Member Blogs

  • What is Retirement The retirement years, for many, no longer exists the way they use to be for the early baby boom generation.  Pensions are no more for many people.  As a result, they must live on Social Security and the savings from a life time of working.  Some folks continue to work into their seventies and beyond.  Some folks work for the money and others to stay busy and feel fulfilled.  Retirement in the past often meant reaching a certain age and stopping work.  Today, the term Financial Independence often replaces the term “retirement.  As our society grows older with generally better medical care people are having longer enjoyable lives that requires finances that will 30 to 40 years.  What does retirement mean to you?  What are decisions are you making today about tomorrow? Life Planning This week I have had the privilege to attend Life Planning Training presented by George Kinder, the father of life planning movement.  Life planning is important niche of financial planning that planners use to help clients reach their dreams.  As I learned in class this week, most folk’s critical dreams are not constrained by their finances as much as by themselves.  The life planner helps their clients integrate the work to reach their goals and dreams into their current life by creating focus and deliberate energized action. Bond Ladder A safe way to create an income stream in retirement is with a bond ladder.  A bond ladder is way of creating income for each year of financial independence.  Picture a ladder with each step or rung representing a year.  Purchased bonds will mature or turn into cash for each rung or year on the ladder.  Each year the money becomes available for the next year’s spending.  These are great to fund out to 15 years in the future.  US Treasury strips are my preferred bond for such a ladder as they fully backed by the federal government in same way FDIC protects bank accounts.  Though unlike FDIC insured accounts there is no maximum account size. Discount Gift Cards Looking for a way to save some money this holiday season.  Gift cards can be purchased online at discount for your favorite retailers.  This especially handy when making purchases online.  Using https://www.cardbear.com/ I was able to locate cards at raise.com for about 16% off.  That combined with a 25% online promotion allowed me to get approximately 40% off on a new winter coat.  Most discounts are smaller though I saw Starbucks for 10% off when I looked this week.  Happy Shopping!! Social Security Social Security is critical part of most average people’s retirement income.  While the basics I describe here are not too complex,  there are very specific rules and processes that govern social security benefits. In simple terms, to earn social security a work must work for 40 quarters which means the equivalent of 10 years.  In 2018 workers must earn $1320 per in 2018.   Once reaching age 62 workers are eligible to start drawing social security.  If they are still working the social security will claw back $1 of benefits for $2 of earnings once wage income exceeds a certain level which is $17,040 in 2018. The calendar year after a worker reaches full retirement age (age 67 for those born after 1960) a worker no longer will have the wage-earning limitations.  Note that there are special higher earning limits the year of retirement.  Those drawing prior to full retirement age will receive lower benefits that decrease about 8% for each year before full retirement age.  Those that delay benefits from full retirement age up to age 70 receive and extra 8% per year.  A person born after 1960 will receive about 25% more for the rest of their life by waiting the three years. There are many details that a financial planner can help weed through.  The social security website has a lot of great information.  See http://www.ssa.gov for more details.  Better yet sign up on the website to check out your predicted retirement benefits and confirm your earnings record. The post Money and More© November 10, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Everyone has that one friend or family member who complains about problems that arent really problems. I used to know a woman whose parents-in-law paid for everyone in the family to go on vacation every year to some fabulous place. The problem: She didnt always like the place. Hmmmm.. Not a bad problem to have. Another problem that some fortunate people over 70½ years old have is Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). An RMD is a forced distribution from an IRA for those over age 70½. The dollars contributed to the IRA were (usually) not taxed and the earnings have never been taxed. Eventually the government wants its share. So the rule is you must take distributions starting at age 70½. In most cases these Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are fully taxable. The problem some people have is they dont need the RMD money and they dont want to pay the tax. File that under not a bad problem to have. You can learn more about RMDs HERE. One possible solution to this problem is to make a tax-free Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from your IRA to your favorite qualified charity. Recent changes to tax law have made QCDs a more attractive option for many. You help a charity you believe in and you save on taxes win win! Things to know about Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs): You must be age 70½ at the time of the distribution. So if you turn 70 on March 1st, you have to wait until September 1st to make the QCD. The QCD must be from a Traditional or Rollover IRA, not a 401(k) or other employer plan. The QCD must go to a qualified 501(c)(3) organization, eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. (Note: Private foundations and Donor Advised Funds do not qualify) The usual rules regarding charitable deductions apply you must not receive anything of value in return for your contribution to the charity. For my clients, my firms custodian will make a check out to the charity and mail it directly to the charity. Other custodians will make a check out to the charity and mail it to you, the IRA owner. Then you must send to the charity. It does not work if the check is made out to you. Call your IRA custodian for their specific QCD process. You can choose more than one charity. The maximum is $100,000 per taxpayer, you are not limited to your RMD amount. There is typically no minimum amount or fee. The deadline is December 31st, ideally the charity should cash the check by then. So dont wait until the last minute to put this in motion. Now for the tax details: Lets say your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) for the year is $10,000. You decide to have $7,000 sent to a qualified charity as a QCD and take $3,000 for yourself. Only $3,000 is taxable. Your 1099-R tax form from the custodian does NOT indicate QCD. It is imperative that you tell your tax preparer how much went directly to the charity. This is reported on line 11 of your Form 1040 with the abbreviation QCD. You cannot take the QCD as an itemized deduction. (That would be double dipping). Due to Tax Reform many taxpayers will be taking the standard deduction and not itemizing their deductions, so the QCD is a better option. You can learn more about standard vs itemized deductions HERE. The QCD lowers your Adjusted Gross Income which may reduce your Medicare premiums and also may reduce the amount of your Social Security that is taxable. A Qualified Charitable Distribution can be a great tax savings tool for anyone over 70 1/2 with an IRA who has a favorite charity. But like most everything in the tax code, the devil is in the details, and the potential benefit depends on number of factors. A qualified tax professional can help you sort out the details.
  • Happy Veterans Day! Veterans Day is celebrated this year on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. The Federal Holiday will be on Monday, Nov. 12th. Many restaurants and companies thank our veterans each year by offering them discounts or a free meal. To those companies offering veterans a free meal or discount, the military community gives a collective thanks! Below youll find a continuously updating list of this years restaurant offers for veterans. Last year over 100 restaurants participated. Most restaurants announce offers at the end of October, up through Veterans Day. We will update this page daily. Download a PDF of these Veterans Day free meals and discounts: Please credit this resource: We are frequently updating this list with new deals and offers for the military community. If you use items on this list, please direct your visitors to this page so they can find the most up to date information: https://themilitarywallet.com/veterans-day-free-meals-and-discounts/ Thanks! 2018 Veterans Day Free Meals Without further ado, here is our list of free Veterans Day meals. Stay tuned as we are frequently updating this page as offers become available, and check in with your locations for dates, participation, and availability. Free Meals Before Veterans Day Huddle House, Nov. 9 – 12, 2018. FREE order of Sweet Cakes (Huddle House’s fluffy, platter-size pancakes available in eight different flavor and topping combinations) to all active military members and veterans with proper I.D. on Veterans Day at all Huddle House locations nationwide. Locations . Luna Grill, Nov. 10 12, 2018. Buy One, Get One Free with purchase. Military service men and women and first responders will receive their choice of a complimentary signature wrap, plate or gourmet salad when they purchase a meal at Luna Grill. 10% daily discount for military and first responders. Locations . Pilot Flying J, Nov. 10 12, 2018. Free breakfast, including a free Pilot Coffee of any size with a choice of a PJ Fresh breakfast sandwich, packaged pastry item, or a Cinnabon Center of the Roll. Download (or open) the myPilot app Nov. 10-12 to find a coupon in myOffers. First-time users receive an additional free drink of their choice when downloading the app. Locations . Rock Bottom Brewery, Nov. 10 12, 2018. Free entree for all active duty military and veterans with military ID or in uniform. Other restrictions may apply, see your local Rock Bottom for details . Shanes Rib Shack, Nov. 8 10, 2018. Free sandwich combo, including sandwich, regular side, and 20 oz drink at participating Shanes Rib Shack locations only. List of participating locations . Spaghetti Warehouse, Nov. 9 11, 2018. Buy one entrée, get one free. Coupon Required. Choose any of 11 Original Recipe Spaghetti entrées and receive a second entrée free. Friends and relatives are encouraged to treat a veteran to a meal. More info . Tucanos Brazilian Grill, Nov. 9th, 10th, 12th, 2018. Free Churrasco Meal with purchase of another Churrasco meal. (1/2 price meal available for veterans dining solo). More info . Free Meals on Veterans Day The following offers are all on Veterans Day, Nov 11, 2018. 54th Street Grill, Nov. 11, 2018. Free entree, up to $12, for Veterans and Active Duty Military. Proof of service required, Dine-in Only. More info . A Acapulco, Nov. 11, 2018. Complimentary meal. More info . Applebees, Nov. 11, 2018: One of 8 entrées to choose from for a free meal. Military ID or proof of service required. You can read all about the offer in our post here , and get more information  and check out all of Applebees locations  on their website. B Back Yard Burgers, Nov. 11, 2018. Free Classic Burger for veterans and active duty military members. Bring proof of military service. Locations . Bagger Daves Burger Tavern, Nov. 11, 2018. Free Great American Cheeseburger + Fries for military, veterans, and first responders. Dine-in Only. More info . Bakers Square, Nov. 11, 2018. Free breakfast choice of Buttermilk Pancakes, three pieces of French Toast, or a Belgian Waffle for veterans and active duty military members. Bring proof of military service. More info . Bar Louie, Nov. 11, 2018. Free Flatbread or Burger, up to $15, with ID. You can check out Bar Louis website to see all of their locations  and details on their Veterans Day promotion. BJs Restaurant and Brewhouse, Nov. 11, 2018. Free entree, up to $12.95 value, plus a free Dr. Pepper beverage. Offer valid to all active duty military and veterans, with proof of service. Dine-in only. Additional offer: Free Pizookie® for current or retired military from Nov. 1 Nov. 30, 2018, while supplies last.  Locations . Bob Evans , Nov. 11, 2018. Free select breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. For active duty military, retirees, and veterans with ID or proof of service. More Info . Boston Market, Nov. 11 Nov 12, 2018. Buy one individual meal with a drink and get a second free at all U.S. locations; coupon (but no I.D.) is required and available at BostonMarket.com . Available for all veterans, service members, and their families. No ID required. Buffalo Wild Wings , Nov. 11, 2018. Free order of traditional or boneless wings and a side of fries to veterans and current military members. Dine-in only. Bring proof of military service. More info . C California Pizza Kitchen , Nov. 11, 2018. Choose a pizza, full-size salad, or pasta from the special Veterans Day Menu. Dine-in only. Please come in uniform or bring your military I.D. or other proof of service. More info . Cattlemens Steakhouse, Nov. 11, 2018. Free 8 oz Sirloin Steak Dinner on Veterans Day. Call your local Cattlemens for details and to verify participation. Proof of service required. More info . CentraArchy Restaurants, Nov. 11, 2018. Free meal for veterans at select locations  of New York Prime, California Dreaming, The Tavern at Phipps, Chophouse New Orleans, Carolina Roadhouse, Joey D’s Oak Room, Chophouse ’47 or Gulfstream Café. Find all the details at CentraArchy Restaurants website . Chevys Fresh Mex, Nov. 11, 2018. Complimentary meal. More info . Chilis , Nov. 11, 2018. Free meal from a select menu. Dine-in only and participating locations only. Proof of military service required. More info . Chipotle , Nov. 11, 2018. Buy-one/get-one free burrito, bowl, salad or order of tacos. Offer valid for all U.S. military (active-duty, Guard/Reserve, and retired military), military spouses with ID, and veterans. For in-restaurant orders only; offer not valid for online, mobile, fax, or catering orders. More info . The Chop House, Nov. 11th, and Nov. 12th, 2018. 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree to veterans with military ID or in uniform. Locations . City Barbeque, Nov. 11, 2018. Free sandwich platter at participating locations. Proof of service required. More info . Connors Steak & Seafood, Nov. 11th, and Nov. 12th, 2018. 50% off any dine-in lunch or dinner entree to veterans with military ID or in uniform. Locations . Cotton Patch Café, Nov. 11, 2018. Free meal for current and former military members. Choices include full-size chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken. Proof of service required. You can learn more  on Cotton Patch Cafes site, as well as seeing where your nearest location  is. Cracker Barrel, Nov. 11, 2018. Complimentary slice of Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola® Cake for dessert or a Crafted Coffee. More info . D Dunkin’ Donuts , Nov. 11, 2018. Free donut to Veterans and active duty military at participating restaurants nationwide. More info . Locations . E East Coast Wings + Grill, Nov. 11, 2018. Free meal from special menu (participating locations only). Proof of service required. More Info . Locations . El Torito & El Torito, Grill, Nov. 11, 2018. Complimentary meal. More info . F Famous Daves, Nov. 11, 2018, and Nov. 12, 2018. Free 2 Meat Combo served with choice of side and cornbread muffin for veterans and current military members. Bring proof of service. Participating locations only. More info . Friendlys, Nov. 11, 2018. Free breakfast, lunch, or dinner to guests with a valid military ID or honorable discharge card. Meal options include the Big-Two-Do® breakfast (choice of two slices of French toast, two buttermilk pancakes or two slices of toast; two strips of crispy bacon or two sausage links and two made-to-order farm fresh eggs), or All American Burger (fries and a beverage) during lunch or dinner. Dine-in only. This offer is limited to one per person at participating locations only. G Glory Days, Nov. 11 12, 2018. Free appetizer or an order of boneless or grilled boneless wings. Dine-in only and at only at participating locations. More info . Locations . Gold Star Chili, Nov. 11, 2018. Free 3-Way & Drink for veterans and active duty. More info . Locations . Green Mill, Nov. 11, 2018. Free menu item for lunch or dinner. Offer includes any single item from our menu. Some limitations. Proof of military service required. Dine-in Only. More info . Grub Burger Bar, Nov. 11, 2018. Free entree for active, inactive, and retired military personnel. Proof of military service is required. Find your nearest location  here. H Hamburger Stand, Nov. 11, 2018. Free hamburger, regular fries and a small Pepsi. More info . Hickory Tavern, Nov. 11, 2018. Free Tavern Burger with Purchase of a Beverage for all current and former military with ID. More info . Hooters , Nov. 11, 2018. Hooters invites all veterans and current servicemen and women to enjoy a free meal from a select menu. Requires drink purchase. Only valid at participating locations. Locations . Houlihans, Nov. 11, 2018. Free meal for active military and veterans with ID at participating locations only. Locations . J Joes Crab Shack, Nov. 11, 2018. 20% Off on Veterans Day. More info . L Little Caesars® Pizza , Nov. 11, 2018. Free pizza or $5 HOT-N-READY Lunch Combo to all US Armed Forces veterans and active military members between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. With proof of military service, at participating stores nationwide. Call ahead to verify participation. More info . Logans Roadhouse, Nov. 11, 2018 (3 pm 6 pm). Free entrée from the American Roadhouse Meals menu for veterans and active duty military personnel. 10% discount year-round. Call your local Logans Roadhouse for details and to verify participation. More info . LongHorn Steakhouse, Nov. 11, 2018. Free appetizer or dessert (no purchase required, no restrictions). Additional 10% off for guests that dine with Veterans on November 11. Offer good for Veterans and active-duty military members. Proof of service required. Find a location  near you here. M Main Event, Nov. 11, 2018. Free entrée from a select menu and a complimentary FUNcard good for $10 in arcade play. More info . Max & Ermas, Nov. 11, 2018. Participating Max & Ermas locations are offering military members and veterans a free Best Cheeseburger in America Combo, which includes seasoned fries and a fountain drink. Dine-in only. Call ahead to verify participation. ID or proof of service required. Locations . McCormick & Schmicks Seafood Restaurants, Nov. 11, 2018. Veterans will be able to choose a complimentary lunch or dinner entrée from a special menu. Veterans must provide proof of military service. No ID needed for Gold Star Family members (parents or spouse). Be sure to contact your local McCormick & Schmick’s as this is valid at participating restaurants only. Space is limited and reservations are highly recommended. Be sure to review our rundown of this offer,  and if you still need more information visit McCormick and Schmicks Veterans Appreciation Event . McGrath Fish House, Nov. 11, 2018. Free meal from special menu. More info . Menchies, Nov. 11, 2018. All veterans and current servicemembers will receive their first 6 oz. frozen yogurt free on Veterans Day. Locations . Mission BBQ, Nov. 11, 2018. Free sandwiches and cake for active duty military members and veterans at participating locations. While supplies last. More info . N Native Grill & Wings, Nov. 11, 2018. One free menu item, up to $11.99. More info . Nékter Juice Bar, Nov. 11, 2018. Free 16 oz Juices and Smoothies to Veterans and Active Duty Military all day long at participating locations. Find a Nékter Juice Bar  near you and get their contact info to learn more about their free smoothie offer. Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub, Nov. 11, 2018. From 11am 4pm. Veterans and active military, free entrée from the 9 Real Size Entrées for $9.99 Menu. More Info . NYC Bagel Sandwich Shop, Nov. 11, 2018 (6 am 4 pm). FREE Bagel and Coffee. More info . O OCharleys , Nov. 11 12, 2018. Free $9.99er for veterans and active duty service members on November 11th & 12th at participating locations only. More info . Locations . Olive Garden, Nov. 11, 2018. Free entrée from a special menu. Entrées are served with unlimited soup or house salad and garlic breadsticks. Offer good for veterans and active duty military; proof of service required. Read our guide to Olive Gardens Veterans Day special and take a look at their locations . On The Border, Nov. 11, 2018. Veterans and current servicemembers will receive a free Choose-2 Combo Meal. Each combo is accompanied with sides of Mexican rice and refried beans (black beans upon request), plus endless complimentary tortilla chips and housemade salsa. Dine-in only, proof of service required. More info . Outback Steakhouse, Nov. 11, 2018. Free Bloomin Onion and a non-alcoholic beverage. This offer is available to Military Personnel and veterans with ID. Also available 10% OFF Heroes Discount is open to servicemen and women, police officers, firefighters, and first responders, with corresponding state or federal service ID  through Dec 31, 2018. You can learn more in our post on Outbacks military discount and find an Outback near you with the restaurants locator tool, as well as checking out their Operation Homefront initiative. P Perrys Steakhouses, Nov. 11, 2018 (4 pm 9 pm). Complimentary 3-Course Pork Chop Dinner. Reservations and U.S. Military I.D. required. Each active or former military patron must be accompanied by at least one paying guest (purchasing dinner entrée or Sunday Supper Special). More info . Primanti Bros, Nov. 11, 2018. Free Sandwich for veterans and active duty military at participating locations. More info . R Recovery Sports Grill, Nov. 11, 2018. Complimentary meal and one Non-Alcoholic Beverage, from Select Menu. Valid for all Active Military and Veterans, dine-in only. More info . Red Lobster , Nov. 11 Nov. 12, 2018. Free Appetizer or Dessert with military ID or proof of service. Vets may choose from a select list of appetizers and desserts. More info . Red Robin , Nov. 11, 2018. Free Red’s Tavern Double and Bottomless Steak Fries for all Red Robin guests with a military ID or proof of service. More info . Rib Crib, Nov. 11, 2018. Free meal from Menu of Honor, which includes choice of two meats and two sides, and your choice of a non-alcoholic beverage. More info . Rodizio Grill, Nov. 11 14, 2018. To show our appreciation this Veterans Day, we are honoring Veterans Sunday, Nov. 11 through Wednesday, Nov. 14. Each Veteran who dines will eat free per purchase of one adult Full Rodizio meal. Proof of Service required. Verified for Denver location. Participation may vary at other locations please call ahead. Romanos Macaroni Grill, Nov. 11, 2018. Free Mom’s Ricotta Meatballs & Spaghetti entrée for current and former military. More info . Ruby Tuesdays, Nov. 11, 2018. Free appetizer (up to $10) at participating locations, proof of service required. More info . Locations . S Sagebrush Steakhouse, Nov. 11, 2018, 10 am 11 pm. Free meal from select menu for veterans and current military members. Includes non-alcoholic beverage. Bring proof of military service. More info . Locations . Sheetz, Nov. 11, 2018. Free lunch at participating locations. Free car wash also available at participating locations, Proof of service required. More info . Locations . Sizzler Restaurants, Nov. 11, 2018. Free lunch served until 4 pm at participating locations. Veterans can choose between our 6oz Steak, Malibu Chicken or Jumbo Crispy Shrimp. Not valid for salad bar or gratuity. Valid with proof of military service. Dine-in only at participating locations. Locations . Starbucks, Nov. 11, 2018. Starbucks is treating veterans, active duty service members, and spouses to a free tall (12oz) hot brewed coffee. More info . T Tap House Grill, Nov. 11, 2018. Complimentary meal on Veterans Day, November 11th. For servicemembers and veterans with proof of service. Dine-in only. More info . Locations . Texas Corral, Nov. 11, 2018. Free meal from a special menu, plus lemonade, iced tea, or coffee for veterans and current military personnel. Bring proof of military service. More info . Texas de Brazil, Nov 11-12, 2018. Complimentary meal for two veterans, plus up to 20% off for up to six additional guests during dinner service. *Restrictions apply. More info . Texas Roadhouse, Nov. 11, 2018. Free Lunch from special menu. Includes sides and a soft drink, coffee, or tea. Proof of service required. Dine-in only. You can access more info and find locations  on Texas Roadhouses website. T.G.I. Friday’s, Nov. 11, 2018. Free menu item up to $12 for all current military members and veterans. Valid ID or proof of service required. Dine-in only at participating locations. Be sure to contact your local T.G.I Fridays for details. More info . Locations . TooJays, Nov. 11, 2018. Free entrée from a special menu on Veteran’s Day. More info . V Village Inn, Nov. 11, 2018. Free INN-credible V.I.B. breakfast for veterans and active duty military. Valid on 4 INN-credible items: Cheese Omelette, Strawberry Crepe, Hickory-Smoked Bacon or French Toast. Call ahead to verify participation of your local Village Inn. More Info . Vitality Bowls, Nov. 11, 2018. Free smoothies for current and former military members at all corporate-owned locations and participating franchises. More info . W White Castle, Nov. 11-12, 2018. Free Breakfast Combo or Castle Combo meal #1-6 for veterans and active duty military. Bring proof of military service. More info . Wienerschnitzel, Nov. 11, 2018. A complimentary Chili Dog, small fries and 20 oz. drink at participating Wienerschnitzel locations, with valid military ID or by wearing a military uniform. Locations . Wild Wing Café, Nov. 11, 2018. A complimentary meal with proof of service. Veteran may choose from any Awesome Salad, Wild Wrap, Beefy Burger, or Chicken Sandwich. Participating locations only. More info . WingHouse Bar & Grill, Nov. 11, 2018. Free meal from select menu, at participating locations. More info . Y Yard House, Nov. 11, 2018. Complimentary appetizer. More info . Free Meals After Veterans Day Free Veterans Day Meals Nov. 12, 2018 Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar, Nov. 12, 2018. Current and former military members will receive a free meal from a special menu. Dine-in only. More info . Locations . Aspen Creek Grill, Nov. 12, 2018. Complimentary Entrée from a special menu. Offer good from 11am close. More info . Black Angus Steakhouse, Nov. 12, 2018.  