Patience pays: What happened to the mortgage market and why it will get better - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MONEY

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

More than 1,500 US National Guard troops are battling the coronavirus across 22 states

More than 1,500 US National Guard troops have been called up across the US to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, which has already infected nearly 5,000 people and killed at least 94 in the US.


As of Friday, roughly 400 Guardsmen were responding to the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, in six states. By Monday, the number had increased to more than 650 Air and Army National Guard professionals operating across 15 states to combat the coronavirus, the National Guard said in a statement Monday.

The Guard announced Tuesday that the number of Guardsmen who have been mobilized to battle the virus has more than doubled, jumping to more than 1,560 personnel, which are active in 22 states.

“The National Guard is fully involved at the local, state, and federal level in the planning and execution of the nation’s response to COVID-19,” the Guard said in a statement last Friday.

Current missions include work at drive-through test facilities, logistics support for healthcare professionals, and disinfecting and cleaning public spaces, among others. “Guardsmen and women have been distributing food, sanitizing public areas and coordinating response efforts with state emergency managers,” the Guard said in a statement Monday.

There have been calls for additional military support as the virus, which first appeared in China last year, spreads.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo insists that US healthcare system is at risk of being overrun. “States cannot build more hospitals, acquire ventilators or modify facilities quickly enough,” he wrote in an opinion article for The New York Times Sunday.

“At this point, our best hope is to utilize the Army Corps of Engineers to leverage its expertise, equipment and people power to retrofit and equip existing facilities — like military bases or college dormitories — to serve as temporary medical centers.”

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“Doing so still won’t provide enough intensive care beds,” he said, “but it is our best hope.”

At a press briefing Monday morning, Cuomo said that he has been having conversations with the White House on this issue, but talks have so far been inconclusive.

The Department of Defense said in a press briefing Monday that it is aware of the governor’s comments and is evaluating its capabilities, which may be limited. At this time, the department has yet to receive a request for assistance.

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

MIGHTY MONEY

Here’s a 9-step guide to calculating your credit card interest

When it comes to credit cards, understanding your interest rate and how it works can be the difference between staying out of debt with an excellent credit score and falling behind in your payments and dipping to sub-par credit score ratings.

Your interest rate is the amount your credit card charges you to borrow money. If you pay your credit card balance in full and on time, you generally don’t need to worry much about your interest rate, which is expressed as an annual percentage rate (APR).

But if you’re carrying a balance on your credit card, you’ll notice you owe more over time, and that’s because of the interest rate. Credit cards are notorious for being one of the most expensive types of consumer debt, with an average interest rate of about 17%.


While in most cases you probably don’t need to calculate your credit card card interest rate — your statements should clearly reflect how much interest is owed on any unpaid balance and your APR should be clear on your statement and your bank’s website — you may want to get an idea of how much your balance is costing you on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet to help you when it comes to calculating your own credit card interest rate.

1. Pull up your credit card information

Log on to your financial institution’s website or pull out your latest statement (if you haven’t switched to paperless billing yet, get on that!) to find the pertinent information you’ll need to calculate your credit card interest.

You’ll need to find:

  • your purchase APR
  • the number of days in your billing cycle

2. Get to know the terms

The way your credit card works boils down to a few different terms, two of which include annual percentage rate (APR) and, more generally, your interest rate.

Although APR stands for annual percentage rate, your credit card company uses this percentage number to determine the interest you’ll be charged each month when you don’t pay your credit card off in full and carry a balance.

Keep in mind that your credit card may have different types of APR, like a:

  • purchase APR (usually applied to the overall purchases you make with a card),
  • balance transfer APR (usually applied to any balances transferred from another credit card)
  • introductory APR (usually applied to purchases made during the promotional period after opening a new credit card)

3. Find your purchase APR

In order to calculate the interest you owe on any leftover balances on your credit card, you’ll need to find your purchase APR. If you can’t find this information readily, try calling your bank, or click on your card’s terms and conditions section.

4. Determine your average daily balance (or balance subject to interest)

This is the aggregate total of what you spent and either paid off and/or were refunded every day throughout your billing cycle, divided by the number of days in your billing cycle.

If you’ve always paid your purchases in full by the due date, you won’t have any interest payments to make and your average daily balance isn’t really a factor. However, if you plan to carry a balance, to calculate your average daily balance when you need to determine interest, log onto your bank account online and track the charges and credits that went through on each individual day, creating a rolling total as you move through the days of your billing cycle.

This will provide you with an aggregate total that you can then divide by the number of days in your billing cycle (which you’ll find in step five).

5. Get the number of days in your billing cycle

Different credit cards have different amounts of time between billing cycles. A typical credit card statement is paid out in 30-day billing cycles.

