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Shopping

  • The Stress of Making a Purchase - Saving money... kind of a sore point for me. I would MUCH RATHER take a shopping spree at Target then save a budgeted amount each month for my retirement ... in like 30 years! Egads... don't the 'financial experts' know that I live in the here-and-now?!  Well not my husband. He is my saver.  ...

 

  •  The Grocery Bill - The grocery bill: One of the big chunks of our family budget and probably our largest 'discretianary' item in the list of many family expenses. How do you save? I enjoyed this article in the Times, "Millions of coupons: Military shoppers score savings on base". It got me thinking about how we, you and me, can chunk down the amount we each spend on our weekly trips. It isn't always about coupons but they sure can help!  ...

 

  • Extending Your Dollars Not as Tough as Once Thought- Trying to squeeze a few more pennies out of those dollars you receive every couple of weeks is a challenge to many. To determine your financial health, you can take this Personal Finances Check-up  that should help you determine your financial risk. Once you learn how you think about money and how you actually spend it, you are on your way to a healthier wallet.  ...

 

 

  • Shop smart using saver savvy tips - According to the Institute of Consumer Financial Education, nearly 37 cents of every income dollar is spent by American families for groceries and household items; a few years back it was about 30 cents. Food prices have spiked dramatically these past few months for a variety of reasons. There isn't much consumers can do about the rapidly rising costs except to begin shopping smarter for household and grocery items. ...

 

  • The Top 8 Foolish Military Money Moves - You've been fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban for what seems like an eternity and doing it thousands of miles away. In exchange, the military provides a steady paycheck, fashionable clothes, and food and shelter. And, if you hang in there long enough, you stand to earn a pension -- for most, at the tender age of 40-something. You're set, right? Not so fast, Ranger Bob.  ...

 

 

 Budgeting

  • Ways to Improve Your Finances - Decide on your big goals. If you're having trouble putting your finger on it, ask the people who know you best. Brainstorming with your significant other, family members, and friends can help shake loose your own thoughts.

 

  • Financial Readiness: As Critical as Fully Charged Batteries - Home is where most people feel safe and comfortable. But sometimes — say, when a hurricane, flood, tornado, wildfire, or other disaster strikes — it’s safest to pack up and go to another location.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says that when it comes to preparing for situations like weather emergencies, financial readiness is as important as a flashlight with fully charged batteries. ...

 

 

  • FFSC's Personal Financial Management Program Helps Military and Families Stay Financially Fit  (Some Navy Specific Information) - Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) offers a program to help service members and their families manage finances. The Personal Financial Management Program, which encompasses a variety of budgeting and financial planning courses and workshops, is designed to educate military personnel and their family members before financial issues become problematic and possibly jeopardize their careers. ...

 

  • Budgeting Basics: Needs vs. Wants -  Lately I have been getting a lot of questions from members about debt, cash flow management and how to create a workable budget. Since a consistent theme in my responses revolves around distinguishing between members' financial needs and wants, I thought it would be beneficial to differentiate the two. Let me start by giving you an example from my life. Friday Night Pizza: Need or Want? ...

 

  • Budget Better - What’s the gotta-do-it first step on the pathway toward financial freedom? Creating a budget. That may sound intimidating, but forget about poring over piles of statements and receipts. USAA® Money Manager makes the process painless. Just log on to usaa.com and visit My Accounts. The work is already done for you, with a prefilled budget based on your spending habits that you can customize easily to fit your needs. ...

 

Managing Your Money

  • Keeping Track of What You Spend and Budgeting - Do you know exactly where all of your money goes each month? Do you know how much money you have left to spend this month? Are you saving towards an emergency fund each month? If you answered -NO - to any of these it may be time to get your finances in order.

 

 

  • Tips for Managing Your Money - Managing your money can be challenging. The key is learning what to do with the money you already have, and the money you earn. Set Up a Budget: List your income sources; always use after-tax income in your calculations, Figure your expenses, Set aside 5% of your income for savings, Subtract your expenses from your income and savings to see how much spending money you have. ...