Day All-American Steak Plate for just $9.99. Includes an 8 oz. Certified Angus Beef® Top Sirloin, mashed potatoes, broccoli with garlic butter and a non- alcoholic beverage. Must show proof of military service or military ID to receive offer. More info . Bombshells Restaurant & Bar, Nov. 12, 2018. Free meals and soft drink, with a 20% discount on meals and soft drinks for accompanying family members. More info . Burntwood Tavern, Nov. 12, 2018. Free lunch or dinner for all active duty military and veterans. Proof of service or ID required. Available at all locations. More info . Locations . Calhouns Restaurant, Nov. 12, 2018. Free meal, choice of Hickory Smoked Bar-B-Que Half Slab of Ribs, Hickory Smoked Bar-B-Que Pork Plate, Ale Steak, Fresh Chicken Calhoun, and Southern Fried Catfish. Proof of Service required. More info . Locations . Chicken Salad Chick, Nov. 12, 2018. Free Chick Meal and drink. Includes 1 Scoop or Sandwich, plus one scoop, side, or cup of soup. Locations . Claim Jumper, Nov. 12, 2018. Free entrée from select menu , with official proof of service. Dine-in only. Participating locations only. Locations . Dennys , Nov. 12, 2018. Free Build Your Own Grand Slam® on Nov. 12, from 5 a.m. to noon for all active, inactive, and retired military personnel. Participating locations only. Please call ahead. Locations . Farmer Boys, Nov. 12, 2018. Free Big Cheese cheeseburgers to veterans and active duty military with valid proof of service. Locations . Fatz Café, Nov. 12, 2018. Free World Famous Calabash Chicken® meal for current and former military members, 11 am until 11 pm. Proof of service required. Locations . Firebirds Grill, Nov. 12, 2018. Dine with a Veteran or Active Duty Service Member on Monday, November 12 and their lunch or dinner is our treat! Please bring a valid form of military ID or wear your uniform to receive a complimentary entree.. More info . GiGis Cupcakes, Nov. 12, 2018. FREE cupcake to all veterans and first responders on Monday, November 12th at all participating locations. Store locations . Golden Corral, Nov. 12, 2018 (5pm 9pm): The 18th annual Golden Corral Military Appreciation dinner is available to any person who has ever served in the United States Military. If you are a veteran, retired, currently serving, in the National Guard or Reserves, you are invited to participate in Golden Corrals Military Appreciation dinner , which you can learn all about in our post here . Hoss’s Family Steak & Sea House, Nov. 12, 2018. Free Soup, Salad, and Desert Bar. Beverage Included. Available for all veterans and active duty military. Dine-in only, valid ID or proof of service required. Valid at participating restaurants only, 11am 9pm. Hosss website provides you with more info  and locations . Hy-Vee, Free Breakfast, Nov. 12, 2018. Free Veterans Day breakfast from 6am 11am at all participating Hy-Vee supermarkets with in-store dining. You can get all the details here . IHOP , Nov. 12, 2018. Free Red, White and Blue pancakes from 7 am 7 pm. Participating locations only. Please call ahead to verify participation. More info . Locations . Jon Smith Subs, Nov. 12, 2018. Free 6-inch Steak Bomb sub for current and former military with ID. More info . K&W Cafeteria, Nov. 12, 2018. Free meal, including entrée, 2 vegetables, Bread, and Beverage. More info . Kings Family Restaurants, Nov. 12, 2018. Free meal for current and former military members, from a select menu. More info . M Italian Restaurant, Nov. 12, 2018. Free lunch or dinner for all active duty military and veterans. Proof of service or ID required. Available at all locations. More info . Locations . Rock & Brews, Nov. 12, 2018. Complimentary pulled pork sandwich and a side dish or Strawberry Fields Salad. Available for Veterans, Armed Forces, and First Responders. Proof of military service required. Participating locations ; Dine-in Only. More info  is available on their website. Rose Italian Kitchen, Nov. 12, 2018. Free lunch or dinner for all active duty military and veterans. Proof of service or ID required. Available at all locations. More info . Locations . Shoneys , Nov. 12, 2018. Free All You Care To Eat, freshly-prepared Breakfast Bar for veterans and active duty servicemembers. Dine-in only, from 6:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m. Proof of Service required. More info . Locations . Taco Mac, Nov. 12, 2018. Free 6-Pack of Wings w/ beverage purchase for Veterans and Active Military. More info . Twin Peaks, Nov. 12, 2018. Military Monday. Free menu item from a select menu at participating locations. Please call ahead to verify participation. More info . Locations . Free Veterans Day Meals Nov. 12, 2018 Country Cookin, Nov. 13, 2018 (2pm 8pm). Free meal for current and former military. Proof of service required. Please note the date this is valid the Tuesday after Veterans Day! More info . Locations . Veterans Day Discounts Rules of Engagement Proof of Military Service Most companies require some form of military ID or proof of military service . These include: A Military ID Card (active/reserve/retired) VA-issued Veterans ID Card  or a VA Health Care ID card Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) Drivers License with Veterans Designation Photograph in uniform, wearing your uniform (if your service permits) Veterans Organization Card (e.g., American Legion and VFW) DD214 , other discharge paperwork, or another form of identification Other restaurants and companies may go by the honor system. Participation Second, always call ahead to verify locations, times, and participation. Many of the listed companies are franchises and may have different policies. We will do our best to keep this page updated as we find new info, but the only way to guarantee you get your Veterans Day meal is by calling ahead and checking with your location. Tipping This one may be a no-brainer, but you should tip your server thoughtfully regardless of whether you ate a free meal or not. In other words, please tip your wait-staff on the full meal price. Show your appreciation for their service. It’s the right thing to do! More Ways to Save this Veterans Day Weve written multiple posts to share even more military discounts  and Veterans Day deals  at your disposal. In addition to paying an appreciative visit to one of the restaurants above, you can celebrate this Veterans Day with Veterans Day Activities, Events, & Attractions and Veterans Day Retail Discounts & Special Offers , including free National Park Admission, Amusement parks, and retail and regional discounts. Dont miss out on all of the generous offers at your disposal this year. Veterans Day Meals and Deals image and all written content copyright this site. All other images copyright their respective restaurant or brand.
  • Veterans Day is a time to celebrate the service of those who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe. While military members dont serve for recognition, its nice to know that many companies and organizations set aside a day to honor their service. This page lists a variety of Veterans Day offers for our nations servicemembers past and present. These offers include free haircuts, free oil changes, free car washes, retail discounts, and much more. There are also tons of free Veterans Day meals and discounted or free events and attractions. You can download a printable pdf that lists many of these offers and additional information (visit this page for sign up form ). We have done our best to verify each offer and we have provided a link to the company website when possible. Please note that some locations may have restrictions on offers. It is always recommended to call ahead to verify participation and to verify details. Have an offer to add? Please use our Contact Page . We will do our best to add offers when possible, but please note we cannot list every offer. Rules of Engagement (Eligibility) In order to access the generous Veterans Day discounts and freebies below, youll probably need to provide some form of ID. Proof of service is recommended! This may include a: current military or retired military ID card , Veterans ID card , VA Healthcare ID card a DD Form 214 , a Drivers License with a veterans designation , or other proof of service . Some locations may also accept a membership card for a Veterans Service Organization (e.g. DAV, VFW, AMVETS, American Legion, etc.), a picture of you in uniform, or some other proof of service. Free Stuff on Veterans Day Free Vacations and Hotel Stays Bed and Breakfast for Vets Free Hotel Stay B&Bs for Vets has organized dozens of participating Bed and Breakfasts and Inns across the US and Canada which will be offering veterans a free nights stay on and around Veterans Day. This offer is available to both active duty military members and veterans with ID, but space is limited. Each Inn and B&B has at least one room available for this promotion and reservations must be made directly through the participating Inns and B&Bs. For more information visit BandBsforVets.org . Westgate Resorts 1,500 Free Vacation Giveaways in Orlando, FL Westgate Resorts is giving away 1,500 Bookings on www.westgatesalutes.com on November 9, 2018, beginning at 9:00 a.m. EST and ending at 11:59 p.m. EST on November 11, 2018, or until all 1,500 Bookings have been claimed, whichever occurs sooner. Bookings are on a first come, first served basis. A confirmation receipt with reservation details will be sent to a valid email address upon successful entry to the first 1,500 Bookings. Note: A One-Hundred Dollar ($100.00 USD) deposit with a valid major credit card is required at time of booking. Deposit will be refunded in-full the day immediately following the day of check-in. Deposit is refundable in-full if reservation is canceled at least seven (7) calendar days prior to scheduled check-in. Eligibility: The free vacations are specifically for current active duty military personnel, retirees, veterans with an Honorable Discharge  that served in any United States government military operations on or after August 6th, 1990, and Gold Star families. For more information, visit www.WestgateSalutes.com . Travel Details: Offer is valid for a two (2) night stay on May 10 – 12, 2019 for up to four (4) persons at the Westgate Vacation Villas Resort & Spa or the Westgate Town Center Resort & Spa in Kissimmee, FL. See full terms and conditions, eligibility, and other important info . Free Gifts from Amazon $20 Amazon Gift Card When You Open a New Personal Capital Account Personal Capital is one of my favorite financial tools you can use it to track your budget, spending, and investments. Simply link your banking and investment accounts and Personal Capital will give you an overview of your current account balances, spending, net worth, and your investment portfolios asset allocation. For a limited time, Personal Capital is offering a Refer a Friend bonus for new customers. Simply open a new account, and link at least one valid investment account (brokerage, 401k, IRA, TSP, etc) with a balance of more than $1,000 within 30 days of registering. (some terms apply). Click here to register your Personal Capital account . Personal Capital will then send you a $20 Amazon gift card within six weeks from the date of registration. The gift card will be sent electronically to the email you provided in the registration process. *Full disclosure: Personal Capital will also send me an Amazon gift card in the same amount. That said, I personally use this tool on a weekly basis to manage my finances and track my investment portfolio. You can learn more about Personal Capital in our review . Sign up here for the new Personal Capital account and $20 Amazon Gift Card . Free Book Download Operation Money: A Financial Guide for Military Service Members and Families will be available for free download on Veterans Day. The book written by Jean Chatzky, best-selling author and financial editor at NBC Today, is a great free tool for veterans. Download Kindle version . Free Haircuts for Military & Veterans Great Clips , Nov. 11, 2018 Great Clips will be offering a free hair cut to Veterans with a twist. If a non-veteran comes into Great Clips on Veterans Day and gets a haircut, theyll be given a card which any veteran can redeem for a free haircut. More info . Sports Clips, Nov. 11, 2018 Sports Clips is also offering a free haircut on Veterans Day . Participating Sport Clips locations will offer free haircuts to all active duty military and veterans (with valid ID.) For a list of stores offering free haircuts on Veterans Day, please click here . Free Car Washes Grace for Vets Nov. 11, 2018  Car washes across the country will be getting in on the Veterans Day action this year. Thousands of car washes across the nation are offering vets a free car wash on Veterans Day. You can find a list of over 3,500 participating car washes at Grace for Veterans . Free Wedding Dresses Brides Across America Brides Across America, a non-profit organization, provides eligible military brides with a free wedding dress. In general, you qualify if you are a military bride/first responder (or the fiancé of a military member or first responder). Participants must attend an event to choose a wedding gown. A $40 tax-deductible registration fee that is paid when registering for the event. The fee covers administrative costs associated with running the event. Brides Across America is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. Brides experience financial hardship may contact us about waiving the registration fee. Learn more here . Veterans Day Discounts Veterans Day Deals from Amazon In addition to offering a free download ofOperation Money: A Financial Guide for Military Service Members and Families and a $20 gift card when you open a Personal Capital account, Amazon may offer special discounts on Veterans Day. You can check out more Veterans Day Offers on Amazon here. Veterans Day Retail Offers & Discounts Academy Sports + Outdoors 10% Discount: This Veteran’s Day, Academy Sports + Outdoors is honoring military service members by giving all current and former military members and their immediate families 10 percent off their entire purchase, valid Oct. 31 through Nov. 11. All you have to do is show proof of verification at academy.com/military or present a valid military ID at checkout. Buckle: Military receive 10% off online purchases every day at Buckle.com. From November 6th-21st, 2017, Buckle is thanking veterans and other military personnel for their service with free standard shipping on all orders. Buckle Military Discount . DC Shoes: 15% hero discount to servicemembers and first responders. To redeem the discount, visit dcshoes.sheerid.com/ and verify your military status to receive your one-time use coupon code. Eastbay. 20% military discount is now available to veterans, reservists and the National Guard, in addition to active service members and their dependents. The online discount is applied at checkout when military shoppers click military discounts under promo codes on http://www.eastbay.com/ . After a successful verification, the discount is automatically applied to the entire order. Food Lion, Nov. 11, 2018. 10% off all groceries (some exclusions such as cigarettes, alcohol, etc.) for Active & Retired Military Personnel with military ID and MVP card. Some exclusions may apply. More info . Home Depot Military Discount: Home Depot and Lowes 10% Military Discount Available Everyday . The 10% military discount is available every day for active duty and retirees, but not all veterans. Home Depot makes this offer available to all veterans on major military holidays, including Memorial Day , Veterans Day , and 4th of July. The Home Depot(R) is offering all active duty personnel, reservists, retired military, veterans and their families (with ID card) a 10 percent discount off their purchases in honor of Veterans Day. Some limitations may apply. Find Home Depot discounts online . Lowes Military Discount: Lowes Companies, Inc. will offer all active, reserve, honorably discharged, retired military personnel and their immediate family members a 10 percent discount on in-store U.S. purchases made during the Veterans Day holiday. The discount is available on in-stock and special order purchases up to $5,000. To qualify, individuals must present a valid military ID or other proof of service. Excluded from the discount are sales via Lowes.com, previous sales, and purchases of services or gift cards. Lowes offers this discount daily to active duty military members and veterans. Find exclusive discounts at Lowes.com . Mattress Firm, Nov. 9 Nov. 12, 2018. 20% off any purchase for current and former military members, veterans’ families, and first responders. Offer valid in-store with military or first responder ID or online through call or chat. Some exclusions may apply. Meineke Military Discounts, Nov. 11, 2018: Meineke is discounts on Veterans Day. Please call ahead for details! (more info ). Mens Wearhouse: Mens Wearhouse is offering veterans and service members $25 off any purchase of $100 or more. More details . Microsoft Office Products $9.99 (current military members only): The Microsoft Home Use program allows current military members and DoD workers to purchase Microsoft Office for the low price of $9.99. There is also an option to purchase additional products at substantially reduced prices. Please note this offer is only available to current military members, and those who work for select companies and organizations. Learn more about the Microsoft Office military discount . Musicians Friend: 10% off one item of $199 value or more for veterans, reservists, National Guard, active duty and their immediate family members. Learn more at the Musicians Friend discount page . Oakley Sunglasses: Oakley Standard Issue offers discounts for military members and first responders. Receive an additional discount on Veterans Day. Free shipping on orders over $75 and free returns. Find Discounts at the Oakley website . Publix, 10% off, Nov. 11, 2018: Military members, veterans, and their families save 10% on groceries on November 11 (proof of service required). This offer excludes prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, gift cards, lottery tickets, postage stamps, and money services. Learn more about the Publix discount here . Quiksilver. All active duty, reservists, National Guard, veterans, retirees, dependents, and spouses are eligible to receive 15% off their purchase online with Quicksilver. Visit quiksilver.sheerid.com to receive a unique coupon code. Rosetta Stone 10% Military Discount: Rosetta Stone® bills itself the worlds best language-learning software. You can buy their programs on disk, download them, or use them with an app. Their military discount is open to all current military, retirees, and veterans. Learn more at the Rosetta Stone military discount page . Sears Garage Services, Nov 9-12: 10% Discount on all products and services with a valid military ID. Sears Garage Doors site . Target 10% Off, Nov 4-12, 2018: 10 percent discount on purchases, in-store and online, from Nov. 4-12, 2018. Eligible guests can visit Target.com/military to register and receive the discount. (Some product exclusions apply; discount via a single-use coupon). Tractor Supply Company 15% discount: This Veterans Day, customers with a valid military ID or proof of service and their dependents will receive 15 percent off their entire purchase at Tractor Supply. This discount will be offered on Nov. 11 and will be available at all of Tractor Supply’s more than 1,725 locations nationwide. Find a Tractor Supply location near you . Under Armour 15% Discount: 15% Off for Veterans, Service Members, and First Responders during Veterans Day week (normally 10% through the rest of the year). Under Armour supports the military, veteran, and First Responder communities year-round. Click here to learn more about the Under Armour Military Discount . Veterans Day Military Discounts USA Military Medals, Nov 5-12: USA Military Medals is offering customers 15% off their purchase of Military Medals, Ribbons, Rank Insignia, and More, with a coupon code that will be displayed on their site on those dates. This is a great place to buy military rank, insignia, medals , ribbons, uniform items, dog tags , and similar military gear and memorabilia. They ship fast and guarantee the quality of the items they sell. Visit USAMilitaryMedals.com . Veterans Advantage Discount Program: The Veterans Advantage Program offers nationwide benefits to current and former military members through a membership plan. Members get access to discounts for shopping, restaurants, insurance, travel, and much more. There are three option available for membership and pricing ranges from a one-year membership at $59.95 to a five-year membership at $199.95. Interested individuals can also start a 30-day trial membership for just $4.95 . Trial memberships can be canceled at any time. Veterans Day Hotel Discounts Hyatt Military Discount 10% to 15% Off: Available to individuals who have served or are currently serving in any official government-sponsored branch of the United States armed services and their immediate family members. Valid at any participating Hyatt-branded hotel in the United States with offer code MILVET*. (Coupon code will be in effect indefinitely). More info . Red Roof Inns: Red Roof Inns offers several ways to save. 10% discounts for military, family members, and government employees under certain circumstances. Save up to 20% Off year-round with Veterans Advantage membership . Learn More at the Red Roof Inn Military Page . Limited Time 20% Discount: Home for the Holidays Military Discount for Active Duty Members and Veterans. Use discount code VP623095. Available for all active duty military and veterans when they book from November 1 – December 31, 2018, and complete their stay by February 28, 2019. The Home for the Holidays rate is only available when booked online at redroof.com or by calling 800.RED.ROOF (800.733.7663). The discount can be applied at any Red Roof Inn, Red Roof PLUS+ or The Red Collection properties. *May not be combined with any other discount or offers. May not be available on high demand nights. More info . Super 8 Hotels: 20% discount off your next qualified stay at participating Super 8 hotels, plus 500 Wyndham Rewards bonus points.* Offer valid for any current or retired military personnel, veterans, and their families who book and stay at participating Super 8 hotels in the U.S. and Canada. New bookings only made through October 16, 2018, and December 11, 2018. Must book through a Wyndham direct booking channel for 500 bonus points. More info .
