Member Blogs

  • This column is another in a series on good financial habits within your control, as opposed to annual stock market returns, which are not. Last time we got to work on your estate plan, while today we’ll uncover in under an hour how much you spent and saved last year.
  • Our listeners may be hearing a lot about Tariffs in the news. By definition, a tariff is simply a tax on imported goods. Check Out This Interview On Tariffs and Our Economy http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Retirement Financial planners like myself often encounter clients wanting to know how to financially retire.   While retirement is about much more than just money, that is why folks frequently seek out financial planning.   These people just want to know How much do I need to retire to avoid living under a bridge?  This can become [Continue] The post Money and More© January 19, 2019 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Looking for a way to save money on travel ? Flying space-available (Space-A) on a military flight is a great way to stretch your income. You can fly to and from U.S. military bases all over the world while spending next to nothing on airfare. Of course, it’s not as simple as calling a military passenger terminal and “booking” a flight. Flying Space-A on military aircraft is very different from commercial air travel. But it’s well worth learning how Space-A travel works so that you can take advantage of this incredible privilege available to eligible members of the military community. What Are Space-A Flights (AKA, Military Hops)? When military missions have extra seats after accommodating all space-required passengers and cargo, they often allow eligible passengers to “hop” the flights on a space-available basis. This is the origin of the term military hop. In these circumstances, the military mission is always the priority, and the Space-A passengers are along for the ride. When flying Space-A, you might be in a cargo plane, a fuel tanker, or a commercial charter plane. But the process works the same way for all missions. Space-A Flight Eligibility Space-A travelers are divided into priority groups known as Categories or “Cats” based on their duty status and the reason for travel. Lower numbered categories have higher priority for seats. Here is a summary of the Space-A travel categories: Cat 1: Emergency leave unfunded travel Cat 2: Accompanied environmental and morale leave (EML) Cat 3: Ordinary leave, relatives, house hunting permissive TDY, Medal of Honor holders, foreign military, unaccompanied dependents of service members deployed more than 365 consecutive days Cat 4: Unaccompanied EML and dependents of service members deployed between 30 and 364 consecutive days Cat 5: Permissive TDY (non-house hunting), students, unaccompanied dependents of service members stationed outside the continental U.S. (OCONUS), post-deployment/mobilization respite absence Cat 6: Retirees and their dependents, reserve, ROTC, 100% Disabled Veterans It is important to know your category when planning your Space-A travel because your category determines when you can sign up, what paperwork you need, and where you are eligible to fly. Table 3 in Section 4.11 of DOD Instruction 4515.13 has more detail on eligibility by category and approved geographical travel segments. How Does Space-A Travel Work? Flying Space-A is a process, and the better you understand it, the greater your chances of having a successful trip. 1. Identify your destination and possible routes The first step is figuring out which bases have regular flights to your destination. You can start by looking at this list of worldwide locations that may have Space-A opportunities. Profiles of some terminals include information about typical flight destinations.  As discussed in the next step, you will learn more about where the various air terminals fly most frequently when you begin following their Space-A flight schedules. In some cases, there are many possible routes you can take to your destination. For example, if you are on the East Coast and want to travel to Spain, you can fly from one of several bases that have regular missions to Naval Station Rota . If you’re coming from another part of the U.S., you will likely have to take multiple hops to get to Spain (e.g. JB Lewis-McChord to JB Charleston, and then JB Charleston to Rota). The Space-A Travelers Facebook group is a great resource if you’re having trouble piecing together a flight plan to your destination. Use the group to ask questions and search for information about flying to and from specific locations. Keep in mind that you may need to combine Space-A travel with other transportation. If you don’t live near a base with regular Space-A flights, you will have to drive or fly commercial to one of the active Space-A hubs. Similarly, you might hop a flight to a base overseas, and then take a train or local airline to your final destination. 2. Follow the Space-A flight schedules of the passenger terminals you may use Most military passenger terminals maintain a Facebook page on which they publish their flight schedules for the upcoming 72 hours. The schedules list the destinations, anticipated number of Space-A seats, and the “Roll Call” time, which is the time at which passenger terminal staff announce the names of passengers who have been selected for the flight. Terminals that maintain a Facebook page also publish information about recently-departed flights, including the number of Space-A seats released and the number of Space-A passengers who were competing for the flight. Click here for more detail on how to read the Space-A schedules on Facebook Use all of this information to monitor flights out of your target passenger terminals. Over the course of several weeks or months, you will see patterns in where and how often they have missions. Note: The Air Mobility Command (AMC) website has links to all terminals’ social media pages . If a terminal does not have a Facebook page, you can obtain Space-A flight information by calling the terminal directly. 3. Sign up to travel from all locations you could originate travel When you have a destination in mind, sign up to fly from any and all terminals from which you might travel. Signing up is free and takes only a few minutes. In the example in Step 1 above, if you were traveling to Spain, you would sign up at every passenger terminal that has regular missions to Rota. The AMC website has instructions for signup, including a list of all information required. You can submit your signup through their website, via e-mail, in person at the terminal, or using the TakeAHop app (the app costs $6.99). E-mail and the TakeAHop app are the easiest ways to sign up with multiple terminals at once. Sign up as far in advance of your travel date as possible, in accordance with your category. When competing for seats, priority within a category is determined by signup date and time, so the longer you’ve been on the list, the better. At most terminals, a signup is good for up to 60 days. Active duty cannot sign up for Space-A travel until they are on leave. However, being in Cat 3 means that you have priority over travelers in categories 4, 5 and 6, no matter how far in advance those passengers signed up. 4. Mark yourself present within 24 hours of the flight Within 24 hours of your target flight, go to the terminal in person and notify the staff that you are competing for the flight. Bring your military ID, passport (if traveling to/from a foreign country), and any required travel authorizations, such as your leave form if you are active duty, EML orders, or the memo from your sponsor’s command if you are an unaccompanied dependent . You should also bring a copy of your signup e-mail in case the terminal does not have a record of your signup. Most terminals will accept your e-mail as proof of your signup date and time. You must mark yourself present before Roll Call starts, but you can do so anytime within 24 hours. One or two hours in advance is generally enough, but be sure that you are continually monitoring the passenger terminal’s Facebook slides in case they unexpectedly change the Roll Call time. It’s also a good idea to call the terminal directly to confirm that Roll Call has not changed; sometimes the terminal staff is too busy to update their Facebook page promptly. 5. Listen for your name during Roll Call When Roll Call begins, terminal staff announce how many Space-A seats are available for the flight and read the names of the passengers selected. They start with the passengers in the lowest-numbered (highest priority) category and work their way down the list. If they call your name, go to the desk and confirm that you and any dependents traveling with you are present. Bring your required paperwork along with your and your dependents’ military IDs. ID cards are required for all passengers over the age of 10. When traveling with children younger than 10 who do not have an ID card, bring their passport or a MilConnect printout that shows their DOD ID number. If they don’t call your name during Roll Call, you should stay in the terminal, at least until the flight boards. Sometimes, additional Space-A seats are released at the very last minute. 6. Check your luggage and obtain your boarding pass Luggage check may begin immediately after Roll Call or several hours later. When it’s time to check bags, all travelers in your family and all of your luggage must be present. On most flights, each passenger can check two bags of up to 70 lbs each. You can also check car seats, which do not count towards your baggage allowance. Some smaller aircraft limit baggage to as little as 30 lbs per person. If you or any of your dependents cannot meet those requirements on the weight-restricted aircraft, you are not eligible for the flight. The AMC website has detailed information on baggage allowances . Some locations offer box lunches for a nominal cost ($10 or less), which usually include a sandwich, chips, cookie, and drink. You can request and pay for those meals when checking your luggage. Once you’ve checked your bags and have your boarding passes, you are “manifested” on the flight. The terminal staff will tell you the estimated boarding time. However, boarding times often change without notice, so stay in the terminal. 7. Board the aircraft and pick your seat When the passenger terminal announces boarding, all manifested passengers go through security. Military passenger terminals follow Transportation Security Administration regulations, so you have the same restrictions for carry-on items as on civilian planes. You sit in a secure area of the terminal until it’s time to board the plane. At most locations, a bus takes you to the aircraft, and you board the plane from the tarmac. If you are flying Space-A on a Patriot Express flight , your boarding pass will list your assigned seat.  On other Space-A aircraft, you select your own seats on a first-come, first-served basis. What to Expect on a Space-A Flight With the exception of the Patriot Express, flights on military aircraft are no-frills. The crew provides earplugs, a water cooler, and sometimes chips or cookies, but any refreshments are self-service. Depending on the type of aircraft, there may be regular seats or web seating along the sides of the plane. If it’s the latter and there is space on the floor, the crew may allow you to lie down on a blanket or air mattress (if you brought one) after the aircraft reaches cruising altitude. Military aircraft are often very cold and loud, so dress in warm layers, and bring extra ear protection if you don’t want to wear the foam earplugs provided. Pros and Cons of Flying Space-A As you might expect, there are advantages and disadvantages to flying military hops. The Pros: What are the advantages of flying Space-A? The most obvious benefit of flying Space-A is that it can be free or very low-cost. Patriot Express flights have a small per-passenger tax ranging from about $4 to about $35, and some terminals offer meals for purchase, but those are the only direct costs associated with the flight. You can save thousands of dollars on airfare if you have multiple family members traveling, especially to/from OCONUS destinations. Another benefit of flying Space-A is access to base resources as soon as you land. You can stay overnight in base lodging, stock up on snacks at the commissary, or get discount tickets to local attractions through the Information, Tickets & Travel office. When traveling abroad, landing at a U.S. military base also gives you time to get your bearings before venturing out to explore a new country. While you may get conflicting views on this point, flying Space-A can be much more pleasant than flying commercial. Having the option to stretch out on the floor of a C-17 is a nice alternative to sitting in the cramped Economy section of a commercial carrier. In addition, if you’re traveling with small children, you will likely get more help and support from fellow passengers than you would on a civilian flight. Finally, Space-A is a fun adventure, especially for anyone who has never flown on a military aircraft. The Cons: What are the disadvantages of Space-A? The #1 disadvantage is the uncertainty. In most cases, you won’t know until a maximum of 3 days in advance where a terminal’s missions are headed, and you can’t be sure you have a seat until the last minute. When flying Space-A, you must have patience and flexibility. Another disadvantage is that the most difficult times to get a seat may be the exact times you want to travel. Summer PCS season, the winter holidays, and, to a lesser degree, Spring Break, are extra competitive, particularly when flying to/from OCONUS locations. There may be indirect costs associated with flying Space-A, including lodging, transportation, and meals while waiting for a flight. If you have to wait for several days, those costs can add up quickly. Finally, some passengers find military aircraft uncomfortable. Cargo planes are cold and loud, and if you are unable to lie on the floor in an aircraft that has webbed seating, an overseas flight will feel pretty long. Of course, those are all issues that you can remedy with proper planning, but they are a consideration when deciding if you want to fly Space-A. When Should You Use Space-A? Keeping those pros and cons in mind, Space-A is a great option if you have time and flexibility to wait for a flight, particularly during the “off seasons” of fall, late winter, and early spring. Also, the more passengers traveling with you, the greater the cost savings compared to flying commercial. Space-A is never a good option when you have to be somewhere by a particular time, whether it’s for a wedding, a graduation, or a cruise departure. You should also avoid flying Space-A – particularly to OCONUS destinations – during the busiest times noted above. Final Advice from a Seasoned Space-A Traveler There are two very important rules to remember when flying Space-A: Always have a have a backup plan, including enough money to pay for commercial airfare in case Space-A doesn’t work out. Don’t wait for the perfect flight. Hop any flight that moves you closer to your destination, especially when traveling between OCONUS and CONUS. Each time you fly Space-A, you will learn something new, whether from your own experience or through conversations with fellow travelers. In the meantime, keep learning as much as you can about how the process works. When you have a destination in mind, do your research so you know about the Space-A terminal’s lodging, transportation, and immigration procedures before you land. Finally, remember that Space-A is a privilege we share as members of the military community, and the mission takes priority 100% of the time. With that in mind, be sure to bring plenty of patience, a positive attitude, and a sense of adventure. KC-10 Extender Photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman, US Air Force .