 

  • The Financial Pyramid -  For decades, the food pyramid has been a part of children’s health education. While today’s USDA food pyramid has evolved dramatically from the iconic design of the past, the concept remains deeply ingrained in the minds of many. The visual tool continues to deliver important foundational lessons in healthy living.  What about our financial health? Borrowing from the food pyramid, a financial pyramid could lead toward creating a framework for financial success  ...

 

  • Personal Finance Expert Gives Soldiers Advice They Can Bank On - Personal finance expert Suze Orman said she doesn’t hold much hope that the economy will recover as quickly as the troops she met at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here yesterday. “I don’t think it will,” she told those gathered on the Walter Reed campus for a Financial Readiness Road Show. ...

 

 

Recession Proof & Today's Economy

  • Your Future Finances - Today’s economy has forced us to rethink the definition of the American Dream. Studies reveal a shift toward more modest goals — having a financial safety net and achieving personal fulfillment over becoming wealthy. Despite changing the yardstick, the dream is still out of reach for many.

 

  • Servicemembers Employ Recession Buffers, Still Seek Help - Military members receive some buffers from hard times through benefits like housing and meal allowances, commissaries and a strong support network. But they feel the crunch of increasing prices like everyone else.  Finance professionals who work directly with servicemembers say they are seeing more requests for help from soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.  ...

 

  • Recession-Proof Your Finances - Gas prices are soaring, consumer confidence is falling, and stocks have been all over the map.  At the time of this writing, whether the U.S. is entering a true recession is still up for debate, but one thing is certain – most Americans are uneasy about what’s in store for their personal finances.  In the midst of it all, you’re having to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to relocate. ...

 

  • Servicemembers Can Weather Financial Storm - Servicemembers and their families can weather the “perfect storm” of credit, savings and banking crises; bailouts; market instability; and foreclosures, if they stay financially prepared, the Pentagon’s personal finance director said here recently. Dave Julian urged those attending the Defense Department Joint Family Readiness Conference here earlier this month to save more than the average American.

 

  • From the Better Business Burea: Is My Money Safe? - Is it time to make a run on the bank and stuff your money in your mattress? Recent events in the banking industry have many investors worried about the safety of their money, wondering what they should do if their bank or brokerage firm looks like it may fail, or be sold. The good news is that you have a number of built-in protections to safeguard your money, even if your financial institution is in trouble. 

 

  • Your Finances in a Crisis? An Interview with a Financial Expert from USAA - In these current and volatile economic times for Americans I decided to ask the military community's financial experts at United Services Automobile Association (USAA) some questions and they kindly agreed! So after my interview last night I shall share several blogs about finances and what the experts at USAA say about how to best deal with the current economic situation in which we live. ...

 

  • Your Finances in a Crisis? Part 2: An Interview with a Financial Expert from USAA - I wanted to continue to use the expertise of our friends at USAA to talk about the current financial crisis gripping the country. After focusing on mortgages and debt issues in the first blog, I would like to write briefly today about the market and your investments. If your investments are anything like mine I saved a bit each month for many years and then in a couple of months/weeks saw a lot of it disappear. ...

 


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Marriage & Money

  • When Couples Disagree - Free Advice from USAA - Studies have shown that money is the leading cause of marital spats. Here are some tips to help you find common financial ground. Features USAA Financial Planner, June Walbert. (Online Video) ...

 

  • Money and Marriage – Developing Your Plan (Some Navy Specific Information) -  Whether you are marrying for the first time or remarrying, developing your financial plan for the future can be exciting when done together.  Knowing your financial expectations and sharing them with your spouse is an important first step.  You need to talk about your finances:  1. Couples should observe each other’s money habits and talk honestly and openly about money attitudes and expectations. ...

 

 

Savings and Debt

  • Have your December credit card bills arrived? - Has the New Year been a great start or are you looking at the bills from Christmas and the holiday season and shaking your head? Do you have credit card debt that is being carried month to month? Or do you have savings that you would like to invest for college or retirement? In either case, you should read this blog!

 

 

  • Advanced Saving Strategies - Saving money is easy.  There are only two ways to do it: spend less or make more, or a combination of the two.  Everybody has their favorite way to save including clipping coupons, limiting meals at restaurants, or perhaps riding a bike to work.  Here are a few methods that can help you super-charge your personal saving strategy...