  • Veterans Day is a great day to remember and celebrate those who have served our nation in our armed forces. There are many ways to show our appreciation to those who have served. Many cities, towns, and municipalities have a Veterans Day ceremony or parade to honor those who have served. I highly recommend attending one of these events if you have the opportunity. They can be a fun way to meet other veterans, and the experience of being thanked by people you have never met can be humbling. This page lists a variety of Veterans Day events and attractions for our nations servicemembers past and present. We cant list every local event. The best place for that information is your local city website or your local media. Instead, we have focused on locations that offer free admission to a larger population. How To Get Veterans Day Discounts In addition to offering discounted or free attractions and special events, organizations and companies may honor veterans by offering free meals , Veterans Day discounts , or free or discounted admission to museums . Proof of service is recommended! This may include one of the following forms of ID or proof of service: Current military or retired military ID card , Veterans ID Card , or VA Health Care ID card , DD Form 214 , or a Drivers License with a veterans indicator . Some locations may also accept a membership card for a Veterans Service Organization (e.g. DAV, VFW, AMVETS, American Legion, etc.), a picture of you in uniform, or some other proof of military service . If you know of any events youd like to see added here, please use our Contact Page . Priority will be given to those events that have the largest reach. In the meantime, take a look at all of the attractions and events available to you this Veterans Day. 2018 Veterans Day Free & Discounted Activities and Events Free Parades and Other Events Americas Parade: Americas Parade is a national parade held in New York City, NY. See the website for more info . National Veterans Day Ceremony: The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces. You can find more info  on this remarkable event here. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Day Celebrations: Many local VA centers, hospitals, and cemeteries feature a Veterans Day ceremony. Contact your local VA center for more information. Veterans Day Parades: If you dont live in one of the cities mentioned above but still want to attend a Veterans Day parade, take a look at VetFriends. VetFriends has a national list of Veterans Day parades (login required). VetTix Free Event Tickets for Military and Veterans: VetTix is an excellent organization that offers free tickets to current and former military members to concerts, shows, sporting events and more. You can learn more here . Aquariums, Zoos, and Wildlife Parks Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA:  Military and veterans receive free admission on November 11. Friends and family will need to buy tickets at your local MWR/ITT office or receive $3 off adult and $1.50 off child admissions by showing a Military ID card at our ticket window. More info  can be found on the aquariums website. Birmingham Zoo, Birmingham, AL: All veterans, active and retired military, and their dependents with proof of service will receive FREE admission on November 11 12, 2018. More info  on this promotion is accessible here. Cincinnati Zoo: Free admission to the Zoo on Memorial Day, July 4 and Veteran’s Day. And current and former military personnel can purchase up to six (6) half-price admission tickets for their immediate family. Military & First Responders – $3 off adults / $2 off child admission. Valid military, fire, or police ID is required to obtain a discount. Tickets must be purchased in person. Find more info  on the Zoos website. Nashville Zoo: Nashville Zoo and Regions Bank invite active military personnel, military veterans and their immediate families to receive free admission during Military Appreciation Day on Sunday, November 11, 2018. In addition to regular Zoo activities, a special children’s fun zone will be set up on Festival Field with bounce houses, games and activities. More info . Newport Aquarium: Free admission from November 10th to 18th, with ID or proof of service. Family members can receive their military discount of $3 off adult tickets and $2 off child tickets. More info . Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Tacoma, WA: Free admission on November 10 12, 2018 for all current and former U.S. military members. Immediate family members will receive half-off general admission. More info . Oregon Zoo: Nov. 11- 12, 2018. Free admission for military veterans and active military personnel and their family members. Families of deployed military personnel also will be given free admission. Additional 10% discount at zoo store and at all food outlets for veterans, active military personnel and their families, with proper identification. More info . Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma, WA. Free admission on November 10 12 for all current and former U.S. military members. Immediate family members will receive half-off general admission. More info . Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, WA: Nov. 11, 2018. Free Admission to all active, retired, and veteran U.S. military personnel and their spouses with valid service identification on Veterans Day. Veterans Day discounts cannot be combined with other offers or zoo discounts. More info . Free Admission to Museums on Veterans Day Country Music Hall of Fame: Free admission for all active duty and retired military members and up to 3 immediate family members Nov. 10-12. There will be special, live musical performances and activities during the Veterans Day weekend. More info . Harley-Davidson Museum®: The Harley-Davidson Museum® is offering free Museum entry for all active Military, Veterans and their families* on November 9-11, 2018. *Free entry with valid Military or Veterans ID for 1 additional adult and up to 4 children 18 years old or younger. Visit the Harley-Davidson Museum® website for more information . National September 11 Memorial & Museum: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum will pay tribute to our country’s veterans during a special five-day Salute to Service from November 7 through November 11, 2018. A series of events and special programs will be available on the memorial for veterans and their families, as well as the visiting public. Throughout our tribute, veterans will receive free museum admission. Veterans will also receive half-price museum tickets for up to two family members during the tribute. Ticketing for Salute to Service will be available at a dedicated ticket window at the museum entrance. More information can be found on the National September 11, Memorial & Museum website . Patriots Point Museum, Mt. Pleasant, SC: Nov. 10 11, 2018. Free admission to all veterans on November 10th & 11th, 2018. More Information . Pro Football Hall of Fame Free Admission, throughout Nov. 2018: Free Admission to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for all veterans and active military plus one guest, during the entire month of November. More information . National Parks & Landmarks Free Admission for Everyone at US National Parks, Nov. 11, 2018: To honor America’s service men and women, the Secretary of the Interior has announced that areas managed by the National Park Service would not charge entrance fees for Veterans Day, November 11, 2018. Everyone is eligible, not just veterans. Over 100 national Parks will be participating in this event . Learn more about free admission at National Parks . Colonial Williamsburg: Active duty receives one complimentary admission ticket per year (and as many as three direct dependents). Retired military and Veterans qualify for 50% discount on Single-day tickets or on Annual Passes for up to five direct dependents. Special Veterans Day ceremony. Free admission to all active-duty military, retired, veterans, activated or drilling reservists, National Guard personnel, and up to three direct dependents on Memorial Day Weekend and Veterans Day weekend. November 11, 2018 . Army Corp of Engineers Recreation Areas: Waived day use fees for veterans, active and reserve component service members, and their families at the more than 2,800 USACE-operated recreation areas nationwide on Veterans Day. The waiver covers fees for boat launch ramps and swimming beaches. The waiver does not apply to camping and camping-related services, or fees for specialized facilities such as group picnic shelters. Get more info  on the website here to answer any further questions. Amusement Parks Free & Discounted Tickets Anheuser-Busch Parks: Anheuser-Busch Parks offers Active Duty Service Members free admission for them and up to 3 dependents to any of their parks once a year. Throughout 2018, members of the military and as many as three direct dependents may enter SeaWorld, Busch Gardens or Sesame Place parks with a single-day complimentary admission. The Waves of Honor program is only available to Any active duty, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman. Eligible parks include Adventure Island, Busch Gardens (Tampa Bay or Williamsburg), SeaWorld (Orlando, San Diego, or San Antonio), Sesame Place, Water Country USA, or Aquatica SeaWorld’s Waterpark in San Diego. Not valid at Discovery Cove. Christmas Town at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. is not included as part of this program. There are additional discounts for veterans. Must register in advance. You can obtain your ticket voucher online at the Waves of Honor website . Knotts Berry Farm: Knotts Berry Farm has an annual Military Tribute event in which they offer military members past and present by offering free park admission. This year the Military Tribute Days runs from November 1 15 and November 26 December 21, 2018. Active, Retired or Veteran U.S. Military Personnel may receive free admission for themselves and 1 guest (maximum of 2 complimentary admissions will be issued). Additional discounted tickets may be purchased at the ticket booth. Discounted admission tickets are also available for purchase at local military bases. Must present proper ID at Knotts turnstile (DD214, Veterans Administration Hospital ID or Active Military Service ID). More info . LEGOLAND Florida, Winterhaven, FL: FREE Admission November 1-30, 2018. For all veterans and active duty military of the U.S. armed forces. Veterans also can purchase theme park tickets for up to six guests at a 50% discount on the same dates. To receive free admission and purchase discounted tickets, veterans must present valid military ID or proof of veteran status at LEGOLAND Florida Resort ticket window on the day of their visit. Free standard parking is available at LEGOLAND Florida Resort for veterans and active duty military with valid military ID during the month of November. Active duty members receive free admission year round . Deeply discounted tickets are available at each military bases Information, Tickets and Travel (ITT) office that include a 2nd day FREE! Check with your local office on base for pricing. To receive free admission, U.S. veterans must present valid military ID or proof of veteran status at the theme park ticket windows on the day of their visit. This offer is not available online or by phone. More info . Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL: Disney World offers current military members discounted Park Hopper passes throughout the year. You can save a substantial amount by buying the discounted tickets. Also look into the Shades of Green Resort at Walt Disney World . This is a military-only resort located on the Disney World grounds (Shades of Green is open to current military year-round, and veterans during the months of September and January). World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta, Ga: Active duty, reserves, and retirees are eligible for free admission year-round. From Thursday, Nov. 1 to Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, members of the Armed Forces may purchase up to four half-price general admission tickets for their friends and family. Tickets may be purchased with a valid Armed Forces ID card at the attraction’s ticketing windows. More info . Even More Veterans Day Savings To all who served a simple thank you is never enough. But Ill say it anyway. Thank you for your service. Note: We continually update this article each year and republish it with current information. Please contact us if you have any additions or corrections. More Veterans Day Discounts! Please click through to 2018 Veterans Day Free Meals & Restaurant Discounts , and 2018 Veterans Day Freebies, Retail Discounts, and Special Offers , or download a list by clicking the box below.
  • New jobs surged in October, unemployment stood at a 49-year low, and wages rose more than they have in nearly a decade. Check Our Video Blog On More Good Economic News On Friday http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Someone contact me recently about how to set up a Roth IRA. It’s a common enough question that it feels like a good time to revisit this topic. In this article I’m going to tell you exactly why, where and how to set up a Roth IRA and even make three investment suggestions for three [] The post Why, Where How of Roth IRAs appeared first on Wendy Marsden, CPA, CFP® .
  • Every leader has a shining vision of “how things could be.” However, most leaders fail miserably at relaying these insights to their people—and it can drive an organization into the ground. Check Our Video Blog On Leadership Communications http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Maintenance While cleaning up and doing tent maintenance after a recent Orland Park Cub Scout camping trip, I thought about how important it is to perform maintenance on many items including my investment accounts.  This part of financial planning is necessary yet a very unexciting chore.  I perform such cleaning tasks as making sure beneficiaries are up to date, the account address is still correct, check if the account still needed or can it be consolidated, are the investments in the account still appropriate, and much more.  These tasks can be challenging to get done because they are often tedious and take time to complete.  That is time that competes with many other perhaps more pressing needs.  I feel better when I get such maintenance done, knowing I am taking care of my family’s future. Reading My son has school required reading of 20 minutes six days per week.  I have been fortunate to discover the Bluestem book collection at the Orland Park Public Library.  He is enjoying these award nominated books.  In the process, I have recommitted to reading I enjoy which includes some fiction and fun financial planning reading.  This reading is part of my evening down time away from electronic screens before bed.  It rejuvenates and relaxes me after a long day. Variety also called Diversification Often in financial planning, folks think of variety as in diversification of an investment portfolio.  There is another important form of diversification especially in retirement.  That is creating a variety of different sources of income.  These sources of cash flow include pensions, bond ladders, rental real estate, investment dividends, Social Security and even part time work.  In the financial independence phase of life, it is important to not rely on a single source of income that might dry up.  Creating diverse sources is critical in retirement planning. Safeguarding Income Protecting our income throughout our financial lives is so very important.  During our working years, we convert my human capital (potential to earn) into financial capital (potential to spend/save).  That is our employment efforts convert into currency to exchange or save for future spending.  Later in financial independence, money is reconverted into those things need to survive (food and shelter) and other items for enjoyment. Financial Independence which maybe, but, is not always retirement can last 30 or more years.  In short, that is 30 years of unemployment.  During financial independence, it is important to safeguard that income potential by taking less stock market risk, insuring our portfolios are diversified, converting 401Ks to an income stream, insuring banks accounts are FDIC protected, and that our social security strategy is optimized.  These are the kind of steps that help give real longevity to long term financial independence. Talking about Money Talking about money is often taboo in our society.  I perceive this is like a squirrel telling other squirrels where he or she hid his/her nuts for the long cold winter.  I have heard locker room like talk about successful stock purchases.  Actually, I have heard these mentioned in an Orland Park locker room.   These ramblings are more like brags and the braggarts don’t mention the losses suffered.  I frequently see the losses when preparing taxes. Financial planning done right can give voice to talking about money.  Sometimes just talking about an issue helps reduce negativity the topic and can do so in our financial lives.  This is not therapy rather it is taking stock (pun intended) of what is truly going on and addressing as we are best able.  It can be challenging to discuss.  As a financial planner, I find it rewarding to talk with folks about their money in ways they have not previously considered. Is the Stock Market too high (or too low)? I have no idea.  Recent stock market volatility might or might not point to major Wall Street sell off.  Having a diversified portfolio with appropriate risk helps weather the sometimes-violent storms in the stock market.  Market risks are inherent to equity (stock type) investments.  This and other risks are beyond the individual investors control. I, as individual investor, when considering my risk tolerance consider my emotional risk tolerance, investor education level, people dependent on me for support, level of risk needed to reach financial goals, other risks taken (like real estate), how much am I saving, job stability and deflation/inflation risks.  This goes well beyond the how much emotional risk I can tolerate rather it controls for other risks in my life and usually results in a more conservative portfolio.  I can use such a portfolio as an umbrella to weather the storms of Wall Street while in Orland Park. Real Estate Real Estate is often a significant part of a family’s net worth.   Like others my house is good part of my personal net worth.  Living in Orland Park, I am fortunate to experience rising real estate values that increase my wealth.  My personal residence provides lifestyle enjoyment as well protection hard economic times with a fixed mortgage payment that will not change.  Having the mortgage helps me leverage paying for the house in the future with cheaper inflated dollars and thus helping to provide inflation protection to my net worth.  Therefore, I do not have dollars locked up in the house and can put them to work in my portfolio. The post Money and More © Orland Park, November 3, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • You know you need emergency money, right? But what does that actually mean? Here are the three kinds of emergency money I counsel my clients to have. One is what I call strange change. You should have some cash in the house that you can use if you need to Get Out Of Dodge right [] The post Strange Change, Rainy Days and Big Emergencies appeared first on Wendy Marsden, CPA, CFP® .
  • Gifts are not taxable income. However, they can come back to haunt you! There are three ways gifts can cause issues. The first is if you are applying for a mortgage and the bank is trying to determine where youre getting the money for your down-payment. They want to make sure youre not taking out [] The post A Halloween Story about Gift Tax appeared first on Wendy Marsden, CPA, CFP® .