6. Divide your APR by 365

Since your APR is your annual interest rate, you’ll need to divide your APR by the number of days in the year to get your daily interest rate. So for example, an APR of 13.99% would become: 0.1399/365 = .00038 daily interest.

7. Multiply your daily rate by your average daily balance

Once you know what you’re charged daily for interest, you can multiply that number by your average daily balance to find the daily interest you’ll owe. So for example, if your leftover balance after paying your credit card is id=”listicle-2639175991″,000, you would get: .00038 x id=”listicle-2639175991″,000 = .38.

8. Multiply your daily interest rate by the number of days in your billing cycle

If you determined that you have a 30-day billing cycle, then the credit card interest you would owe on a balance for the 30-day cycle in this example would be: .38 x 30 days = .50 in interest.

9. Ask about your credit card’s grace period allowance

Some credit cards offer a grace period between when items are purchased and when they absolutely need to be paid off before accruing interest. Check in with your bank to learn if you have a grace period on your accounts and what the exact grace period is in order to better avoid paying interest.

Also read:

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

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Is travel safe? We interviewed experts on risks associated with flying, booking hotels or Airbnbs, renting cars, and more, plus ideas on safe vacations during COVID-19

As states lift restrictions around the novel coronavirus, many of us are eagerly wondering: is it safe to travel right now?

The answer depends on many variables, namely, how you plan to do so, where you want to go, the rates of infection in your chosen destination, and your anticipated behavior once you arrive.


For example, driving your own car and renting a house where you’re the only inhabitant is quite different from entering a crowded airport, boarding a plane, and checking-in to a large resort.

Ultimately, resuming travel without a vaccine will come down to the level of risk that makes you feel comfortable. And it’s sure going to look a lot different.

Insider Reviews reached out to experts including infectious disease and ER doctors, cleaning specialists, travel industry professionals, and representatives from major rental cars, hotels, Airbnb, and transportation organizations, to reveal both the risks and best practices associated with various forms of travel and lodging during an ongoing pandemic.

We also interviewed travel agents and tour operators, to find out how they’re advising and planning travel for clients later this year and in 2021. And if you do book a trip that is ultimately postponed or canceled, it’s important to understand your cancellation policies and consider options for the best travel insurance.

Of course, this is an evolving situation and it’s crucial to follow guidelines and advice set forth by organizations such as the CDC and WHO, and practice safety measures no matter where you go, including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining social distancing.

Below, our experts address popular questions and concerns around each mode of travel, and major brands share their updated cleaning policies, so you may make fully informed decisions about where to go. And if you need ideas on socially-distant locations, we’ve got some inspiration for that, too.

Are rental cars safe?

If you’re among the many urban dwellers without a car of your own, you might be wondering if rental cars are safe to drive in a pandemic. For guidance, we talked to several experts, including Dr. Thomas Russo, chief of the division of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo.

“Remember that most of the transmission of the coronavirus is respiratory — it’s not through inanimate objects,” says Dr. Russo. “When you’re in a rental car, the greatest risk is if you happen to be in the car with someone else and they could be infected.”

When it comes to the car itself, the risk is reasonably low. “Even if there’s an area you touch that wasn’t properly wiped down and might have been contaminated, as long as you don’t touch your mouth, nose, and face, and have good hand hygiene in between, you should still be protected,” Dr. Russo says.

Additionally, rental car companies are taking rigorous new cleaning measures under recommendations from various health authorities to sanitize key high-touch areas.

Read the full story on whether rental cars are safe.

Are hotels safe?

Many regular travelers are long-time hotel devotees who adore a beautiful property or sprawling resort filled with high-end amenities and services. But even these frequent hotel guests are likely concerned that staying in one risks exposure to the virus.

After all, checking-into a hotel means mingling with other guests and staff in common spaces like the lobby, elevators, pool decks, spas, and golf courses. When it’s time to eat, there are busy restaurants to consider, and that’s all assuming your own guest room is clean and sanitized.

In the latter, objects and furnishings are shared and reused by visitors, sometimes with only hours in between. So, is it safe to stay in a hotel right now?

Dr. Russo says the answer is highly individual. “If it’s a trip that is important and necessary, I feel relatively safe using the proper protective measures like wearing a mask, distancing, disinfecting, and hand hygiene.”

We also asked him about the worst-case scenario, in which an infected person stayed in your room hours before you. If the housekeeping crew cleaned and sanitized according to guidelines, would you escape risk?

“The answer is probably yes,” Dr. Russo says. But, “that’s not an ideal scenario.” You’d be better off specifically requesting a room no one has stayed in for a day or two.”

