The Veterans Budget This Holiday Season

7 BEST WAYS TO SAVE MONEY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

It’s November, and it’s beginning to look a lot like Holiday Season already, but we have got just the right holiday shopping tips for you.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah and New Year, the holiday season is really long! And once it starts we get in a seemingly never-ending cycle of gift shopping, dinner hosting, house decorating, and whatnot.

After retiring from the military, you now have enough time to plan and participate in the festivities, and it is easy to go a little overboard. And if you ask us, we would say you deserve to go the extra mile and have MORE!

When we say MORE, we mean more family time, more scrumptious dinner, more love, and more fun. We, however, do not mean more money, more expenses, and more debts.

If you are planning for your shopping, these holiday spending tips for veterans will help you keep track of your expenses.

1. MAKE A DETAILED BUDGET:

Well, that’s a given. The first step to watch your expenses is to make a budget before you start spending. But what should your holiday budget look like?

Here are some budgeting tips you could use:

  • Think of everything, and add your essential monthly expenses to it. This includes your mortgage, utilities, groceries, memberships, subscriptions, health, and entertainment.
  • Now look at what you are left with, and set aside an amount that you will be spending this season.
  • Now make a rough plan, and divide the amount for certain special expenses like gifting, dinner, preparation, etc.
  • Once you have the basic layout, make a detailed plan and try to stay within budget.
  • Chances are you are going to need more. But give yourself a target and stay within it, add a few hundred bucks for extra Knick-knacks.

2. COUNT THE LITTLE EXTRAS:

Now, this is very important. So many people ask us why their budget fails. Even when you don’t spend a penny above your designated holiday budget, you still end up spending way more.

Why does that happen?

Well, a big mistake a lot of people make when planning a budget is that they forget the small, seemingly ‘harmless’ expenses. Therefore, think of everything, the postage stamps, the wrapping papers, the extra decorations, your new dress, haircut, and gas for your road trips. While you are at it, keep in mind the Starbucks coffee on each shopping trip, or the last-minute take out in case of a dinner disaster.

Budgeting can be boring, but you should focus on saving your financial resources for getting a stable life in your new house. These holiday shopping tips can end up putting a dent in your budget. So, include them when setting up your holiday budget.

3. STICK TO THE PLAN:

Now that you have set a budget, and smartly included even the smallest things, the new challenge is to stick to the budget. Trust us, it’s not easy! When you are in the shopping aisle deciding the gift you are going to get for a friend, you may feel tempted to go a little above your budget. Why not? It’s just one thing. And before you know, the whole thing is already out of your hands.

That’s why we stressed so much about setting the right budget. Because once you have made it, make it your Bible, and don’t let go! Look at the bigger budget. Especially as a retired veteran, you should be more focused on spending the money where it matters the most, your business or veteran retirement home.

4. SEND E-CARDS:

Enough talking about the budget, let’s get to some serious saving tips now. Sending cards is a tradition we love the most. We look forward to sending and receiving cards each year. But here’s the thing, you can save a lot of cost of buying cards, and posting them each year by sending e-cards. You may even find free e-cards online, or websites that allow you to make a customized card for free or very low cost.

5. REALISTIC ‘SANTA LIST’:

You set a budget for gifts, but your favorite grand-daughter wants the big dollhouse. We know how helpless we get around those little ones, but stay strong. There can be a lot of times when you can splurge on a toy. A holiday season may not be the right time to do that essentially.

Ask your kids or grand-kids to make a realistic wish list. This will teach them the value of money. And on Christmas morning, when they rip the wrapping paper, they will be as happy to receive a doll as they will be with the newest tech gadget.
You can also choose to do the ‘secret Santa’ thing, so everyone can pick one or two people to buy a gift for.

6. PLAN A POTLUCK:

Getting the whole family, and your loved friends on a dinner table are what we all live for. But preparing dinner, and throwing a party can be expensive. Plan a potluck instead. Tell your guests that you will be making the main dish, and let others pitch in.

You will feel a lot relaxed when someone else will be taking care of the side dish, appetizer, drinks, desserts, and maybe disposable plates and cutlery.
It will save you time, and money. You will enjoy the festivity more, and your guests will also feel like a part of the whole party.

7. MAKE NEW TRADITIONS:

Remember the whole idea of the holiday season is to give everyone a reason to be together. Focus more on that reason, than the season. Instead of spending too much on traditions, go with something basic and fun. Something you all can do together, and enjoy.

Set a projector outdoors, and snuggle together to watch a favorite family movie with popcorns and drinks.

Take a road trip to a beautiful place, and do a potluck picnic. Cook on the spot and enjoy little disasters.

Watch a season special play together. Book theatre seats ahead, sit together and enjoy.
Whatever you choose to do, make it special with love. And each year, you and your family will look forward to it.

