 2020

Finally, here is a valuable tip for next year’s taxes. Does it seem like every year you are scrambling to find tax documents and receipts from throughout the tax year? Relieve this stress by getting a folder and writing “Tax Year 2020” on the front of it. Keep it in an easy-to-find place, and every time you receive a document or receipt that may impact your taxes place it in the folder. That way, at the end of this year, you will have most of the supporting documents you need already together.

Future Blogs

Be on the lookout for future blogs that will continue to discuss specific legal issues often encountered by servicemembers and military spouses. As always, this blog series will help to protect your family and you!

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

MIGHTY MONEY

Small nonprofits that make a big difference: The Military Health Project

4 simple ways to start saving money
Jacob Angel speaks to guests at the Veterans Day Reception in San Francisco on Nov 11, 2016.


Today there are over 40,000 nonprofits that focus on military and veteran issues, according to Charity Watch.

Most of those registered as nonprofits are chapters of larger organizations, but some of them are single chapter projects that focus on specific needs within the veteran community.

Here at We Are the Mighty, we wanted to explore some of those advocacy groups you might not have heard of in a bit more depth.

The Military Health Project & Foundation is based in San Francisco and is run by Jacob Angel. Founded in April 2013, the nonprofit was originally designed to address mental health issues through pushing national legislation.

Angel tells us it took the nonprofit eight months to realize where it was failing.

“We were making the same mistake that the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense were making,” he says. “We were treating mental and physical health care as two separate areas of care.”

The nonprofit re-aligned itself to better connect mental health and physical health, and in March 2014 it went to work garnering support for the Excellence in Mental Health Act, a bill that Angel says eventually became law after a long battle.

“Thus far, the program is going very well,” Angel says. The law, according to Angel, makes counseling and other mental health service available to everyone “regardless of socioeconomic status or insurance coverage.”

In March 2015, The Military Health Project & Foundation announced the creation of the Military Support Fund, a dedicated financial resource to address coverage gaps for military and veteran families.

Angel tells that since its creation, the Military Support Fund has assisted 40 families in securing funding for specialized medical services and equipment.

Chief Petty Officer Carla Burkholder’s son was the recipient of a $2,500 grant for specialized medical equipment from The Military Health Project & Foundation.

“It feels like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” she wrote.

The organization is focused on addressing both physical and mental health needs through direct assistance and legislation.

“We are now a hybrid organization,” Angel says.

The Military Health Project is the advocacy wing where the nonprofit helps to create policy that addresses the ever-changing needs of the military and veteran community through legislation.

The Military Health Foundation works to provide for military and veteran families in the interim.

“They should not have to wait for treatments that they require and frankly deserve.”

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A brief history of the Thrift Savings Plan, and why you need it

4 simple ways to start saving money
Airmen 1st Class Diego Rojas-Rodriguez, far left, and Rolando Rodriquez, center left, speak to members of the 341st Comptroller Squadron mobile finance team at Malmstrom Air Force Base.


Where did the thrift savings plan come from and why do you need it?

In the beginning there was work; and then people died. Back in the day, American civilians simply worked until they couldn’t work anymore, and then they either relied on family to care for them, or they passed away. In the mid 1800s, a couple of companies took a look at the military’s retirement system and decided to give it a try.

The Thrift Savings Plan as we know it came into effect long after the civilian version of retirement due to the Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act of 1986. The TSP is the public sector’s version of the 401(k) that was established under the Revenue Act of 1978.

But the TSP was not the military’s first pension plan. According to Pension Research Council, pensions for the military predate the Constitution, but the U.S. Navy and Army struggled to manage pension funds — so much in fact that the new government had to bail them out at least three separate times.

Despite early issues with managing pension funds, the Army and the Navy continued to offer them as a means to attract and retain men in the services.

Eventually corporate America got on board and started to adopt its own retirement system modeled after the public pension system offered by the American military.

The private pension system was designed to reward line workers (those who worked in factories or on production lines) for years of service to one company. This worked both to the advantage of the individual as many skills were not transferable outside of a specific industry, and to employers because it guaranteed most of their employees would be loyal to them.

There were two problems with the way the pension system was set up: companies had to figure out how much money every year to set aside based on the number of employees they had, and many companies mismanaged that money just as the military had a century prior.

Thus, the 401(k) Individual Retirement Account, or IRA, was born by an act of Congress in 1978. With this system, employers agreed to set a predetermined amount of money aside, and employees agreed to manage it themselves.