  • By investing in an area designated by Uncle Sam as an Opportunity Zone, you can defer the tax on a large capital gain and possibly eliminate it altogether. Check Our Video Blog On Uncle Sam Wants You Investing In Poor Areas http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Americans spend almost $1.5 trillion dollars annually on fees related to subprime mortgages, payday and student loans, and auto insurance premiums. Check Out This Interview On Are You In A Sea of Debt? http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Americans spend almost $1.5 trillion dollars annually on fees related to subprime mortgages, payday and student loans, and auto insurance premiums. Check Out This Interview On Are You In A Sea of Debt? http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Your Taxes and the Government Shutdown The current federal government partial shutdown is affecting the IRS and your taxes.  On January 7th the IRS announced that they will accept tax returns starting on January 28th.  The IRS will issue refunds on schedule.  There are other issues that might hold up returns.   The IRS has recalled [Continue] The post Money and More© January 12, 2019 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. So begins the Charles Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities . Which by the way I havent read. Have you? Recently weve seen some good times and bad times in the stock market. On Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 the S&P 500 (an index of the 500 largest US stocks) was down 2.48% On Friday the front page headline in the Wall Street Journal read: Then the very next day, Friday January 4th, the same index was up 3.43% Saturdays headline read: So what can we expect over the next days/weeks/months? Will the markets be up, down, or sideways? Many prognosticators purport to have a crystal ball that can predict short term gyrations in the market. I dont. What I do know is that missing even a handful of the best days in the stock market can markedly reduce your portfolios performance over time. When do the best of times happen in the stock market? Historically, a lot of them occur in the midst of the worst of times. In the words of my wonderful CFP® instructor Alan Ioffredo: Volatility, while uncomfortable, isnt loss; its merely the toll exacted on the road to financial independence. Pay the toll. Stay the course.
  • This expands on this article that Ryan wrote a few years ago regarding VA health care eligibility . Please take a few minutes to read that article as it explains eligibility items in detail. Over a recent family reunion, my cousin and I somehow got on the subject of VA benefits .  Both he and I were in the service for around 5 years, with no service-connected disability ratings or combat experience.  He caught me off-guard when he said he gets health care through the VA.  My first response was, wait, what?! This started the wheels turning and I decided to go through the process and see how it works.  The VA has always been this strange monster that no one seems to fully understand, myself included, even after going through the process.  Another relative of mine also worked in the VA benefits department for 30+ years.  She always advised me to get into the system regardless.  She was right. I separated from the military in 2000 with a DD 214 and an honorable discharge . That was about it. When I left the service my medical records had maybe 5 pages in it.  So, it never occurred to me that I would have any VA medical benefits.  Thanks to some legislation, regular non-retired vets, like you and I have some options available to us. The VA Health Care Application & Enrollment Process To get the process going, start your Health Care Application here .  Its the online equivalent to the VA Form 10-10EZ and all the questions are straight forward. A couple of days later you will get a call from the closest VA health care facility to set up a number of intake appointments. For me, it was an EKG, blood work, Health Hub, intake nurse meeting, intake doctor exam, prescription drug overview and finally a meeting with the pharmacy.  This takes about a 1/2 day. Here is what I went through: EKG took about 5 minutes — I believe this is required for anyone over 40. Blood and plasma test was for a whole range of items. Health hub was for getting signed up online to track my health, lab results, VA appointments, and prescriptions.  It is called MyHealtheVet. The intake nurse took vitals and asked a number of questions. The doctor exam only took a few minutes because I am relatively healthy.  This appointment was only for intake.  If you have medical issues, you get assigned a primary care doctor.  Here is the rub, followup appointments can take 2-3 months to schedule at my local VA health care facility, which seems to be common at many VA health care facilities. I had no prescriptions, so I did not need the prescription drug appointment. The pharmacy appointment was just to show me that I can purchase prescriptions for $0 to $11, depending on if it is a Brand Name or Generic. You will also get pamphlets and packets on your local VA facility. From the time you finish your initial application online to when you intake, you will start getting a number of items in the mail.  They are actually really quick with this.  I think I saw some things in the mail within 2 days. VA Health Care Priority Group Assignment You will receive a Priority Group assignment after your VA health care application has been approved. Your VA Priority Group determines what your benefits will be. I was assigned to VA Priority Group 8c.  This group basically means I have no service-connected disability and my income is over the national income limit.  For my area, that is over $60,000/yr.  Basically, I will have copayments for certain services.  The VA Health Care Priority Groups are listed below, with a brief explanation of eligibility for each Priority Group. With all that, services like Preventative Care, Mental Health, Inpatient Services, and others are available to my group. Copays for each group differs, my particular group was $0 for preventative care, $15 for primary care and $50 for specialty care. Long-term care also has a copayment.  You will receive additional information on that. VA Priority Groups The VA assigns veterans to a Priority Group, which determines, in part, their access to health care, and the cost, if any. These Priority Groups are designed to help the VA ensure those with the greatest need are able to obtain quality health care when they need it. Priority Group 1 Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated by VA as 50% or more disabling. Veterans determined by VA to be unemployable due to service-connected conditions. Veterans who have been awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH). Priority Group 2 Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated by VA as 30% or 40% disabling. Priority Group 3 Veterans who are former Prisoners of War (POWs). Veterans who have been awarded a Purple Heart medal. Veterans whose discharge was for a disability that was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty. Veterans with service-connected disabilities rated by VA as 10% or 20% disabling. Veterans who have been awarded special eligibility classification under Title 38, U.S.C., § 1151, benefits for individuals disabled by treatment or vocational rehabilitation. Priority Group 4 Veterans who receive aid and attendance or housebound benefits from VA. Veterans who have been determined by VA to be catastrophically disabled. Priority Group 5 Veterans with a nonservice-connected or non-compensable service-connected disability and Veterans rated by VA as 0% disabled and who have an annual income below the VA’s geographically-adjusted income limit (based on your resident ZIP code). Veterans receiving VA pension benefits. Veterans eligible for Medicaid programs. Priority Group 6 Veterans with a compensable 0% service-connected disability. Veterans exposed to ionizing radiation during atmospheric testing or during the occupation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Project 112/SHAD participants. Veterans of the Mexican border period or of World War I Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975. Veterans of the Persian Gulf War who served between August 2, 1990, and November 11, 1998. Veterans who served on active duty at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987. Currently enrolled Veterans and new enrollees who served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, and those who were discharged from active duty on or after January 28, 2003, are eligible for the enhanced benefits for five years post discharge Priority Group 7 Veterans with gross household income below the geographically-adjusted VA income limit for their resident location and who agree to pay copayments. Priority Group 8 Veterans with gross household incomes above the VA income limits and the geographically-adjusted income limits for their resident location, and who agree to pay copayments. Veterans eligible for enrollment: Veterans who are rated with a noncompensable 0% service-connected and are: Subpriority a: enrolled as of January 16, 2003, and who have remained enrolled since that date and/or were placed in this subpriority due to changed eligibility status. Subpriority b: enrolled on or after June 15, 2009, and whose income exceeds the current VA income limits or the geographically-adjusted VA income limits by 10% or less. Veterans eligible for enrollment: Veterans who are nonservice-connected and: Subpriority c: enrolled as of January 16, 2003, and who have remained enrolled since that date and/or were placed in this subpriority due to changed eligibility status. Subpriority d: enrolled on or after June 15, 2009, and whose income exceeds the current VA income limit and geographic income limit by 10% or less. Veterans not eligible for enrollment: Veterans not meeting the criteria above: Subpriority e: noncompensable 0% service-connected (eligible for care of their service-connected condition only). Subpriority g: nonservice-connected. VA Health Care Co-Payments Some veterans may be required to pay a co-pay for care they receive at a VA mendical facility. The amount of the Co-pay, if any, is determined by your Priority Group, or whether the service is exempt from co-pay. By law, veterans are charged a co-pay for three main reasons: Care not related to a service-connected illness or injury Their income exceeds a certain threshold, or Their income information is incomplete or not available. Veterans Not Required To Make Copays Some Veterans qualify for free healthcare and/or prescriptions based on special eligibility factors including but not limited to: Former Prisoner of War status 50% or more compensable VA service-connected disabilities (0-40% compensable service-connected may take copay test to determine prescription copay status) Veterans deemed catastrophically disabled by a VA provider Services Exempt from Inpatient and Outpatient Copays Special registry examinations offered by VA to evaluate possible health risks associated with military service Counseling and care for military sexual trauma Compensation and Pension examinations. Care that is part of a VA research project Care related to a VA-rated service-connected disability Readjustment counseling and related mental health services Care for cancer of head or neck caused by nose or throat radium treatments received while in the military Individual or Group Smoking Cessation or Weight Reduction services Publicly announced VA public health initiatives, for example, health fairs Care potentially related to combat service for Veterans that served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998. Laboratory and electrocardiograms Hospice care You can learn more about VA health care co-pays here , or by contacting your local VA medical facility. What Else to Expect when Enrolling in the VA Health Care System A Veterans Choice Card should also be mailed to you.  If you are entitled to VA benefits, you can use this card to receive services from non-VA providers.  It does have some stipulations.  You can find more information here. Another important item you will receive is a Veterans Health Benefits Handbook that outlines your benefits.  You want to read through this because I noticed my handbook was customized to my 8c group assignment. In the end, you really just need to get the Heath Care Application filled out to start the process.  I think you may be surprised what you are entitled to.  I know I was.
  • In case you missed it, the Federal Reserve made history recently. Check Our Video Blog On A Poignant Moment In Financial History Sparks Stocks http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • In case you missed it, the Federal Reserve made history recently. Check Our Video Blog On A Poignant Moment In Financial History Sparks Stocks http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Today we’re going to cover an important topic regardless of market performance: putting an estate plan in place.  It’s not the most scintillating or upbeat topic but is critical.