Final Word:

We hope these holiday shopping tips will help you when shopping for the holiday season. In the end, always remember to give more value to effort, love, and togetherness that is the essence of the holiday season. Budgeting tips will not only help you avoid over-spending, but they will also keep you focused on your target whatever it is. Money is important for a convenient life, but in the festive season, it’s the love and affection that counts. A simple thing that is done together or a nice meal shared with the loved ones will make you look forward to holidays every year.

Veterans Benefits

10 VALUABLE VETERANS BENEFITS YOU SIMPLY CAN’T AFFORD TO MISS OUT ON

As a military member, you may already know about veteran benefits, but we are sure you aren’t familiar with some hidden perks that you could get as a veteran. After dedicating your life to the country, you deserve every benefit that comes your way.

You may know already that you are entitled to Tricare health, GI Bill educational benefits and VA home loans that are available to veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs. But there are a lot of other considerable benefits for the retired veteran. And when you have just retired, and are settling in a new routine, every bit counts.

We have skimmed some of the best military benefits to add some convenience to your lives and the lives of your loved ones.

1. Transferable GI Bill:

You may already know that servicemen and veterans are eligible to have higher educational benefits. A veteran can use these benefits until 15 years after his service. But in case you don’t use these military benefits for yourself, you can also transfer your unused credits to your spouses and dependents. Although, there might be some service limitations required to execute the transfer.

2. VA Mortgage Assistance:

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers repayment assistance to retired military members who are having trouble paying their mortgage. If you are having trouble to pay the mortgage for your veteran retirement home, stop worrying. This added assistance can be used to start a special repayment plan or allow loan leniency, and loan modification plans. There can be many plans to help you get resources and funds for buying your retirement house.
Also, you must know that you are eligible to receive a veteran retirement home. You can learn more about the financial details here.

3. Certification Programs

GI Bill offers financial assistance for achieving higher education, and a degree. But you can also do certification courses or take vocational training. The GI Bill will pay up to $2000 towards your training and certification. These days, when digital marketing and freelancing has opened new doors for everyone, you can take certification courses and start a new career easily.
This could be ideal for you if you want to start a career that doesn’t require a degree. You can also acquire new skills through training and start earning.

4. VA Foreclosures

If a house serviced by VA loans goes into foreclosure, the VA will add its details to a list. Anybody can have access to this list of VA acquired properties. But as a retired veteran, you can not only have access to the list, but you will also be eligible for substantial discounts. Moreover, a VA foreclosure property also qualifies for VA financing.

5. American Corporate Partners

After retirement, most veterans want to start a career. American Corporate Partners provides benefits for the retired veteran. It will connect you to the top-ranking companies in the US. Not only that, but you can also enjoy the added military benefits of professional mentoring and vocational training.

This can prove extremely useful for veterans since it can help you push-start your career.

6. Death and Burial Benefits

As a veteran, you have served your country with all your might. When a veteran dies, he should have a dignified funeral with the acknowledgment and admiration that he deserves. In the case of the unfortunate event of demise, the members of the veteran’s family will be eligible for some VA benefits.

The family of the deceased veteran can request a US flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate to bury their heroes with the honor that they are worthy of. VA can also send free headstones on request.

7. Life insurance

If you sustained an injury during service, it may be difficult to get traditional life insurance. Some veterans benefits can help you receive a substantial amount for life insurance.
The Servicemembers’ and Veterans Group Life Insurance Program can pay up to $400,000 towards life insurance. When you choose life insurance that is specialized to assist military members, you can avoid a lot of troubles and complications to adjust a regular insurance plan to your unique situation.

8. Free Tax Preparation

Volunteer Income Assistance Programs allow veterans and their family members the military benefits of getting free help for preparing Tax. The offices of VIA are located on most military bases. The volunteers are highly skilled and capable to help retired veterans deal with complicated tax issues.

9. Long-Term Care

It can be very expensive to get long-term care, and most veterans cannot afford it with their regular insurance. The Aid and Attendance Program assists retired veterans to get coverage for long-term services, and nursing homes. The program facilitates veterans by providing extra VA benefits.
Overall, it pays about $25000 for veterans. Another great perk is that this money is tax-free. The program also pays to cover for long-term care costs of surviving spouses of veterans.

10. Small Benefits

  • You may be aware that Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aid. Therefore, to make your life easier, VA insurance provides fully-covered hearing aids for eligible veterans.
  • CHAMPVA, VA’s Civilian Health and Medical Program, provides health insurance for the spouses and dependents of disabled veterans. This doesn’t require any premiums.
  • Veteran-Directed Care Program offers special military benefits to veterans who may need assistance at home. You can receive up to $2000 a month to pay helpers and aides.