As a result of the remodeling of the private pension system, our modern day public pension (the Thrift Savings Plan) was designed nearly a decade after the private pension plan.

So why do you need a TSP? Regular military retirement pay was never intended to fully provide for normal retirement.

The TSP was designed to supplement retirement pay, and while it is optional for military members, it makes money sense to set aside funds throughout your career to supplement the retirement pay that was never intended to fully financially support you.

In short, the TSP makes sense, and you should have one.

For more information on the TSP, you can check out the Thrift Savings Plan website.

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Air Force approves incentive pay for airmen in Turkey

The Air Force recently approved incentive pay for Airmen assigned to Turkey, just months after a military coup prompted defense officials to suspend accompanied deployments there. The Pentagon had ordered Air Force dependents out of the country in March.


According to the Air Force Times, unaccompanied tours to Turkey will be reduced from 15 months to 12 months. Airmen will be given the option to extend their tours from 12 to 24 months with an incentive pay of $300 per month.

Air Force Personnel Command says that Airmen must apply for Turkey Assignment Incentive Pay either prior to leaving their current duty station, within 30 days of arriving in Turkey, or “during their date eligible for return overseas forecast and initial vulnerable to move list windows.”

Airmen who have been in Turkey over 30 days may elect to extend their date eligible for return overseas, or DEROS, for 24 months past their current DEROS. Airmen who elect to accept Turkey Assignment Incentive Pay under these conditions will begin to collect the incentive pay on the first month of the 24 month extension, the service said.

All other Airmen who are eligible for Turkey Assignment Incentive Pay, and accept it, will serve 24 months in Turkey and will begin receiving the incentive pay upon arrival in country.

The Air Force Times reports that civilians previously assigned in Turkey will automatically have their tours reduced from 24 months to 12 months, unless an extension is approved by the U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander.

Turkey, a NATO ally, has seen civil unrest progress in recent years, with terror attacks and a failed coup in July. The country is host to a key airbase at Incirlik, which is critical to the coalition fight against Islamic State terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

The Air Force Times reports that Airmen who find that this recent change in tour requirements presents a hardship for them may request a “home-base or follow-on assignment” and that the Air Force will consider cancellation requests on a case-by-case basis.

The changes to Turkey assignments do not impact personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy or Security Cooperation Organizations in Turkey.

MIGHTY MONEY

These 3 steps are crucial if you want to transition into your own business

Are you ready to start the business you’ve always wanted? Do you have a million dollar idea but are not sure what to do first, second and third? Are you excited to leave military service behind and earn a living through your own entrepreneurial drive? Military service is a wonderful background for business ownership.

But there’s a difference between military service and startup business management.

A key factor that affects startup viability is how fast entrepreneurs adapt to their new job description as a business owner.

Many entrepreneurs say they started their companies for the opportunity to pursue their heart’s desire. New bakery owners like to bake. Fitness coaches like to train clients. Contractors like to build. But successful entrepreneurship is not defined just by how well you bake or coach, but how well you manage your overall business.

You can direct a brilliant film, but if you don’t make money at it, you may not get a second chance to make another film. Besides your specific passion, other skills are required to succeed.

Being the boss of a prosperous business involves focus and careful decision-making.

New business owners who assume that entrepreneurship is all about the freedom to do “whatever I want, whenever I want,” are also at high risk of business failure. Too much managerial spontaneity and freewheeling fun cost more than a young company can typically handle.

Here are three strategies to help you make the mental shift to money-making self-employment with precision.

Joke about business management: The risk I took was calculated, but boy am I bad at math.

1. Pay attention to cash.

Businesses close when they run out of cash. It’s that simple. As the boss of your startup enterprise your top priority is to make sure your company always has enough cash to operate. This means that you have to embrace numbers and money issues; take full ownership of financial projections and understand what kinds of business decisions can drain cash faster than others.

You don’t need an MBA to manage cash well, just a desire to do it. Check out some accounting books or take an accounting class to boost your money management skills.

2. Plan to achieve

It’s not enough to hope to succeed; you have to plan to succeed. Hoping for customers, won’t get them to your website. Hoping to raise money from investors won’t get you in front of top check writers. Hoping the check is really in the mail is not the best way to collect past due invoices. Successful startup entrepreneurs set specific goals and then lay out practical day-by-day strategies to secure their first paying customers and profits.