  • For the foreseeable future, millennial Henry's (High Earners Not Rich Yet) will be the consumers that every brand manager, marketer and retail executive will need to know well. Check Out This Interview On Are You A Henry? High Earning Not Rich Yet http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • For the foreseeable future, millennial Henry's (High Earners Not Rich Yet) will be the consumers that every brand manager, marketer and retail executive will need to know well. Check Out This Interview On Are You A Henry? High Earning Not Rich Yet http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Quoted in…

    I write from time to time in various publications. Ive been meaning to gather my press clippings into one file. Ill put this here as a stub to add things to as I find/recall them. Ive got some upcoming pieces going to Forbes, blogging about personal finance. Thats sort of a fun thing for me [] The post Quoted in appeared first on Wendy Marsden, CPA, CFP® .
  • ‘Twas the last day before Christmas and all through the markets. Check Our Video Blog On Twas The Last Trading Day Before Christmas http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • ‘Twas the last day before Christmas and all through the markets. Check Our Video Blog On Twas The Last Trading Day Before Christmas http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Cash flow is King in your personal and business life. Check Our Video Blog On Cash Flow. http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Cash flow is King in your personal and business life. Check Our Video Blog On Cash Flow. http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Cash flow is King in your personal and business life. Check Our Video Blog On Cash Flow. http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Over the 21 years and 11 months ended in November 30, 2018, the risk-free 90-day U.S Treasury Bill averaged an annual return of 2.1%, compared to a 7.2% annualized return on the S&P 500 stock index. Check Our Video Blog On Stock Plunge Nears Bear Territory After Fed Hike http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Over the 21 years and 11 months ended in November 30, 2018, the risk-free 90-day U.S Treasury Bill averaged an annual return of 2.1%, compared to a 7.2% annualized return on the S&P 500 stock index. Check Our Video Blog On Stock Plunge Nears Bear Territory After Fed Hike http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • From mid-1970 through October 2018, the US focused portfolio had a 9.8 percent annual return. The global one averaged 9.7 percent per year. In short, the portfolios performed almost exactly the same.
  • Dreams and Businesses are the #1 most powerful way to amass the most wealth. Check Out This Interview On The #1 Wealth Builder http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Dreams and Businesses are the #1 most powerful way to amass the most wealth. Check Out This Interview On The #1 Wealth Builder http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Dreams and Businesses are the #1 most powerful way to amass the most wealth. Check Out This Interview On The #1 Wealth Builder http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • New Blog Post

  • New Blog Post

  • New Blog Post

  • With the holiday season here and the end of 2018 closing in, here’s a last-minute reminder not to pass up an opportunity to give charitably and wisely. Check Our Video Blog On A Last-Minute Reminder To Give Wisely And Charitably http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • With the holiday season here and the end of 2018 closing in, here’s a last-minute reminder not to pass up an opportunity to give charitably and wisely. Check Our Video Blog On A Last-Minute Reminder To Give Wisely And Charitably http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Middle management often gets a bad rap. Check Our Video Blog On Middle Management http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Middle management often gets a bad rap. Check Our Video Blog On Middle Management http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Charitable Giving under the Tax Law Changes The sweeping tax laws changes  from year ago have a great effect on charitable giving.  These are likely to be even more profound in 2019 as taxpayers better understand the law.  The new law  increases the amount a taxpayer can deduct from 50% of adjusted gross income (AGI) [Continue] The post Money and More© December 15, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • I am currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear . He writes compellingly about creating big improvements in nearly any area of our lives by making small steady changes over time. Im not quite done with the book so it is not this months book giveaway tune in next month to win a free copy! This formula certainly works for saving money. Many 401k plans have encouraged the idea by offering an auto escalation feature. With auto escalation the percentage of salary you contribute goes up, typically by 1% each year. When you sign up for this feature this happens automatically which is a great way to save! To see the impact of escalating your savings percentage lets take a look at two young women at the start of their careers: Susan and Sally. Susan and Sally are both 25 years old and they both have jobs paying $45,000/year. Susan decides to contribute 5% of her salary to her 401k plan. Sally also decides to contribute 5% of her salary to her 401k plan. They each contribute $2,250. _________________________________________________________________________ After one year, both Susan and Sally get a 3% raise. Now they are each making $46,350. Susan continues with 5% salary contribution. Sally increases hers to 6%. Susan contributes $2,317 and Sally contributes $2,781. _________________________________________________________________________ After another year, both Susan and Sally again get a 3% raise. So now they are each making $47,740. Again, Susan continues with 5% salary contribution. Sally increases hers to 7%. Susan contributes $2,387 and Sally contributes $3,341. _________________________________________________________________________ This repeats for a total of 32 years: a 3% raise every year, Susan continuing with 5% contribution every year and Sally escalating by 1% each year. Then when they are 57 (and believe me, this goes by in a flash!), their salary is $115,878. That year Susan contributes 5% or $5,793 and Sally has escalated up to 37% of salary or $42,875! _________________________________________________________________________ Now lets assume that those contributions over the last 32 years have earned 5% a year. How much do Susan and Sally have? Sally has a little over a million dollars. Susan has about a quarter of that amount. Of course Your Mileage May Vary historically portfolio returns over this length of time have been better than this! The flip side to saving is of course spending. Because Sally is saving such a large percentage of income, she is spending much less than Susan.Increasing your savings percentage helps slow the increased spending of lifestyle creep. Susan is spending ≈$110K a year and Sally is spending ≈$73K a year. Sally has a larger nest egg and a smaller lifestyle! _________________________________________________________________________ Saving 37% of your income may seem like an impossible achievement. But Sally didnt get there overnight-it took 32 years of steady annual 1% increases. I realize not everyones life proceeds in a linear fashion like this. You might drop out of the work force for a time to care for family members. You might not get a raise every year. On the other hand, you might get a few promotions along the line and get bigger increases! Save, Invest, Repeat. Start early, increase often. *all dollar amounts are rounded *spending includes taxes
  • Tariffs, interest rates, and the economy’s strength are triggering fear and market volatility. Here are the facts. Check Our Video Blog On Key Facts About Tariffs, Interest Rates, And Economic Strength http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Tariffs, interest rates, and the economy’s strength are triggering fear and market volatility. Here are the facts. Check Our Video Blog On Key Facts About Tariffs, Interest Rates, And Economic Strength http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • The 2019 military pay charts go into effect on January 1, 2019. You will see the corresponding income in your first paycheck, which should arrive on January 15, 2019. Military members will receive a 2.6% annual cost of living adjustment . While this doesnt sound like a huge raise, it is actually the largest military pay raise since 2010. You can compare the numbers on these pay charts to the 2018 military pay charts to see how they compare to 2018 pay. When Do I Get Paid? Members are generally paid on the 1st and 15th of the month unless that day falls on a weekend or holiday. If so, members are generally paid the preceding business day. The following links will take you to the current military pay dates: Military Pay Dates Retired Military Pay Dates 2019 Military Pay Raise 2.6% Note about these numbers: This is an estimate based on the 2019 pay raise approved as part of the 2019 DoD budgets. These numbers are not the official DoD pay scale numbers those will be released at the end of Dec. 2018, or at the beginning of 2019. How accurate are these numbers? Most likely within $0.10 or less of the final numbers. The DoD rounds the pay to the nearest 10 cents. We simply took the 2018 pay charts and multiplied them by 1.026 to get the numbers found on this page. The official pay charts will likely round these numbers up or down accordingly. So the numbers you see here should be within a few cents of the actual numbers the DoD releases in a couple weeks. (note: the numbers in the footnotes will also change we will update those accordingly when the official charts have been released). We will update these charts as soon as the official charts have been released. 2019 Pay Scale – Officers, Prior Enlisted Officers, and Warrant Officers Officers generally begin their career with the pay grade of O-1. However, there may be exceptions. Some officers have prior enlisted service and qualify as O-1E (E denoting prior-enlisted experience). Some officers may also join the military at an accelerated rank based on professional experience in the civilian sector. This is generally limited to certain professions, including the medical, legal, and similar career fields. Finally, Warrant Officers are technical experts in their career fields and generally start at the pay grade of W-1. However, Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CWO-2) is the entry-level warrant officer rank in the US Coast Guard. The pay grade for this rank is W-2. Warrant Officers are found in all branches of the military except the Air Force. 2019 Military Pay Chart Officers and Warrant Officers 0 Years 10 Years Pay Grade2 or lessOver 2Over 3Over 4Over 6Over 8Over 10 O-10(*1)------- O-9(*1)------- O-8(*1)10,668.9611,018.6211,250.7111,315.3411,604.9812,088.2312,200.58 O-7(*1)8,865.269,276.789,467.629,619.069,893.3110,164.4810,477.82 O-6(*2)6,722.667,385.667,870.457,870.457,900.618,239.198,283.82 O-55,604.426,313.596,750.056,832.547,105.567,268.397,627.28 O-44,835.545,597.345,971.326,054.126,400.706,772.837,236.07 O-34,251.644,819.225,201.515,671.525,943.626,241.576,434.25 O-23,673.594,183.934,818.304,981.135,083.935,083.935,083.93 O-13,188.503,319.014,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.87 Prior Enlisted Officers Pay Grade2 or lessOver 2Over 3Over 4Over 6Over 8Over 10 O-3E---5,671.525,943.626,241.576,434.25 O-2E---4,981.135,083.935,245.535,518.85 O-1E---4,011.874,283.964,442.484,604.38 Warrant Officers Pay Grade2 or lessOver 2Over 3Over 4Over 6Over 8Over 10 W-5------- W-44,393.854,726.274,861.704,995.295,225.215,452.685,683.22 W-34,012.484,179.624,351.064,407.704,586.844,940.505,308.63 W-23,550.473,886.283,989.704,060.504,291.044,648.704,826.00 W-13,116.483,451.983,542.163,732.693,958.004,290.424,445.25 2019 Military Pay Chart Officers and Warrant Officers 12 Years 26 Years Pay GradeOver 12Over 14Over 16Over 18Over 20Over 22Over 24Over 26 O-10(*1)----16,210.9016,210.9016,210.9016,210.90 O-9(*1)----15,078.5115,296.4315,610.0816,157.04 O-8(*1)12,659.8112,791.5513,187.0813,759.5814,287.1514,639.2814,639.2814,639.28 O-7(*1)10,790.2411,103.5812,088.2312,919.2912,919.2912,919.2912,919.2912,985.47 O-6(*2)8,283.828,754.459,586.7410,075.2210,563.3910,841.3311,122.9711,668.08 O-57,890.768,230.888,751.378,998.539,243.549,521.499,521.499,521.49 O-47,596.207,846.447,990.498,073.908,073.908,073.908,073.908,073.90 O-36,751.296,916.886,916.886,916.886,916.886,916.886,916.886,916.88 O-25,083.935,083.935,083.935,083.935,083.935,083.935,083.935,083.93 