Final Word:

As a retired military member, you may be eligible for more veteran benefits than you realize. The best way to unlock the hidden perks is to research, we have found some of the best military benefits for both you and your family. Don’t hesitate to check your eligibility for these benefits. Remember, after years of service you deserve all the benefits that come your way.

Best Banks for Veterans

You and your family can benefit greatly by choosing the best banks for veterans. Military members have unique banking needs. They need to relocate frequently, work irregular hours, travel overseas, and work from multiple locations.

A regular bank cannot facilitate veterans as best as military banks.

Most commercial banks are now offering great packages to assist service members and veterans. But a military bank can offer more understanding and specialized services for military personnel and their families.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST BANKS FOR VETERANS?

Both military banks and credit unions provide banking services for veterans. More than 200 financial institutions are serving the members of the military. Here are a few factors that can help you choose the one that is perfect for you.

    • Account options
    • Low fees
    • Competitive interest rates
    • Free ATMs
    • ATM refunds
    • Remote check deposits
    • Easy accessibility
    • Flexibility
    • Commitment to military duty
    • Additional Features

As a retired veteran, we recommend choosing a financial institution that is duly dedicated to serving military members and offers competitive interest rates, and insurance products. It is a great idea to look for one that can proffer great loans for veterans retirement home.

The ultimate goal of retiring veterans is to get good housing to call home. And after serving our country with your sweat and blood, you certainly derive that. A good military financial institution will help you in saving money with better interest rates, facilitate you with their investment tools, and ultimately help you in getting your retirement home.

Learn More about the Financial resources at the Armed Forces Retirement Homes.

BEST MILITARY FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS:

Based on these criteria, we have chosen the best banks for veterans for you.

1. USAA

USAA has been serving military members and their families for ages. USAA offers comprehensive financial products and services for active and retired members of the military. Veterans at home, and on the move can benefit from their online banking options and a network of more than 65000 ATMs.

USAA is one of the best banks for veterans as it has no fee for classic and savings accounts. The APY ranges from 0.09% to 0.15% for the savings account. In addition to access to free ATMs, you also get $15 towards monthly ATM reimbursement.

USAA has only four locations in the US. It is, therefore, better for those who prefer online banking. The military bank’s website has some effective online tools to let you learn about saving money, like Investment calculators, In-house mutual funds, and Money Manager, to help you make wise investments. USAA offers the most comprehensive insurance products including auto, home, rental property, renter, flood, small business, RV, boat, motorcycle, etc.

Final Word: USAA offers all-inclusive banking, insurance and investment solution for military members and their families. Their online website and mobile apps make it convenient for veterans on the move, to manage their accounts, and to playbills online.

2. NAVY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION

Navy Federal Credit Union is the most widely spread military bank in the US. It has more than 200 physical branches serving veterans and their families.

The military bank offers free checking with no minimum balance required. You can use their banking services conveniently through an online website, mobile app, and vastly spread ATMs. They also give free replacement checks and reimburse for $20 monthly for using non-network ATMs.

If you live near an NFCU branch, this could be the best military back for you. You can benefit from their financial advice and use their effective online tools. NFCU has competitive loan products that cover auto, home, personal and VA loans. Other added benefits are high rates for savings certificates. Also, NFCU offers 0.25% APY on basic savings.

Final Word: With over 8 million members, NFCU is certainly one of the best banks for veterans. Its goal is to serve those who serve the country. You can benefit from their no-fee checking, high profit for savings certificates, and great VA loan packages.

3. PENTAGON CREDIT UNION

Pentagon Federal Credit Union is a great military bank for veterans. They offer the most competitive interest rates. They have the largest network of ATMs among other financial institutions.

PenFed offers free checking. The APY is 0.05% on the basic savings account, and 2.00% on the online savings account. You can use the free ATMs with a basic account, however, this is not an option with an online account. There are no fees for both accounts, and you can open with as low as $5.

PenFed’s money market certificates have a competitive APY of 1.9%. This is great for those who are looking to enhance ways for saving money. PenFed also facilitates non-military members who are government agents or make a donation for non-profit groups serving military members.
A big drawback of PenFed is that it charges you $30 overdraft fees if your funds are insufficient at the time of a transaction. Also, you cannot know much you might end up paying as they can charge multiple times in a day.

You can use their online website to pay bills online. Their website also offers some free tools and calculators that can come handy when planning a financial investment.

Final Word: With 68000 free ATMs, PenFed is one of the best banks for veterans. It offers great savings and competitive APY rates for the online savings account and share certificates.

HEAD TO HEAD COMPARISON

CONCLUSION:

Military members and their families have unique banking needs, therefore it can be a little overwhelming to look at the best banks for veterans. Choose a bank that provides you with tools and resources to make wise financial investments.

Especially for veterans, it is important that you choose a military bank that is dedicated to serving both serving and retired members of the military.

We hope this article will help you in choosing the best military bank for you.