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USAA Answers Your Insurance And Financial Questions

This was the best conference yet!

For those who are just joining us, last month I polled peoples questions about USAAs insurance and financial programs. I brought those issues to the Digital Military Experience with USAAs Communications team, other program managers, and several executives.

But first, its time for another snarkdisclosure.

FTC Affiliate Disclaimer

The Federal Trade Commission fears that Ive lost my objectivity and become a USAA fanboi.

Ive been a USAA member for 36 years along with my spouse (35 years) and our daughter & son-in-law (five years). Weve spent tens of thousands of dollars on their products.

This was my sixth visit to their San Antonio offices. (USAA offered to pay for my travel but I made my own arrangements.) I joined 30 other digital influencers in a hotel with free food, extra bandwidth, and unlimited coffee. We spent over 12 hours per day interrogating their people about programs & problems, including events not yet ready for press releases.

This website earns income from USAA advertising, and I donate all of my writing revenue to military-friendly charities.

Finally, our family has invested a meaningful portion of our net worth in Warren Buffetts Berkshire Hathaway, the parent company of the GEICO insurance corporation but our family buys its vehicle insurance from USAA.

Ive been financially independent for nearly 20 years, and USAAs generous conference has not affected that. However Ive learned a lot about optimizing your insurance expenses, and you can save hundreds of dollars on your premiums too. Youll find more links to money-saving insurance techniques in this post.

MilBlogging18 tickets are on sale now. Theyll go fast. At the very least, sign up for the mailing list and learn more over the next few months.

Those of you whove been around military social media for a while may remember the original MilBlogging of the early 2000s. The last conference was in 2012. Ticket sales began for 2013, but then the conference was canceled and everyones money was refunded. None of the organizers would talk about it. 2013 was going to be my first MilBlogging conference, and I was mightily annoyed that Id missed my opportunity.


The MilBlogging reboot

In 2016 the owner of The-Military-Guide, Curtez Riggs, mentioned that he was restarting the conference. He bought the domain name and other accounts from the former owner. We may never know what stopped the original gatherings, but USAA immediately stepped up to help sponsor the new Military Influencer conference.

Curtez set a break-even sales goal of 150 tickets. Over 250 entrepreneurs showed up from all types of blogging, military media, and startups. (Nearly half of the attendees were military spouses.) Appropriately, we kicked off the conference the evening before with a social at Honor Courage Commitments new Veteran Business Center. I had a chance to talk with their execs, a board member, and a few of the vets who were going through their entrepreneurs programs. Over 200,000 servicemembers (and their families) transition out of the military every year, and HCC is doing a great job of helping them find their way.

Tricky Details Of The Military Blended Retirement System



I really wanted to use the titles Hidden Secrets Of The BRS!! or Shocking Urban Legends Of The BRS Revealed #4 Is Jaw-dropping!!

But this is a serious life-changing decision.

Ive had a ton of reader BRS questions and feedback. The good news is that a group of us military personal-finance bloggers have tracked down the answers with the Department of Defense.

This post is going to dig into those details. Theres also a little tough love here for those who have not had the training.

Hint: go get the training.


Teach yourself about the Blended Retirement System

If you dont know about the BRS yet, then go find out. Stop waiting on the military to explain it. Dont depend on your friends or fellow servicemembers who claim Weve heard that

The opt-in period for the militarys Blended Retirement System begins on 1 January 2018. Youre eligible to opt in if you have less than 12 years of service before then. (Reserves and National Guard members must have less than 4320 points.) You have all of 2018 to opt in, but you should make up your mind now. All of the info you need has been published.

If you opt in during the first half of January and contribute at least 5% of your base pay to your Thrift Savings Plan account, then DoD will also start contributing 5% in January.

The longer you wait to do the math, the more you could lose. Theres enough information now to make the decision on 1 January. Stop putting it off.

I got the chance to interview Everett, who is active at Military Spouse Central, about his experiences as a military husband. After hearing his story, it became clear that military and civilian readers alike can perhaps gain a new perspective about what it means to be a military spouse.

635 Views | 24 Likes

image for The Unsung Hero - the male military spouse

The Unsung Hero - the male military spouse

FORT STEWART -- The quintessential Army spouse is female and, according to the Army Wife's Creed, is charged with upholding certain standards for her husband, yet, in one particular Army household, the roles are reversed. 