O-14,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.87 Prior Enlisted Officers Pay GradeOver 12Over 14Over 16Over 18Over 20Over 22Over 24Over 26 O-3E6,751.297,018.767,172.667,381.667,381.667,381.667,381.667,381.66 O-2E5,730.005,887.295,887.295,887.295,887.295,887.295,887.295,887.29 O-1E4,763.514,981.134,981.134,981.134,981.134,981.134,981.134,981.13 Warrant Officers Pay GradeOver 12Over 14Over 16Over 18Over 20Over 22Over 24Over 26 W-5----7,812.588,208.728,503.908,830.47 W-46,029.196,332.996,622.016,858.717,089.257,428.147,706.398,024.04 W-35,482.235,682.915,889.146,260.966,511.826,661.726,821.167,038.46 W-25,000.525,214.135,380.965,532.095,713.085,831.895,926.075,926.07 W-14,661.944,875.245,043.305,197.515,385.275,385.275,385.275,385.27 2019 Military Pay Chart Officers and Warrant Officers 28 Years 40 Years Pay GradeOver 28Over 30Over 32Over 34Over 36Over 38Over 40 O-10(*1)16,210.9016,210.9016,210.9016,210.9016,210.9016,210.9016,210.90 O-9(*1)16,157.0416,210.9016,210.9016,210.9016,210.9016,210.9016,210.90 O-8(*1)14,639.2815,005.8715,005.8715,380.7715,380.7715,380.7715,380.77 O-7(*1)12,985.4713,245.2513,245.2513,245.2513,245.2513,245.2513,245.25 O-6(*2)11,668.0811,901.3911,901.3911,901.3911,901.3911,901.3911,901.39 O-59,521.499,521.499,521.499,521.499,521.499,521.499,521.49 O-48,073.908,073.908,073.908,073.908,073.908,073.908,073.90 O-36,916.886,916.886,916.886,916.886,916.886,916.886,916.88 O-25,083.935,083.935,083.935,083.935,083.935,083.935,083.93 O-14,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.874,011.87 Prior Enlisted Officers Pay GradeOver 28Over 30Over 32Over 34Over 36Over 38Over 40 O-3E7,381.667,381.667,381.667,381.667,381.667,381.667,381.66 O-2E5,887.295,887.295,887.295,887.295,887.295,887.295,887.29 O-1E4,981.134,981.134,981.134,981.134,981.134,981.134,981.13 Warrant Officers Pay GradeOver 28Over 30Over 32Over 34Over 36Over 38Over 40 W-58,830.479,272.789,272.789,735.719,735.7110,223.2710,223.27 W-48,024.048,184.098,184.098,184.098,184.098,184.098,184.09 W-37,038.467,038.467,038.467,038.467,038.467,038.467,038.46 W-25,926.075,926.075,926.075,926.075,926.075,926.075,926.07 W-15,385.275,385.275,385.275,385.275,385.275,385.275,385.27 (*1) Basic pay for an O-7 to O-10 is limited by Level II of the Executive Schedule in effect during Calendar Year 2018 which is: $15,800.10. This includes officers serving as Chairman or Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Chief of Staff of the Army, Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Commandant of the Coast Guard, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, or commander of a unified or specified combatant command (as defined in 10 U.S.C. 161(c)). (*2) Basic pay for O-6 and below is limited by Level V of the Executive Schedule in effect during Calendar Year 2018 which is: $12,816.60. Combat Zone Tax Exclusion Pay: The Combat Zone Tax Exclusion  for O-1 and above is based on the basic pay rate shown in note 3 plus Hostile Fire Pay/Imminent Danger Pay which is $225.00 per month (prorated). Academy Cadets & ROTC Basic Pay: Basic pay rate for Academy Cadets/Midshipmen and ROTC members/applicants is $1,087.80. Prior Enlisted Officer Pay Qualifications Prior enlisted officers may be eligible for a higher pay rate based on time in service and other criteria. The pay scale offers the following note: *Applicable to O-1 to O-3 with at least four years & one day of active duty or more than 1460 points as a warrant and/or enlisted member. See Department of Defense Financial Management Regulations (DoDFMR) for more detailed explanation on who is eligible for this special basic pay rate. 2019 Pay Scale – Officers, Prior Enlisted Officers, and Warrant Officers Enlisted members generally begin their service in the pay grades of E-1 through E-3. Military branches sometimes reward higher starting ranks for enlisted members as incentives for joining the military. Common routes to starting with a higher enlisted rank include having some college credits at the time of joining, signing a longer enlistment contract, having earned an Eagle Scout award, and other reasons. The members starting pay grade will be clearly stated in their enlistment contract. 2019 Military Pay Chart Enlisted Members 0 Years 10 Years Pay Grade2 or lessOver 2Over 3Over 4Over 6Over 8Over 10 E-9(*3)------5,308.32 E-8-----4,345.524,537.59 E-73,020.753,296.853,423.353,590.183,720.993,945.074,071.58 E-62,612.612,875.163,001.973,125.403,254.063,543.393,656.36 E-52,393.452,554.742,678.172,804.373,001.363,206.973,376.26 E-42,194.612,306.962,431.932,555.362,664.012,664.012,664.01 E-31,981.312,105.662,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.40 E-21,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.04 E-1> 4 mos1,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.90 E-11,554.08------ 2019 Military Pay Chart Enlisted Members 12 Years 26 Years Pay GradeOver 12Over 14Over 16Over 18Over 20Over 22Over 24Over 26 E-9(*3)5,428.365,580.415,758.325,938.696,226.496,470.576,726.667,119.41 E-84,656.714,798.914,953.735,232.295,373.575,613.965,747.556,075.66 E-74,295.664,482.494,609.924,745.354,797.684,974.365,068.855,428.98 E-63,874.893,941.383,990.014,046.654,046.654,046.654,046.654,046.65 E-53,396.573,396.573,396.573,396.573,396.573,396.573,396.573,396.57 E-42,664.012,664.012,664.012,664.012,664.012,664.012,664.012,664.01 E-32,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.40 E-21,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.04 E-1> 4 mos1,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.90 2019 Military Pay Chart Enlisted Members 28 Years 40 Years Pay GradeOver 28Over 30Over 32Over 34Over 36Over 38Over 40 E-9(*3)7,119.417,474.927,474.927,848.907,848.908,241.968,241.96 E-86,075.666,197.556,197.556,197.556,197.556,197.556,197.55 E-75,428.985,428.985,428.985,428.985,428.985,428.985,428.98 E-64,046.654,046.654,046.654,046.654,046.654,046.654,046.65 E-53,396.573,396.573,396.573,396.573,396.573,396.573,396.57 E-42,664.012,664.012,664.012,664.012,664.012,664.012,664.01 E-32,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.402,233.40 E-21,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.041,884.04 E-1> 4 mos1,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.901,680.90 (*3) For the Sergeant Major of the Army Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Senior Enlisted Advisor of the JCS, or Senior Enlisted Advisor Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau basic pay is: $8,361.00.
  • Big Data and AI worked well for President Obama but why did Big Data not work well for Hilary Clinton against Donald Trump in 2016. Check Out This Interview On Big Data http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Big Data and AI worked well for President Obama but why did Big Data not work well for Hilary Clinton against Donald Trump in 2016. Check Out This Interview On Big Data http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • When the new tax law was enacted almost a year ago, your take-home pay probably increased. My concern is that the changes will result in millions of taxpayers owing in April.
  • Retirement Pension and Social Security Sweet Spots Coordinating the timing of pensions and social security can create greater wealth during retirement.   Often folks want to take their pensions and Social Security as soon as possible.  Social Security which can be started as early age 62 is penalized for each month taken prior to the Full [Continue] The post Money and More© December 8, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Disclosure: This article is part of a military personal finance bloggers #BRSBlitz education campaign sponsored by USAA. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. The Blended Retirement System (BRS) officially rolled out on January 1, 2018. Members who joined the military on or after January 1, 2018 are automatically enrolled in the BRS. Members who joined the military before that date were eligible to remain under the previous military retirement plan, or they could choose to opt into the BRS if they had less than 12 years of active duty service (or an equivalent number of points in the Guard or Reserves , which comes out to 4,320). Those with more than 12 years of service are automatically grandfathered into the High-3 Retirement Plan. Theres a catch, however. The decision to change retirement plans is irrevocable, and members only have one year in which to make their decision. That window is closing on December 31, 2018. That means there is only one month left to decide to stay the course with the legacy retirement plan or opt into the Blended Retirement Plan. The decision is a highly personal one and will depend on many factors. As such, I cant tell you which is best for your situation. Only you can do that. But you will need to decide soon. A Brief Overview of Your Retirement Options High 3 vs. BRS The legacy retirement plan, called the High 3 Retirement plan, is a cliff-vesting retirement system which vests at 20 years of service. A cliff-vesting retirement plan simply means that you earn full retirement benefits all at once, rather than over time. This is common for many pension systems. The High 3 Retirement plan takes an average of your highest 36 months of pay and uses that as a multiplier based on the number of years you served. Simply take your average pay and multiply it by 2.5% per year served. 20 years of service will earn you 50% of your average base pay. You earn another 2.5% for each additional year served. (DFAS will actually calculate partial months and days as well, but you get the idea). The Blended Retirement System has a few changes from the High 3 Plan. It utilizes a lower multiple for each year of service, but it also adds matching TSP contributions and a Continuation Pay bonus. The BRS uses the same average of your highest 36 months pay but uses a lower multiplier to determine the amount of your pension. The BRS uses a 2.0% multiplier instead of 2.5%. Half of a percent doesnt sound like much until you run the numbers. Suddenly, a pension based on 50% of your base pay at 20 years is only 40% under the BRS a reduction of 20%. Fortunately, there is more to the story. The BRS also offers members something not offered under the High 3 retirement plan matching TSP contributions, up to 5% of your base pay. Members are also eligible for a Continuation Pay bonus when the member reaches 12 years of service, provided he or she agrees to another service commitment of 3 or 4 years (branch specific). The Active Duty Continuation Pay Bonus is between 2.5x to 13x the member’s monthly base pay. (Each branch of service can determine the exact amount, but it will be no less than 2.5% of base pay). Guard / Reserve Continuation Pay Bonus is between 0.5x to 6x the monthly basic pay of a member of the same pay grade, as if serving on active duty. Comparing The Retirement Plan Options Looking at the above overviews, you can sum up the plans like this: High-3 Plan: 50% pension at 20 years, plus 2.5% for each additional year served. BRS: 40% pension at 20 years, plus 2.0% for each additional year served; Plus matching TSP contributions of up to 5% of your base pay Plus Continuation Pay Bonus at 12 years of service, worth at least 2.5 times monthly base pay How Do I Know Which Retirement Plan is Better? The short answer is you dont. You will have to use some educated guesswork and some nifty tools, like the calculators provided by the DoD , or the BRS Tool available on USAA.com . Both of these tools are available to everyone, and you do not need to be a USAA member to use the BRS Tool on their site. Now input your data and run the numbers. Calculators are useful tools, but they can never be perfect. Keep in mind that no one can predict future stock market returns, inflation, and similar factors. You can also play around with some assumptions to see how changing inputs impacts the end results. The most important thing is to understand how these two plans work, and whether or not one may be better than the other for you. Get started with the Military Retirement Comparison Tool on USAA.com . Now Lets Take a Step Back and Look at the Big Picture Its Not Just About the Money My friend, Doug Nordman, over at The Military Guide , calls the Blended Retirement System, a lifestyle decision masquerading as a financial decision. And he is spot on. The truth is, the vast majority of active duty military members will never make it to retirement. There are hundreds of reasons why personal, medical, professional, you name it. There are as many reasons as there are people in the military. Fewer than 20% of military members actually remain on active duty long enough to earn a pension. That means over 80% walk away from the military with no retirement benefits. DoD officials estimate that close to 85% of participants in the Blended Retirement Plan will leave the military with at least some retirement benefits. That is