  • If youre looking for ways to save money on your monthly bills, your cell phone plan is a great place to start. Data plans can get expensive, especially if you want unlimited data or streaming services. Thankfully, wireless carriers across the nation offer promotions on their phones and data plans, with the most popular carriers offering special rates to military personnel and veterans. Verizon offers military discounts to current military members, veterans, and their family members when the veteran is the primary account holder. Verizon offers these discounts on their Verizon Wireless cell phone plans, as well as Verizon Fios, which is their Internet, cable, and home phone line service. Verizon Military Discount Eligibility If you have ever researched military discounts, you know that offers vary from company to company, especially with regards to eligibility requirements. In some cases, military discounts do not extend to family members. In other cases, you might find discounts limited to active duty military personnel. Verizon is not one of those companies. Verizon offers the Military and Veteran Discount Program to all active military members, veterans, and their family members. Family members are eligible for the discount as long as the military member or veteran is the primary account holder. Verizon lists the following groups of military personnel (and their immediate families) as eligible: Air Force, Army, Marines. Navy, Coast Guard, commissioned officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, commissioned officers of the United States Public Health Service, all military reserves and National Guard, and veterans of all branches. In order to gain access to Verizons military or veterans discount, you will be required to present proof of military service. This can be done in-person at a store, or online. Active military members: Verify military discount eligibility online Military-issued email Military pay stub (LES) SCRA Status Report Veterans: DD Form 214 Veterans ID Card Military Retiree Account Statement VetRewards Card from Veterans Advantage Note: If you currently have a plan with Verizon and are eligible to receive the military or veterans discount, you can begin receiving the discount with one of the proofs listed above. To register your existing account, click the Existing Customers link in the menu on the Verizon website and enter your Verizon mobile number in the My Verizon User ID or mobile number field to start. Verizon Wireless Military Discounts Verizons military discount is a flexible one that can be applied differently to your plan depending on how many lines you have and when your plan was activated. Heres how Verizon Military Discount applies to the following plans: Discounts on Go, Beyond, or Above Unlimited Plans: Do you have one line on your account? Save $15. Two lines? Save $35. Three or more lines? Your best savings are $40 on your account access fee.* Other Eligible Plans: Not on one of the plans above? No worries. You can get a 15% discount off other eligible plans monthly account service fee. Accessories: You can get up to a 25% discount off select accessories when purchased online through My Verizon. *The line-based tiered discount for the Go, Beyond or Above Unlimited plans applies if the account was activated with, or plan changed to, one of these plans 6/28/18 or later. Any Go or Beyond Unlimited plans activated prior to 6/28/18 will receive a flat $15 account level access fee discount. At any time the plan can be changed to the new Go, Beyond or Above Unlimited plan to receive the line-based tiered discount. If youre wondering whether your particular plan is eligible for Verizons Military discount, you can check with your local Verizon store or visit the Verizon Wireless website for current offers and additional information . Limited Time Offer $200 Prepaid MasterCard with a New Smartphone Activation on Device Payment Limited Time Offer Expires 11/26/2018. Military can get a $200 prepaid MasterCard with a new smartphone activation on device payment. Approved military docs required. $30/line/mo for 4 lines on Go Unlimited, less $40 account discount. Auto Pay (checks, home banking or debit card only) & paper-free billing req’d. In times of congestion, your data may be temporarily slower than other traffic (only after 22 GB/mo on Beyond Unlimited and 75 GB/mo on Above Unlimited.) Offer valid 10.18.18 – 11.26.18. Device payment purchased and new line of service req’d. New line must be in good standing for 45 days. A prepaid gift card will be mailed w/in 10 wks after receipt of claim and be charged back if service is canceled in 6 mos. All required materials must be submitted within 60 days of purchase date. Learn More at the Verizon Wireless Website . Verizon Fios Military Discounts Comparable to its competitors, Verizon offers discounts to those veterans and military members looking to bundle home phone, TV, and internet (or all three!). While you should always shop around for the best rates, bundling your technological services can ease your monthly payment process and save you money. Verizon offers three bundling options, which can save you anywhere from $60 to $120 when you choose Fios as your internet provider. The Verizon Military and Veteran Discount includes the following Fios features: $120 off/ year on Fios Triple Play or Triple Play. Includes Home Phone, Internet, and Fios TV. $60 off / year on Fios Double Play. Includes Internet and choice of Home Phone or Fios TV. $60 off / year High-Speed Internet (HIS) Double Play. Includes Internet and Home Phone. How Does the Verizon Military Discount Compare to Other Cell Phone Provider Discounts? The Verizon military discount plan offers its military customers up to $40 off on unlimited plans with 4 lines or 15% off of other eligible plans. But how do those numbers stack up against the competition? You may be able to save more overall with T-Mobile or AT&T, but Verizons discounts still compete and their coverage is expansive. To give you an idea of what Verizons competitors have to offer, below are the other military discounts offered by major cell phone carriers : 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 Verizon Gives Back to Veterans Verizon demonstrates dedication to serving its military and veteran customers and employees in more ways than providing them with discounts. The company is committed to hiring veterans, with over 11,000 employed today. It has been named a Top 10 Military employer by Military Time. Verizon has also won the 2018 Military Friendly Award, and it was 2018s number 1 Military Friendly employer. Military Times also named Verizon the #6 Best for Vets Employer of 2018. Verizon also partners with Hirepurpose, Hiring Our Heroes, Military Spouse Employment Partnership, and Wounded Warrior Project. By partnering with these organizations, Verizon works to thank members of the military for their service to our nation. Bottom Line Verizon is one company who thanks veterans by offering them discounts, but also by giving to organizations who support the members of our military. With Verizon, you can get stellar coverage, competitive prices, and an additional military discount for you and your familys phone plan. You can also bundle your data with other services you love and use regularly, saving even more. Take a look at Verizons plans today and consider taking advantage of their generous military discount. Find more military discounts on our discount our list . Verizon Military and Veteran Discount Program Verizon Military and Veteran Discount Program - Available to Current and Former Military Members and their Families! Learn More Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
  • Phone bills and data plans can get expensive quickly, but unlimited plans are becoming more accessible as phone carriers offer special rates and promotions to their customers. If you are an active duty member of the military or a veteran, there are even more discounts at your disposal.  One company offering enticing military discounts on their phone, data, and streaming plans is AT&T. With competitive costs and coverage, multiple bundling options, and a major military discount, AT&T could be an excellent carrier choice for you. AT&T Military Discount Offer The AT&T military discount is a generous one. With this promotion, you can save 25% per line on the AT&T Unlimited &MoreSM wireless plan. The AT&T Unlimited &MoreSM wireless plan is robust, pairing limitless data, texts, and talk with a variety of entertainment options. In a nutshell heres what you get with the plan: More choice. More perks. More on-the-go entertainment. Get 30+ channels of live TV** Binge 15,000 movies and hit shows Unlimited talk, text, and data with no overage fees, ever Send unlimited texts to 120 countries Enjoy unlimited calls to Mexico & Canada, and free roaming while you’re there It is important to note, however, that while your data is unlimited, your speed may be slowed down in congested areas, and you are subject to encounter streaming limits. AT&Ts 25% off discount is offered to active duty members of the military and veterans alike, as well as spouses of living or deceased members of the armed forces. If youre active duty, signing up is as simple as registering online with your .mil email. If youre a veteran, youll need to sign up in person. Well talk about acceptable forms of ID in a moment, but first, lets take a look at AT&Ts other military initiatives. Additional Savings on DIRECTV and Internet Since finalizing its acquisition of DIRECTV in 2015, AT&T has been able to offer competitively priced internet and TV bundles. Alongside those bundles come even more military discounts. AT&T Also offers a $15 military discount on DIRECTV when you have an AT&T Unlimited &MoreSM wireless plan. In addition to saving money on DIRECTV, you can get a discount when you choose to bundle your internet with AT&T. Save $15 a month on AT&T Internet when you have an AT&T Unlimited &MoreSM wireless plan. Saving $30 a month on services you will likely use anyway is a great deal! Getting your internet, tv, and phone service from the same provider can also save you time and energy, streamlining your payment process. Learn more about all of AT&Ts plans at the AT&T website. AT&T Military Discount Eligibility AT&T offers a Military and Veteran Discount of 25% off the AT&T Unlimited &MoreSM wireless plan for all Active Duty military members and veterans with an honorable discharge. AT&T Military Discount for Active Duty Members: You’ll need your .mil military email address handy. AT&T Military Discount for Veterans:: Bring one of the accepted forms of ID below with you to an AT&T store: Department of Defense Form DD214 , indicating an honorable discharge Valid retired military ID Current AMVETS membership card Veteran designated driver’s license Veteran Health Insurance card Spouses of active duty military service personnel can sign up at a local AT&T store or participating dealer. Bring a valid Department of Defense sponsorship card. Additional AT&T Employer Discounts With the AT&T Signature Program, you can get even more discounts from AT&T. It’s easy to find out if you’re eligible for savings for your qualified AT&T wireless service through your employer, school, or other association. Just enter and submit your work or school email address and we’ll show you whether you qualify for applicable discounts and benefits on wireless services, devices and more. Check your Discount Eligibility here. How Does the AT&T Military Discount Compare to Other Cell Phone Provider Discounts? The AT&T military discount plan offers a 25% savings on the unlimited plans. Here are some other military discounts offered by major cell phone carriers : Sprint Military Discount: Discount: 5o% 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 member is 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 member is sponsor) Learn More: T-Mobile Military Discount Verizon Wireless Military Discount:  Discount: 15% off Eligible Plans, or up to $40 off Unlimited Plans; 25% off Accessories Eligible Plans: Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited Eligibility: Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, Retirees, Veterans, Family Members (when member is sponsor) Learn More: Verizon Wireless Military Discount Overall, the AT&T military discount is competitive with the other major cell phone providers in the US. The T-Mobile military discount is the most generous, coming in at 20% for the member, and an additional 50% savings on each additional line. But AT&T has some benefits that T-Mobile does not, including the ability to bundle Internet, TV, and landline offerings, and in some areas, get better cell phone coverage. AT&Ts Commitment to Veterans In addition to offering generous discounts on their wireless plans, tv, and internet, AT&T is dedicated to enriching the lives of veterans, with a current initiative aimed towards hiring 20,000 veterans by 2020. Below are a few of the ways AT&T seeks to thank and support past and present members of the armed forces: Cell Phones for Soldiers: AT&T donates funds from recycled phones to this nonprofit dedicated to giving veterans and active duty military members access to free communication and emergency funds for phones. You can learn more about the organizations work on their website. Operation Hand Salute: Operation Hand Salute is AT&Ts own mentorship program that helps disabled veterans succeed in the business world. Operation Phone Home: AT&T gives international phone cards to the USOs Operation Phone Home program so military members can stay in touch with their families while serving. Bottom Line AT&T demonstrates its dedication to seeing yesterday and todays armed forces succeed at home and abroad with their hiring initiatives and their nonprofit partnerships. But they also do so with competitive military discounts on their services. Whether you want an unlimited data plan for your family, youre looking to upgrade your entertainment with a DIRECTV plan, or you want to bundle in internet, AT&Ts military discounts give you access to some great savings. With a 25% discount on its AT&T Unlimited &MoreSM wireless plan and an opportunity to save an additional $15 on DIRECTV and $15 on internet coverage, AT&T could be your one-stop shop. Take a look at AT&Ts military discounts and start saving today. AT&T Military & Veteran Discount Program AT&T Military Discount Available to Current & Former Military Members. Learn More Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
  • Last week the stock market continued its October rout as the SP 500 neared a 10 percent correction from last month’s highs. How should we react to this bad news?
  • The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell into correction territory on October 26 by dropping more than 10% from its all-time high five weeks earlier. Check Our Video Blog On Analyzing The Market Correction http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Employee engagement has been consistently cited as a top and growing priority by CEOs, managers, and human resources leaders across the country. Check Out This Interview On Employee Incentives http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Funding a Trust My financial planning training and estate planning lawyer suggested I create a living trust for my estate planning situation.  I went through the process of creating and signing legal documents with my wonderful attorney, Amy Delaney.  After that, the real work began. I needed to fund the trust.  That means I worked to re-title accounts and real estate into the name of the trust.  If not, the trust will not function as designed.  For real estate,  an attorney prepared and filed a Quit Claim Deed  with the county where the property exists.  Each financial institution has their own process that must be worked through to move into the trust framework.  This meant at times I needed to establish a new account before the funds transferred.    These transfers are normally not taxable transactions.  I have found it takes a couple of months of work to get it all done to fund the trust fully. Cybersecurity Given the news in the last month of both data breaches at Google and Facebook, it is time for me to reset my passwords for these services.  Thank goodness my password manager makes this process relatively easy.  Also, given the nature of the Facebook breach, I am going to double check to make sure none of my online applications/software logs in through Facebook. Quiet Time I have found that giving myself the gift of quiet time makes my life better.  I can get more done and more effectively by taking the downtime.  This is counter intuitive at times as I may have several pressing concerns to address.  For me the best downtime is literally quiet with minimal distractions.  I like short meditations, yoga, reading, or staring into space.  During this time, it is not unusual for solutions to client financial planning situations or parenting concerns to become apparent.  It is like I am defragging the RAM type memory in my brain, giving myself more cleaned out capacity to process harder problems that have been in the queue to get thought out. Record Keeping As I go through my own house clean out process, I am glad I know about how long to keep records. As a financial planning professional, I use the “Homefile” system to help keep my records organized. Income tax records and backup receipts should generally be kept for 4 years after the return is filed.  Keeping the actual tax return well into the future can be useful at times.  I always hold on to items dealing directly with the purchase or sale of real estate and mortgage release letters.  Things like old utility bills for a residence can be tossed as soon the next one is received unless there is business reason to keep them.   If in doubt about something less critical, one useful technique is to scan the item and toss the paper copy. Retirement Retirement when and how can be challenging questions.  I know prior to my military retirement I faced that dilemma which in part lead me to become a financial planner.  Retirement is not just a financial question, it is also a lifestyle question.  How did I want to live in retirement?  I knew I would need more money that my military pension provides so I would need employment.  I also needed to consider cash flow. In the end, retirement or financial independence is about creating a cash flow  sufficient to sustain the desired lifestyle.  There are lots of ways to create the cash flow—stock dividends, cd/bond ladder, mutual funds, bucket strategy, pensions, and social security to name a few.  Each situation is different, and a tailored fit strategy can be built to create the finances that support the desired lifestyle. Persistence I believe it takes persistence and patience to achieve long term goals and especially financial ones like wealth.  I will take on persistence today and patience tomorrow.  Some goals are really big-like eating the proverbial elephant.  It takes consistent and repeated work to reach the goal.  There are things that “demand” money along the way like broken cars, holidays and vacation spending, significant life events (births, deaths, and divorces) and much more.   Some of these demands can be avoid while others cannot.  Regardless they can sabotage our efforts to reach a goal. Persistence is what keeps us going through these sabotaging distractions-to keep saving money for the future, to say no or not as much to these financial distractions. I know firsthand about these distractions.  Sometimes I have felt defeated until I would then look back at the progress I had already made and became re-energized to keep moving forward and eventually reaching my goal. Patience Growing wealth (as measured by net worth) takes time and patience.  There is no magic formula in financial planning and wealth building.  It takes time to plant the seed and nurture its growth before there can be a bountiful harvest of financial independence.  Equity and Real Estate investments are for the long haulmeaning 12-15 years.  Yes, there are ways that some “gurus” say can reduce this timeline. In the real world I have found they don’t work for me.  For example, a rental property now annually nets me about 10% of the purchase price over 20 years ago.  It has been patience that has made this investment work for me.  Though now it’s a stellar investment for me, it is not risk free given its location in an area prone to periodic natural disasters and potential to go without renters.  Likewise, equity investments historically (1926 to present) take 10-15 years to not go down in value.  It takes patience to allow an investment to go up and down with the oscillations of the stock market in order to create wealth.  The financial planning process helps me with the patience to generate meaningful wealth. The post Money and More ©, Orland Park, October 27, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Disclosure: I am participating in a Membership campaign for MetLife FEDVIP Dental Plan. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with MetLife and do not earn a commission or percent of sales. Currently, military retirees and their families have many choices for dental care. They can purchase a dental insurance plan through the military, take advantage of the benefits offered by a private employer, or pay for their dental costs directly. As the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) ends and military retirees become eligible for the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), their dental choices will be even more substantial. What’s Changing If you missed the notice, the TRDP is ending on December 31, 2018. For coverage effective 1 January 2019, military retirees and families will be eligible to purchase any of the dental plans offered through the FEDVIP program. With this change comes new enrollment rules you will no longer be able to opt in and out of the program at any time. Changes to FEDVIP coverage are only allowed during the annual Federal Benefits Open Season each fall, and if you have a FEDVIP qualifying life event that would necessitate a change in coverage. You’ll have to enroll in the FEDVIP program during the open season this fall, if you want to have dental coverage through FEDVIP in 2019. The 2018 open season will run from Monday, November 12, 2018, to Monday, December 10, 2018 (ET), and during this time, you will make selections for your coverage during 2019. FEDVIP has a wide variety of plans from which to choose. Each plan has a different cost and provides different benefits. So you’ll have to do some reading and thinking to find out which plan might be right for you. Employer-Sponsored Options If you are working after military retirement, you may have the opportunity to purchase a dental plan with your private employer picking up a portion of the dental costs. For those who want dental insurance, you will want to carefully compare the costs and benefits of any private employer-sponsored plan with the cost of other options, including the plans offered through FEDVIP. If your employer is heavily subsidizing dental insurance purchase through work, then it might be a great choice for you instead of FEDVIP. Plans Offered Through The FEDVIP Program For most retirees, the two hardest parts about the switch from the TRDP to the FEDVIP program will be the new open season model and choosing between the many FEDVIP options. Depending on your zip code, you may have more than a dozen plans to choose from. Each plan has a different premium and has different coverages, deductibles, co-pays, and plan maximums. Importantly for those transitioning from the TRDP to the FEDVIP plan, some FEDVIP plans have a waiting period for orthodontia, though some plans are making exceptions for those moving directly from the TRDP. MetLife’s FEDVIP Options MetLife offers two plans through the FEDVIP program , with two tiers of benefits to meet the needs of military retirees switching from the TRDP program. Both plans offer: Child and adult orthodontic coverage No waiting period No cost-share on preventative services such as cleanings and exams No deductible for in-network services No out-of-pocket costs for in-network cleanings, X-rays and exams Higher annual and lifetime plan maximums One of the nation’s largest networks, with over 393,000 dentists nationwide Transition services: Any treatment started with TRDP will be covered by your MetLife plan option including root canal, crowns, bridgework, dentures, orthodontia services (except for adult orthodontic under the standard plan ) In addition, the HIGH option includes 70% coverage on orthodontics, with an incredible $5,000 total coverage on child orthodontics and $3,000 on adult orthodontics, plus no annual maximum benefit amount. You can learn more about the MetLife FEDVIP plan here . Which Dental Insurance Option Should You Choose? There is no single right answer for everyone, and every person probably has a couple of choices that would be good for them. The most important thing is that you have to take action during the Federal Benefits Open Season, if you want to have FEDVIP dental coverage in 2019. Get started researching your options now on Tricare.benefeds.com so you will be prepared to sign up when open season begins on November 12, 2018. Enroll in FEDVIP at BENEFEDS.com .
  • With the end of 2018 flying by fast, here is information about a new twist on an old strategy that could save you a thousand dollars or much more in taxes if you act by the end of the year. Check Our Video Blog On Act By End Of 2018 For Big Tax Savings On Charity—A New Tax Wrinkle http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Red Robin, home of the bottomless order of fries, invites veterans and active duty military members for a free meal at one of its 528 locations this Veterans Day. We haven’t gotten official word about this year’s deal, but Red Robin usually offers a free Red’s Tavern Double Burger and Bottomless Steak Fries Meal. The restaurant also hopes you’ll share photos of your meal on social media using the hashtag #RRVetsDay. With a portion of its restaurants being individually owned, youll want to double check to make sure your local Red Robin is participating. Bring Your Proof and Get Ready to Dig In To get your free double burger and bottomless order of fries, be sure to bring proof you’re a veteran . One of the following documents should do the job: a Military ID Card a Veterans ID Card a veterans organization membership card (DAV, AMVETS, American Legion, VFW, etc.) a DD Form 214 a Drivers License with your military designation Or, bring a citation or a commendation from your time in the service or a photograph of yourself in uniform. Need a simpler option? Just wear your uniform to the restaurant. If you’re not sure whether your form of identification will work, find your nearest location on Red Robins website and give them a call before Veterans Day. More About Veterans Day at Red Robin Some Veterans Day deals require you to buy something in order to access the free food. We get it: A restaurant needs some way to control the amount of free food leaving its kitchen. Red Robin doesn’t usually do it that way, though. You’re free to claim your free Veterans Day food even if you don’t buy anything else, so long as you’re dining in. More info . Chances are you will want to buy something else, though. You should also note that drinks and desserts are not included in the free offer. Gratuity isn’t either. And as far as we know, Red Robin does not offer discounts for family members or friends of veterans or military members. If you plan to bring a group, anyone at your table who hasn’t served in the military will need to pay full price. When Is Red Robin’s Deal on Active Duty? Red Robin’s free meal offer takes place only on Veterans Day, November 11. Veterans Day happens to fall on a Sunday this year, which means the federal government has officially marked the following Monday for its observance. Still, Red Robin and many other restaurants offer their special Veterans Day promotions only on Veterans Day itself, Sunday, November 11. If you wait until Monday it’ll be too late. Red Robins tend to stay open kind of late 10 or 11 pm in most markets. Be sure to check with your local Red Robin to confirm its hours since some locations may close early on Sundays. It’s always a good idea to check your location for participation in this or any special offer, too. About 100 of the chain’s 528 locations are franchised, meaning local owners could potentially opt out of the deal. Other Restrictions to Know About Red Robin’s offer includes only the Red’s Tavern Double Burger and Bottomless Steak Fries Meal. Other burgers and side items will cost full price, as will drinks and desserts. This offer is valid only for dine-in customers, and like many similar offers it does not include beverages or gratuity, so be sure to bring along some money even though the food itself will be free. Remember, too, that a few municipalities still have laws prohibiting alcohol sales on Sundays. If your Red Robin’s bar is shut down when you arrive, that’s probably why. Red Robin Honors Vets Year Round, Too Naturally, we’re a huge fan of free food for vets and active duty military personnel on Veterans Day. We’re also a fan of places that honor vets and service people year round, and those places include Red Robin. The restaurant’s loyalty club, called Red Robin Royalty , gives all its members perks such as coupons during their birthday month and the ability to accumulate points toward free food. Royalty club members who have served or are currently serving the military also get special deals throughout the year. (The club also includes special rewards for teachers.) If you join Red Robin Royalty, or if you’re already a member, please note that your free meal on Veterans Day will not count toward your points total. What’s the Deal with Those Bottomless Fries? Even if you’ve never eaten at a Red Robin, you may have heard of their bottomless steak fries. It’s literally true: Your fries will be served in a container with no bottom. Instead, it’s a stainless steel tube resting on your plate to hold the fries in place. It’s also figuratively true: When you run out of fries, your server will bring more. Run out again and you’ll get more, just like you’d expect with a glass of water or soda. Along with more fries than you can eat at Red Robin, you can also expect: A contemporary setting with a 1950s theme in some locations. Loud but not obtrusive rock ‘n’ roll music on the sound system. To wait for a table during busy times. Full table service (be sure to bring money for a tip). TVs playing sports, news, or weather programming. A full bar in most locations. Eating and Tweeting: Red Robin’s Hashtag Not every meal is worthy of a photo on Instagram or a shoutout on Twitter, but Red Robin hopes you’ll enjoy your double burger and bottomless steak fries meal enough to post about it. The company’s marketing department suggests using the hashtag #RRVetsDay if and when you post on social media. Of course, the offer is in no way contingent upon your willingness to share it with your friends. But if you’re going to post something anyway, you may as well add the hashtag so you can be connected with other vets around the country eating at Red Robin on Veterans Day. Red Robin’s corporate leaders will also feel the love. Enjoy Your Veterans Day Discounts Why not enjoy spending this Veterans Day out and about with friends, family, and other veterans? Military discounts  give companies a chance to salute the veterans whove served the country, providing discounts you can thankfully accept. Red Robin is just one of the restaurants who will be offering discounted and free meals this November, so youll have plenty of appetizing selections to choose from. You can also pair a delicious meal with a shopping trip, as there is no shortage of retailers offering discounts on Veterans Day . Last, you can attend events honoring veterans and find discounts on attractions . Take a look at all of the discounts on the market and enjoy your Veterans Day!