 

  • More Than Half of Americans Say They Are Not Saving Adequately - More than half of Americans (52%) say that they currently cannot afford to save or are saving inadequately, according to a comprehensive survey of how Americans view their savings adequacy, major barriers to savings, and successful savings strategies planned and released by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Wachovia. ...

 

  • Confront Financial Issues Early, Expert Advises Tough economic times have taken their toll on Americans in recent years, leaving many buried under debt or saddled with a now-unaffordable dream house that’s plummeted too far in value to sell.   While it may be tempting to ignore debt-related issues and toss unopened mortgage statements and bills into a neglected pile, confronting the issue head-on offers a much better option, a defense financial expert noted.  ...

 

 Credit Cards

  • Tips to Take Control of Credit Card Debt - Many people may choose to ignore how much they are throwing away in credit card interest, and how long it will actually take to pay off their debt.  But committing yourself to getting out of debt can save you a lot of money over time.  The following example shows how much you can save by increasing your monthly payments. Of course, this assumes that you don't rack up more debt along the way.  ...

 

 

Making Plans to Save
 

 

  • Becoming a Millionaire Starts with a Plan - We've all read those cautionary tales about lucky people who were catapulted to the millionaire's circle by way of lottery winnings, game shows or inheritances only to lose their fortunes just as quickly.  It seems they just didn't have a clue about how to manage their newfound wealth. And while most of us think this could never happen to us, we've all had financial missteps that could have been avoided if only we'd had the right information and advice.

 

Your Credit Score

  • Clean up your credit (some Navy & Marine specific information) - One of the first things you notice upon entering the military is the eagerness of others to lend you money. Outside military bases worldwide, billboards line the streets: "E-1 AND UP — WE FINANCE!!!" While credit is a good thing when used wisely, it turns ugly with abuse.  Overextending yourself or neglecting payments leaves you with nothing more than a bad credit rating....

 

  • Credit Score Reality Check: Is 760 the New 680? - The bar has been raised with respect to the three-digit number lenders use to determine your worthiness to borrow money.  “Three years ago, a creditworthy borrower was someone with a 680 to 700 score. Now, to get the best rates, that score needs to be 760 and up,” says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. Your three-digit credit score generally ranges from 300 to 850. ...

 

Financial Hardship

  • Payday loans are big business for them, poorhouse for you (some Air Force specific information)  - In an interview on "Dan Rather Reports," Mary Ann Olson said she took out a payday loan for $140 and ended up paying back more than $2,000. She turned to them because she didn't have enough savings to purchase a pair of orthopedic shoes due to multiple sclerosis. She believed it was the only option to solve her money problem. ... 

 

  • Foundation Offers Military Families Financial Help - Servicemembers on extended deployments can rest easier knowing that if their family experiences an unexpected financial emergency, help is available.   The American Soldier Foundation was created to assist servicemembers on extended duty and their families, Daniel Wright, the organization’s president, said. ...

 

  • Where to Go — and Not Go — When You Need Money - If you're pondering places to drum up cash, some moves are smarter than others. Digging in the wrong spots can have serious long-term consequences. Use this guide to know where you can safely find extra funds and still protect your finances.  ...

 

  • Official Equates Financial, Military Readiness -  Through outreach and a robust system of educating servicemembers, Defense Department officials are working to keep troops financially fit to fight and protected from predatory lenders, a Pentagon official said today.  Since the downward turn of the credit market in recent years, Defense Department officials and lawmakers have grown more concerned with servicemembers falling into bad financial standing ....

 

  • Personal Financial Management (Air Force specific information) - Evidence suggests nearly one-third of enlisted servicemembers self-report moderate to severe difficulty in paying their bills. Living month-to-month and struggling to pay bills, especially when sudden, unexpected expenses such as car trouble or legal problems arise, is not sound financial management. Poor financial choices, and the stress inflicted on Airmen and families, negatively affects the Total Force team....

 

 Deployment

  • Financial Planning - DoD Savings Deposit Program - The DoD Savings Deposit Program (SDP) was established to provide members of the uniformed services serving in designated combat zones the opportunity to build their financial savings. ...

 

  • DEFENDING YOUR CASH: The Homecoming Spree - Thousands of military members in Iraq and Afghanistan are returning soon. They'll likely come home to a new financial reality.  It's only natural to want to celebrate the homecoming. But if you've been away for awhile, it's smart to get a solid grip on how your finances will change as quickly as possible. ...