quite a difference! Staying in the Military Until Retirement Isnt Guaranteed People who separate from the military for a variety of reasons and the vast majority of them never end up receiving any military retirement benefits. I left active duty after 6.5 years of service. I was completely burned out and I needed to change both my personal and professional situation. I left active duty with no military retirement benefits. It was only after meeting Doug and reading his book, The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement , that I realized I may still be able to serve. After an 8.5 year break in service, I joined the Air National Guard and I am now a little over halfway toward earning a military retirement. I bring this up because I was very close to being in the 80+% of servicemembers who leave the military with no military retirement benefits. I later joined the Guard, so I may end up earning military retirement benefits in the end. But even that isnt a given. I would have jumped at the chance to join the Blended Retirement System while I was on active duty, had I been given the opportunity. The Blended Retirement System Gives You Options Participating in the BRS, and taking control of your financial planning, gives you the option to walk away from the military if you want to, or at least help you to be better prepared if you are forced to separate from the military , even through no fault of your own. Being able to walk away from the military knowing youre are on track for retirement is priceless and that can come through your pension if you reach retirement or through the Thrift Savings Plan or other investments. Is participating in the BRS a requirement to save on your own? Absolutely not. But the matching TSP contributions are a nice incentive to contribute to your TSP, and the additional 5% (if you max out the matching contributions) will help you reach your goals more quickly. Again, the Blended Retirement System has a financial element, but its not just about the money . What Else Should I Consider When Making My Decision? There are many things to consider where you are in your career, the likelihood you will remain in the military long enough to retire (keep in mind, fewer than 20% of all servicemembers reach retirement), your civilian career prospects, and many other factors. We have a detailed article that covers 10 factors to consider before opting into the BRS . It was written by Forrest Baumhover, a retired Navy officer and current financial planner. So he is coming at this article with two levels of professional experience. Here are some additional articles you can reference for this decision: Blended Retirement System: How To Choose Between The Military’s Retirement Systems . USAA And The Final Month To Opt In To The Military Blended Retirement System . How To Opt-In To The Blended Retirement System . Which Military Retirement Plan Should I Choose? Again, this is highly personal. Speaking as someone who left active duty after my first term, I can appreciate the flexibility the BRS offers. On the other hand, I can also appreciate the allure of the higher fixed-pension. If you are junior in your career and undecided about your plans, then I would give consideration to the BRS. The decision becomes more nuanced and personalized as you gain rank and years of service. Thats when the math changes. At the end of the day, you will need to examine your military career prospects, desire to continue serving, and your ability to serve. Then run some numbers and come to a decision you can live with. Again, I recommend using both the DoD BRS calculator and the USAA’s Military Retirement Comparison Tool . Both tools should help you have a better understanding of your options. Take Action by Dec. 31, 2018 December 31st is the last day to take action. There will be no extensions to the deadline. That said, I recommend making your decision soon and be sure to take action in advance of the deadline. The last thing you want is to miss the deadline because of a last-minute glitch, or because you get distracted by the holidays. Schedule 30 minutes to an hour to run some numbers, talk it over with your spouse/significant other/mentor/friend, then take action!
  • Extending a hand in support of a more dovish monetary policy stance, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled a pause in rate hikes in 2019. Check Our Video Blog On Fed Chair Extends A Dovish Hand, Lifting Stocks http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Extending a hand in support of a more dovish monetary policy stance, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled a pause in rate hikes in 2019. Check Our Video Blog On Fed Chair Extends A Dovish Hand, Lifting Stocks http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • The MILITARY STAR Card is available exclusively for military personnel and their families. This card comes with a line of credit to help you with your financial needs, including routine day-to-day purchases, or those particular to the military lifestyle. It offers plenty of benefits, which is why it has made our list of Featured Credit Cards for Military Members . How The MILITARY STAR Card Works The MILITARY STAR Card is offered and administered by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). If youre an eligible member of the military, The MILITARY STAR Card is one option you need to check out closely. The card comes with generous rewards and discounts, as well as a low-interest rate on your approved line of credit. The card is available for eligible active military service members and their families. Also, note that you will be responsible for payment of any outstanding balance on your account after separation from service. The MILITARY STAR Rewards Program and Discounts You can gain two points for every dollar you spend when you shop with exchange facilities and armed forces Recreation Center resort hotels. The same rewards points arrangement applies for online shopping at shopmyexchange.com , myNavyExchange.com , and shopCGX.com . You can also earn points at Army and Air Force Exchange Service food courts, Express locations, mall vendors, and other outlets. To be eligible to participate in the Rewards Program, your account must be in good standing. Rewards points will begin accumulating on the day your account is approved. Once you earn 2,000 points, you automatically earn a $20 MILITARY STAR Rewards Card. That means the card has a conversion rate of $1 in rewards for every $50 spent, which is the equivalent of a 2% purchase reward. Rewards Cards redemption. Cards can be redeemed for merchandise or services anywhere an exchange gift card is accepted. There is no limit to how many cards you can earn each year. Points cannot be credited to your account, redeemed for cash, applied to a previous purchase, or used to purchase gift cards or e-gift cards. Rewards points will not expire as long as you have purchase activity at least once every 12 months. Selling rewards cards is strictly prohibited, and can result in termination of your card agreement, and loss of all unused and unexpired points. In addition to the Rewards Program, youll also have the benefit of ongoing discounts as follows: 0% promotional interest  Exclusive savings just for cardholders Shipping: Free standard shipping on shopmyexchange.com and my NavyExchange.com Gas discount: 5 cents per gallon every day Food court discount: 10% daily MILITARY STAR Card Features and Benefits Other significant features and benefits of the MILITARY STAR Card include: The interest rate isn’t affected by your credit score. While your credit score will influence whether or not you are approved for the card, it will not have an effect on your interest rate. The MILITARY STAR Card has a single rate for all borrowers, regardless of your credit. First Day Discount. Upon approval of your account, you will get a 10% discount for purchases on the first day. It will appear as a credit on your first monthly billing statement. Military Clothing Plan purchases. These purchases can be made with a 0% APR. This is a special interest rate waiver, specifically for this plan. The 0% APR applies on purchases of eligible military clothing for up to $500. However, military clothing and equipment offered by other vendors are not eligible for this plan. Authorized users. You can add authorized users to your card. They must be eligible dependents, as defined by the Department of Defense, at least 18 years of age, and with current Exchange privileges. Authorized users will have full use of the card, and can even make payments on your behalf. Credit reporting. Your MILITARY STAR Card payment history will be reported to the major credit bureaus. This will give you an opportunity to build your credit while you’re an active member of the military. MILITARY STAR Card Pricing The card comes with a current rate of 12.24% APR for Retail Plan purchases, and 0% for Military Clothing Plan purchases. The interest rate is variable and will adjust based on changes in the Prime Rate . Your interest charges may also be temporarily reduced based on military activation or deployment. At the end of your activation or deployment, the interest charges or return to the rates in effect at the time of your return. To be eligible for the interest rate reduction, either you or your representative must provide a copy of your activation or deployment orders, either by email, fax, or physical mail. Your monthly payment will be the greater of 2.777% of the unpaid balance, or $10. For purchases under the Military Clothing Plan, the minimum payment will be 12.5% of the unpaid balance. For example, if your card has a balance of $1,000, comprised entirely of regular purchases, the minimum monthly payment will be $27.77 (or $28 rounded up to the nearest whole dollar). If you’re charged interest, the charge will be nothing less than $0.50. However, if you pay your balance in full by the due date each month, there will be no interest charged on your purchases during that billing period. The due date is at least 25 days after the close of each billing cycle. Other fees to be aware of include: Annual fee: None Late fee: None Over-limit fee: None Returned payment fee: $25 Penalty rate: 20.24% The penalty rate applies if you do not pay the full amount of any total minimum payment due within 60 days of the due date, and will apply until you make six consecutive on-time payments thereafter. How to Sign Up for the MILITARY STAR Card You can apply for the card on the ECP website or in-store at a local base exchange. If you apply online, you click the “Apply Now” button on the website, and youll be brought to a login page where you can register. Youll then be taken to a disclosure page which will include several required notices you need to read. From there you can continue on to the application. Youll be asked to provide general information, including your Social Security number and your employment and income information. Your qualification for the card will be subject to credit investigation and credit reports. Your income, employment, and other related information will be verified with third parties. MILITARY STAR Card Pros and Cons Like any product, the MILITARY STAR Card comes with both advantages and disadvantages. Pros: The interest rate on the MILITARY STAR Card is lower than the rate on most popular credit cards. The Rewards Program is the equivalent to 2% cash back on your purchases , which is very generous as an ongoing rewards program, even compared to major bank credit cards. There’s a first day 10% discount for purchases. No annual fee. No late fees or over-limit fees. The interest rate youll pay will not be affected by your credit score. Interest rate reduction during deployment. Ongoing discounts on purchases, gasoline, and at the food court, as well as promotional 0% interest offers. The card can be used to help you build a good credit rating while you’re in the military, through regular, on-time payments. Cons: The card will be terminated once you leave active duty military service. Rewards points are accumulated at select locations and may not be earned on all purchases made. As is the case with all credit cards, loans, and credit lines, late payments made on the MILITARY STAR Card will have a negative impact on your credit and credit score . Approval isn’t automatic. Bad credit could result in your application being denied. Should You Sign Up for the MILITARY STAR Card? Though the MILITARY STAR Card is available only to members of the military, it offers one of the best overall credit card packages available, even when compared with credit card offers by major banks. The low-interest rate, plus the generous rewards and discount programs make the card too good to pass up. If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to sign up for the card, visit the MILITARY STAR Card website .