He also adds, “Wear a mask during the check-in process, going in the elevator up to your room, or even the stairwell. I’m a big fan of mask use because this magical six-foot zone is based on probability. The closer you are to someone, and the longer you’re close to someone that’s infectious, the more likely you are to get infected.”

Read the full story on whether hotels are safe.

What are hotels’ new cleaning policies?

Most major hotel chains have announced wide-reaching new cleaning policies made in combination with health experts. These policies also focus on social-distancing and contact-free transactions such as virtual check-in and out, digital keys, limited dining, and more.

Dr. Robert Quigley, who serves as the senior vice president and regional medical director of global medical travel risk management company International SOS, spent four days and four nights transforming an Upper East Side hotel into a utilitarian home base for health care workers on the front lines.

“We came in and converted what was a very high end, very luxurious hotel into a laboratory with the objective to protect the health and safety of the employees that were willing to come in and work.”

Now, that work is being replicated in hotels for regular guests, placing technology at the forefront. In addition to adhering to strict CDC guidelines on health and safety, some brands including InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), Loews, and Best Western are adopting American Hotel Lodging Association’s (AHLA) StaySafe campaign to help facilitate everything from how to conduct a contactless check-in to a new set of cleaning standards and protocols.

Additionally, Marriott Bonvoy hotels rolled out the Marriott Global Cleanliness Council, focusing on treating high-touch surface areas with hospital-grade disinfectants, providing disinfecting wipes in each guest room, and reducing person-to-person contact by removing furniture and installing hand-sanitizing stations. More than 3,200 Marriott hotels will now allow guests to use their phones to check-in, access their rooms, make requests, and order room service without contact.

Similarly, Four Seasons worked with experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine International on its new Lead With Care program for cleanliness and safety. The program promises that restaurants and bars will operate with reduced capacity to allow for social distancing, and the hotel will leverage technology for safety, by way of its Four Seasons app and chat.

Here are the new plans and precautions being taken from major hotel brands around the world.

Are Airbnbs safe?

Just as some people have always preferred hotels, others choose Airbnbs to enjoy more space in residential-style houses or apartments that are well-suited for longer vacations, or family and group stays.

These days, they may seem especially attractive given the fact that you are often booking an entire home that is protected from interaction with any others. However, cleaning practice vary by property, where everything from kitchen utensils to bed linens were used by previous guests.

Airbnb has, however, announced rigorous new procedures including a program known as the Cleaning Protocol, which includes guidelines on personal protective equipment for hosts or cleaners, as well as only using disinfectants approved by regulatory authorities. Additionally, these listings are required to maintain a 24-waiting period after a guest checks out before entering to clean, followed by another 48-hour waiting period before a guest may check-in.

As a second measure, hosts may instead opt into a new feature called Booking Buffer, which enforces a longer vacancy period of 72 hours between stays so guests may feel more secure knowing there has been no activity other than cleaning the property.

And third, hosts can also choose to do neither of those things.

Dr. Russo estimates that staying in a private Airbnb is likely to be safer than booking a hotel, given there is generally less direct person-to-person contact. But he also encourages taking extra preventative measures such as running “utensils and dishware through the dishwasher when you get there” and laundering bed linens and towels “so you have control of what you want to be washed and cleaned.” He also suggests running a disinfecting wipe over all flat surfaces, phones, TV remotes, door handles, bathroom faucets, and toilet handles.

Of course, that also means you’re now cleaning the home for which you already paid a lofty cleaning fee.

Read the full story on whether Airbnbs are safe.

Hotels vs. Airbnbs: Which one is safer?

After breaking down the risks of both hotels and vacation rentals such as Airbnb, no matter the type of lodging you pick, the main factors to consider are the likelihood you’ll encounter other people, the number and length of such encounters, and whether the location and region are experiencing high rates of infection.

“When booking any type of lodging, consider how many people you’ll be surrounded by, when was the last time someone stayed in that accommodation, and how is the state or city doing in regards to flattening the curve,” said Dr. Neil Brown, K Health‘s chief diagnosis officer.

With either choice, be aware of high-touch areas and flat surfaces that might facilitate virus transmission. If possible, book accommodations with a significant margin of time since the last guest stayed in the same space.

The doctors we spoke with agreed private Airbnbs, however, are likely safer than hotels because they come with fewer person-to-person interactions.

“While there is no question hotels are working diligently to keep their hotels clean and sanitized, Airbnb has a huge advantage given that the renter is generally the only one occupying the property,” said Dr. Brown. “With Airbnb’s new Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, the company provides a better option than public hotel spaces … Double-check to see if the host is participating in the program,” he said.

Dr. Russo “absolutely agree[s]” that staying in a private Airbnb, especially one that allows no-contact check-in, such as through a lockbox, is the safer option.

