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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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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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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$5,500+ in Free Resources Through Military One Source Library

Military members have access to an incredible resource through the website www.militaryonesource.mil.  There are many valuable resources that I’ll dive into over time but today I’d like to focus on the MWR library and highlight some of the more valuable and useful resources available there.  If you were to purchase an annual subscription to just the services offered to individuals it would cost you over $5,500 per year. This doesn’t include the cost of the institutional subscriptions (EBSCO, Encyclopedia Britannica, etc) which cost schools and libraries thousands of dollars per year- most of these are available through your public library as well.  I’ve…

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Travel Hacking with the USO
Denver, CO USO

Travel Hacking with the USO

Why do we have to have 6am flights?  And why do they always have to be the cheapest?  This makes me glad, having become a morning person after half a lifetime in the military.  But my wife…not so much.  The night before I just go to go to bed at 9pm and get up at 3am to catch the flight – a solid 6 hours of sleep.   My wife’s sleep pattern has her getting tired around midnight or later – leaving 1-3 hour of sleep, and a not fun day of travel.  Enter the USO.  For those unaware, the USO (United Service Organization)…

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Military Leave benefits- PTO calculator

With my upcoming military leave for technical school (6-9 months depending on seasoning training) I’ve begun to investigate my civilian employers military leave policy (beyond the basic requirements by law).  I learned the only real benefit is I will continue to accrue paid time off PTO while I am on military leave. This is nothing to scoff at and a fantastic benefit. I had the same benefit while working for a sheriff’s office when I deployed to Iraq for 2 full years.  I returned with more PTO than what was allowed (280 hours) and had to take one day off a pay period…

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