Investing Strategies for Active Duty Military Members

active duty military memberMilitary members are accustomed to significant challenges. Combat tours, deployments, and frequent transfers are just a few of the difficulties they face on a frequent basis. Perhaps because of this stress, many military members experience significant struggle when it comes to getting ahead financially.

A recent FINRA study reveals that despite a regular paycheck, military members are struggling with significant debt. 82% of military families carry an average credit card balance of $10,000 – and it gets worse. One in four service members reports overdrawing their checking account in the last year, one in five has used a payday loan or auto title loan in the past five years, and only one in two has an emergency fund.

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What Are Municipal Bonds – Pros & Cons of Investing

nyc city hallMost investors stick with the basics and invest in long-term, tax advantaged accounts for their retirement savings, such as pension plans, annuities, 401k or 403b accounts, and traditional or Roth IRAs. All of these accounts provide significant tax benefits and enable savvy investors to keep more of their money for retirement. But for all the positives that retirement accounts have to offer, there is one glaring negative: investors are unable to access funds in these accounts prior to retirement without incurring stiff penalties.

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Early Retirement Planning: 6 Best Tax Efficient Investments

retirement arrow signEarly retirement…most of us want it, but few actually have the motivation and the know-how to get it. Just like a regular retirement, at or after age 59 1/2, retiring early requires planning and saving. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

One, you’ll have to save more money and start earlier because you’ll need your retirement funds sooner and they’ll need to last longer. Two, you’ll have to invest in more than just traditional retirement accounts such as a 401k or IRA, as these can penalize you severely for taking funds out before you turn 59 1/2.

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Zenni Optical Review – Buy Cheap Glasses Online

glasses stackIf you wear glasses or contact lenses, you know about the costs associated with ordering disposable contacts and with staying up to date and in fashion with new prescription eyeglasses. In fact, the National Association of Vision Care Plans puts the average cost of new eyeglasses at $263.00.

Most optical shops accept vision insurance, or provide discounts to members of various associations, including AAA membership discounts. Insurance and discounts typically cannot be combined with other offers, and often only reduce the total price of the glasses by 30%. With prices like that, unsurprisingly, people seek cheaper alternatives. Zenni Optical offers an affordable alternative to your neighborhood optometrist.

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Federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) – Complete Guide & Advice

us flag moneyPossibly one of the greatest benefits to U.S. government or military service is the Thrift Savings Plan. The Thrift Savings Plan (also known as the TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan offered to current employees of the military and federal government.

Since it’s a “defined contribution” retirement plan, the retirement income you receive from the TSP will depend on how much you (and your agency, if applicable) contribute during your working years, along with how well your investments perform over that time.

Though it offers numerous advantages for retirement savings, the TSP is under-appreciated and may be the most under-utilized benefit offered by the federal government.

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10 U.S. Cities Where It’s Better to Rent Than Buy a Home

now renting signAfter the real estate market deteriorated in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the prospect of renting a home vs. buying became much more attractive. In fact, this trend has been well supported by a substantial decrease in home ownership to levels not reached in decades.

To be fair, purchasing a home can still be an excellent long-term financial goal as it provides shelter for your family with the potential to build up a solid investment. That said, there remain in the United States many housing markets where renting is a cheaper proposition than buying in spite of declining home values.

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10 Best Affordable Cars for College Students

college girl student carBefore buying a new car, learn more about sensible vehicles for today’s college student. Students can save money by purchasing cars with low sticker prices, low associated insurance premiums, and minimal operating expenses.

College students can estimate costs for maintaining and driving cars by projecting the total amounts of fuel, car insurance, and other fees and expenses associated with owning a car.

To help with this important buying decision, we’ve compiled a list of 10 economical vehicles with the lowest combined sticker price, and the best miles per gallon. Students shopping for new cars should consider miscellaneous costs associated with owning a car. Miscellaneous costs vary depending upon a number of factors, including the type of car purchased, and where the student resides.

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Should Military Families & Active Duty Members Buy a House or Rent?

house flagThere is a great debate among active duty military regarding renting vs. buying a home. Because these military members may be called upon to deploy or change duty stations at any moment, numerous active duty families choose to rent. Still, others have determined that despite an unpredictable lifestyle, it is better to invest in real estate by purchasing a family home.

The decision whether to buy or rent a home following what is called a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move is highly personal, and numerous factors play into the decision. These factors include financial and career based decisions as well as practical and emotional concerns.

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What Is a Roth Federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

money boat waterThe U.S. Federal Government’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a deferred contribution retirement plan for Federal employees. The TSP is administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, an independent government agency, for the benefit of civilian Federal employees as well as active duty and reserve military members.

The TSP offers similar savings and tax benefits to a traditional 401k plan. You can contribute up to $16,500 of pre-tax income if you are under the age of 50, or $22,000 if you are 50 or older. The amount you contribute plus any matching funds deposited by the government accumulate tax-free until you withdraw funds during retirement (defined as age 59 1/2 for tax purposes). At this point, the entire withdrawal is taxed as ordinary income.

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10 High Paying Jobs for High School Graduates That Don’t Require a Degree

high school graduates groupTraditionally, attending college has been associated with increased earning power, decreased employment volatility, and long-term financial success. In fact, according to studies done by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, higher education can indeed be equated with higher earnings.

The historical success of college graduates, however, has increased the demand for higher education, which in turn has changed the face of the modern educational system. In recent years, established universities have hiked their prices considerably (i.e. average costs have increased 439% since 1982), while new for-profit institutions have arrived on the scene to meet the demand of students who may not qualify for or cannot afford entrance into traditional colleges.

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