But both doctors recommend seriously evaluating the risks versus rewards with either choice, with Dr. Brown noting, “Personally, I would do my best to avoid traveling altogether, but if it is necessary, I would feel more comfortable staying at an Airbnb after doing my own disinfecting upon arrival.”

Read the full story on which is safer: Airbnbs or hotels?

Is flying safe right now?

In comparison to renting a car or booking lodging, air travel seems like a larger gamble. Entering an airport, waiting in long lines, and sitting next to strangers of unknown backgrounds, for a prolonged period, in a closed setting, all seems about as high-risk as it can get right now.

To help determine is flying is safe, we turned to a diverse panel of experts including an infectious disease doctor, an ER doctor, a pilot, a medical advisor for an aviation trade association, and the founders of popular flight deal platforms to discuss the risks of flying during COVID-19, and precautions to mitigate those risks.

First the good news: airports are trying various tactics to minimize contact between people, promote social distancing, and conducting temperature checks. Additionally, airplanes are designed to clean and filter air quickly according to Dr. David Powell, a medical advisor for a trade group that represents most of the world’s major passenger airlines and cargo carriers. “Customers sit facing forward and not toward each other, seatbacks provide a barrier, and the limited movement of passengers once seated adds to the onboard protection. Moreover, airflow is less conducive to droplet spread than other indoor environments: flow rates are high, directed in a controlled manner (from ceiling to floor), to limit mixing, and the use of High Efficiency Particulate Air filters ensures that the air supply is pure.”

But while these features help reduce risks, they do not eliminate them. Commercial airplane travel still means flying in a confined space with other people. Another passenger’s droplet can easily invade your personal space even with no one in the middle seat beside you.

Says Dr. Russo, “Once you’re on the flight, you’ve been dealt a hand. Hopefully, everyone around you isn’t infected, but you just don’t know for sure. A longer flight is going to be a greater risk even though the air is handled pretty well because it’s a close space, exposed to other individuals, and the time of exposure is longer.”

If you must fly, wear your best mask, sanitize all surfaces, and try to avoid eating, drinking, or using the lavatory.

Read the full story on whether flying is safe right now, including a sample of airlines’ current COVID-19 policies.

How travel agents and tour operators advise clients to book travel

While many travelers previously booked travel independently, some are returning to travel agents. These seasoned professionals have spent years in the business and are well-equipped to help clients identify viable locations with vetted, flexible policies. They may also have better insights into new practices at specific hotels to help determine how clean and safe they will be, and whether facilities and amenities may be impacted.

Their advice is to plan now, travel later (most of their clients are looking to travel between March and May of 2021), book refundable options, be aware of cleaning policies, try to travel domestically or close to home, opt for socially distant places, take advantage of deals, and assess your own comfort level with risk before booking.

Read the full story on key takeaways to learn from travel agents and tour operators about how to book travel right now, and into next year.

Socially distant travel: safe vacations during COVID-19

As noted by various experts, no matter your destination, your risk of infection largely depends on factors such as whether you’ll encounter other people, the intensity of such encounters, and if the location is experiencing high rates of infection.

While nothing can be guaranteed safe 100 percent safe, if you heed expert advice, take necessary precautions, and make informed decisions led by CDC and WHO guidance, you may be able to explore the world again soon.

If you find yourself in such a position, consider these locations within the United States that are well-suited to outdoor activities, offer socially-distant-friendly lodging, and remove the need for international travel.

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

Articles

Military spouse helps pass legislation to benefit military retirees in Arkansas

When Brittany Boccher was approached by retired Major General Kendall Penn and the Arkansas Secretary of State Military and Veterans Liaison Kevin Steele to help get proposed legislation passed to protect the retirement pay of military retirees, Boccher jumped at the opportunity to serve her current community.


Boccher, a mother of two and the spouse of a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, began the task by hosting the General and the Military and Veteran’s Liaison at one of the Little Rock Spouses’ Club meetings, where the men presented the proposed legislation to the local military spouses.

Brittany Boccher was invited to attend the signing of legislation into state law on Feb. 7, 2017. The law exempts military retiree pay from state taxes. (Photo courtesy of Brittany Boccher.)

The proposal specifically addressed the taxation of pay for military retirees. While active duty personnel in Arkansas do not pay a state tax, retired veterans’ pay is taxed.

That tax didn’t sit well with Governor Asa Hutchinson and Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, who have seen their state ranked at 48 in attracting and retaining working age military retirees and veterans.

“A lot of them will retire really young in their 40s, 50s, 60s. And what do they do? They have that steady income and start other businesses or they go work a new job,” Griffin said.

Hutchinson agreed, saying, “I believe it will help us to bring more military retirees here, welcome them back to Arkansas.”