  • Simple gestures go a long way, especially when you’re saying thank you for something invaluable. Shoney’s, the diner chain with locations around the Southeast, takes a simple approach to thanking veterans and military members for their service. Rather than offering a special menu or giving you a free appetizer on a holiday, participating Shoney’s locations will simply knock 15 percent off your check any day of the year. This discount is also available to first-responders, including police, firefighters, and EMTs (with ID). Order what you want something from the menu, the breakfast or all-day buffet, a hot-fudge cake for dessert and you’ll pay 15 percent less at the register all day, every day, and not just on Veterans Day or Memorial Day. What’s On the Menu at Shoney’s? At its height in the late 1990s, Shoney’s had 1,300 locations around the country. Since then, the Nashville, Tennessee-based chain has retreated closer to its West Virginia roots with about 150 locations in 17 states, mostly in the South. Remaining locations continue to serve their communities well and are favorite breakfast and lunch spots for people who like Shoney’s buffet-style All-You-Care-To-Eat specials: All-You-Care-To-Eat Family Favorites on Monday Steak Night on Tuesday Endless Breakfast for Dinner on Wednesday All-You-Care-To-Eat Ribs Night on Thursday Endless Seafood on Friday Endless Seafood and Steak on Saturday All-You-Care-To-Eat Southern-Style Favorites on Sunday. Shoney’s breakfast menu is another draw for customers. Most stores open at 6 am and have a full breakfast waiting when customers arrive. Breakfast features include: All-Star Breakfast which includes about everything Shoney’s Steak Breakfast Pancake Breakfast (all you can eat) Signature Slim Jim Omelet Create Your Own Omelet, a three-egg omelet with your choice of cheese and toppings. And anyone who’s ever been to a Shoney’s has probably been tempted by the chain’s hot-fudge cake for dessert. How to Claim Your Military Discount at Shoney’s Bring your valid military identification  or current military ID with you to claim your 15 percent discount at Shoney’s. Veterans can prove their status in several different ways, a few of which are below: With a U.S. Uniformed Forces Retired ID Veterans ID Card or VA Health Care Card With a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) With your DD214 discharge form . Other forms of veteran or armed services identification should work too, including state-issued drivers licenses or ID cards with a Veterans stamp or membership cards from veterans service organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion . Other first responders may be eligible as well, with ID. Check with your local Shoneys for more information. 2018 Shoneys Veterans Day Free Meal This year, Shoneys is offering current and former military members a free breakfast from the fresh food bar until 11 a.m. on Monday, November 12th. You can find more info here . Make Sure Your Location is On Board It’s always a good idea to call ahead to make sure a restaurant participates in a special discount, and to make sure your form of ID will suffice. It’s even more important to call before arriving at a Shoney’s location because many restaurants are locally owned and operated, which means managers have the freedom to opt in or out of any regional or national promotion. This can be good or bad. It’s possible your closest location does not participate, but some Shoney’s locations may offer more than a 15 percent discount. Independently owned franchises may also have Veterans Day-specific specials such as free entrees, especially in communities with military bases. Without checking in first it’s impossible to know for sure what your local Shoney’s may offer. Some local Shoney’s also offer discounts to first responders, police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. Shoney’s: Seven Decades and Still Going In 1947, as highway construction and car ownership soared, Alex Schoenbaum opened the doors of the Parkette Drive-In in Charleston, W.Va. The restaurant drew crowds. It expanded. Through a series of business deals, it merged with the existing Big Boy chain of restaurants in West Virginia and eventually developed the name Shoney’s. The “Big Boy” mascot survived into the 1980s as Shoney’s expanded around the nation, as did two menu favorites, the All-American and Big Boy burgers. The All-American burger was always served with an American flag. The chain developed a fuller menu as the decades passed and started to specialize in breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets for hotel guests and other travelers. Though smaller than in previous decades, the current chain of Shoney’s restaurants draws auto travelers alongside busy Interstates connecting Maryland, Ohio, Texas, and Florida. A National Trend: Food as Thanks We all know how to say thanks for our food, and veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces know as much as anyone the value of a hearty meal. It makes perfect sense that more and more restaurants have switched things around and now offer free or discounted food to vets and military members as a way of saying thanks for their service on Veterans Day. We enjoy a lot of freedom as Americans, including the freedom to go out and have dinner together. Eating out is part of our culture. It’s something we do on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. This Veterans Day, active duty military members as well as veterans have a lot of options for free or discounted food at some of our nation’s leading restaurants. So if there’s not a Shoney’s in your area, you can find another establishment to welcome you and say thanks for sacrificing in order to protect our freedom and way of life. If you do have a Shoney’s nearby, check-in before arriving to make sure it will honor your service with a 15 percent discount or some other promotion. And if youre looking to do more than dine out this Veterans Day, you can find tons of attractions and events in your area, as well as Veterans Day retail discounts .
  • Women can lean in and find mentors, and education can push STEM. Check Out This Interview On Women Breaking Barriers http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Sunday ACP Conference My most important professional organization is the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners (ACP).  ACPs tax-focused model and financial planning philosophies align with my own.   I, very much, look forward to the conference each year.  It has been my pleasure to be part of the conference committee for this National level conference for the past 4 or 5 years.  This year I am excited to be a panel moderator and speaker on technology packages used by three different ACP member firms.  Check out the wonderful sessions I must choose between on the link to the agenda. https://2018.acplanners.org/content/agenda2018 Monday 2018 No Employee Expense Deduction Next tax season will be an unpleasant surprise for some folks.   Professionals like those in sales have often written off expenses related to employment on Schedule A of their tax returns.  That is no more with few exceptions.  So, not using these formerly deductible expenses will decrease the total itemized deductions and perhaps force the new higher standard deductions. What is such an employee to do?  Though not intuitive, the answer might be to go back to the employer and ask for a reduced salary in turn for tax-free reimbursement of the expenses.  Yes, this will make the total pay seem smaller.  It is a gain for the employee and the employer.  The employer was already paying the money, so it is just funneling to the employee an amount but now will have less employment related taxes.  The employee will have a lower income for tax purposes and receive the money used for work tax-free from the employer.  This can truly be a financial planning win-win situation. Tuesday Physical De-clutter Do you have too much stuff?  I am finding as I mature that the adage “The more stuff you have, the more stuff has you” is true for me.  The stuff takes up room and creates visual clutter.  Do really need all the old college notes?  Five or more sets of military uniforms from my service?  What about old tax returns?  Perhaps I have some emotional ties to the items which makes it even harder to get rid of.  My process is not an overnight complete overhaul.  I don’t have the time to do that so I work on my clutter about 2 hours each week.  It is getting  easier to purge items when I start with the easier items and practice.  The harder items have become easier over time. The process I created for myself works for me and love the empty spaces I am creating. Wednesday Eating Out Eating out can be pleasurable and time saving given our busy schedules.  That said, it is frequently it is more expensive than eating at home.  Generally, I eat out once a week with my son as something special.  It gives me a break in the kitchen and him a break from Daddy’s cooking.  I have little junk food in the house so use this as an opportunity for the boy to have something less healthy.  He knows that we eat out once a week. Thursday House Cleaning Service Sometimes I think having a house cleaner once is month is being lazy.  Then I think more about it, I realize it is helping me a lot.  I am not lazy.  In fact, it helps me with more than just having clean kitchen counters.  I admit it is a chore the day or so before the cleaners come.  Having the service motivates me (holds accountable me) to do more around the house in preparation.  I clean up and de-clutter the household surfaces, my son cleans up his toys and room.  If I did not have the service, I know I would not likely do these pre-cleaning tasks.   There are some added benefits that I love such as they make up the beds with the clean sheets.  For me, the price is worth it. Friday Juggling Life Last summer I took a beginner juggling class at my church family camp. While I still can’t juggle, the class taught me about life.  One of the instructors first comments was something along the lines of “Gravity Happens.”  In other words, we would drop balls as we practiced the building blocks of basic juggling skills.  She wanted us to acknowledge it and move through getting upset about letting the balls fall. In fact, part of the those beginning drills was to practice the tosses and intentionally let the balls drop to the floor.  It was ok to let things drop as we practiced.  I know, intellectually, that in life as I learn other skills in life I will do them imperfectly.  It will be the best I can do in that moment.  That doesn’t mean I stop trying to do them better just that I accept where I am in the moment.  This translates in to my financial life.  I don’t have an ideal anything (like enough money).  I do have many good things in place that when looked at from a holistic or comprehensive view point are much better than average and serve me well.  Thank you juggling for helping me to continue to gain perspective on life that serves me and my financial planning clients well. Saturday Roth IRAs I believe Roth IRAs are great for financial planning when they hold international and small company equity funds.  Ideally Roth IRAs are long-term accounts.  Roth IRAs contain after tax dollars.  The potential growth of these funds inside of a Roth IRA will be withdrawn tax free.  This is particularly valuable because Roth IRAs are commonly the last investment drawn from in retirement as there is no required minimum distribution during the contributor’s lifetime.  Being last to be used often results in Roth IRAs accounts passing down to the beneficiaries.  This wealth transfer is tax-free to the beneficiaries. The post Financial Planning Weekly Thoughts for October 20, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Most of us associate Outback Steakhouse with Australia, but the restaurant will be All-American this Veterans Day, November. 11. Outback will have a special deal for veterans and active duty military members at its more than 1,000 locations around the country. It’s part of a Veterans Day trend: restaurants offering deals to veterans who have served to protect the American way of life. It’s a fitting tribute since our way of life favors good food served well. Outback’s 2018 offer is similar to previous Veterans Day promotions. As always, make sure to call your location to make sure they are participating. 2018 Veterans Day Offer at Outback Steakhouse To honor current and former military personnel on Veterans Day, Outback Steakhouse will add its signature appetizer, the Bloomin Onion, to your meal at no cost. Outback will also pick up the tab for your beverage. And, members of your party who have not served in the military will be eligible for a discount. They do things differently “down under” and this deal is no exception: Most Veterans Day restaurant offers do not include non-military members of your party; even family members usually pay full price. Adding a free drink to the offer is also different since many offers exclude beverages. More information . Here’s a Rule: Get Verified as a Vet Outback Steakhouse’s “No Rules, Just Right” slogan may need some revision on Veterans Day. Your Outback location will have to enforce a few rules to make sure only veterans and military members claim a free Bloomin’ Onion and drink. To show your status as a veteran, bring some documentation as proof of your military service and present it to the host when you sign in for a table. Here are a few common proofs you could bring: Your Military ID Card Your Veterans ID Card DD 214 Your DD Form 2765 (100 percent disabled retired veterans, Medal of Honor recipients) Your drivers license with veterans designation Getting cleared as a vet or a currently serving military member right away will make things easier as your server calculates your ticket when your party finishes ordering. If you’re worried about confirming your status, call ahead to make sure your form of verification will work. More Details About this Deal As stated above, Outback is offering veterans and current military members a free Bloomin’ Onion and a free beverage to go along with their meal on Sunday, November 11, 2018. Veterans become eligible for the free appetizer and drink on Veterans Day by ordering lunch or dinner from Outback’s regular menu. This policy differs from most other casual dining Veterans Day offers which give veterans a free entree often from a limited menu but require the full price for additions such as appetizers and for drinks. There’s nothing wrong with mixing it up a bit. If you like Outback, and if you’d like one of the largest and most-filling appetizers out there, you’ll love this deal. If not, veterans have more places than ever to choose from this year as dozens of restaurants offer free or discounted meals on and around Veterans Day. Family and Friends? Included in Outback’s Deal Only a veteran who has shown proof of service (or an active duty military member) can get a free Bloomin’ Onion and drink on Veterans Day, but the rest of the table isn’t left out in the wilderness. Outback will also give friends and family members of veterans 20 percent off their meals on Veterans Day if they’re accompanying a verified veteran and dining in. Since most people don’t dine alone, especially on Veterans Day, this bonus feature makes Outback’s offer even more attractive. And don’t forget: Not even a veteran can usually eat an entire Bloomin’ Onion. Chances are good the rest of your party will also enjoy part of your free appetizer. Discounts Leading Up to the Holiday, Too Along with the free Bloomin’ Onion and drink and the discount for family and friends on Veterans Day, Outback also has discounts on the three days leading up to November 11. On November 8, 9, and 10, Outback will give veterans or military members and their families a 20 percent discount on dine-in orders. This offer cannot be combined with other specials and ongoing promotions at Outback. This 20 percent discount also can’t be combined with Outback’s ongoing 10 percent discount for law enforcement and first responders known as Operation Homefront. Also, please note that none of the discounts above apply to alcohol sales or to gratuity. What is a Bloomin’ Onion Anyway? Outback Steakhouse burst onto the casual dining scene in the early 1990s with a flurry of advertising and entry into most large American markets. Though Australian in theme, the chain has its roots in Tampa, Fla., and its menu features steaks, soups, salads, seafood, and sandwiches. The Bloomin’ Onion, one of the restaurant’s most distinct choices, combines deep fried onion petals arranged into a plate-sized bloom with the restaurant’s signature Bloom sauce. If you’ve never added one to your Outback meal, Veterans Day will be the perfect time to give it a try. Bottom Line You’ll find Outback Steakhouses along busy shopping corridors and Interstate exits throughout the country. The restaurant’s website automatically identifies your nearest location (assuming your computer or device gives it permission to do so). The site also tells you how long you’ll have to wait to be seated at your nearest Outback. As with any special holiday promotion, it’s a good idea to call ahead before arriving to make sure your location participates. This Veterans Day, you can also find some pretty generous discounts from retailers across the country, as well as special rates on events and attractions . On Veterans Day and every day, there are companies out there who want to thank you for your service with military discounts .
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill has joined the ranks of restaurants offering free or discounted meals for veterans and active duty military personnel this Veterans Day. And while many eateries serve free food to veterans and current service men and women, Chipotle takes it to another level: Its participating locations also serve military spouses and members of the National Guard and Reserves. This year, Chipotle is offering a Buy One Get One Free offer on Veterans Day (at participating locations only). Make it Easy: Bring Proof of Your Service Like any restaurant or retailer offering an exclusive deal, Chipotle Mexican Grill will want to verify you served (or currently serve) in the military before extending its special offer to you. This verification process tends to be easier at sit-down restaurants like Applebee’s or Buffalo Wild Wings because you can present your credentials to the hosting staff before ordering. At places like Chipotle, where you first encounter a staff member when you order your tacos, burrito, bowl, or salad, you may need to be more proactive about verifying your status as a veteran or service member. Be sure to tell the staff you plan to take advantage of the Veterans Day special. You may also need to remind the staff member running the register in case the message didn’t make its way down the line with your food. Naturally, to prove your status you’ll need to show proof of service in a form such as: Your Military ID card. Your Veterans ID card. Your DD 214. Your State-Issued ID Card or Drivers License if it has a Veteran Service Label Leave and Earnings Statement (LES). Veterans Organization ID Citations or commendations along with a photograph in uniform. Wearing your uniform itself, especially if your name is on it. Having clear, easy-to-verify proof of service lets the staff focus more on getting your meal prepared and less on verifying your status as a veteran. Days and Times for the Offer May Vary Chipotle Mexican Grill tends to share details of its Veterans Day offer around the first of November. Be sure to check the restaurant’s website  to find the location nearest to you and call to check the details before arriving at the restaurant. This is true for any Veterans Day offer but especially important at Chipotle since the restaurant recently shook things up with its annual special. For example, the promotion’s day of availability tends to vary. Rather than honoring veterans on Veterans Day itself, Chipotle may pick a weeknight leading up to the holiday for the promotion. Last year the restaurant honored veterans on Tuesday, Nov. 7, four days before Veterans Day. Once the day has been set you’ll also want to pay attention to the hours of availability. In 2016, the offer was valid from 3 pm until close on the designated day. Last year, veterans could claim the special from 5 pm until close. Make sure you’re arriving on the right day and time. What Does the Veterans Day Deal Include? Once again you’ll want to check the details before arriving since they haven’t been released yet. But based on previous years we’re expecting a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) promotion  at participating locations on Veterans Day, Nov. 11th. The offer usually includes burritos, bowls, and salads, as well as taco orders. And like many BOGOs, the free entree must cost the same amount or less than the paid entree. So if you order steak tacos for yourself and chicken tacos for your guest, you’ll pay for the steak tacos since they usually cost more. The chicken tacos will be free. The offer usually does not include chips or drinks, all of which will be charged at full price even when they accompany a free entree. Extending and Limiting a BOGO offer As the number of restaurants with Veterans Day promotions has increased, we’ve noticed a trend: Most places allow only veterans and active duty service members to participate in their promotions. This is understandable. After all, we don’t expect restaurants to ignore their key mission: making money for shareholders, owners, investors, and covering costs for food, staff, and equipment. But Chipotle has bucked the trend by extending its offer to members of the Reserves and the National Guard as well as military spouses, all of whom must present valid proof of their status, of course. Like all promotions, however, you should be aware of some limitations: The offer can’t be combined with other coupons or promotions. If you have a 10-percent off coupon or another free burrito coupon, save it for another trip. Only one free menu item will be granted for each verified military veteran, spouse, or active duty service member. To get the free item a customer must first purchase an entree of equal or greater value. It’s a dine-in only offer. While most locations will likely participate, some have the freedom to opt out, so check with your area location before arriving. We said it above but it’s worth stressing again: Find out the day and time of this year’s promotion since it may not be on Veterans Day itself. What to Expect When You Eat at Chipotle Founded in Denver back in 1993, Chipotle recently moved its headquarters to Newport, California. The chain now has more than 2,200 locations in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. When you walk in you’ll notice a fast-casual approach, usually with clean and simple dining areas and an ordering counter near the back of the store. At the counter, you’ll choose a kind of entree (tacos, burrito, salad, or bowl) then assemble the meal to your liking by choosing meat (ground beef isn’t typically available), beans, sauces, salsas, and other toppings such as Romaine lettuce. At the end of the counter you can add chips, salsas, and drinks, then pay. If you like Mexican or Southwestern flavors, you should enjoy taking Chipotle up on its offer of a buy-one, get-one entree to honor veterans this year. Enjoy Your Military Discounts this Veterans Day Every day, companies provide veterans with military discounts on a range of services and products. Veterans Day provides even more opportunities to save as these companies generously offer gifts and promotions to veterans. Whether you are looking for opportunities to dine out for free , save at your favorite stores with retail discounts , or visit some new attractions or events this November, you can plan a memorable Veterans Day with loved ones and lots of savings.
  • While giving is primarily inspired by our desire to help others, getting a tax break in April is frosting on the cake.