 

  • Plan for Financial Readiness Before Deployment - Financial stability is vital when it comes to personal and family readiness, especially during deployment. Setting a financial plan is particularly important for members of the National Guard and Reserve, who also have incomes from civilian employment. Planning a budget appropriately can help prevent stress and protect against financial and emotional difficulties. ... 

 

  • Preparation Aids Financial Stability During Deployments - Preparation and a detailed spending plan can help servicemembers and their families dodge the financial pitfalls that can spring up during and after a deployment, the Pentagon’s personal finance director said.  “A deployment is a very demanding and intense time, and the servicemember and family need to be focused on their specific missions,” Dave Julian said today in an interview with American Forces Press Service. ...

 

  • Deployed? Get an “Active Duty Alert” - If you’re a member of the military and deployed from your usual duty station, you may place an “active-duty alert” on your credit report to help minimize the risk of identity theft while you’re away.  Your credit report contains information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. ... 

 

  • Fraud Alerts - There are two types of fraud alerts: an initial alert, and an extended alert. An initial alert stays on your credit report for at least ninety days. You may ask that an initial fraud alert be placed on your credit report if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. An initial alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or if you've been taken in by a "phishing" scam ...

 

  • Mission Your Money: Avoid Fraud - Identity theft is a growing problem for the military, but there are ways to fight back. June Walbert offers you tips on ways to avoid financial fraud.


     

 Your Children

  • Financial Education for Your Children - There is no one, perfect way to start teaching your children about finances. However, there is a wrong way and that wrong way is to ignore it and assume that they are too young, don't need to be 'taught' or just feel as a parent that you aren't up to the challenge. Start your children out on the right foot and help them learn to navigate the world of finances. ...

 

  • Healthy Parenting Initiative: Finances - Teens don't learn independent living skills by themselves. So parents, get out there and talk to your teen about what to do when they start living on their own. -> Opening a bank account is a good place to start. Discuss why we have bank accounts and what it takes to open an account – you can even take them down to the bank and introduce them to the customer service department and set up their own account as an example. ... 

 

  • Talking with Your Kids about Money - In some families, talking about money can be a very uncomfortable conversation.  Many parents don’t know how to approach the topic of money, and some avoid it altogether. By starting the discussion early, you can make it easier to talk about this tough topic later, when your child is making larger purchases, thinking about getting a job, or beginning financial planning for college. ...

 

  • Financially Fit Kids - How do our kids learn to manage money? At school? By watching TV? From their friends? By their own mistakes? From watching their parents manage their money?  Most children learn from all of these places, but studies show that the single most important place where children learn about money is in the home and the most important teachers are their parents. ...

 

  • Loan and Learn: Teaching Kids Financial Responsibility - Dad, will you buy me a new iPod? Mom, since Jack's Mom bought him a new Droid, can I have one? Can you get me this piece of candy while we wait in line? If you are a parent, these questions probably sound familiar. ...

 

  • Financial (In)dependence - My son opened his first checking account this last weekend. He is 14 and can barely hold onto a nickle before it is spent.  Financial Independence. I was 16 when I got my first credit-card. I was preparing to travel to England with our high-school drama team. We were stationed at Keflavik NAS, Iceland and I was no actress. But it was an opportunity to get off of "The Rock" as we so lovingly called our little part of the island. ...

 

  • Are You Financially Ready for Your New Baby? (some Navy & Marine specific information) - You are truly blessed to experience the gift of parenthood. It can be very rewarding and challenging as well. You have probably been warned about the 2 a.m. feedings, colic, and diaper rashes. And you've probably decorated the nursery, chosen a name, and even picked the preschool you hope to send your child to. ...

 

 Investing

  • Five Secrets to Tackle Your Fear of Investing - At some stage, most of us put off investing. We know we should do it. But it seems so complicated. And sometimes the payoff feels a long way off.But don't wait. Tackle these five common fears to begin investing at any age.  1. Fear: "I have no idea what I’m doing." There's an easy way to get started without having to choose stocks. ...