Boccher committed to calling or emailing every state senate committee member directly to discuss his or her support for Hutchinson’s proposed tax initiative. Then she set out to round up military families that would benefit the most from the initiative in order to testify before the state house and senate committees.

Boccher, a business owner in Arkansas herself, told We Are the Mighty that her family reflected the target audience the state was hoping to attract with the proposed tax break.

“They were seeking a young family close to retirement to showcase that they would have a second career after the military. We are a 17 year military family, we’re young, and with two small children. We want to stay in Arkansas and we own a business in Arkansas.”

Boccher said her family “checked all the boxes” for what Steele and Penn wanted to present as the ideal family the state was trying to attract.

Penn asked Boccher to testify before the state house and senate committees.

As a result of her hard work and commitment to the legislation, Boccher and her family were invited to the bill signing ceremony earlier this month.

On February 7, Hutchinson released a statement that read, in part, “…beginning in January [Arkansas] will also exempt military retirement pay. This initiative will make Arkansas a more military friendly retirement destination and will encourage veterans to start their second careers or open a business right here in the Natural State.”

For her part, Boccher is proud of what she’s accomplished for veterans while simultaneously running an apparel company, a photography company, and a non-profit organization, the Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition.

Additionally, Boccher is the president of the Little Rock Air Force Base Spouses’ Club and the 2016 and 2017 Little Rock Air Force Base Spouse of the Year.

Boccher had this to say about her work, “The military community is resilient, adaptable, dedicated, independent, supportive, and resourceful, but most of all they can make a difference, their voice can be heard, and they can and will make change happen!”

MIGHTY BRANDED

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Articles

This Marine just saved the government $15 million

The Marine Corps was paying $60,000 more than it was supposed to for a type of radio cable since 2007, according to Stars and Stripes.


The cable was discovered to be overpriced in October 2016, when Marine Cpl. Riki Clement had to fix a radio. After being told that the needed parts would take six to eight months to arrive, he decided to reverse engineer a replacement using old parts and found out its true cost was actually closer to $4,000.

Later that month, the Marine Corps said the corporal had saved the government $15 million.

The cable that the Marine Corps was overpaying by $60,000. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

The defense contractor that makes the cable, Astronics, had been charging $64,000 for each cable. Astronics did not immediately respond to request for comment.

“There may be a good reason for the price, but based on us taking apart the cable and researching the individual parts, we’ve found no reason for this part to cost as much as it does,” Clement told Stars and Stripes in December 2016.
The overpriced cable was one of six in the same parts catalog, Barb Hamby of Marine Corps Systems Command told Stripes.

“The catalogued mistakes were made nearly seven years ago,” Tony Reinhardt, the command’s team lead for automatic test systems, told Stripes. “We went through every [item] in the kit to confirm the prices and fix the errors.”

Reinhardt said the cable costs $4,000 because of the material that goes into it, as well as the process of designing, developing and manufacturing it. He added that there’s no record of the Marine Corps ever purchasing individual replacement cables. The originals were part of kits, and Marines had been using parts from other kits for repairs.

The cost of each kit was $21,466, Capt. Frank Allan, a project officer at Marine Corps Logistics Command, told Stripes.

This isn’t the first time the military has been caught overspending.

In December 2016, it was discovered that the Pentagon had buried a study from late 2015 exposing $125 billion in administrative waste. President Donald Trump has also attacked defense contractors for overpriced weapons, despite recently calling for a $54 billion boost in defense spending.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Today in history: the polio vaccine was invented

The thought of summer brings on thoughts of sunshine, being outside and ice cream parlor trips for most people. But 67 years ago, summer was a time of fear for parents all over the world. Long before the novel coronavirus, there was a debilitating and deadly epidemic that would sweep through towns without warning. It was polio.


The original name for the virus was poliomyelitis, which was shortened to polio. History has demonstrated that polio actually may have existed long before it caused widespread fear in the 20th century. There are Egyptian carvings from 1400 B.C. which showcase a younger man with a leg deformity not unlike what you would see with someone who had polio.

This 1988 photograph showed Dr. Jonas Salk (left), who introduced the first polio vaccine in 1955, and Dr. Frederick A. Murphy (right), former Director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases, together during Dr. Salk’s visit to the Centers for Disease Control that year.

Public Health Image Library

The first documented polio outbreak in the United States occurred in 1894. It would be discovered that it was highly contagious in 1905. During the 1900s, this virus would become an epidemic.

The virus itself would spread through nasal or oral secretions and by contact with contaminated feces. As it continued multiplying within the body’s cells it may have only led to mild, virus like symptoms. But if it was the paralytic polio? Paralysis and even death could result because of the inability for the lungs to move for breathing. The iron lung, a negative pressure ventilator, would be invented around 1929, saving the lives of many. But it wasn’t enough to stop the virus from spreading.