3. Get help

Just because you are the boss of your new enterprise doesn’t mean you will always have all the right answers. You will across a lot of issues and decisions that you never encountered before in your military career. It’s only natural that beginner’s mistakes will be made, sometimes costly ones.

When you face business unexpected problems in product development, product packaging, sales, marketing, customer service, or finance, don’t guess the answer. Find someone who has already “been there and done that” and ask for help. Remember, every mistake you make now comes out of your pocket.

Here’s one last tip. It’s not enough to just get by in business; your managerial objective is to get ahead in business by using your head. You have a background of excellence in your military career; now just apply it to your new business.

You can do it!

Susan Schreter is a devoted Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program workshop presenter and founder of Start on Purpose, a service organization that empowers business owners anywhere in America to find and manage business funding with confidence. Connect with her at Susan@StartonPurpose.

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Here’s how to join the 2.4 million vets who own their own businesses

4 simple ways to start saving money
(Photo:DVNF.org)


The business world seems to have realized that veterans make great entrepreneurs. Profiles of vets starting coffee shops, tech support companies, landscaping services, security firms, and a whole host of other businesses appear across the web on a frequent basis these days.

This should not be a great surprise. There are nearly 2.4 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S., representing almost 9 percent of all businesses nationwide.

And, a study by the Kauffman Foundation, a well-respected entrepreneur support organization, indicates that approximately 25 percent (some say as high as 45 percent) of all active duty personnel want to start their own businesses upon leaving the service.

So, what makes veterans such successful entrepreneurs?

It is finally being recognized that the attitude, training, and skills gained from military service, such as discipline, hard work, a commitment to accomplishing the mission, the ability to both lead a team and function as a member of a team, and, most important, the almost innate ability to immediately pivot from plans that aren’t working to plans that do, are valuable traits that make for a successful entrepreneur.

Indeed, the Kauffman Foundation states that veterans’ “commitment to excellence, attention to detail, strategic planning skills and focus on success are the same traits that make business owners successful.” And, Dan Senor and Saul Singer, in their book, “Start-Up Nation,” say the main reason Israel is one of the most entrepreneurial nations on earth on a per capita basis is the country’s compulsory military service, which creates an environment for hard work and a common commitment to accomplish the mission.

But, even though veterans have received excellent training in the military in the skills necessary to be successful entrepreneurs, not enough younger veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are choosing to start their own businesses. And, we don’t know why.

After World War II, nearly one-half of all returning veterans started their own businesses—but, by 2012, that rate had dropped to less that 6 percent. Even more important, just over 7 percent of all current veteran-owned businesses are started by veterans under 35 years of age. The rest are started by older vets.

This makes some sense. Personnel mustering out of the Armed Forces after 20 years or so have a pension that gives them a financial cushion to take the risk of starting a new business. And, older vets retiring from a traditional job at around 65 years of age, and who are looking for something else to do, would most likely have their house paid off and their kids out of college, giving them the financial means to start a new business without risking their family’s financial future.

But, it is the lack of younger veterans who are choosing entrepreneurship as a viable career path that is the critical issue in veteran entrepreneurship today.

Fortunately, over the past several years, there has been a burgeoning industry that has sprung up to help veterans who want to start their own businesses. Veteran led incubators and accelerators, as well as university and community college programs, government services, online resources, and community-based organizations have all answered the call to help aspiring veteran entrepreneurs realize their dream of owning and operating their own businesses.

While it is not possible to list all of the resources available to help veterans–and, particularly, younger veterans–who want to start businesses, a small sample of these programs in each of the categories mentioned is provided below:

