Get Up To $3,000 Per Year in State Military Benefits

Most state governments offer military benefits in addition to those offered by the federal government.  I live in Minnesota and recently learned I can use the MN GI Bill benefits in addition to my federal GI Bill.  One feature of this is up to $3,000 a year in reimbursement for licenses, certificates, and admission tests (like the GRE).  More details can be found here: https://mn.gov/mdva/resources/education/minnesotagibill/ I recently completed an online written exam to earn my Lean Six Sigma Black belt through www.IASSC.com.  The black belt test is $395 and I opted to take the practice exam for an additional $89.  After passing the…

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Optimal Road Trip Planning

If you’re like me, planning your travel is nearly as enjoyable as actually travelling.  I probably spend one hour planning per day of planned travel.  There is a spectrum of planning from 0 (loudly proclaiming “fuck it”, hopping in your car and heading west) to “We’ll visit the museum from 2:36 to 3:18, it’s a 6 minute walk to the restaurant, leaving us 14 minutes to eat before our reservations at….).  Somewhere between the two is to optimal amount of planning.  There is also an optimal balance between joy that comes from the anticipation of the trip (and the activities you have planned)…

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Retirement Series Part 2: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

One weekend a month…for 20 years.  That’s 25% of my weekends for over half of my life…for my entire adult life.  All of the extra weeks, summers, years away from my friends and family.  Missed occasions and opportunities.  Never being able to experience the raw power of a mullet.  I finally have the chance to walk away with my retirement benefits earned, yet I’ve decided to keep going.  Perhaps like the character Brooks from the Shawshank Redemption I’ve become institutionalized and fear having to fill all of those weekends with fun and relaxation.  I’m not going to get into that, but I’ll discuss…

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Opportunity Cost of Military Orders

For most of my Reserves career I operated on the assumption that TDY orders (Temporary Duty Y’all) meant making bank.  In the past few years in my civilian career I started to earn a decent salary and my assumption switched to “I’m going to lose money on these orders” – or there will be a financial opportunity cost to taking orders.  The simple answer would be to compare my civilian pay stub against my military pay stub and compare. That wouldn’t be any fun and there are some intricacies that I would miss so I thought about this a little deeper.  I don’t…

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The Retirement Decision Series Part A: The First 20 Years of Military Service
Summarizes Iraq pretty well

The Retirement Decision Series Part A: The First 20 Years of Military Service

 Today marks the official end of my 20th year of military service.  For anyone in the military this is a monumental occasion as it marks the earning of retirement benefits, most notably for Reservists is retirement pay beginning at age 60.  I’d like to mark this occasion with a Charles Dickensesque 3 part series looking back at my career, making the decision to stay or get out, and (spoiler alert - I’m staying) what my intentions for the next 0-13 years are (until I have had enough or hit mandatory retirement at age 50). I’m going to start off with a look back…

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American Express Platinum for Military

I’m finally going there as a financial blogger (sorta) – I’m going to talk about a credit card.  I know there are a million other sites who will review and talk about credit cards better than I will and I’m not going to review every one I open.  However, this one is pertinent to those of you who are in the military and reservists in particular.  This week I applied for and was approved for the American Express Platinum card!  If you’re new to this scene it’s the elite travel card with tons of benefits….and a $550 annual fee.  That fee, however, is…

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Optimize your time with RSS feeds

If you’re reading this, I’ll assume you follow multiple blogs like me.  You might also have a daily habit of clicking through multiple websites to see if they posted anything new today.  Some time ago I found a way to optimize this process called RSS feeds.  An RSS feed grabs any new content posted to your favorite blogs and websites and puts them in one place.  I have been using a popular one called Feedly for a couple of years.  It’s very handy to only have to go to one website and get updated on all of the blogs I follow.  I’m not…

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PICK Chart – A Decision Making Tool

I recently decided to sell my rental property prior to a 6-month set of orders with the Air Force that would take me from Minnesota to Texas.  I decided to get out of the long-distance land lording business while the market seemed good. I gave myself a month to prep it for sale (so much needed after 7 years of renting it out).  Well, in true military fashion, the Air Force moved my start date up by 2 weeks and gave me 10 days’ notice (actually they didn’t tell me, I just happened to find out, but that’s a story for another day). …

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Optimizing the Air Force Fitness test

At the start of every Air Force fitness test you see any number of airmen nervously looking over the scorecards to ensure they know the minimum number they need to pass in the next up category.  Meanwhile I’m looking at it thinking how stupid it is that I have to go from 52 to 57 pushups in a minute just to get that last half point to take me from a 99.5 to 100.  Because I am who I am, I broke it down into a spreadsheet for you below.  I’ve only scratched my own itch and completed it for my age/gender.  If…

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