It would begin to be known as infantile paralysis as it mostly affected children. Every summer, a child with a fever would leave parents gripped in fear that it was polio. A quarter of children would be left with mild disabilities and another quarter with severe and permanent disabilities. Thousands died.

The Alabama National Guard prepares to fly polio vaccine from Birmingham to Haleyvilled during the epidemic of 1963.

Public Health Image Library

On March 26, 1953, Dr. Jonas Stalk announced on a national radio show that he had successfully tested a vaccine to prevent polio. It was the first “killed virus” vaccine attempt. The year prior had been a terrible year for Americans, with 58,000 new cases reported. His announcement was one that brought incredible joy to the world. It would take two more years before it was proven completely safe and a national inoculation campaign would begin.

It should be noted that Stalk never attempted to patent the vaccine, which was proven to have saved countless human lives. He was once asked on live television who owned the patent and his reply is one quoted often: “Well, the people I would say. There is no patent; could you patent the sun?”

A liquid version of the vaccine would be created later on, which would greatly impact the distribution of the vaccine to more people. Polio was officially eradicated in the United States in 1994 thanks to the incredible efforts of Stalk and those who followed.

MIGHTY MONEY

4 insanely expensive versions of childhood games

If you ever passed the time in your childhood by desperately trying to get four plastic tokens to line up before your opponent did, you just might be thrilled by the new home décor collection by designer Edie Parker.

The collection, available on Moda Operandi, sells fancy, elevated versions of several classic, childhood games — perhaps the most noteworthy being Connect Four.

Officially called “Four in a Row,” the upscale version by Parker is handmade of acrylic and costs $1,495. You’re probably more familiar with the one that looks like this:



The Connect Four you probably recognize is collapsible and made of plastic.
(Amazon photo)

The whimsical collection also features a colorful $2,495 Tic Tac Toe board with golden letters, a $2,295 domino set, a $1,295 box to hold playing cards, and a $1,395 glow-in-the-dark puzzle box decorated with obsidian sand.


Designer Edie Parker made a $1,495 version of Connect Four.u200b
(Moda Operandi photo)

This fancy Tic Tac Toe board can be yours for just $2,495.
(Moda Operandi photo)

Who doesn’t need a bedazzled $1,295 card box?
(Moda Operandi photo)

u200b
(Moda Operandi photo)

In addition to the games, the home décor line offers several brightly-colored vanity trays ranging from $750 to $850 and coaster sets.

If you’re lucky enough to have a budget that allows you to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy board games, you’d better act quickly — the collection will only be available until June 29, 2018, according to the website.

But if you don’t have a spare $1,500 lying around, you can always indulge your nostalgia with the classic Hasbro version of Connect Four that sells on Amazon for $8.77.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Army vet rallies celebrities to create PSA to help frontline nurses in the fight against COVID-19

The stay-at-home orders didn’t stop some celebrities from collaborating on a viral video to thank medical workers, at the direction of Army veteran Ian Truitner. Rita Wilson, Constance Wu, Noah Wyle, Air Force veteran Jon Huertas, Kit Williamson, John Halbach, Kate Flannery, Chris Chalk, Angelica Maria, Simon Helberg, Parminder Nagra, Joan Lunden and others came together for a PSA supporting the American Nurses Association.

Self-shot in their homes under the collective vision of director Ian Truitner and producer Randall Scerbo Truitner, over 30 parts from both coasts combined for a fun, heartfelt project to raise money for nurses on the frontline who are treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The inspiration for the PSA came from Randall Scerbo Truitner, whose sister Tonya is a registered nurse in Georgia. Tonya had shared a video on social media of a doctor who was treating COVID-19 patients, describing the stress medical professionals were under as they were saving people’s lives. The video moved Randall to tears, and compelled her to want to do something to help the doctors, nurses and first responders on the front lines. Having produced documentaries to raise money for NGOs, she was accustomed to using her production skills for charitable causes.

Randall’s husband Ian Truitner had shown her some creative film work people were doing during the lockdown. It sparked a discussion about how they could make something compelling through their production company RANDIAN, but without the lights, cameras and crews required of normal production. The talent would film themselves remotely, with a through-line connecting everyone and a strong message at the end.

While Ian mapped out how all the parts and transitions would come together, Randall reached out to colleagues to get people involved. The response was immediate, with celebrities quickly offering their time to participate.