  • At one time Cricket Wireless had a discount program for military service members. However, that program has since been terminated, and Cricket offers only very limited military benefits compared to other cell phone service providers. However, it has to be noted that Cricket Wireless is also one of the lowest cost cell phone service providers. For that reason, the need for a specific military discount plan may not be entirely necessary. It may be that the regular cost of Cricket Wireless service is even lower than that offered by other providers, even when military discounts are factored in. Cricket Wireless Military Deployment Plan This is not a discount plan in any sense. Instead, it enables you to suspend your phone number when youre called into active military duty service. Thus, you wont be able to use your Cricket Wireless service. Cricket Wireless will hold your phone number in inactive status for up to 36 months. Once you return from deployment, you’ll have up to 90 days to re-subscribe to the service. You are eligible for this plan whether you are being deployed or are currently deployed. In total, Cricket Wireless Military Deployment Plan is a 39-month plan, comprised of 36 months, plus a 90 day grace period. If you fail to reactivate your service within that time frame, your phone number will be deactivated and recycled. To take advantage of the Military Deployment Plan, you can call Customer Support, giving your last name and date of birth. If you signed up for AutoPay, youll be unenrolled to avoid paying unnecessary bills. Your wireless voice, data, and voicemail will be turned off. Unfortunately, youll lose any existing voicemails youve saved. But one of the big advantages with this plan is that while you can deactivate your own phone line, other lines on your account can remain active. Thats a valuable benefit if other members of your family are also on the same plan. Reactivating Your Account When You Come Home Once you return home, youll have 90 days from your final date of deployment to reactivate your account. You can reactivate simply by calling Customer Support. Cricket Wireless also provides expedited unlocking prior to deployment, if it must be done on short notice. Once again, you can call Customer Support to make it happen. To unlock your phone, you have to provide the following information: Your name. Your date of birth. Your phone number. A copy of your documentation of deployment status. The email where youd like the unlocking directions to be sent to. Cricket Wireless Low-Cost Plans Though it doesnt offer a military discount, Cricket Wireless does have some of the lowest priced plans in the industry. For example, their Talk & Text plan provides unlimited calls and texts throughout the US, though it doesnt offer data access. Still, if youre looking for basic phone and text, this is a highly affordable plan. They also offer their popular Unlimited Program. For $55 a month ($50 after AutoPay credit) you’ll have: Unlimited calls, text and picture messages across the US. Unlimited text from the US to 37 countries. Data access, plus unlimited calls, text, and picture messages to and from Mexico, Canada, and the US. Unlimited data access with speeds to 3 Mbps. Video streaming at SD quality (about 480p). With the Unlimited plan, you can stream video and music, surf the web, post photos to social media, send and receive emails with attachments, and download apps, games, and songs. And as youve doubtlessly seen on Cricket Wireless’s numerous TV commercials, they offer four lines of unlimited data for $100 per month with the Unlimited plan. So thats one line for $55 per month or four lines for $100 per month. Whats more, there is no annual contract, no overage charges, and the rate includes taxes. How Does Cricket Wireless Compare to Other Cell Phone Provider Discounts? Since Cricket Wireless doesnt offer an actual military discount, youll have to compare the cost of their regular plans with what’s being offered by other carriers, including their respective discounts. To give you an idea of what Cricket Wireless’s competitors have to offer, below are the other military discounts offered by major cell phone carriers : Verizon Wireless Military Discount Discount: $15 for one line, $35 for two lines, $40 for three or more lines; 25% off select accessories when purchased online Eligible Plans: Go, Beyond or Above Unlimited Eligibility: Active Duty, National Guard, Coast Guard, Reserve, Retirees, Veterans, Family Members (when the military member is the sponsor), Commissioned Officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Public Health Service Learn More: Verizon Wireless Military Discount AT&T Military Discount: Discount: 25% Eligible Plans: AT&T Unlimited & More Plan Eligibility: Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, Retirees, Veterans, Family Members (when the military member is the sponsor) Learn More: AT&T Military Discount Sprint Military Discount: Discount: 50% off Family Lines Eligible Plans: Sprint Unlimited Military Plan (comparable to Sprint Unlimited Basic plan) Eligibility: Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, Retirees, Veterans, Family Members (when the  military member is the sponsor) Learn More: Sprint Military Discount T-Mobile Military Discount: Discount: 20% on first line; 50% on each additional line Eligible Plans: T-Mobile Military One Plan (comparable to T-Mobile ONE Plan) Eligibility: Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, Retirees, Veterans, Family Members (when the military member is the sponsor) Learn More: T-Mobile Military Discount How Cricket Wireless Gives Back to Veterans Cricket Wireless is now available in 122 military exchanges in US-based military bases. This includes 83 for the Army and Air Force, 26 for the Navy, and 14 for the Marines. A military shopper can take home Risio 2, CoolPad, HTC Desire 550, or Sol 2 devices. Alternatively, they can use a bring-your-own-device kit (BYOD) to activate their own device on the Cricket Network. Bottom Line Cricket Wireless is admittedly weak on providing discounts and benefits for members of the military. But their Military Deployment Plan does make it easier for deployed military to temporarily interrupt their service, without fully terminating either their account or their phone number. And once you return to the US, you can easily reactivate your account, and pick up where you left off. In the meantime, even though Cricket Wireless doesnt offer specific military discounts, they do offer some of the most competitive phone plans in the industry. Their Unlimited plan, providing unlimited data access, calls, text and picture messages across the US, as well as unlimited text from the US to 37 countries, a serious bargain at $100 for four lines. It may not be a military discount, but its the kind of program that can definitely benefit military families. You can find even more ways to save on our military discount list , which we update regularly with all of the best offers available to you.
  • The stock market has struggled recently, as investors recalibrated expectations for earnings growth. Check Our Video Blog On Last Chance For S&P 500 Slid Last Week, As Earnings Growth Is Recalibrated
  • The stock market has struggled recently, as investors recalibrated expectations for earnings growth. Check Our Video Blog On Last Chance For S&P 500 Slid Last Week, As Earnings Growth Is Recalibrated
  • Stop selling. Too many companies and too many sales professionals focus on closing that sale without paying any attention to creating a great experience for the customer. Check Out This Interview On The Great Sales Experience http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Stop selling. Too many companies and too many sales professionals focus on closing that sale without paying any attention to creating a great experience for the customer. Check Out This Interview On The Great Sales Experience http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Black Friday Discount Strategy that works on other days too! I’ve looked at Fitness Trackers for awhile now and have narrowed it down to the Fitbit Charge 3.  I was happy that stores marked it from $150 to $120 on Black Friday.  I discovered that several stores offer additional store benefits as well.   For example, [Continue] The post Money and More© December 1, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • If you are a veteran or active duty military personnel, you have access to a world of military discounts from companies and providers looking to thank you for your service. US Cellular is one such company. Military families can get 15 percent off calling plan charges with U.S. Cellular, one of the nation’s top five cellular carriers. Veterans and members of the reserves can also qualify for the discount. Look at the company and its services carefully to determine whether the discount can save you money and if U.S. Cellular can meet your needs. U.S. Cellular: Military & Veterans Discounts Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile most of the nation’s top cell phone carriers generate instant name recognition because of their advertising budgets. Chicago-based U.S. Cellular advertises, too, but you may not be as familiar with the company, which operates in only 23 states: California Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Maine Maryland Minnesota Missouri Nebraska New Hampshire North Carolina Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania South Carolina Tennessee Texas Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin. Unlike Consumer Cellular and other discount carriers that use other companies’ towers, U.S. Cellular operates on its own network within its 23-state territory. When you travel outside of U.S. Cellular’s territory, the company has agreements with other carriers to make sure you still have seamless service. Like other leading carriers, U.S. Cellular operates 4G and 4G LTE networks, and it sells popular Apple and Android-based smartphones and tablets. If you live in a state U.S. Cellular serves, it can provide service comparable to the other leading carriers. The company, which has about 5 million customers, won a J.D. Power award (shared with Verizon) for network performance in 2018. About the U.S. Cellular Military Discount A wireless discount can be harder to quantify than you’d think because it usually does not apply to all aspects of your bill. A cell phone bill includes charges for: Line access: Also referred to as a calling plan, this is the backbone of your account. It assigns your number to your device and covers phone calls and text messages. Phone: You’ll also pay for the phone itself, and monthly charges can vary depending on whether you bring your own device or have already paid off your phone. Data: Apps, videos, maps anything that’s not a phone call or a text message on your smartphone needs data. These fees can add up when you’re not on WiFi. Overages: When you exceed your plan’s data, minutes, or text message allotment, your company can charge you extra, depending on how your contract is set up. U.S. Cellular’s military discount applies only to the calling plan (line access) itself. For example, if you have a $55 line access fee plus $45 in additional fees, your entire bill will be $100. Fifteen-percent off the entire $100 monthly bill would be a $15 discount, making your bill $85. But since the discount applies only to your $55 calling plan, your discount would be $8.25, making your total bill $91.75. This is not necessarily a deal breaker, but it is something to be aware of as you shop around and compare phone companies, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Keep in mind you may be able to save money each month by buying a used phone instead of buying one directly from U.S. Cellular. Make sure your phone works on U.S. Cellular’s network before making this happen, though. You can also save money by keeping your data use to a minimum. If you have WiFi at home or work, sign your phone onto that network to save on data charges. U.S. Cellular also offers a data-only plan for tablets which do not include a phone line. Customers with a data-only plan can claim the 15-percent military discount on the plan’s monthly data allotment. The discount will not apply to data overages. How Does U.S. Cellular’s Military Discount Compare? A lot of retailers, restaurants, and service providers show their appreciation to veterans and active duty military members through military discounts . U.S. Cellular offers the discount to veterans and active duty military members from all branches of the service. It also extends the discount to members of the National Guard and Reserves. So how does U.S. Cellular’s program stack up to other leading wireless phone service deals? Let’s take a look at some basics: U.S. Cellular Military Discount Discount: 15 percent Eligible plans: Single Line and Family calling plans; discount can also be applied to a data-only “Shared Connect” plan which does not include a phone line. Who’s eligible? Active duty, veterans, reserves, guard AT&T Military Discount Discount: 25 percent Eligible plan: AT&T Unlimited & More Who’s eligible? Active duty, veterans, reserves, guard, family members (when the military member is the sponsor) More info: AT&T Military Discount Sprint Military Discount Discount: 50 percent off family lines Eligible plan: Sprint Unlimited Military Plan (comparable to Sprint Unlimited Basic Plan) Who’s eligible? Active duty, guard, reserve, veterans, family members (when the military member is the sponsor) More info: Sprint Military Discount T-Mobile Military Discount Discount: 20 percent on first line; 50 percent on each additional line Eligible plan: T-Mobile Military One Plan (comparable to T-Mobile ONE Plan) Who’s eligible? Active duty, guard, reserve, veterans, family members (when the military member is the sponsor) More info: T-Mobile Military Discount Verizon Military Discount Discount: $15 off one line; $35 off two lines; or $40 off account access fee for three or more lines. Also, 25 percent discount on some phone accessories online. Who’s eligible? Active duty, guard, reserve, veterans, family members (when the military member is the sponsor) More info: Verizon Military Discount As you compare plans be sure to consider how you use your phone plan to make sure you can take advantage of the discount. For example, if you have only one phone line, a 50 percent discount on a second line will not benefit you, and you may save more with a flat-rate discount from another carrier. How Do U.S. Cellular’s Services Stack Up? Savvy shoppers already know discounts of any kind can influence you to buy products you don’t really need or use a company you wouldn’t ordinarily prefer. Before taking advantage of U.S. Cellular’s military discount, make sure the company will meet your individual and your family’s wireless phone needs. U.S. Cellular’s Network Performance As indicated above, U.S. Cellular has won J.D. Power Awards for its network performance in the North Central coverage area. The company maintains its own towers and has an adequate selection of phones and tablets. Naturally, if you do not live in one of the 23 states where U.S. Cellular provides service, you should look elsewhere for savings. If you do live in a U.S. Cellular state, the services you’ll receive should be in the neighborhood of another leading carrier, both for price and network quality. Individual expectations of a network vary, so it’s hard to know whether you’d be happy with the company without personal experience. Reviewers have found U.S. Cellular stands out in its customer service, both online and in person. A Word About Extensive Traveling If you travel outside of U.S. Cellular’s service area, you’ll still have phone service, and you won’t be required to pay to use other companies’ towers because U.S. Cellular has deals with companies across the country. However, if you travel extensively, requiring U.S. Cellular to utilize third-party services on a regular basis on your behalf, the company could terminate your service. Customer service reps would let you know well in advance of your plan’s termination, of course, but it’s something to keep in mind before signing on. Ironically, this could become a problem for an active duty military member who gets stationed outside U.S. Cellular’s area of coverage. Opt-In to Paperless Billing to Save More U.S. Cellular will knock $10 off your line access charge when you opt into paperless billing. This equals an 18 percent discount off the normal $55 line access charge for a single line. This discount applies to all customers and not just military members. You’ll still get a bill via email and get text alerts about your balances. It’s a pretty easy way to save $120 a year. How Can You Claim Your U.S. Cellular Military Discount? Military discounts express gratitude for the sacrifice military members, veterans, reserves, and guard members make. They also can help save money month to month. If you think U.S. Cellular can provide your wireless needs and you’d like to claim the discount, here’s how: An existing U.S. Cellular customer who has not claimed the military discount can start the process by dialing 611 from your wireless phone. Non-customers can get started by calling 1-888-944-9400 from any phone. You can also walk into a U.S. Cellular location . Showing Proof of Your Service Like most companies offering military discounts, U.S. Cellular will ask for proof of your service which you can provide in several ways: Active military members can show proof by: Having a military-issued email Showing proof of military pay (LES) Presenting a SCRA Status Report Veterans can provide: A DD Form 214 A Veterans ID Card A Military Retiree Account Statement A VetRewards Card from Veterans Advantage Be sure to check out other military discounts while youre shopping for services and products.