  • In light of recent volatility, we thought it would be wise to remember that, ultimately, corporate profits drive stock prices, and that profit levels currently indicate stocks are trading within their normal historical price range. Check Our Video Blog On Analyzing The Risk Of Stocks After The 6.9% Drop http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • We all hate to lose. Our fear of loss drives too many decisions when it comes to money, and costs us dearly. Check Out This Interview On Mind Over Wealth http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • 10/7/18  Sunday Simplifying Some days are just not good ones to be dealing with personal finances and that is OK. Though I am passionate about financial planning, there are those days when I just dont want to deal with my own finances because other things are going on in my life or I am just plain tired. I can afford to go through days like this because I batch my financial efforts. Tasks like bill paying, reviewing investments, checking bank balance can be performed quickly in batched sessions because I have simplified with fewer accounts and have most bills paid automatically. In short, like reducing house clutter frees up time and effort for cleaning, reducing my financial clutter permits me to more efficiently and less frequently attend to my financial chores. 10/8/18  Monday Car Services When do you get your car serviced?   Years ago, the common idea was to get your oil and filter changed every 3000 miles or so.  Todays cars dont require as frequent oil changes often going to 7000 to 8000 between oil services.  My car has a percentage indicator until the next service is due.  It conveniently comes on at 15% of service life until the next service is due.  This gives me time to make the appointment and plan around out of town trips, etc.  That said, I work to get the work done when the indicator is at 5% or less so to maximize the useful of life of the oil and filter.  This keeps from returning to the dealer as soon and saves some dollars in the long term.  I typically get another 700-800 miles more of driving by waiting.  If I change 10% early at the 15% mark, I am will be making at least one complete unnecessary service during the time I own the car saving and spreading out my service costs over a longer time. 10/9/18  Tuesday Property Taxes In Northern Illinois, it is common place to appeal property tax assessments.   Often, the rates are set seemingly in an arbitrary fashion.  There are many property tax-oriented law firms specializing in appeal work.  I have found that using a tax appeal company has saved me several thousand dollars in taxes.  Perhaps I could do the work myself though I am not an expert.  I have saved real money even after paying the appeal firm.  As alternative, many local government units will help appeal the property taxes.  My local township assessor offers residents assistance with appeals and exemption filings.  As a financial planner, I check the exemptions applied to my clients properties.  I have found about 33% do not have the homeowners exemption in place.  I have prepared the paperwork for my clients whom have often received $1500 to $2000 in property tax refunds when the bureaucratic process runs its course. 10/10/18  Wednesday Found Money Cleaning up financial clutter might even mean cleaning clutter you dont exists. Often, I find clients and family members have accounts they have forgotten about and are effectively abandoned. Institutions that cannot locate the owners much turn over the accounts to the state after a period of years. Collectively the states have billions of unclaimed funds. Periodically, I check http://missingmoney.com/ for personal, family, and clients that might have money loafing in some state coffers. Over the years I have found for my Dad, myself and others. In the last year, I found funds from when I lived in North Carolina over 15 years ago. I thought it would be just a few hundred dollars. Once I followed through the specified process, I received a check for about $1500. Do you or loved ones have missing money clutter that needs to be cleaned up? 10/11/18  Thursday Health Checkups Health checkups can be just a pain.  As Benjamin Franklin wrote “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Medical appointments cost in money and often costlier in time gone from work or family care obligations.  As result it can be easy to put them off.  The checkups might find hidden health problems and address them early.  I find more positive than negatives with my appointments.  I get routine vaccinations (like the annual flu shot) at my provider’s office.  I have found that it confirms my healthy lifestyle choices when I get good lab results and favorable comments from the doctors and other healthcare providers.  Spending a bit of time and money for routine care will help me, in the long run, avoid costly and long-term health care issues.  Ultimately, I use health checkups as one means of keeping good health so that I can live the life I want with a minimum of healthcare related distractions. 10/12/18  Friday What chores do you hate?  Outsource them and free yourself! Some chores just need to be outsourced.  Those with significant income can outsource almost whatever they want.  The rest of us must pick and choose.  For me the dastardly chore is ironing.  There is no way I have the time, patience or skill to iron dress shirts or pants.  I suppose with time I could get better and faster at it though I have no interest in doing so.  The pain threshold for me is greater than the financial cost of taking my shirts to the cleaners.  I free myself of the aggravation of the work and have more time to do other things I value more like helping my son with his homework. 10/13/18  Saturday Self-Care As a single dad, I have found self-care to be critical to my total well-being.  Self-care as I define it helps me stay physically healthy, clear headed, and financial well.  Incorporating self-care in to one’s lifestyle is challenging.  It takes work for me to incorporate taking care of myself.  There are many demands on my time and energy.  I have made a deliberate plan to exercise most mornings, kayak on a nearby lake, keep up with routine medical appointments (like flu shots), and make sure my finances are in a good place.  When I do self-care, I am a better parent and person.  In short, life goes so much better. The post A Week of Thoughts for October 13, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Im having rebellious thoughts about credit rating agencies. Always one to play earnestly by the rules, I have always checked my credit report once in a while to see if any bad data had crept in. Perhaps someone was claiming to be me and running up debt someplace, right? Gotta keep on that. But over the past [] The post Why check your credit rating? appeared first on Wendy Marsden, CPA, CFP® .
  • Not since the 1950s, Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell said this past week, have inflation AND unemployment remained so low for so long. Check Our Video Blog On Fed Chair - We Remain In Extraordinary Times http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow: Chickens, Spare Change, and Micro Investing. My grandmother had a chipped gravy boat in her kitchen cupboard. My grandparents operated a small farm in South Dakota. My grandfather looked after the cattle, hogs and crops. My grandmother oversaw the chickens, did the books and a million other tasks. She had hundreds of laying hens and once a week the egg truck would come and take most of the eggs. But she held some back to barter with and sell on the side. For years she paid her hairdresser with eggs! Her side egg money and spare change went into the chipped gravy boat. Every time we visited, my sister and I would get the gravy boat and dump it on the shag carpet in the living room. (This was the 70s, shag was all the rage). Wed count the change and roll it. Then wed triumphantly announce the total, something like $23.42. Our grandmother was invariably surprised how much it was. Decades later I am still an avid saver of spare change. (No chickens or eggs for me though, thank you very much). I have a piggy bank at home and one at my office. I still get a thrill out of taking my change to the free-for-members coin counter at the Bridgewater Credit Union in Quincy. But heres the thing. In our modern age, I dont have many cash transactions and therefore not a lot of spare change. Almost all of our (my husband and I) transactions get auto-debited from our checking account or charged on our credit card. I like getting the credit card points (Amazon in our case) and I like seeing documentation of each transaction. This way I know exactly how were spending our money. I pay the credit card in full each month. Recently a new client alerted me to micro investing with Acorns , a nifty way to save and invest your digital spare change. You link a checking account to Acorns. This is your funding source. Then you link one or more credit/debit cards. Every time theres a transaction on a linked card, Acorns rounds up to the next dollar. If you charge $53.74 then 26 cents is the round up. Once the round ups reach $5.00 or more that amount is automatically transferred from your funding source to your Acorns portfolio. Acorns chooses one of five portfolios for you based on a questionnaire or you can choose your own. The portfolios range from Conservative at 20% stocks to Aggressive at 100% stocks. The portfolios are a nicely diversified mix of Vanguard index exchange traded funds. (ETFs) Every dollar is automatically invested in over 7,000 stocks and bonds! The cost for the basic Acorns Core account is $1/month. Its a glorious age we live in when a mere $5 gets you a diversified stake in the wealth creating power of the global capital markets! The site also has good educational articles on basic investing such as this one on the three principles of being a successful investor: Invest early, Invest often, and Stick with it. Acorns is not for everyone. I realize this is not going to make me rich. The amounts are small. But money saved and invested is money that is not spent. For me theres something about scooping up the change that gives me great satisfaction whether its in a shag carpeted living room of the 70s or a digitized space of the 21st century. Happy Saving and Investing! Photo credit
  • The most effective way to achieve what we set out to accomplish is to identify a specific goals and find people who can support us along the way. Check Our Video Blog On Just Do It http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • The most effective way to achieve what we set out to accomplish is to identify a specific goals and find people who can support us along the way. Check Our Video Blog On Just Do It http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • 9/30/18  Sunday Saving Money For long term gains in controlling spending and increasing my savings, I look at one area at a time.   Working successfully on just one area leads to a snowball effect of change.   For example, my son wants to cut back on after school activities to increase his weekly downtime.   I am considering the time gain but also what can be saved in spending.   So I am looking at what are the most expensive activities, what are physical outlets for him, what activities might be kept with less participation, and what might go away entirely.   I have a variety of activities to choose from and will make a decision soon.   Next month Ill consider reducing the costs of eating out. 10/1/18  Monday Tracking Investments Chasing the latest hot stock is much like gambling.  Investing is a long term activity that should not be emotionally tied like gambling.  To help avoid emotion in my investments, I pick well diversified index based mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that invest in thousands of stocks that do not get rocket like gains or ship sinking losses.  Tracking these investments is like watching the paint dry.  I track my portfolio as just part of my greater financial picture.  I am more concerned about how my net worth grows than my portfolio in a silo.  Taxes, auto purchases, vacations, housing costs and more can affect my net worth even more than just how my portfolio grows.  This approach has lead me to a healthier financial life. 10/2/18  Tuesday Cybersecurity Cybersecurity is a hot topic.  It can be almost a full time job to lock down ones electronic devices.  There are two key things to do from my perspective. First, lock down the memory or hard drive of the device through encryption.  Using Bitlocker on a PC or enabling the memory encryption on an android phone are two examples.  Second, is keeping passwords complex.  There many ways to generate complex passwords that are 15 or more characters.  One of the easiest is to use a password manager like LastPass or Dashlane. LastPass, as an example, has a password generator built in that can automatically fill a spot on a web application with an new password.  There are many other items that can be addressed after these first two steps. 10/3/18  Wednesday Save Money Help the Environment How can you save money and help the environment?  Perhaps there is not one thing but rather lots of small things you can do instead.  Here is a short list of things I do to save money and make less impact on the nature.  They might stimulate ideas to apply to your life. 1. Reduce air pollution by driving a more fuel efficient, hybrid, or electric car. 2. Take still usable items to a charity rather than put them in the trash and taking the tax deduction. 3. Turning off lights in rooms not occupied and converting to LED bulbs when a light burns out. 4. Use a more water efficient cycle on my dishwasher. 5. Unplugging phone and other chargers when not being used. 6. Trying to use all the food your purchased rather than have it go bad and ending up in the trash. 7. Adjusting thermostat settings to use less heating and cooling when out of the house. 8. Use more water efficient shower heads and faucet aerators. When I do these types of things, I am not just helping the environment or my wallet. I am doing both and, most importantly, creating a lifestyle that will help both over the long haul. 10/4/18  Thursday Keeping it simple. Recently, I realize I had multiple financial accounts that were serving the same purpose for me.  I had no good reason for the separate accounts so I consolidated them. In my work, I have found others often have similar financial account clutter.  It is not unusual in our mobile lifestyle with job changes and cross country moves.  In fact one of the most common tasks I have with clients is consolidating accounts into a few focused and useful ones.  Having fewer account means fewer statements, less tax forms to track down, few logins and passwords to keep track off to name just some of the financial clutter that comes with having many accounts.  Consolidating accounts takes effort and often is not a quick process. Just like cleaning out the proverbial pile of stuff in the corner of the garage, clearing out financial clutter can be beneficial. 10/5/18  Friday Too Frugal? Often, I read about the way to save money is to not buy the daily $4 latte.  Sometimes I find myself in the opposite situationbeing too frugal.  For example, driving across town to save $1.  I have come across others from time to time with a similar mindset. Fortunately I now recognize this self sabotaging behavior.  I consider what my time is worth today.  In the past, I might have had more time than money in which case driving across town made more sense.  In my situation as a Dad with school aged son my time is the more often the limiting factor.  I have had to place a literal dollar value on my time.  Most of the time it is not worth the 15 minutes across town to save two dollars.  This would mean I only value myself at $8/hour.  I know I am worth more than that to my son and myself.  How much dollar value to place on your time? 10/6/18  Saturday Bank Bill Paying Services Have you tried bill paying services through your bank? Many banks today offer free bill paying services to the organizations you pick.  I have found this to be an extremely useful service for my and my Dads bills.  I only have to entered a billing organization details one time.  In the future, I can quickly send a specified amount and have it delivered on the date of my choice in the future.  The banks pay the postage on those automated checks sent by postal mail while others are sent electronically to the billing organization.  A huge plus, is that large utilities and cable companies can have their bills automatically sent or linked to bank.  When I log in I get a notification of a new bill and the due date.  I have auto payments set up for my mortgage and church pledge.  I can change these payments on the fly when amounts fluctuate such as for my property tax mortgage escrow. This highly useful banking service helps me never miss a bill payment in the busy of  life. The post A Week of Thoughts-October 6, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • With the fall semester underway, most college-bound seniors are enjoying their last year of free education. Parents know too well that big costs loom. In my experience, people in their 30s and 40s worry more about paying for kids college
  • What's Driving Stocks

    Shares in US stocks rocketed 7.2% higher in the third quarter! Check Our Video Blog On What's Driving Stocks http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Business owners often overcome significant obstacles to launch and grow their businesses. Check Out This Interview On Financing Your Business http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • 9/23 Do you hold individual stocks?   Consider the size of your portfolio you may be taking too much risk.   Just consider the wide swings of stocks like Tesla or the problems of Enron and others in the past.   A diversified mutual fund or Exchange Traded Fund gives you the ability for a relatively modest cost often as low as $1000 to own a piece of thousands of stocks.   This type of investment will go up and down with the general stock market but not have the potential of wild price swings of individual stock holdings.   If you own the stock of your employer, it is often acquired at discount through employee stock purchase plans or stock grants and options. These cheaper purchases can be financially beneficial.   Consider that holding onto too much employer stock puts you at double risk as your salary and a large part of your portfolio are based upon the performance of an individual company. 9/24 College tuition inflation is horrible.   Todays tuition rates are much, much higher than in the past relative to the cost of living.   The cost of sending a child to a four year school can be as much as the total of all their expenses from birth to high school graduation combined.   How will you pay for or help pay for your kids higher education? Will you need grants, loans or scholarships? Are you or grandparents saving in a 529 plan?   There are so many questions with answers that vary widely depending upon a particular family situation.   Consider first that retirement savings should come first and then education for the kids.   Will the salary of my childs desired major justify the investment at a particular university or will another cheaper school do just as well?   Can my child take college classes in high school or post high school at a community college to reduce the first year or two of tuition costs?   Should we consider one of the many ways the military can help pay for college education?   There are so many questions to be answered.   Start today to consider your approach as you help guide your child through the maze to college. 9/25 Having trouble saving?   Have a 401K at work?   If Yes to both, slowly increasing your contribution amount is a painless with to increase savings.   Once the matching amount for 401K contributions is reached, many folks do not increase their retirement plan contributions.   Increasing the percentage saved by just 1% every other month can have dramatic effects on the amount put away overtime.   Increasing by just the 1% amount makes a relatively small change in take home pay while helping to reduce income tax and save for tomorrow.   I have clients who have done just this and now are either 30% of gross salary being contributed or have reached the annual maximum contribution limits.   These particular clients are setting themselves up very well for later in life.   They are giving themselves the gift of financial peace of mind. 9/26 Often life events will shift how we think about things.   Marriages, divorces, deaths, and births among other significant life events will change our perspective on life.   The answers to the question How important is it? change as we experience life.    For example, the birth of my son profoundly changed how I look at world and more importantly my current purpose in life.   As those parts of me have morphed, so has my financial decision making process and the criteria I apply to financial decisions.   Periodically I go back and reassess financial areas of my life to see if any changes are required in my accounts, insurance, estate planning, or education funding to name a few.   Have you gone backed and looked at how life has changed your financial picture and needs? 9/27 What happens to your stuff when you pass?   If you die early in life, who will take care of your kids?   These are all important and hard questions to answer.    For me and many others, the work of these questions ends up in Franklin Coveys important and not urgent quadrant.   Items in this quadrant always seem to be put off until tomorrow.   If you are like me, I have had to push away the many seemingly urgent items of life in order to address such not urgent items such as my estate planning needs.   It took effort to pick up the phone and call the attorney, gather the documents and actually make it to the appointment.   My son was my motivation to get it done.   I am so glad I did it so to make my legacy wishes legally known.   It has cleared out part of that not urgent quadrant which unto itself is refreshing.   What is in your important and not urgent quadrant? 9/28 As a rule I believe that only 10% of the annual income should be used for auto purchases.   Translated that means someone earning $100,000 could spend $10,000 annually.   They could purchase a car worth $50,000 if they will keep it for years or longer.   I used this rule recently when purchase a replacement vehicle for my vintage 2007 model. Figuring out the financial number was the easy part for me.   Figuring out the vehicle was the hard part.   I read and read internet postings and reviews and consult consumer reports.   I considered the needs of larger trunk space, larger back seat area for my rapidly growing 9 year old, the latest safety features, and equal or better gas mileage.   With this criteria I narrowed the cars I was interested to three models and test drove those cars in succession on a Saturday afternoon.   One car stood out from the others.   Now I knew which car to purchase. Tomorrow I will share how I got the best price. 9/29 How I got a good price on a new car.Earlier this summer I purchased a new replacement car for 10% below MSRP on car that had only been in show rooms for just over a month.  I had previously narrowed down the desired specific model and color.   Then I researched the availability at local dealers through a number of different websites including the manufacturers and iseecars.com.   I used to the Costco car buying service and the Consumer Reports car buying service (administered by trucar.com ) to initiate contact with dealers. About eight dealerships contacted me.   I requested their drive away price including all taxes and tags with no trade in to be considered.   As dealers started sending me numbers, it was clear which dealers where treating me well and which gave me good pricing.   If a dealership said I would have to come in for the best price they were off my list.   Via email and sometimes phone calls, I challenged dealers to see whom could meet the pricing of the most recent lowest price from another dealer till I reach a price that seemed reasonable based upon price researching.   I took proof of the best price offer to the dealer that had serviced my old car as I was happy with their service department.   They agreed to the price and we shook hands.   I am very happy with the purchase and will use the same technique in the future as it saved me  several thousand dollars in the price of the car and the 10% sales tax combined. The post A Week of Thoughts September 29, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • The U.S. Census Bureau’s annual report on median income has received widespread press coverage since its September 12 release, but much of it is misleading. Check Our Video Blog On Widespread Misinformation Follows Household Income Report http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Today’s topic, of course, is about the new tax rules. We think tax education is important because paying taxes for government services is a core organizing principle of our society. Check Our Video Blog On New Tax Laws http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Today’s topic, of course, is about the new tax rules. We think tax education is important because paying taxes for government services is a core organizing principle of our society. Check Our Video Blog On New Tax Laws http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • 9/16 Living on less than one makes doesnt have to feel like money diet. It is about an approach to lifestyle. The cliche of giving up the expensive latte has merit. It can be replaced by an upscale cup of coffee prepared at home for less. Ultimately, there is money saved while still having a certain lifestyle enjoyment. Likewise, in the Chicago area some shorter car trips can avoid the tollways and perhaps only take a few minutes longer to get to the destination. It is not as much about the $2 or so saved on the toll or the latte as it is about making conscience small money choices that add up over time. Most importantly, these small choices causes a shift in ones attitude toward lifestyle and spending that pay large dividends over a lifetime. 9/17 There are often both intellectual and emotional reactions and solutions to financial problems. For example, lets consider credit card debt. Intellectually and by the numbers, it is better to pay off a card that has the higher interest rate first. Sometimes this card has one of the higher balances and it is therefore hard to get traction and feel like there is progress in the debt reduction. Often, it is more effective to make the minimum payments on the higher balance cards and put the biggest effort on the lowest card balance. This permits the card with the lowest balance to get paid off more quickly. Paying off the low balance card provides emotional traction in the process of debt reduction. The monthly payment dollars that are no longer being applied to the lowest balance card can now be applied to the next lowest balance card. Often this means even a larger amount getting applied to this second card. This smallest card debt first approach answers the intellectual requirement of getting the card debt paid off while feeding the emotional side with demonstrated progress in debt reduction. 9/18 Is your house leveraged through a mortgage? Having a 30-year fixed mortgage can be great thing especially at todays historically low mortgage rates. The mortgage locks you in to fixed payments which you pay back with money that due to inflation is worth less in purchasing power while possibly deducting the mortgage interest. This permits you to invest less in your home and use the money elsewhere such as for emergency funds, general investments, college funds, or retirement funds. It is important with such a mortgage to have an emergency fund that is equal to 20% of your mortgage balance as safeguard against any unexpected drops in income. Though against the prevailing American thoughts of retirement, it can be useful to have a mortgage in retirement to provide funds for other uses. 9/19 Should I still give to charities given the new tax law? In short, yes. Why do you give to your favorite charities? Likely because you respect the work of the organizations. The tax deduction reduces the taxable cost of the donation. For example, if you give $100 to a charity and are in the 22% tax bracket, the true cost of the contribution is $88. That is the reduction in income reduces your tax burden by 22%. You still have an out of pocket cost of the $100 no matter how you figure it out either to the charity or with the tax going to the government. The new tax law pushes many taxpayers who in the past itemized deductions into the new higher standard deductions. With these new standard deductions one way to view the situation is that the government is subsidizing your deduction whether or not you give. So, I am continuing to give to my charities like my church without direct concern for the tax deduction. I am not letting the tax tail wag my personal values. 9/20 Eating out frequently can really upset ones finances. It is easier to eat higher quality foods such as Organic or Non-GMO items at home than in most restaurants. Picking out items and planning ahead does take some deliberate effort. ( I keep a running list of food items using Google Keep on my phone.) I often pick quick cooking food items from Costco and the local grocery that provide convenience and organic contents in the same package. I pick them out of the freezer and refrigerator based upon the time I have to prepare a dinner that day. Even though organic and convenient, they provide a meal cheaper than going out to eat a similar meal in a restaurant. 9/21 A fear for many folks worse than dealing with their finances is public speaking. Toastmasters is a great organization that helps people improve their communication and leadership skills in a positive, constructive environment. Members often find themselves creating contacts and improving skills that enhance their professional development and paychecks. While I am partial to the Orland Park Toastmasters, look for a club near you at https://www.toastmasters.org/find-a-club . 9/22 What share class are your mutual funds? Many people dont understand that one mutual fund may have several share classes that hold identical holdings yet charge different expense ratios depending upon how they sold and other factors. This expense ratio can vary by 1% and sometimes more. All things being equal it is best to have the fund with the lowest expense ratio or annual charges. That keeps the funds invested and can make substantial difference in the long term account value. Ask your financial professional if you are holding the cheapest fund class.   