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Saving money in the military is not difficult, but the key is to start saving early. Saving money and getting out of debt to stay out of debt are the two keys to becoming financially stable. It’s easy to start saving in the military, and the advice below will explain how.
Set-up recurring transfers into your savings account
The easiest way to start saving money is to set up automatic transfers to a savings account. It does not need to start big, any little bit will add up fast. To get started, set up a recurring payment of $5 each time you get paid. Monitor your savings account and see that soon you will have $20 saved, then $100, then $500, and so on.
Scheduling recurring transfers can easily be set up through the bank’s mobile app or online, and you control the transfers. Changing the amount or the frequency can be done at any time, and it can even be cancelled as easily as it was set up. If you prefer to speak to a representative, don’t hesitate to call your bank’s customer service.
Once you are feeling confident, start putting away more money. The more money you put away, the more money you will save.
Start a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), which can be started through Navy Federal or USAA
These may sound intimidating, but they are simply savings accounts that allow your money to grow over time at a higher percent than a normal savings account. The main difference between these and a normal savings account is that the money you deposit into a TSP or IRA cannot be withdrawn until retirement age (usually 59 ½ years of age) without penalty.
You determine the amount that will be contributed whether it be per military paycheck or monthly, which will allow the money to accrue over time. Before you start either, speak to a financial counselor to determine what option would be best for you. The TSP is only available for current service members, but can remain upon discharge and continue with you as a veteran. An IRA can be separate from the military. If you did not start a TSP as a service member, you can start an IRA as a veteran through your employer or bank.
Set a savings goal
You may find that you need more motivation to deliberately put money into your savings account. Admittedly, it can be hard to control instant gratification. If this is the case, choose something pricey you would like to purchase or perhaps a travel destination you would like to visit. For instance, you want a motorcycle. A used motorcycle can cost approximately $3,000-$4,000, though it can certainly cost more. A new motorcycle might cost $12,000, or more so start saving for that motorcycle!
Choosing to save for a goal rather than using a credit card for instant gratification will automatically save money because savings accounts pay interest, while purchasing with credit will cost interest. It will also save you the stress of having to pay off a debt that you may find out later that you couldn’t afford when you thought you could.
Everyday tips for saving money
Bring coffee, bring lunch. Daily coffee for $2.00 doesn’t seem like much that morning, and neither does a $3.00 energy drink that afternoon after a nice $10.00 lunch. That’s $15.00 spent just on Monday. If this is your habit everyday, that’s $75.00 just on food and drinks for your typical work week. That’s $300.00 you could have put in savings that month, not to mention what a year’s worth of $4 coffee would look like.
Get gas on base. Wherever you are stationed, most likely gas is the least expensive on base. If you happen to find a gas station that has an even better rate, go there. It really does add up – the extra $3-$5 you may be paying each time you fill up could be $20 put in your savings account that month. You can also use the free GasBuddy app to see gas prices near you and weed out overpriced stations.
Shop around. Don’t buy a new item as soon as it gets your heart racing. It might be new Under Armour workout gear or electronics, but check multiple places before making that purchase. You can probably find a better deal at another store, or online, making the delay worth the wait. Sometimes just by waiting you may also realize that the item no longer seems so attractive, allowing the wait to save you money.
If you are taking steps toward financial responsibility, using the steps above to build a financial foundation is a great start. For a more thorough explanation of personal finance, visit educational financial centers offered to military and dependents.
|Thrift Savings Plan||Savings Deposit Program|
|TSP Contribution Limits||Military Retirement Calculators|
|Financial Advice for Military Spouses||New Recruit Financial Mistakes|
Military retirement pay is intended to recognize the selfless dedication to a career in the military. While important, calculating Military retirement pay benefits depend on individual circumstances determined by the circumstances below.
Those who served in the military (Active Duty, Reserves or Guard), for a typical length of at least 20 years, will receive military retirement pay. This benefit begins immediately and is based upon a specific calculation determined by the Department of Defense. Length of service, disability percentage, year the member entered the service, and type of retirement are all factors that pertain to retirement benefits equation.
In essence, retirement pay amount can be calculated by multiplying the service member’s Retired Base Pay by the Percentage Multiplier. Retired Base Pay is configured using either Final Pay or High-3.
- Final Pay: Military who started serving before September 8, 1980 (via active duty or reserve), will receive retirement pay based on their final basic pay.