  • With many investment categories currently down for the year, now could be an ideal time to rebalance your portfolio. If you’re a casual investor, you may have heard about rebalancing, wondered what it means, and questioned whether it applies to your situation. In this column we will cover the basics of rebalancing and also investigate whether your investments require it.
  • Did you know several states offer a military veterans bonus? Most of the state veterans bonuses are offered to military veterans who joined the military from that specific state and served during a time of war or a named military campaign. Not all states offer a veterans bonus, and each state sets specific eligibility requirements. For example, most states require the veteran was a legal state resident at the time they joined the military. Some states require the veteran was a resident for a certain amount of time before joining the military. Other requirements include serving during specific dates or during specific conflicts, or having a military discharge rating above a set level (for example, some states do not offer a bonus to a veteran with a dishonorable discharge ). Military Veterans Bonuses Listed By State The following states have a military veterans bonus: Illinois Massachusetts New Hampshire Ohio Pennsylvania South Dakota West Virginia Illinois Military Veterans Bonus The State of Illinois is offering bonuses to veterans of the United States Armed Forces. The state is offering several types of cash bonuses depending on the veterans dates of service. Illinois Veterans  Bonus WWII Vets For veterans of World War II, a bonus payment of $10 per month for those serving domestically and a $15 payment per month for service on foreign soil is payable to veterans that were residents of Illinois at the time of entering service, who have served at least 60 days on active duty between the dates of September 16, 1940 and September 3, 1945, and who received an honorable discharge. Survivors of veterans are entitled to receive a one-time benefit of $1,000 if the veteran died as a result of service-related reasons during the specified time period. Illinois Veterans  Bonus Korea, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf Vets For veterans serving during the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf conflicts, a cash bonus in the amount of $100 is payable to service members who served during any of the following time periods: Korea – June 27, 1950 – July 27, 1953 Vietnam – January 1, 1961 – March 28, 1973 Vietnam Frequent Wind – April 29 – April 30, 1975 Persian Gulf – August 2, 1990 – November 30, 1995 Service members who are interested in claiming the bonus payments must have been a resident of Illinois for 12 months immediately prior to entering the service, having received an honorable discharge, and must have also received one or more of the following medals: Korean Service Medal Vietnam Service Medal Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Vietnam Era Southwest Asia Service Medal Individuals that are currently serving in an active duty capacity who also served in the Persian Gulf are eligible to apply for the bonus before being discharged from service. Survivors Compensation. Survivors of military members killed in battle or by terrorist activities while performing military duties are entitled to a payment of $1,000 if veterans death occurred in the periods specified above. Residency of 1 year in Illinois prior to entering military service is required, as is a separate application. POW Compensation. Persons on active duty with the Armed Forces of the United States or employed by the United States Government on, or after, January 1, 1961, who were residents of Illinois 12 months prior to entry, and who were taken and held prisoner by hostile forces in Southwest Asia, are entitled to $50 for each month or portion thereof while being held captive. How to Apply for the Illinois Military Veterans Bonus Applicants can download an application at the Illinois State website or contact the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs, PO Box 19432, 833 South Spring Street, Springfield, IL 62794-9432.  Applications should be completed in its entirety and mailed to the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs along with a photocopy of the applicants separation or discharge documents . See the official at the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs website. Massachusetts Military Veterans Bonuses Veterans who lived in the state of Massachusetts immediately prior to entry in the armed forces or deployment may be eligible for a Massachusetts Military Veterans Bonus.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides these bonuses to veterans or in the case of a deceased veteran, their surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings or other dependents who would also be eligible to receive the bonus.  Surviving family members would be granted the eligible bonus in the order which they appeared above. The bonuses that veterans may be eligible for include the following bonuses: World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War and the Welcome Home Bonus.  The following information applies to veterans who served in any of above-mentioned wars or conflicts. Massachusetts Military Veterans Bonus Eligibility Requirements World War II: Veterans who meet the definition of a Massachusetts Veteran (as amended by the Acts of 2005) may be eligible for three separate bonuses.  A $100 bonus for veterans who served in active duty from one day to six months, $200 for veterans who performed stateside service for six or more months and $300 for those who performed foreign service. More information . Korean War:  Veterans who meet the definition of a Massachusetts Veteran (as amended by Acts of 2005) may be eligible for three separate bonuses.  A $100 bonus for servicemembers who performed 90 days stateside, $200 for veterans who performed six months or more and $300 for any servicemember serving one or more days outside the continental US. More information . Vietnam War:  To receive the $200 Vietnam War Veterans Bonus, servicemembers must have performed active duty between July 1, 1958 and May 16, 1975.  This bonus is rewarded to those who served for six months or more.  Vietnam veterans who served on duty in Vietnam will receive a $300 bonus. More information . Persian Gulf War: Servicemembers who served between August 2, 1990 and April 10, 1991 for thirty or more days are eligible for the Persian Gulf War Veterans Bonus.  Those called to duty in areas other than the Persian Gulf receive $300.  Veterans who were called to duty and served in the Persian Gulf (war zone or surrounding waters) who have also received the Southwest Asia Service Medal will receive $500. More information . Welcome Home Bonus: To be eligible for the Welcome Home Bonus, veterans must have resided in the state of Massachusetts for at least six months prior to joining the armed forces beginning on September 11, 2001.  Those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan will receive $1,000; those who served stateside or outside the continental limits of the US for six months or more of active duty will receive $500. More information . Veterans who are not eligible: Veterans who have received a dishonorable discharge or those that do not meet the requirements above will not be eligible to receive the specified bonus.  If the veteran in ineligible, surviving beneficiaries would also be ineligible. How to Claim the Massachusetts Military Veterans Bonus How To Claim the Veterans Bonus. For veterans or surviving relatives interested in claiming a Massachusetts Veterans Bonus, applications are available online at the Treasurers website.  To contact the Treasurer, individuals may use the following address for all bonuses listed here: Office of the Treasurer One Ashburton Place, 12th Floor Boston, MA 02108 The telephone number to call for the World War II Bonus is 617-367-3900, extension 308.  For the Korean War Bonus or Vietnam War Bonus, call 617-367-3900, ext 208.  Those calling in reference to the Welcome Home Bonus can call 617-367-9333, ext 350. For Persian Gulf veterans only: Veterans’ Bonus Division, Department of Veterans’ Services 600 Washington Street, Suite 1100 Boston, MA 02111 (617) 210-5927 www.mass.gov/veterans Email: mdvs@vet.state.ma.us Applicants and their relatives may be required to provide proof of residency or next of kin documentation or certain service records to prove eligibility. New Hampshire Military Veterans Bonus New Hampshire offers veterans of the Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War and the Global War on Terrorism a $100 bonus if eligibility requirements are met. The state previously offered veteran bonuses to those who served in World War II and the Korean Conflict, however, those programs have been expired for almost forty years now. New Hampshire Veterans Bonus Eligibility Requirements Here we will look at the eligibility requirements for those veterans still active or who served in recent conflicts.  To qualify for the New Hampshire Veterans Bonuses, military members must have been a bona fide resident of the state at the time they began active duty. New Hampshire Military Veterans Bonus Vietnam Service. It appears Vietnam veterans who have not made a claim for the $100 bonus can still do so, however, claims made today must be approved by the Adjutant General, Governor and Executive Council.  To be eligible for the Vietnam Veterans Bonus, service members must have served between July 1, 1958 and August 5, 1964, receiving the Vietnam Service Medal or Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. New Hampshire Military Veterans Bonus Persian Gulf. To qualify for the Persian Gulf War Bonus, service members must have actively served between the dates of August 2, 1990 and November 30, 1995, earning the Southwest Asia Service Medal.  This program expired on August 31, 2002, however service members who did not claim this bonus from another state and are otherwise eligible may fall within provisions that allow acceptance after this date. New Hampshire Military Veterans Bonus GWOT. The Global War on Terrorism Operations Service Bonus is available to individuals who actively serviced on or after September 11, 2001, up until a date that has not yet been determined by the Secretary of Defense.  Service members earning the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign or Iraq Campaign Medal qualify for this bonus as long as they meet other conditions.  This program expired on June 11, 2009, but like other War bonuses, there are provisions which allow service members to submit applications after this date. To be eligible for any of the New Hampshire state Veteran Bonuses, service members must have been discharged from duty in an honorable condition and have been a resident of the state at the time they were called into active duty for a current or recent conflict listed above. You will need to provide a copy of your military discharge paperwork , DD Form 214. How to Claim New Hampshire Military Veterans Bonus For more information on the Veterans Bonuses available through the state of New Hampshire, living veterans, as well as surviving relatives of veterans KIA, are encouraged to contact the State Office of Veterans Services for the state of New Hampshire.  