If not, can you do an exchange into the cheaper fund class. Make sure to understand any tax implications of the exchange so you are not surprised in tax season. The post A Week of Thoughts September 22, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Buying a car can be complicated and expensive. With so many different vehicles available from the various manufacturers, it can be difficult to narrow down a make and model, select your trim level, choose a color, and finally pick out your car. And all of that needs to happen before you start getting quotes! Then you need to look at whether or not you should pay cash or finance, consider trade-in values, and shop among the different dealership in your area. And last, but certainly not least, you need to consider the convoluted car buying negotiation process. With so many variables, it can be difficult to know if you are getting a good deal on the new or used car you are looking to buy. Thats where the USAA Car Buying Service comes in. Formerly known as USAA Auto Circle, the USAA Car Buying Service takes much of the guesswork out of the car-buying process. In fact, it makes it downright easy. USAA Car Buying Service Review Lets take an-depth look at the USAA Car Buying Service, including what the offer, how you can score a deal on your next car, how much you might be able to save, and even how you can sell your own car. How the USAA Car Buying Service Works First and foremost, the USAA Car Buying Service is only available to USAA members. Membership is free, but it is only available to current and former military members and their families. You can visit the USAA website to learn more about membership , or to become a member. (USAA also offers banking, investing, insurance policies, and many other valuable member benefits read our USAA review for more info ). The USAA Car Buying Service is run through TrueCar, which is a car buying service that gives buyers a fixed, no-hassle quote from participating dealerships. This makes it easy to shop and compare car prices, print out a certificate, visit the dealership, and buy the car for the quoted price. The process works like this: You visit the USAA Car Buying site. You search vehicles, including the make, model, and trim level. Choose your new or used car. A Certified Dealer gives you an upfront, discounted price including dealer fees and incentives. You can view a price curve that shows you what others in your area paid for the same car. If you choose to go forward, you print a certificate that guarantees the price on that specific car (or save it to your smartphone app). Go to the dealership, present your certificate, and buy your car. Its that simple! The above image shows an example of the price curve you will see on the USAA Car Buying Service website. The MSRP will be listed, along with the average market sale price over the most recent period. The Member Price is also listed. These are actual prices for real sales reported by dealerships. This is a great visual to help you understand the current market, as well as the potential savings you can have if you purchase through the system. How You Can Save Big on Your Next New or Used Car Purchase There are three ways you can save with the USAA Car Buying program: (1) Savings off MSRP, (2) Exclusive USAA Member Bonus Cash Offers, and (3) Loan Rate Discount through USAA. Lets look at each of these in more detail: Savings off Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSPRP): The MSRP is the suggested sticker price you see on new cars. Its important to understand the MSRP is just that a suggested price. Many cars end up selling for below the MSRP. But not all do. Many popular models sell right at the sticker price. (some high-demand or hard-to-find models can actually sell above MSRP, but this is rare). The important thing here is that the USAA Car Buying Service will bring you a firm sale price without having to go through the negotiation process . If you like the offer, you take it. If not, you can use it as a starting point with a different dealer, or find a different car to buy. This reduces your stress and total amount of work, and can end up saving you money in the process. How much can you save off MSRP? USAA members saved an average of $3,554 off MSRP on new vehicles during the 2017 calendar year (most recent data). Thats pretty substantial in my book! From the USAA website: Between 01/01/2017 and 12/31/2017, the average estimated savings off MSRP presented by TrueCar Certified Dealers to users of the USAA Car Buying Service, based on users who configured virtual vehicles and subsequently purchased a new vehicle of the same make and model listed on the certificate from Certified Dealers, was $3,554, including applicable vehicle specific manufacturer incentives. Exclusive USAA Member Bonus Cash Offers: The bonus cash offers are offered through individual vehicle manufacturers. Not all manufacturers participate, and they can change from time to time. So its a good idea to visit the USAA Ca Buying Service to see the most current list. Which Manufacturers Offer Discounts through USAA? As of 2018, the list of auto manufacturers that offer cash discounts include: Alpha Romeo, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Jeep, Mercedes, Mini, Nissan, Ram, Smart, and Vantage Mobility International, which sells wheelchair accessible vehicles. Keep in mind this may change. Loan Rate Discount through USAA USAA offers members a discount auto loan rate when they buy a new or used vehicle through the USAA Car Buying Service. The current offer is a 0.50% discount on your USAA auto loan when you purchase a vehicle using the USAA Car Buying Service. (Note: terms apply, and this offer is subject to change, so use this bit of info to understand how the process works. You will need to check with USAA for specific information for your purchase). Like all loans, you will still need to qualify based on your credit score, income, debt to income ratio, and other factors. Still, getting a 0.50% discount  on your interest rate can save you a lot of money over time. So its worth looking into. Of course, many dealerships and manufacturers offer special car loan rates to get buyers in the door. So always compare the USAA interest rate to the one you can get through the dealership. The dealer may be able to offer a better interest rate. Then again, USAA may just come through as the best option. How Much Can You Save with the USAA Car Buying Service? This is a great question, and one that is virtually impossible to answer, since each car is different and many factors contribute to the final purchase price of any vehicle new or used. Some of the factors that come into play include the vehicle you buy (make, model, and trim level), vehicle demand, your region, your specific dealership, specific manufacturer incentives in place at the time of purchase, whether you are paying cash or financing, whether or not you have a trade-in, taxes, and other factors. The USAA website shows that USAA members saved an average of $3,554 off MSRP on new vehicles during the 2017 calendar year. This includes applicable vehicle specific manufacturer incentives. Its impossible to say you will save a comparable amount, since there are so many factors involved. But in my opinion, its never a bad idea to start the car buying process with USAA and see how it will turn out. You are not obligated to use their service if you decide you want to buy through a different dealership or you find a better deal elsewhere. The USAA Car Buying Service is All About Convenience USAA has several programs aimed at helping members save time and money. For example, they also offer USAA Home Circle , which is similar to the USAA Car Buying Service, but for housing. Its a cool feature and one worth checking out if you are moving. The USAA auto program makes it easy to search for car prices, select a dealership, and set up a new or used car purchase right from your phone or tablet. In fact, you can do just about everything through the app, from finding your car, locking in a price, securing financing (if needed), and even buying a new car insurance policy . Many members save money when switching to USAA auto insurance . Of course, insurance rates vary based on many factors, including driving history, age, gender, location, type of vehicle, and more. So it pays to shop around. How does USAA Auto Insurance Compare? Check out our list of Military Car Insurance Providers for more information . Should You Use the USAA Car Buying Service? Like all things, it pays to compare. I used the USAA Car Buying Service to search for my last vehicle purchase. I looked at both new and used vehicles. When comparing new cars, the USAA Car Buying Service compared favorably to several other online car search tools. The key, I believe, is to first determine the exact make and model you want to buy, then get multiple quotes from different locations. Use this information as your starting point for negotiations. Some dealerships may be willing to offer further discounts, while others may hold firm. In the end, I purchased a used vehicle. I used the USAA Car Buying Service to look for used vehicles, but the dealership I purchased my car from did not participate in the program (not all dealerships participate). So I didnt buy my car though the USAA Car Buying Service. But I like the idea of the hassle free price quote. That would have saved me quite a bit of time at the dealership when I was negotiating my used car purchase. Will the USAA Car Buying Service Work for You? I think it can. As I mentioned in a section above, I think using the USAA Car Buying Service as a starting point can save you a lot of time and money in the car buying and negotiating process. At minimum it should help you avoid a nightmare car buying experience . At the end of the day, you may be able to save a little bit more by spending a lot of time negotiating. Or maybe you hit the dealership up at the end of the month when they need just a couple more sales to hit their sales targets and you can save a little extra. But if time is of the essence, then I think it would be very easy to do worse if you tried to do it all on your own. About USAA. USAA provides insurance, banking, investment and retirement products and services to 12.4 million members of the U.S. military and their families. USAA membership is open to all who are serving or have honorably served our nation in the U.S. military – and their families. For more information about USAA, check out this USAA review .
  • The nine-year-old bull market exploded in the last 35 months from 1810 to 2901. Check Our Video Blog On Investment Wisdom At A Poignant Moment In History http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • The nine-year-old bull market exploded in the last 35 months from 1810 to 2901. Check Our Video Blog On Investment Wisdom At A Poignant Moment In History http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Did your teen get a summer job? Mine did in the dining room of a local assisted living facility. Prerequisite: Ability to speak loudly and slowly. One conversation reportedly went like this: Tonights special is spaghetti with marinara sauce. MARIJUANA sauce?! No, marinARA sauce! After more banter to establish the lack of psychoactive substances in the sauce the resident went with grilled cheese. Good choice. Teens earning money is a beautiful thing! Nows the time to salt away some of those earnings to a ROTH IRA and they wont have to share with Uncle Sam. No tax now, no tax later. It doesnt get much more beautiful than that. TEN things to know about teenagers and ROTH IRAs: To contribute to a ROTH, you must have earned income. For 2018 the ROTH contribution limit is $5,500/year (for people under 50) OR the amount of earned income whichever is less. So, if your teen earned $2,000 in 2018, their maximum contribution is $2,000. If you make too much money, you cannot contribute to a ROTH, but it is unlikely your teen makes this kind of money. As long as your teen earned less than $12,000 in 2018 they have no income tax due on their earnings. (This is the tax free now part!) If they do not take withdrawals from the ROTH until they are 59½ the earnings are all tax free! (This is the tax free later part!) The contributions can be withdrawn at any time for any reason without tax or penalty. (But I dont recommend it!) An adult will be listed on the account if the participant is a minor. A good low-cost IRA provider is Vanguard , Most of their funds have $3,000 minimums, but a few have $1,000 minimums. It doesnt matter where the money actually comes from as long as the teen has earnings. So if the teen wants to contribute $500 and the parents want to match $500 thats fine as long as the teen earned $1,000. Many families incentivize their teen with matching funds. The deadline to make a ROTH contribution for 2018 is 4/15/2019. So how much money are we talking about? Of course past performance is no guarantee of future results! But if you invested $5,500 in a ROTH IRA 42 years ago on August 31st, 1976, the day the first index fund opened at Vanguard (the S&P 500) and reinvested dividends it would be worth a whopping $471,010 on 8/31/18. Yes, I know that ROTH IRAs did not exist in 1976, but just pretend. Compound interest really does float all boats. Happy investing!
  • The average millennial earns a mere $21.80/hour and is dealing with ungodly student loan debt. Check Our Video Blog On Millenial Money Stories with Lindsey Stanberry http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • The average millennial earns a mere $21.80/hour and is dealing with ungodly student loan debt. Check Our Video Blog On Millenial Money Stories with Lindsey Stanberry http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • 9/9 How do you teach your kids about handling money? There are so many different ways and each kid learns differently. Some ideas include allowances, paid for chores, charitable giving, helping budget for a desired toy want, paying their own phone bill, and using a set limit for purchasing new clothes. Each one of these methods has many variations. If one way doesnt seem to work give it a bit more time and consider how to adjust it to become more relevant to your kiddo. 9/10 Often clients find it very useful to set specific goals tied to their finances. For example, perhaps they want to celebrate a milestone anniversary in Italy. The anniversary gives them a specific date to aim for and a budget for the trip gives them the specific dollar amount to set aside for the trip. Then they are able to divide up the dollar amount by the time in order to work toward their special trip. Folks that do this are able to savor the achievement of the goal through anticipation and the actual trip to celebrate the special anniversary. 9/11 Where were you on 9/11? I was in Wiesbaden, Germany in the Army Housing Office discussing with a bureaucrat why I hadnt been assigned housing yet after 60 days in country when the Twin Towers were hit. Needless to say, my housing situation seemed minor at the point. Were we going to war? If so, with whom? Lots of unanswered questions in the chaos of the moment. My military career, like many others, was turned upside down overnight. Many personal questions entered my mind. Was I ready to deploy? Were my personal affairs and finances in order? How would it affect my family? Today, my personal situation as a single parent is much different. Though, similarly, a singular event could still turn my world upside down once again. Will such an ever happen? I dont know. That doesnt relieve me of the responsibility to my son to have our affairs in order should something happen to one or both of us. One step, I recently took was a periodic update to my estate planning documents. While not cheap, I am now more prepared for such a catastrophic event. Today, in memory of 9/11, I will consider what other forms of preparation I might do. 9/12 Do you need to make estimated income tax payments? If so, it can be a quite annoy thing to write those quarterly checks. It is possible for some people to reduce or eliminate these check writing exercises. For example, if you receive a pension it is possible to have withholding similar to when one was working. The form for changing pension withholding is IRS Form W-4P. For others, it is possible to automate the quarterly payments to the IRS. Professional taxpayers can set up automatic quarterly withdrawals from a bank account. The amount is computed by their sophisticated tax prep software and must be approved by the taxpayer. Has your preparer offered it to you? 9/13 Most folks concern around their personal cybersecurity and privacy involve protecting their credit especially after the frequent hacking incidents such as with Equifax. There is more to worry about such as ID Theft. Todays thieves often social engineer and pick up tidbits of info posted on social media so that they can act as better impostors when conducting ID theft activities. These criminals can wreck havoc. One protection is making sure you have adjust privacy settings on your favorite social media outlets. Another valuable protection is using complex passwords. Software such LastPass and Dashlane help individuals create and securely use passwords that are very difficult to break. What can you do today to increase your online security? 9/14 Having a teenager driver in your household can add a great expense to your auto insurance. Check with your insurance company ahead of time to know what youll be facing in rate increases. Perhaps your young driver can contribute to insurance premiums or do other things that limit the expense such as take a drivers education course or by maintaining good grades. These discounts vary by state. 9/15 I am a proud member of the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners. This group provides the tax-focused retainer based model I use to help clients with their finances. As an ACP member, I am a fiduciary planner who provides a distinct alternative in the financial planning marketplace. By assuring clients’ financial plans are comprehensive, I consider not only interest-earning, real estate and equity investments, but also the tax consequences that can impact or be impacted by investment and financial strategies, or tax law changes. I help clients optimize the use of assets for tax efficiency, growth and security to ensure their goals are achieved. Given this focus, I maintain my CFP® and Enrolled Agent status along with professional organization memberships. The post A Week of Thoughts September 15, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Quicken Loans is disrupting the mortgage industry. The industry has a long history of being slow and paperwork intensive. Mortgage personnel are often difficult to get a hold of. But Quicken Loans has moved the entire process online. In doing so, they have streamlined the mortgage process, reduced the time needed to process loans, lowered the paperwork requirements, and made the entire process easier for borrowers. If you need mortgage financing – particularly a VA loan – Quicken Loans is an excellent place to start. About Quicken Loans Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, Quicken Loans began as Rock Financial in 1985 and remains a subsidiary of Rock Holdings, Inc. But it has since grown to become the largest mortgage lender in America (as of January 2018). The company closed more than $400 billion in mortgage loans between 2013 and 2017. They offer mortgage loans in all 50 states. The company launched Rocket Mortgage in 2016, as one of the first all-online mortgage lenders in the country. When you apply for a mortgage through Quicken Loans, you’ll actually be completing the process through Rocket Mortgage. What Quicken Loans Offers In addition to providing mortgage loans, Quicken Loans is also a full-service mortgage resource. They provide educational information, as well as calculators and other tools to help you work through the mortgage process. Some of those resources include: Loans offered. Conventional, Jumbo, USDA loans, FHA, and VA mortgages. Loan are available in fixed rate, adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), purchases, streamline refinances , HARP refinancing, and reverse mortgages. Mortgage calculators. Quicken Loans offers a variety of mortgage calculators to help you determine the mortgage you can qualify for. Calculators include: Refinance mortgage calculator – calculate your new monthly payment based on different loan amounts and programs. Purchase mortgage calculator – letting you know how much your mortgage payments will be. Amortization calculator – not only shows you the split between principal and interest on your monthly payments but also shows you how you can save money by making extra payments. Home affordability calculator – allows you to calculate the maximum home price you can afford to buy. The Home Affordability calculator: RateShield Approval. You can lock your interest rate for 90 days while you shop for a new home. Here are some sample rates you can view, also, including rates from some of the top VA Loan providers in the country : Other Quicken Loan Services Customer service. Customer service is available by phone, online chat, or e-mail through the website. They also offer customer service in Spanish. Phone support is available Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to midnight; Saturdays, 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, and Sundays, 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Live chat is available Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to midnight, and Saturdays and Sundays, 9:00 AM to midnight. All times Eastern. In-house mortgage loan servicing. If you’ve ever previously had a mortgage, you’re probably accustomed to the loan being sold off to another service, either immediately, or later in the term. But Quicken Loans services 99% of their loans in-house. So not only will you be able to get your loan through Quicken Loans, but you’ll also make your payments there as well. It’s not a game changer, but it does simplify the process. Quicken Loans Personal Loans. One of the benefits of working with a large lender like Quicken Loans is that they do have other loan products that may be of interest to you. Their personal loans are an example. You can borrow money for debt consolidation, home improvement, buying or repairing a car, to cover medical expenses, make a large purchase, or even for business expenses. Personal loans are fixed rate installment loans, and completely unsecured. You can borrow up to $35,000 with a term of 36 or 60 months. Interest rates are based on your credit history, income, and other factors, and currently range from 5.983% to 29.99% APR. Loans do require an origination fee of 1% to 6% of the loan amount, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Quicken Loans VA Mortgages Quicken Loans offers VA mortgages for qualified veterans, current service members, and their spouses. And just as is the case with the mortgage process for any type of loan at Quicken Loans, VA loans are completed entirely online. You can begin the process either by applying online or by first talking to a mortgage expert. VA loans have certain definite benefits for veterans and current service members. Those include: 100% financing – there is no need to have a down payment on most VA loan types . You can often qualify with the lower credit score than you can with a conventional loan. You can sometimes qualify with more debt, since VA loans use two debt qualification methods. VA loans often have lower interest rates than other loan types. There is no monthly mortgage insurance requirement on the VA loans. Closing costs are frequently paid entirely by the seller. You can usually include VA Loan funding fees into your mortgage , if you are required to pay them. On a refinance, you can borrow up to 100% of the value of your home with a VA cash-out refinance. In some cases, you can refinance up to 120% of the property value. Quicken Loans is a VA approved lender that processes a large number of VA loans. The company can work directly with the VA to get your Certificate of Eligibility and any other necessary documentation from the agency. VA loan types available include 15, 20, 25, and 30-year fixed rate mortgages, as well as the VA 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage. They even provide jumbo VA loans for amounts up to $1.5 million. Note: Learn more about VA Loan limits by county . And finally, since Quicken Loans provides all other mortgage types, you also have the ability to take advantage of those programs as necessary. For example, VA loans can only be used for certain types of property . They aren’t available for second homes or investment properties. You’ll need a conventional loan to purchase either type of property, and Quicken Loans can make it happen. The Quicken Loans Mortgage Application Process You’ll begin the process by applying online through Rocket Mortgage. You start by creating an account, and then you can begin completing the application. That will require basic information, like your current address, and the address of the property you’re purchasing. (Only your current address will be needed if you are applying for a refinance.) The app will then fill in the details of the property, including the approximate property value and real estate taxes. They will be able to do this because there are a number of online valuation services available, as well as the fact that property taxes are public record. This will, of course, save you time with the completion of the application. But be aware this is just a preliminary step. A formal appraisal will need to be performed on the subject property with most loan types later in the mortgage process. Since you’re entering your basic personal information, including your Social Security number, a credit report will be run on you, your spouse, or any other co-borrowers who will be on the loan. Because of this, they will be able to provide you with an offer of the rate you will qualify at. This is very different from the teaser rate that might be provided based on a self-assessment of your credit , which is more typical of online lenders. Once the rate offer is provided, it will be subject to verification of all the information you’ve provided in your application. You’ll then be able to lock in the interest rate, and an appraisal will be ordered. A $500 fee will then be collected to continue the process. You’ll then move on to the verification process, in which the lender will require that you furnish documentation supporting the information claimed in your application. Upon full approval, you can print out in an approval letter. TIP: If at any time during the application process you need assistance, you can hit the “Talk to Us” button, which is available on every page of the website. The Quicken Loans Verification Process As a fully online process, you’ll be able to supply any and all documentation online, and even sign and submit the multitude of mortgage disclosures and waivers that are part of the mortgage process. If you’ve ever applied for a mortgage before, you know the process is paperwork intensive. Despite attempts by the industry to streamline the process, a substantial amount of documentation will still be required to verify everything on your application. But Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage makes the process faster and easier for online submission. Many times, the information in your application can be verified by online third-party sources. For example, the company may be able to obtain income and asset information from those sources with a signature release from you. For that reason, you’ll have to supply a complete information of each institution you work for or do business with, including exact names, addresses, account numbers, and sometimes contact persons within each organization where a verification will be requested. But where the information isn’t readily available, you’ll have to be prepared to supply the paperwork. This can include: Your most recent paystubs. W-2s for of the past one or two years. Documentation of Social Security or pension income (typically award letters and/or IRS form 1099) Income tax returns if you’re self-employed, or have investment rental property. Recent statements confirming bank account balances, investment brokerage accounts, or even retirement plans like IRAs or 401K’s. Copy of the purchase agreement for your new home. A copy of your divorce decree, if you either pay or receive child support or alimony. Evidence of the earnest money deposit made on the new home. Generally, you’ll be able to scan and upload most of these documents to the mortgage web site. Other documents, such as the purchase agreement, may have been e-mailed to you, and could also be easily uploaded to the site. With the application completed online, and all documentation supplied, your application will then go to a human mortgage underwriter. That person will review the documentation to make sure it supports what you’ve claimed in your application. If there is any missing information, conditions may be issued which you will need to satisfy, either prior to application or before closing. Quicken Loans Pros and Cons Pros: You can get a pre-approval in just minutes. The use of third-party verification sources will eliminate at least some of the documentation requirements. You can track your application online, so you’ll know what’s going on at every step of the process. You’ll know exactly what you need to supply, and how to provide it. The uploading process eliminates the need to copy and mail documents, and pay for postage required by traditional mail. Customer service is available, and you’ll have three ways to access it. Quicken Loans is available in all 50 states. Cons: Quicken Loans has no physical branches and they do not offer full-service banking ; they focus only on lending. They do not offer second mortgages or home equity lines of credit. The document uploading process can be time-consuming and confusing if your information cannot be readily verified by online sources. Loan fees are a bit higher on Quicken Loans compared to other lenders, but they emphasize speed in the process over pricing. Once you get your preliminary approval, the process will be very much like traditional mortgage lending, where your application will be reviewed, and additional documentation will be requested. Should You Get Your Mortgage from Quicken Loans? If you’re looking for a fast pre-approval, reduced loan documentation requirements, and complete transparency throughout the entire mortgage process, Quicken Loans is an outstanding source for mortgage financing. This is particularly true for VA loans, since they can be a bit more confusing than other loan types, especially for current service members or those who have been recently discharged. Quicken Loans – through Rocket Mortgage – provides fast pre-approvals so you can know from the very beginning that you’ll be qualified. It will also help to have a pre-approval in hand when you’re negotiating on a new home. The documentation requirements are easier, due to the use of third-party verification sources. And you’ll be kept in-the-loop of the progress of your application throughout the process. This is a mortgage lender well worth working with, whether you are a first-time homebuyer, or you’re buying your third or fourth property. If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to apply for a mortgage, visit the Quicken Mortgage website .