  • Veteran Led Incubators—Bunker Labs (https://bunkerlabs.org) is probably the best known and most successful veteran led incubator in the country. While headquartered in Chicago, it has expanded to eleven cities around the nation. Its Chicago location is in the 1871 incubator facility, which gives veterans the crucial opportunity to interact with non-veterans who are creating new businesses. The “Bunker in a Box” program (http://bunkerinabox.org) enables veterans who are not near one of its urban locations to get some of the basic tools necessary to start a new business.
  • Veteran Led Accelerators—Vet-Tech (http://vet-tech.us) is the nation’s leading accelerator for veteran-owned businesses. Located at Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale, CA, it has an extensive network of financial, government, and management resources to bring a veteran-owned business to its next level of success.
  • University Programs—Syracuse University’s Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (http://ebv.vets.syr.edu) is one of the most extensive programs in higher education for veteran entrepreneurship. This program is offered at eight other colleges and universities around the nation.C
  • Community Colleges—Community colleges around the nation offer veteran entrepreneurship courses and programs, typically through their small business development centers. Wake Tech Community College in North Carolina offers a Veterans Entrepreneurship Advantage Course (http://www.waketech.edu/programs-courses/non-credit/build-your-business/entrepreneurship-initiatives) that is representative of these types of programs.
  • Government Services—The SBA’s Boots to Business program (http://boots2business.org) is an example of the type of program offered by the government to transitioning service members to give them the basics in starting a new business.
  • Online Resources—VeToCEO (http://www.vettoceo.org) is a free online training program that assists veterans in leveraging their skills to start or buy a business and run it successfully. The American Legion Entrepreneur Video Series (
    ) is another no-cost source to give aspiring veteran entrepreneurs at least a basic introduction to starting and running a business.
  • Community-Based Organizations—SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, is an example of a community-based organization that is supporting veteran entrepreneurs with their Veteran Fast Launch Initiative (https://www.score.org/content/veteran-fast-launch-initiative).

Veterans interested in starting a business should research what resources are available to them in their local communities, and then pick a program that fits the type of business they are interested in creating.

Given all of the resources that are currently available to veterans interested in starting businesses, what does the future of veteran entrepreneurship look like?

It looks pretty robust.

There are only two cautions that need to be mentioned about support for entrepreneurship initiatives for veterans:

The first is that many of these veteran entrepreneur support programs are relatively new—within the last couple of years, or so. The proof of their efficacy—of their value and worth—will be when they produce long-term, sustainable and profitable veteran-owned businesses—and, by long-term, I mean businesses that are in existence for at least five years, at a minimum. Some of these support programs are so new that not enough time has passed where this can be determined.

The second “caution”, if you will, would actually be a good problem to have. While there is no evidence that this is presently occurring, there could come a time in the future when there are actually more veteran entrepreneur support programs than there are veterans to fill them. This will become evident when these programs begin to admit non-veterans in order to maintain their viability.

But, for now, it’s all “blue skies and smooth sailing” for veterans who want to start businesses and the programs that support them.

4 simple ways to start saving money
Paul Dillon is the head of Dillon Consulting Services, LLC, a firm that specializes in serving the veteran community with offices in Durham and Chicago. For more visit his website here.

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A Fort Bragg soldier won $2 million and definitely won’t blow it on these 9 things

On Jan. 13, Fort Bragg Army Reserve soldier Johnny Charlestin was celebrating his birthday when he learned that a $3 Powerball ticket he bought was a $2 million winner.


“I didn’t believe it, it was a feeling I’ll never forget,” Charlestin said in a press release from the N.C. Education Lottery. “It’s the best birthday present I’ve ever had.”

Charlestin then decided to leave the public spotlight, which is one of the things experts recommend lottery winners do. Hopefully this means he’s smart enough to invest the money wisely.

But since he’s a Fort Bragg soldier, there’s also a real chance he’ll spend his money this way:

1. Taxes will be taken out

4 simple ways to start saving money
Photo: flickr/Ken Teegardin, Senior Living Center

30.75 percent, or $615,000 goes right back into government coffers. That leaves the enterprising soldier with $1,385,000.

2. Dip and jerky

4 simple ways to start saving money
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/OAC

The winner’s first stop will be base shoppette where he’ll pick up the proper amount of dip for millionaire soldiers, as well as a little jerky to much on.

3. New car

4 simple ways to start saving money
GIF: Giphy

This is an obvious stop, but for some reason, the new millionaire will still take out loans of 20 percent or more. Over the next five years, that b-tchin’ Corvette will cost him as much as a Lambo would’ve if he’d paid cash.

4. Electronics store

4 simple ways to start saving money
Photo: Wikipedia/Chris McClave

Every new video game console, 10-20 games for each, a huge TV, and surround sound. A few movies will round out the purchase, about 500 of them. Most of the movies are about World War II paratroopers.

5. Adult “book” store

4 simple ways to start saving money
Photo: flickr/leyla.a

This is for other movies. We will not explain further.

6. House

4 simple ways to start saving money
Wikipedia/Andrew (Tawker)

Finally, the soldier will find a new place to live. Unfortunately, he’ll only realize after the fact that his surround system doesn’t properly fill the new entertainment room with sound. Since he threw away the receipts, he’ll buy a new one and give the old system to a groupie (he’ll have those now).