Thanks Nurses PSA

www.youtube.com

The American Nurses Association (ANA) had recently put together a funding arm, the American Nurses Foundation, specifically for nurses treating COVID-19 patients, which made them a perfect fit for the campaign. The foundation is designed for multiple support initiatives for nurses, including direct financial assistance, mental health services, critical information to help protect them and their families, and national advocacy for nurses and patients.

One of the first celebrities to come on board, who also reached out to fellow actors to get them involved, was Brianna Brown Keen. “I wanted to support this PSA to help shine a light on the real heroes during this crisis and help raise money to support them during this difficult time,” she said. Parminder Nagra, who played a doctor on NBC’s ER, said, “Being able to be a part of a PSA that sends a simple message of thanks in a fun way, was an honor. I hope it felt like a message of support and brought a smile to some faces.”

The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation’s 4 million registered nurses. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. Founded in 1896, and with members in all 50 states and U.S. territories, ANA is the strongest voice for the profession. #thanksnurses

Founded by Randall Scerbo and Ian Truitner, RANDIAN is a media technology and production company based in Los Angeles, CA.


MIGHTY SURVIVAL

As COVID-19 Hits Russia, A Self-Styled Psychic Healer And Soviet-Era Icon Returns

MOSCOW — Last week, Russians of a certain age saw a familiar face return to their screens. Anatoly Kashpirovsky, a self-styled psychic healer who entranced TV audiences as the Soviet Union was coming apart three decades ago, is back as an octogenarian YouTuber offering solace as the coronavirus spreads.

And some are taking what he has to offer, apparently, helping revive the career of a man who had become an almost forgotten symbol of a time when desperation ran high.


Almost 250,000 viewers have watched Healing Seance, a video posted on April 9 to Kashpirovsky’s channel on YouTube:

Кашпировский: Оздоровительный сеанс. Прямой эфир из Москвы. 09.04.2020г.

www.youtube.com

He sits immobile against a background of beige wallpaper and asks viewers to cover their eyes with their hands — not normally advisable as a pandemic rages.

“Over the coming days,” he says toward the end of what is essentially an hourlong monologue, “comments will keep coming in from people who have been cured.”

Kashpirovsky, now 80, achieved celebrity status in the Soviet Union through a series of televised sessions beginning in 1989 — two years before the country ceased to exist. Fixing his steely gaze on viewers who sat at home, some transfixed, he claimed powers to cure the sick and heal a nation that was hurting from the effects of economic decline.

At the peak of his celebrity in the early 1990s, Kashpirovsky was traveling the country to appear before packed halls and placed second only to President Boris Yeltsin in surveys of Russia’s most popular public figures.

In the waning days of the U.S.S.R. and the early years after its collapse, millions of people looking for meaning amid the chaos of change and stark economic challenges turned for relief to people like Kashpirovsky, who years earlier might have risked being sent by the Soviet state to a psychiatric hospital but now found a prominent place on prime-time television.

Early Morning Psychics

Kashpirovsky was not alone. Hundreds of thousands watched Allan Chumak, his main rival, as he flailed his arms in a “healing” ritual on his early morning TV slot. Viewers would place water bottles or tubs of cream in front of their TV sets to “charge” them with Chumak’s energy, which the mystic claimed was enough to heal ailments if drunk or smeared on the skin.

Kashpirovsky’s most famous stunt came in March 1989, when he appeared on a screen inside an operating room in Tbilisi, Georgia, via video link from Ukraine, and proceeded to guide a woman who could not use anesthesia through open abdominal surgery.

“Now everyone who watched me can go to the dentist and have their tooth pulled,” he told viewers afterward. “There will be no pain at all.”

The woman, Lesya Yershova, said in an interview several months later that she had felt “terrible pain” throughout the operation, which required a 40-centimeter incision, and had only cooperated because she didn’t want to let Kashpirovsky down. She agreed to forego anesthesia because Kashpirovsky had promised to make her thinner and bring her along to his shows around the world as an example of his healing powers, she told the newspaper Literaturnaya Gazeta.

He didn’t keep his promise, she said.

Kashpirovsky’s claims of supernatural powers soon drew comparisons with the 20th-century healer Rasputin, whose malign influence on the family of Tsar Nicholas II sparked accusations that he was meddling in affairs of state and contributed to the collapse of Russia’s war effort in 1917 and the ultimate downfall of its monarchy. Rasputin was said to ease the pain of the tsar’s hemophiliac son simply by talking to him.

A former weightlifter and a trained psychologist, Kashpirovsky has largely retreated from the spotlight since the 1990s. In 2009, with Russia reeling from the effects of the global financial crisis, he sought to stage a comeback of sorts by launching a TV show devoted to “paranormal investigations.” But in a country where there’s no shortage of such offerings — a show called Battle Of The Psychics is now in its 20th season — his star soon faded again.