  • To take a sabbatical, build financial independence. Seek out sabbatical friendly companies. Take advantage of natural transitions. And know tricks of the trade.
  • With the mid-term elections approaching and the political stakes increased, the level of misinformation on economic conditions is likely to rise. Check Our Video Blog On Economic Facts To Prepare For The Elections http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • With the mid-term elections approaching and the political stakes increased, the level of misinformation on economic conditions is likely to rise. Check Our Video Blog On Economic Facts To Prepare For The Elections http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • 9/2 Do you have replacement coverage on your homeowners insurance? If not, you may end up with a big bill if you have complete rebuild. 9/3 Are you investing in your professional education and advancement? Consider that your individual human capital today will become your future financial capital. 9/4 How much do your investments cost you each year? Many investments sold by brokers and within retirement plans (like 401ks and 403bs) often are several times more expensive than other available investments. There is really no good reason that the expense ratio for a mutual fund or Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) invested in US stocks should be more than .25% per year. One can find investments costing .05% and less. 9/5 Are your investments diversified and include investments from around the world? Consider that the US is only about 50% of the worlds total stock markets. Dont miss out on global opportunities. It is possible with just 3-4 different mutual funds to be invested globally in over 15,000 different stocks. 9/6 In 2018, state and local taxes are limited to $10,000 for itemizing on federal income taxes. This limitation will push many people into the new standard deductions of $12K for Singles, $18K for Head of Households and $24K for those married and filing joint. There is also an add on of $1300 for those married over age 64 or blind. For unmarried taxpayers add on is $1600. 9/7 Making the commitment to create estate planning documents can be daunting. I know first hand. My motivation to get it done is my son. I want to make sure I lay the foundation for his physical and financial care should something unexpected happen to me. The estate planning documents allow me to make my wishes legally known about guardianship and how to help him with whatever monies I leave him. It is hard for me to think of something more important in my personal legacy. 9/8 Financial record keeping is so important. Even more important is letting someone else know where the records are located and how to access them. In todays world, fewer and fewer folks are using paper and pen methods of running their financial lives. That means loved ones need to know how to getting into our phones, tablets, and computers to access accounts for even simple things like paying the electric bill. Do you have someone that can step in your shoes and knows how to help run your financial life if you are incapacitated? The post A Week of Thoughts September 8, 2018 appeared first on Essential Financial Strategies .
  • Sprint is the fourth largest cell phone network in the US, by number of subscribers. Like the other major cell phone providers, they offer discounts to a variety of customers, including those who work for large corporations, universities, affinity groups, and to those who are serving, or who have served in, the US armed forces. The Sprint Military Discount is available to those who are currently serving in the military, as well as those who have served honorably. Let’s take a look at the Sprint military discount, who is eligible, savings, and whether or not it is worth switching carriers to take advantage of the savings Sprint offers. Sprint Military Discount Eligibility The Sprint Unlimited Military Plan is available to all current and former military members, including active duty, National Guard, Reserves, veterans, and their family members (when the military member or veteran is the primary account holder). Sprint verifies eligibility via an application form on their website . The discount is managed through the Sprint WorksSM Program, which is the same program Sprint uses to manage group discounts and special offers to employees, students, universities, and other organizations. How Sprint Verifies Your Military Discount Eligibility: Sprint can use one of several methods to verify your eligibility. These can include your .mil email address (easiest, since it is handled digitally) or via a records match in a third party database. You can also submit documents verifying your military service (either in person at a Sprint store, or by uploading them to your Sprint account, or faxing them to Sprint). Eligible Proof of Military Service includes Military ID Card , Military Orders, Veterans ID Card , or Department of Defense Form 214 . You can also use a W-2, or Military Retiree Account Statement to prove your military service and military discount eligibility. Note: Sprint recommends that individuals block out or delete personal information on your supporting documents, such as SSN, account numbers, date of birth, and other confidential information. Sprint Unlimited Military Plan Features: The Unlimited Military Plan essentially amounts to a Sprint military discount on the Sprint Unlimited Basic plan. This plan includes the following features: Unlimited data, talk and text nationwide TV, with Hulu 500 MB mobile hotspot DVD-quality streaming Global roaming in more than 185 worldwide locations Unlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada and 5GB of 4G LTE data. Free Hulu Subscription included with monthly Unlimited Military Plan  1 Hulu Limited Commercials plan is included per eligible Sprint account. This offers a monthly value of  $7.99. (Note, the Sprint offer may be an answer to the T-Mobile Military Discount , which includes a Netflix subscription). There are some restrictions for heavy data users. Also note that Mobile Hot Spot speeds are reduced to 3G speeds after 500MB/mo. See the Sprint website for full details. Visit the Sprint website to see full plan features, costs, and additional information . Sprint Unlimited Military Plan 50% Off Family Lines The Sprint Unlimited Military Plan offers a 50% discount on family lines. You will need to pay the full price for the first line, then the savings kick in at 50% off each additional line. (The previous Sprint Military Discount was 15% off, so this offer can be better if you add more lines). The Sprint military discount also requires the member sign up for Sprint AutoPay. Here is the current pricing for the Unlimited Military Plan: Line 1: $60 Line 2: $20 Lines 3-6: $10 each The Sprint Unlimited Basic plan without the discount on the family lines would cost $60 for the first line, $40 for the second line, and $20 each additional line. So the savings is more substantial as you add more lines to your account. You should see the discount on your Sprint billing invoice within 1 to 2 billing cycles. Note: These are the base prices and dont include taxes, fees, or overages. The Unlimited Military Plan may not be combined with other offers. How to Get the Sprint Military Discount: Visit the Sprint website , and fill out the pre-registration form. The form requests your name, military branch, email, and current phone number. If you are currently in the military, then you can use your .mil email address to verify your eligibility. Otherwise, you may be required to submit additional proof of service. You can also sign up at a Sprint Store, or over the phone (additional verification of military service required). You will receive an email with a offer code once your application and military status has been verified. Be sure to sign up for Sprint AutoPay to receive the full discount. Should You Switch to Sprint? I am currently a Sprint customer, and have been for nearly 10 years. I have been happy with the service and my phones in the time I have been a Sprint customer, and have no reservations recommending them to family or friends provided Sprint meets your needs. Here are several factors to consider before switching to Sprint: How is the Sprint network in your area are there any coverage gaps? How does the monthly cost of the Sprint Unlimited Military Plan compare to your current plan? Other potential cost savings (Hulu subscription, being able to use your phone as a mobile hotspot, unlimited talk, text, and data, etc.) Additional features – unlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada, Global Roaming Whether or not you would need to buy new phones How does Sprint Coverage Compare? Each of the major cell phone providers has coverage gaps (as much as they would like you to believe otherwise). So I would check with others in your area who have Sprint, just to make sure their coverage in your area is good. How does the savings compare? This is quick and easy just look at your current bill and the number of lines you have and apply it to the Sprint Unlimited Military Plan. See which one comes out ahead. While some cell phone providers offer a discount as a flat percentage, the Sprint savings adds up more quickly the more lines you add. (Be sure to deduct the Hulu subscription price if that is something you will use, or are already subscribing to and can cancel). Would you need new phones? There are two major cell phone networks in the US: the GSM Network (AT&T and T-Mobile) and the CDMA Network (Verizon and Sprint). You wouldn’t need a new phone if you already have a phone on the Sprint or Verizon network. You can visit the Sprint website to learn more about the Sprint Unlimited Military Plan . Sprint Military Discount Program Sprint Military Discount - Available for Current and Former Military Members, including National Guard and Reserves! Learn More Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
  • Aretha Franklin, the legendary singer, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 76 on August 16, 2018. Check Our Video Blog On Another Member Of Music Royalty Dies With No Will http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Aretha Franklin, the legendary singer, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 76 on August 16, 2018. Check Our Video Blog On Another Member Of Music Royalty Dies With No Will http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • Aretha Franklin, the legendary singer, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 76 on August 16, 2018. Check Our Video Blog On Another Member Of Music Royalty Dies With No Will http://masteringyourmoney.com/
  • T-Mobile is the nations third largest cell phone provider. But they also happen to offer the best military discount on cell phone plans . The T-Mobile military discount is available to both current and former military members, as well as their family members when the additional phones are included on the military member or veterans plan. Perhaps the best part about the T-Mobile military discount is that it applies a 20% discount to their flagship plan, the T-Mobile ONE Plan , which features unlimited talk, text, and data, unlimited in Mexico and Canada, works in many overseas locations, and even includes a monthly Netflix subscription . To top it off, the savings are greater when you add more phones (half off the next five lines, compared to standard pricing). Overall, this is a great plan, at a great price. Let’s take a look at the T-Mobile Military Discount, including features, cost, and eligibility. T-Mobile Military Discount on the T-Mobile Military One Plan The T-Mobile military plan is really a discount on the T-Mobile ONE Plan, which is their premium monthly plan. Here is what you will get with the T-Mobile Military One Plan : Unlimited talk, text, and data.* Unlimited in Mexico and Canada. To include talk, text, and up to 5GB of 4G LTE data. In-Flight texting + 1 hour of data. On all GoGo®-enabled flights to, from, or within the U.S. Mobile hotspot data included. Keep all you data connected at max 3G speeds. Stream unlimited entertainment. Video at DVD quality, 480p. Taxes and fees included. (no surprise fees on your monthly plan bill). Texting and data abroad, including unlimited text and data roaming and flat-rate calling in more than 140 countries. Free Netflix Standard subscription Standard 2-screen subscription for almost any device, even TV. (Legal speak from the T-Mobile website): *On all T-Mobile plans, during congestion, the small fraction of customers using >50GB/mo. may notice reduced speeds until next bill cycle due to prioritization. Visit the T-Mobile website for a full rundown of features and pricing . T-Mobile Military Discount Eligibility The T-Mobile website states the military discount is available to all active duty service members, veterans, retired military personnel, members of the Army Reserve or National Guard, and Gold Star families. The discount also will be available to veteran-owned businesses. There are a couple notes regarding eligibility: The military member or veteran must be the primary account holder & account must maintain a valid military line. T-Mobile for Business customers are eligible up to 12 lines; however, government accounts are not eligible. No Credit Check and Prepaid customers are not eligible. You will need to provide proof of military service within 45 days of opening your new T-Mobile account, or otherwise applying for the military discount. Your plan will revert to the T-Mobile ONE at an additional cost of up to $20/line per month if you are unable to or fail to provide your proof of military service . How does T-Mobile verify military status or military service? The T-Mobile website states they will accept any document that proves the customer is serving or has served in the US military. The form must include he veterans first and last name, valid dates of service, and/or status, for example active duty, or a veteran (with an honorable discharge). T-Mobile will accept numerous forms of verification, but the most common documents are DD214 , leave and earnings statement, and military orders. What do I do if my military status changes? This offer is open to current and former military members, so you will not need to contact T-Mobile. Your eligibility will remain intact and you will not need to change your plan. T-Mobile ONE Military is available to all military, veterans, National Guard, Reserve, and Gold Star family members. T-Mobile Military Pricing The most important thing to know about this military discount is that it is a permanent discount. This is not a promotional discount. Of course, things are subject to change. So it never hurts to take advantage of great offers when they pop up. The T-Mobile Military Discount is on the T-Mobile ONE plan. Here are the current rates (and remember, unlike most cell phone carriers, T-Mobile plans include all taxes and fees). Here are current rates with AutoPay enabled (lines cost $5 more per month if you do not enable AutoPay): Line One $55 (20% off standard pricing) Line Two add $25 (50% off standard pricing) Lines 3-6 add $10 each (50% off standard pricing) Again, the price you see is the price you pay. All taxes and fees are included. T-Mobile May Even Pay Off Your Current Phone or Early Termination Fees T-Mobile is doing their best to grow their customer base. And they dont want something like a cell-phone contract to get in the way of adding customers. So they are willing to pay your early termination fees if you need to break your contract to change carriers. Get a new phone and we’ll pay off your current phone and service contracts – up to $650 per line or $350 in early termination fees, via prepaid card when you trade-in your device. As you can imagine, there are some terms: Limited-time offer; subject to change. Eligible device trade-in, new device purchase, qualifying credit, port-in from eligible carriers, and qualifying service required. Payments consist of (1) credit for device trade-in and (2) virtual prepaid MasterCard® Card in amount of carrier’s Early Termination Fee or remaining device balance, including lease purchase option if applicable, minus trade-in credit (expires in 12 months). Tax excluded. Submit proof of balance (limit $650 per individual) & 90+ days with carrier within 30 days of port-in and be active and in good standing when processed; allow 8 weeks. We might ask for more information. Up to 5 lines; must be activated in same market with same billing address. One offer per subscriber. T-Mobile Prepaid MasterCard Card is rebate/reimbursement or exchange on new device, service, or port-in; for any tax implications, consult a tax advisor. No money has been paid by you for the card. [] Visit the T-Mobile website for more details on the T-Mobile Military Discount Plan . How Much Can T-Mobile Save You? T-Mobile claims their current military discount can save a family of four $764 compared to Verizons military discount program and $665 compared to AT&Ts military discount. Of course, your savings will vary based on your current cell phone plan and the number of lines you add. As with all offers, its a good idea to run the numbers to see which carrier is the best for your needs. For my current situation, my wife and I would pay a comparable amount per month for the cell phone line (actually $5 per month cheaper with T-Mobile). But we also subscribe to Netflix and pay that out of pocket. So we would save an additional $10.99 per month on the Netflix subscription. $16 per month works out to $192 per year, which is a decent savings. We could possibly save more than that, because I pay $10 a month on a mobile hotspot through T-Mobile. Under the T-Mobile military discount, you can use your phones as a hotspot. So I may be able to save around $312 per year. Now were talking real savings! The only downside? I would need to buy two new phones, because my wife and I have Sprint phones, which are on a different network. AT&T and T-Mobile use the GSM network, and Verizon and Sprint are both on the CDMA network. So I need to check with my wife and see if we wan to buy new phones and switch networks. Buying new phones will delay the payoff, but it should equal out over time. Should You Switch to the T-Mobile Military One Plan? Overall, I have to say that T-Mobile offers the best bang for your buck out of all the major cell phone carriers. Their military discount is also the most generous our of all the cell phone providers. Is it right for you? Only you can answer that. I recommend looking at several factors: How the T-Mobile network is in your area The monthly cost of the T-Mobile Military One Plan compared to your current plan Other potential cost savings (Netflix subscription, being able to use your phone as a mobile hotspot, unlimited talk, text, and data, etc.) Additional features unlimited text and data overseas, unlimited media streaming Whether or not you would need to buy new phones Whether or not T-Mobile will assist you with buying out your current contract Overall, Id say T-Mobile will work for a lot of folks. But in other cases, you may currently have a better or more const-effective plan. If so, stay with what works. Visit the T-Mobile Military Discount Page to Learn More . T-Mobile Military Discount T-Mobile Military Discount - Available to Military Members and Veterans! Click to learn more. Learn More Full Disclosure: We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.