This role reversal sometimes leaves Family Member and Army husband, Jajonelle Dejarnette, a recreational aid and CrossFit guru at Fort Stewart's Jordan Gym, in flux. 

629 Views | 8 Likes

image for PTSD study seeks male military spouses

PTSD study seeks male military spouses

Researchers at George Mason University hope an ongoing study into the effects of post-traumatic stress on soldiers' home lives will yield more ways the Army can address the issue — and not just for one type of family unit.

About 15 spots in the study are open for male spouses or partners of female soldiers in the active Army, the National Guard or the Army Reserve who have exhibited symptoms of PTSD. An official diagnosis of the disorder is not required for a family member to participate, lead researcher Keith Renshaw said.


788 Views | 34 Likes

image for Sincerely, Left Behind Male Spouse

Sincerely, Left Behind Male Spouse

Dear Mindy,

I am not sure what to do. I am the very rare and hardly noticed male military spouse. I feel like I don't fit in anywhere. My wife is always being invited to both military member events and spouse events because they mistake her for the actual dependent. I feel like I have lost myself within a world that does not yet accept male spouses. I love my wife and I love the military life, but how do I work on getting people to understand that I go through the exact same problems as female spouses?


Left Behind Male Spouse

559 Views | 9 Likes

image for How to Overcome the Challenges of Being a Male Military Spouse

How to Overcome the Challenges of Being a Male Military Spouse

My name is Scott Stanley and I'm a research professor in the psychology department at the University of Denver and I've worked with military families, especially through the Chaplain Corps for about 20 years now and I'm also the principal investigator of a large study that's going on right now following many married couples in the Army to see how things go over time.

659 Views | 26 Likes

image for 9 Tips for New Military Spouses to Ensure You Receive Your Benefits

9 Tips for New Military Spouses to Ensure You Receive Your Benefits

Military life can be an exciting adventure, as long as you're prepared. Here are some tips to help you begin your new life as part of the military community.


620 Views | 31 Likes

image for I Was A Real Man

I Was A Real Man's Man!

Prior to my wife's enlistment in the Army, I was a real man's man. For the better part of a decade, I put on my boots every morning before getting in a hot, smelly work truck in Florida–a loud and beefed up 1984 F-150 pulling a lawn trailer. I was self-employed; my days were spent inhaling the exhaust of lawn equipment or enjoying the smell of fresh dirt while I planted trees and shrubs, or laid down sod.  When I wasn't working or spending time with my family, I fished, played poker, bowled, and did all sorts of other fellowship things with other men. I even camped alone in the wilderness. My life was filled with all kinds of manly activities. 

When she shipped out to boot camp, I became a military spouse, and everything I thought I knew about life changed. And that change was drastic.  In March of 2010 I was Wayne “Doughboy” Perry, just your average landscaper running a weed-whacker and pushing a wheelbarrow.  By October 2012, I was Wayne Perry, AKA TheArmyWife(DUDE), speaking at the Association of the United States Army(AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition as a voice for male military spouses.


616 Views | 20 Likes

image for Life As a Male Military Spouse

Life As a Male Military Spouse

Whether you're a former service member or you're new to military life, being the male spouse of a service member can take some getting used to. There are some situations you'll likely face that could put a stress on your marriage. You can help keep your marriage strong by learning about these situations you may face, preparing for them, recognizing when you need help and knowing the resources available to you.

703 Views | 21 Likes

image for Male military spouses do much more than mow lawns

Male military spouses do much more than mow lawns

SAN ANTONIO (May 6, 2015) -- "We can do more than change light bulbs and mow lawns," said Dave Etter. 

Etter is a part of a small group in the military community -- the male military spouse. According to a 2013 Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense report, males made up 7.3 percent of the Active Duty spouse population.

Male spouses have voiced their concerns about what it is like to be in the minority. 

540 Views | 17 Likes

image for Husband of major at JBSA-Randolph is lone male in 2014 military spouse contest

Husband of major at JBSA-Randolph is lone male in 2014 military spouse contest

When Chris Pape jumped in his car in January 2011 and began driving around the country, little did he know that his inaugural idea for a website would eventually help change the lives of the people he's most familiar with — male military spouses, and their wives who help defend this country.

Pape and his wife, Maj. Dana Pape, are stationed at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. Chris was selected as one of six active duty military members' spouses — and the only male — competing for the 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year award, presented by Military Spouse magazine.



523 Views | 27 Likes