- High-3: Military who started serving after September 7, 1980 (via active duty or reserve), will receive retirement pay equaling the average of the highest 36 months of basic pay. If their time in the service accounted for less than three years, base pay would be the average monthly active duty pay during the servicemember’s length of service.
The Percentage Multiplier is accounted for by the service member’s years of service. Typically, the percentage will be 2.5% per year of service. For example, a service member who has served 20 years would be given a 50% multiplier since 20 multiplied by 2.5% equals 50%.
When accounting for time of service, DIEMS (Date of Initial Entry to Military Service) is an important factor. There are a few circumstances to note when considering DIEMS. First, DIEMS for those who joined, separated, and then rejoined the military will be based on the first date of initial military service. Secondly, the DIEMS for members who
enlisted under the delayed entry program will be the date in which they entered into the program as opposed to the date of when they reported for duty. Finally, if a person changes their status such as from reserve to active duty, DIEMS will be the initial joining date of service for the reserves.
Also, keep in mind that the years of service are calculated differently for a full time active duty service member versus a reserve service member. Retirement points are divided by 360 for those who served in the reserves. These points are converted to years of active duty service, and thus can be applied to the standard retirement pay formula.
Additional factors to consider when configuring retirement pay is Career Status Bonus/REDUX and Disability.
- CSB/REDUX: If you retired under the CSB/REDUX plan, which is an option available to active duty members who entered service on or after August 1, 1986 and includes a $30K bonus, the retired pay multiplier will be decreased by 1% of each year served. Additionally, this plan utilizes the High-36 retirement method.
- DISABILITY: Disability Retired pay is either 2% per service year OR a disability percentage assigned by the service at the time of retirement. By law, the multiplier cannot exceed 75%.
Regardless of the many factors and equations, it’s reassuring to know that military retired pay is considered one of the best and basically, the longer you serve, the higher your pay will be.
Military members are without a doubt our heroes, but it’s also important to note those serving from home. The enduring and relentless support from military sons, daughters, wives, husbands and other family members is the fuel that our top notch military members need to move forward. This is why it is essential to recognize those supporting and longing for their loved one to return home in addition to those members fighting for our country.
There are many ways we can thank our military families, such as a kind gesture or a thoughtful note, which is always appreciated. There are also two organizations in particular that pay tribute military families that are worth mentioning.
Support Military Spouses (SMS) is a wonderful non for profit organization that helps military spouses with managing finances, finding employment, balancing family life, caring for wounded warriors and honoring the memory of our fallen heroes.
The founders, Dr. Steven and Mrs. Diane Rumley created the program which assembles and distributes gift packs filled with a copy of the New Testament, pampering items, and encouraging items to the spouses of active duty members. Gifts are provided for military wives and husbands along with packages for children as well. Included in each packet is a handwritten note provided by thousands of school aged children who want to thank the spouse for their sacrifice during their loved one’s deployment.
The website is also a valuable resource for spouses, as it contains useful information including upcoming job fairs, lists of job websites tailored towards military spouses, and additional helpful tips. The primary purpose of the organization is to provide God’s direction and encouragement, and to touch the world for Christ.
Another noteworthy organization that serves military families is Hugs4Smiles USA. It provides support to any troop or family of a military member through a variety of means including care packages, sewing projects, baked goods, book drives, CD drives and DVD drives. These are a few things meant to give the service member a taste of home. It provides them with an avenue to unwind, relax, and to appreciate the kind efforts of their supporters.
Hugs4Smiles USA also facilitates an “adoption program” where individual soldiers, troops and/or family members are paired with volunteers wishing to offer their support. The volunteers correspond with the individual through letters, care packages and additional support. Volunteers can correspond with the service member or the family member one time or for an ongoing basis. Regardless of duration, service
members repeatedly note that the single most important thing to them is hearing from individuals back home that support their military efforts.
Both organizations list donation information on their websites if you would like to donate toward their cause. Regardless of the time you choose to devote volunteering or the financial amount you donate, all contributions are important when it comes to serving our nation’s heroes and those who support them.
Pets in the military life are wonderful companions because they offer friendship, loyalty, and protection. They are always eager for your arrival and are a sure way to enhance the mood of children and adults alike. In fact, pets are especially wonderful for military children and families because they offer stability and love in an ever-changing environment.