You may do so on their website , via telephone at 603-624-9230, or by mail at 275 Chestnut Street, Room 517, Manchester, NH 03101. Ohio Veterans Bonus Program Details Ohio recently created a Veterans Bonus Program to thank Ohio Veterans who served during periods of conflict. Eligible veterans serving on active duty (except active duty for training) anywhere in the world during the specified dates may receive $50 a month up to a maximum bonus of $500. Eligible veterans who served in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, or Iraq during certain dates may receive a $100 bonus for each month they served in those locations, up to a maximum of $1,000. An eligible veteran may combine their service bonuses for a maximum payment of $1,500. Who is Eligible for the Ohio Veterans Bonus Program? Ohio veterans may be eligible for the bonuses if they served on active duty in the US armed forces, including those who served in the Ohio National Guard, if they served in the specified locations during specific time periods for reasons other than training (information about eligible locations and dates is below). To be eligible, applicants must have been legal residents in Ohio when they went on active duty and must be Ohio residents when they apply for the bonus. To be eligible for the Ohio Veterans Program Bonus: The veteran must have been separated from the armed forces under honorable conditions. The veteran remains on active duty service. After active duty service, the veteran remains in any reserve component of the armed forces, including the Ohio National Guard. Eligible Service Dates and Locations Eligible veterans may receive $100 for each month of active duty service in the following locations during these specified dates: Persian Gulf: Between August 2, 1990 and March 3, 1991, the date when Iraq accepted the conditions for a permanent cease-fire. Eligible veterans can apply for a bonus until December 31, 2013. Afghanistan: Since October 7, 2001. Eligible veterans can apply for a bonus for up to three years after the President declares an end to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Iraq: Since March 19, 2003. Eligible veterans can apply for a bonus for up to three years after the president declares an end to U.S. involvement in Iraq. The maximum benefit for service in those three areas is $1,000. Eligible veterans may also apply for a $50 bonus per month they served during these time periods if they served anywhere else in the world. The maximum bonus under these provisions is $500 and the bonuses may be combined for a maximum of $1500. Families of deceased Ohio veterans may also be eligible for the bonus. There also are other bonuses available to eligible veterans or the families of deceased veterans. For these eligibility details and specifications, please visit: veteransbonus.ohio.gov/odvs_web/Eligibility_Requirements.aspx How to Claim the Ohio Veterans Bonus To apply for the bonus, applicants should go to veteransbonus.ohio.gov , and complete the online application. You may also visit a public library if you do not have internet access or visit your local Ohios County Veterans Service Office for assistance. Application must be signed, notarized and mailed. The final application must be printed, signed, and notarized or acknowledged before it will be accepted. Mail your application to Ohio Veterans Bonus, P.O. Box 373 Sandusky, Ohio 44871. The estimated processing time for Ohio Veterans Bonus Program applications is approximately eight weeks, depending on the volume of applications initially received. Applicants with specific questions can call 1 -877-OHIO-VET or go online at veteransbonus.ohio.gov . Please help spread the word Please forward this information to any Ohio veterans you may know. Those who have been separated from the military for several years may not be aware of this benefit. Pennsylvania Military Veterans Bonus Pennsylvania offers a military veterans bonus for state residents who served in the Persian Gulf during specified dates. This bonus was enacted on April 24, 2006, when Governor Edward Rendell signed the Persian Gulf Veterans Benefit Act into law. The bond issue created a fund to pay compensation to eligible current and former members of the US Armed Forces, Pennsylvania National Guard, or members of the Reserves. The bonus is $75 per month of eligible service (or prorated basis for a fraction of a month). Pennsylvania Military Veterans Bonus Eligibility Requirements Pennsylvania residents who served in the Armed Forces, including active duty, Guard, and Reserves, in the Middle East in support of the Persian Gulf conflict may be eligible for the Persian Gulf Veterans Benefit Program.  Eligible members must have served anytime from August 2, 1990 to August 31, 1991, and must have been awarded the Southwest Asia Service Medal. Veterans must either still be on active duty or have received an Honorable Discharge to be eligible for this award. Veterans who are not eligible: Service members, veterans or their surviving beneficiaries may not be eligible for the Persian Gulf Veterans Benefit Program, if they have received a bonus, gratuity, or similar form of compensation from another state, if the service member or veteran has renounced his or her US citizenship, or separated from the armed forces under less than honorable conditions. Survivors claims. Surviving relatives may also be eligible for this bonus if the military veteran is deceased or is deemed incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction. Eligible beneficiaries of deceased veterans include, in the following in order of precedence: Surviving spouse. Surviving children. Surviving parents. If declared incompetent, the order of precedence is: Court-appointed guardian, spouse, children, parents, facility. How to Claim the Pennsylvania Military Veterans Bonus Veterans and military members must provide documentation to prove they received the Southwest Asia Service Medal and were Pennsylvania residents at the time they were awarded this medal. Required information: Proof of  Southwest Asia Medal: Member 4 copy of your DD Form 214 documenting your receipt of the Southwest Asia Service Medal during specified time periods and a discharge under Honorable conditions. If still active duty, must show official documentation proving receipt of Southwest Asia Service Medal. Proof of Pennsylvania Residency at Time of Award. Proof of residency can include listing Pennsylvania as home of record on D Form 214, voters registration records, Leave and Earnings Statements, State tax return, drivers license from the specified time period, or W2 Wage and tax statement from the time frame. Proof of relationship if claiming on behalf of another individual. Documents could include a marriage certificate (for spouse to make claim), birth certificate (for child to make claim), veterans birth certificate (for parents to make claim), or a Proof or authorization for a representative to make a claim. Other: Death certificate, if applicable, or DD 1300 or Veterans Affairs Rating Decision if applicable. Application form: Applications for the Persian Gulf Veterans Benefit Program must be made on an official application form, PG-1. A short form (PG-1 Short) is available for veterans filing on their own behalf, of a long version (PG-1 Long) is available for persons filing on behalf of a veteran who is deceased or incapacitated. You can find these forms at the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs application page. Deadline for claim: Applications for the Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Benefit Program must be submitted by August 31, 2015. Completed applications and supporting documents should be mailed to: Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Benefit Program PO Box 1109 Harrisburg, PA 17108-1109 For more information: Please contact a representative during hours of operation: 9 am to 5 pm Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans Benefit Program at 1-866-458-9182 (toll-free) or visit the Pennsylvania Persian Gulf Veterans Bonus Program website. South Dakota Veterans Bonus South Dakota has established a program for members of the military who are legal residents of the state. South Dakota is paying a bonus of up to $500 for select active members an honorably discharged veterans of the Armed Forces who meet the membership criteria. Military members must have been a resident of the state for no less than six months preceding their period of active service and who served during one or more of the following time periods: August 2, 1990 March 3, 1991: all active service qualifies for payment March 4, 1991 December 31, 1992: service must have been a hostile area which qualified for the Southwest Asia Service Medal qualifies for bonus payment. January 1, 1993 September 10, 2001: service must have been in a hostile area which qualified for any US campaign or service medal awarded for combat operations against hostile forces qualifies for the bonus payment. September 11, 2001 (end date to be determined) – all active service qualifies for the bonus payment. Additionally, any Veteran with qualifying service before December 31, 1992, during Desert Storm and after January 1, 1993, during Operation Iraqi Freedom may be entitled to receive two separate $500 bonus payments. Veterans who have a service-related disability rated by the Veterans Administration as 10% or more disability will receive the maximum payment of $500. A verification of disability must be provided from the VA along with the application. Any service member interested in applying for the South Dakota Veterans Bonus must provide the branch of the military along with dates of service on a completed application. Certification of the application must be completed by local County or Tribal Veteran Service Officer. For applicants in other states, a certification must be completed by a Post Service Officer from one of the recognized Veterans Service organizations. All applications must be accompanied by a copy of your DD Form 214, which shows proof of military service. Interested applicants can obtain an application via email at john.fette@state.sd.us , online at the State website . Additionally, applications may be requested by calling 605-773-7251 or via mail by corresponding to SD Veterans Bonus, 425 East Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501. Applicants living in South Dakota may request an application through the nearest County or Tribal Veterans Service Officer. See the official South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs for more information. West Virginia Veterans Bonus The state of West Virginia has historically been a very patriotic state, sending many of their men and women into battle to defend this country. In 2004, the governor of West Virginia signed into legislation the West Virginia Veterans Bonus Amendment which was approved by the states voters. This made it possible to facilitate paid bonuses to veterans of the state who served in the most recent military conflicts including those in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The West Virginia Veterans Bonus bonuses include $600.00 paid to veterans who served in a combat zone and received a campaign badge or expeditionary medal; a $400.00 bonus for active duty service outside the combat zone for Afghanistan and Iraq during the specified time periods; or $2,000.00 for a surviving spouse or children of a veteran who was KIA during the specified time periods. West Virginia Veterans Bonus Eligibility Requirements In order to be eligible for the West Virginia Veterans Bonus, military members must have been bona fide residents of the state at the time of and at least six months prior to the time they entered into active duty.  Any veteran who was separated from service under dishonorable conditions will not be eligible for the West Virginia Veterans Bonus.  Also, any member of the armed forces or reserves who were called to active duty by the President are eligible.  For military members KIA, the surviving spouse or children may apply for the bonus. West Virginia Veterans Bonus Deadlines Veterans who were serving on active duty in Afghanistan between October 7, 2001, and a date that has yet to be determined can apply for this bonus.  The dates for those serving in Iraq begin on March 19, 2003, with an end date not yet determined.  Veterans who served in Kosovo and received a campaign badge or expeditionary medal for Kosovo between November 20, 1995, and December 31, 2000, are eligible for the veterans bonus. How to Claim West Virginia Veterans Bonus A surviving spouse or children of a veteran KIA during these periods may request an application for the bonus by calling 1-888-838-2332 or via email at WVDVA@state.wv.us.  Applications can be mailed to the West Virginia Division of Veterans Affairs, 1321 Plaza East Suite 101, Charleston, WV 25301. Living veterans of each conflict must fill out forms which vary based on the area in which you served.  For more information on which forms must be completed as well as any other documentation required to receive the West Virginia Veterans Bonus, please visit West Virginia Division of Veterans Affairs for more information. Be sure to include a copy of your DD Form 214 with your application. This form shows proof of military service, campaign medals, and other important information to prove your claim.
  • Doctors, dentists and business owners with more than $315,000 of 2018 taxable-income have one last chance not to pass up on this tax and retirement planning opportunity. Check Our Video Blog On Last Chance For Pre-Retired Professionals & Biz Owners http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Most people want to be the CEO of their life! The question is how do you? Check Out This Interview On Are You The CEO of Your Life? http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Holiday Spending Is January a painful month financially?  For many people, January it is a not great month for their finances.  One reason folks struggle in January is because they overspent in the December holiday season.  Gifts, meals out, parties and more all take a toll on personal finances.  Having a spending plan for the [Continue] The post Money and More© November 17, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Savers can now earn a modest return. But you still have to work at it. If you’re banking with one of the massive banks, you’re settling for less than you deserve.