 

  • Seeking Direction: What to Do with Your Money - How should you invest in a volatile market? And what if you can't invest? You're bound to find yourself in one of the following three scenarios. Whether you're flush with cash, completely strapped or somewhere in between, read on for tips you can use right now.  Does this scenario sound like you? ...

 

 Thrift Savings Plan

  • Thrift Savings Plan for All - As Social Security diminishes and pensions begin to become non-existent, those of us under fifty need to start planning for our own retirements.  Using a tax-advantaged retirement account such as an IRA or 401K is one of the best ways to save for your future retirement goals.  That sounds easy but it can really confusing choosing the best one for you.  So confusing in fact that most people put off saving for retirement until it's too late. ...

     

  • All About the Thrift Savings Plan - If you're a uniformed service member, you are eligible to help save for your retirement through the Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP — a retirement savings tool formerly open only to federal civilian employees. The TSP allows you to save a percentage of your pretax income, up to a current maximum of 15,500 per year.  Eligibility: The TSP is open to all active-duty and reserve members of the U.S. uniformed services, ...

 

  • Thrift Savings Plan - The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a Federal Government-sponsored retirement savings and investment plan. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 extended participation in the TSP, which was originally only for Federal civilian employees, to members of the uniformed services, and members began enrolling on October 9, 2001.  ......

 

  • 4 Reasons to Sign Up - Roth TSP- You may not realize it yet, but the long-delayed Roth alternative to the Thrift Savings Plan could be an exciting new addition to your retirement toolkit.

 

  • Is the TSP's new L 2050 Fund right for me? - On January 31, 2011, the TSP introduced its newest investment option:  the L 2050 Fund.  The L 2050 Fund is a part of the TSP's family of Lifecycle funds. Within the first few days of its opening, the fund had 4,500 participants for a total investment of approximately $200,000,000. The TSP Lifecycle funds (L Funds) are essentially "target date funds." ... 

 

  • Take Your Thrift Savings Plan with You - The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) gives those who serve in the military or work for the federal government the opportunity to save for retirement every payday. When your service ends, you'll need to decide what to do with the money you've saved in the TSP. Ensure your money continues working for you in the future by being informed. ...

 

 

  • The Battle of the IRAs  - Q: I'm a 44 year-old Lieutenant Commander in the Coast Guard, with about eight years until retirement from the service. My primary retirement savings is Thrift Savings Plan and I'm thinking about switching some of the retirement savings to a Roth IRA. In your estimation, does a Roth make more sense than a traditional IRA? Is there a situation where a traditional IRA becomes a better investment than a Roth IRA?

 

Money and the PCS

  • Advance Pay for a PCS - If you have PCS orders you can receive advance pay and allowances with commander’s approval. These include advances on basic pay and Basic Allowance for Housing.  Up to three months of basic pay at either the old or new duty station can help with out-of-pocket expenses, not typical of day-to-day military living.  If you can not afford a PCS expense but expect reimbursement for it after the move then an advance in pay may be what you need....

 

  • PCS Doesn’t Have to Mean “Pain in the Cash Supply” - If you’re like the 700,000 military service members who are reassigned to new locations each year, you shell out an average of $1,725 for non-reimbursable expenses.  When you combine moving costs with the difficulty of uprooting your life every few years, relocations can take a big toll. While some moving hassles are unavoidable, you can ease the financial pain of PCSing with a little advance planning. ...

  

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Retirement

  • Don't Let These 5 Myths Rain on Your Retirement Party - Do you dream of the day you can retire, but aren't sure how to get there? You're not alone. Many people find it easier to avoid reality when it comes to planning for retirement. "That can lead to big mistakes in their retirement income planning," says Zachary Gipson, vice president of retirement and wealth planning at USAA.

 

 

  • Tips for Financial Success in Retirement - You are ultimately in charge of your finances, and the results you get from working with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional are as much your responsibility as they are the planner's. These tips can help you avoid some common mistakes and get the most out of financial planning ...

 

Other Tips

  • Tips on Lending Money to Family and Friends - Here are some tips on lending money to family and friends. * Money is an emotionally charged issue that has torn apart many relationships. The NFCC offers the following suggestions when deciding whether or not to lend to a loved one:  Just like in Vegas, don't risk more than you can afford to lose.

 

 

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