7. Energy drinks

4 simple ways to start saving money

This will take up more money than any non-soldiers would expect.

8. All the booze

4 simple ways to start saving money

There are roughly infinity liquor stores at the Fort Bragg perimeter, as well as a Class VI store on base. These will become empty.

9. Noise citations

4 simple ways to start saving money
Photo: Wikipedia/Highway Patrol Images

Once the party starts, Fayettnam police officers will be visiting every 15 minutes or so and writing a ticket. By the end of the night, the lottery money will be almost played out.

By the second week, the former millionaire will be attending finance classes on base and applying for an Army Emergency Relief loan to make his payments for the Corvette.

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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.

4 simple ways to start saving money
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.

Articles

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

4 simple ways to start saving money
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.

4 simple ways to start saving money
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.”

4 simple ways to start saving money
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”]
Articles

15 of the most expensive projects abandoned by the US military

The US military is unquestionably the world’s strongest force with the world’s largest defense budget.


But throughout the 2000s, the Pentagon spent $51.2 billion on 15 major programs “without any fielded systems to show for it,” according to a new Center for Strategic and International Studies report.

The abandoned projects are largely due to a lack of funding attributed to the Budget Control Act and sequestration.

Sequestration, which is indiscriminate budget cuts across the board that affect every portion of the military equally, is the greatest threat to the US military currently, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Business Insider.

Below are a series of the military’s modernization projects that were canceled partially due to a lack of funds.

Future Combat Systems

4 simple ways to start saving money
U.S. Army

A prototype of the Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon, a component of the Future Combat Systems.

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $18.1 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately superseded by the Ground Combat Vehicle Program. This program was also ultimately canceled.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

RAH-66 Comanche Armed Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter

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U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $7.9 billion

Follow-On: The helicopter was superseded by the later canceled Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter project.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

An artist’s concept drawing of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.

Branch: Air Force and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Sunk-Costs: $5.8 billion

Follow-On: The program was replaced by the now canceled Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS). The DWSS is slated to be restarted as the Weather Satellite Follow-On.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Airborne Laser

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US Missile Defense Agency

The Airborne Laser in flight with the mirror unstowed.

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $5.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was canceled without an identified replacement.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

VH-71 Presidential Helicopter

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Sikorsky

A conceptual drawing of the VH-71 helicopter.

Branch: Marine Corps

Sunk Costs: $3.7 billion

Follow-On: The project was restarted as the VH-92A Presidential Helicopter.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle

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U.S. Marine Corps

Branch: Marine Corps

Sunk Costs: $3.3 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately superseded by the Amphibious Combat Vehicle program.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

XM2001 Crusader Self-Propelled Howitzer

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U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $2.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was superseded by the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System, which was also then canceled.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

E-10 Multi-sensor Command and Control Aircraft

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U.S. Air Force

An E-8, which was intended to be replaced by the E-10.

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $1.9 billion

Follow-On: The program was superseded by the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Replacement Program.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Space Based Infrared Systems — Low

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U.S. Air Force

An artist’s rendition of the Space-Based Infrared System — Low

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $1.5 billion

Follow-On: The program was superseded by the Space Tracking and Surveillance System.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Advanced SEAL Delivery System

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U.S. Navy Photo

An SDV is docked into place by Navy SEALs.

Branch: Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.6 billion

Follow-On: The project was superseded by the later canceled Joint Multi-Mission Submersible.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter

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U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $0.5 billion

Follow-On: The project was deferred following the Army’s decision to field a mix of drones and AH-64Es instead.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Aerial Common Sensor

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U.S. Navy

The Aerial Common Sensor was replaced with the P-8 (pictured).

Branch: Army/Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.4 billion

Follow-On: The project deferred in favor of the Navy’s P-8 program and upgrades to Army aircraft.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

CG(X) Next Generation Cruiser

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U.S. Navy

Pictured above are two DDG 51 destroyers, which were purchased instead of the CG(X).

Branch: Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was deferred, and the Navy purchased additional DDG 51 destroyers instead.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

CSAR-X Combat Rescue Helicopter

The HH60 Pave Hawk, which was produced as part of the Critical Rescue Helicopter program.

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $0.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately restarted as the Combat Rescue Helicopter.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Next Generation Bomber

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Nothrop Grumman

Concept art for the Long Range Strike-Bomber that replaced the Next Generation Bomber project.

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $18.1 billion

Follow-On: The project was restarted as the Long Range Strike-Bomber.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

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