In 2010, shortly after he announced that comeback, Kashpirovsky — who did not immediately respond to RFE/RL’s request for comment — launched his YouTube channel. Since then he has posted videos from auditorium shows performed in various countries, where he meets with locals and members of Russian emigre communities who pay money in hopes of being healed. The videos are posted with titles like Instantaneous Cure For A Slipped Disc and Salvation From Pain.

In a video he posted last August, an elderly man who appears to have a heavily curved spine walks across a stage in Taraz, Kazakhstan, to meet Kashpirovsky, before disappearing backstage. Minutes later he runs back onstage, waving his arms in triumph to rapturous applause from the audience, his back seemingly healed.

Кашпировский. Мгновенное избавление от спинно-мозговой грыжи.

www.youtube.com

The coronavirus pandemic appears to have drawn new attention to Kashpirovsky as it spreads in Russia, where the numbers of confirmed cases have risen sharply in recent days and President Vladimir Putin said on April 13 that the situation was “changing for the worse.”

Officially, the number of confirmed cases now exceeds 21,000, with 170 deaths, but experts suspect the real numbers may be higher.

Viewership of Kashpirovsky’s YouTube channel has risen substantially in recent weeks: His March 25 monologue — titled Coronavirus. Its Pluses And Minuses — has almost half a million views.

As he spoke during his “healing seance” on April 9, a scrolling text chat displayed comments from viewers.

“My tinnitus has completely gone,” one woman wrote. Another reported that a chronic neck pain had passed within three minutes. “I’ve believed in you since 1989,” wrote a third — though it was unclear whether in earnest or in jest.

After 53 minutes, Kashpirovsky signed off with a message to gullible viewers.

“Our meeting will naturally provoke in you an explosion in your immune system, which will protect you,” he said. “I crave that from the bottom of my soul.”

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY MONEY

Why these female veterans will never struggle for work again

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

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


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

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

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

(Institute for Veterans and Military Families)

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

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

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

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

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

  • Remi Adeleke, Transformers actor and former Navy SEAL
  • Angie Bastian, Co-Founder of Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn
  • Larry Broughton, Co-Founder and CEO of BROUGHTONadvisory and Founder and CEO of broughtonHOTELS
  • Neale Godfrey, founder and CEO of Children’s Financial Network

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

(Institute for Veterans and Military Families)

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

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

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

Articles

Navy extends hardship duty pay for one year

The Department of Defense has approved the Navy’s request for an extension to hardship duty pay for deployed sailors. Though the Navy requested the extra money for two years, the current funding expires in September, 2017, and does not include new money for Marines.


According to the Navy, an “extended deployment” consists of 221 consecutive days in an “operational environment” (aka: deployment), and the sailor assigned to those areas will earn $16.50 per day, “not to exceed $495 per month.” That amount is not dependent on rank or time in service. (Photo from U.S. Navy)

“The Navy is in high demand and is present where and when it matters,” said Vice Adm. Robert Burke, Chief of Naval Personnel. “Hardship Duty Pay – Tempo is designed to compensate sailors for the important roles they continue to play in keeping our nation safe during extended deployments around the globe.”

A Marine Corps financial office source said the reason the authorization was only approved for a year has more to do with politics than logistics.

During an election year, it is difficult to get additional funding for programs, he said.

“There are going to be budget cuts across the whole of the federal government in order for any progress on the national debt to be made,” the Marine financial office source said. “The next administration’s defense and fiscal policies will ultimately determine the fate of [Hardship Duty Pay- Tempo].”

A Navy spokesman said the service has paid out nearly $16 million over two years to about 24,000 sailors from 1,129 commands or units.

“This is something that the Navy wants for our sailors as we believe it positively affects sailors’ morale,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, spokesman for the Chief of Naval Personnel. “It’s one small way to help them during long and difficult deployments away from home.”

(Photo from U.S. Navy)

The Marine officer, however, was hopeful that “since it was reauthorized after its first go or ‘trial run,’ I think we can conclude that it was determined to be a success by our legislators in Congress and by the Department of the Navy’s upper echelon decision makers. Thus, I’m optimistic that it will continue in the future.”

Right now the reauthorization only applies to the Navy and does not include the Marine Corps. The same financial officer noted that though the extension of Hardship Duty Pay- Tempo does not apply to Leathernecks, he is hopeful that the Corps will issue its own extension.

The Marine finance officer didn’t believe that the lack of guidance for Hardship Duty Pay for the Corps would be a morale hit.

“If it turns out that Marines are not given HDP-T, I’m sure there will be a small level of frustration at first,” he said. “But Marines have always and will continue to put the needs of their country first, and are honored to do so. I have no doubt that what little frustration does occur will dissipate quickly.”