Unfortunately, there are times when caring for your pet can be quite challenging with a military lifestyle. It’s important to plan accordingly and be prepared for the many stressful situations that may arise concerning your beloved military pet from traveling with military pets, to a pcs with pets, or even events where you may have to foster military pets. The information below will help you care for your military pets as best as possible.
Pets Traveling by Land and Air
Regardless of your means of travel, it’s important to keep your pet safe and as comfortable as possible.
Driving: Be sure you know how your pet reacts when traveling by car. If your pet is not used to traveling, you can take them on a “test drive” to see if they have travel anxiety or worse, if they’re easily carsick.
For military pets who are prone to carsickness, travel with them on an empty stomach. Otherwise for carsickness or animals with anxiety, your veterinarian may be able to offer medication or other alternative methods to reduce your pet’s discomfort during their travel. This may be useful for both flying and driving.
Be sure to have your pet’s carrier, leash, other accommodations, and water readily available for your day of traveling.
Tentative Pet Packing List:
- Carrier/Traveling Cage/Kennel
- Bags for Waste
- Blankets to cover your seats from pet hair, or for them to cuddle up with for their long ride
- Treats to keep them occupied ex: dog bone
- Treats for rewarding your pets at the new destination
Keep in mind that pets such as dogs or cats may act differently in their new environment, or at a relative’s house (especially around other animals) so be prepared for unusual behaviors or messes.
Traveling by Plane: If you plan to use an airline for your pet, research is critical.
You will need to check with both the U.S. Department of Transportation and your airline to find out all policies and regulations well in advance of traveling. This will help you answer vital questions, including where your pet will be located during travel (the cabin vs. the belly of the plane) and which type of carrier or crate you will need. Some require AKC approved crates, so be sure to research early.
It’s also important to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s safety during the flight. They will be able to address safety risks and precautions based on the breed, age, and type of pet that you have. For example, it may be dangerous for certain types of pets to fly or for your pet to fly during particular seasons. Make sure you are well informed of these risks so that you may make the best decision regarding their travel. You may also be able to find this information on the airline’s website or by calling; AKC offers a list of helpful airline based information as well.
In addition, the veterinarian may be able to offer medication or alternative methods to reduce your pet’s anxiety during their travel.
Learn the Local Laws
PCS moves and transitioning out of the military are stressful regardless of whether you have a pet or not. However, having a pet certainly requires extra strategic planning.
Depending on the location of your move, laws may vary concerning your pet’s breed (or species for birds and reptilian friends), specific vaccinations and/or the need for quarantine.
A good start would be to research the area you are moving to in order to find out what restrictions or laws they have concerning your pet. There are many websites such as www.pettravel.com that offer information on animal regulations for over 240 countries.
Another vital task would be to create a collection of important documents that your pet will need when traveling to a new place or country. Pettravel.com suggests all pet owners create a pet passport for their pet, which is a collection of all identifying and required documents needed to enter a specific country. These documents are vital because Customs officials will need to view them in order to declare pets clear for travel.
If you need help locating or assembling the documents, your Veterinarian will be able to help you create a pet passport for the specific country you plan to enter. This usually includes forms completed by your vet and endorsed by the State USDA veterinarian along with your pet’s inoculation record.
Research Your New Home
You’ll need to research your new home and find out if it is compatible for not only you and the family, but for your beloved pet as well. For example, if you’re renting, make sure the landlord or housing company allows pets. If they do, how many do they allow? Do they allow your particular species or breed of animal?
Or, does the home have a fence or dog park? Are you able to install one if it’s a necessity for your pet?
These are all questions you will want to ask to ensure that your pet is not only allowed at your new home, but finds comfort and safety as well.
In Case Your Pet Can’t Travel
Unfortunately, there will be times when your new home or your means of travel will be considered unsafe or impossible for pets. In this case, you may want to consider fostering military pets with relatives or friends until your return. If these options are not available to you, consider using a foster care agency for your military pets until you can be reunited.
Luckily, organizations such as Dogs On Deployment and Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pets have been created to help in these very situations. Do your research as soon as possible to figure out the best options for your beloved military animals.
- Be conscious of the weather conditions and how it may affect your animals during and after their trip.
- Know where Veterinary clinics are in case of emergencies.
- Remember to update Microchips and ID Tags when moving.
Hopefully with careful planning and research your pet will be able to continue on your military journey with you. What a comfort it is to have your furry companion with you every step of the way!