After the TSP, I invest my money in Betterment and Vanguard. I track all of my investments with Personal Capital. I also wrote a short, 2 hour book summarizing this site. You can buy it here.
USAA’s 2016 “Digital Military Experience,” or #DigiMilEx as it was trending on Twitter, was an annual meeting of military affiliated personal finance bloggers, affinity groups, and USAA’s team. Held at the San Antonio Airport Hilton on the north side of San Antonio, the two day conference in October allowed for me to meet people in person that I’ve had online contact with for years. A few shoutouts to:
- Doug Nordman and Curtez Riggs from The Military Guide
- Ryan Guina from Cash Money Life and The Military Wallet
- Alexis Miller from GoMillie.com
- Phillip Taylor from PTmoney.com and FINCON (which I hope to attend in 2017 in Dallas)
- Kate Horrell from katehorrell.com and Paycheck Chronicles
- Joe Crane from Veteran on the Move podcast
- Jon Fugle from Fire and Adjust
- Jason Vitug from Phroogal
- Many folks from USAA including JJ Montanaro
We had some great keynote speakers and breakout sessions:
Austin Kleon spoke about stealing like an artist and inspired me to continue writing about military personal finance topics even if I sometimes feel like a bad parody of Mr. Money Mustache or Doug Nordman.
Rylan Tuohy showed off what you can achieve with just a little motivation and a strong work ethic but no money. His Navy spirit videos have been featured on Fox and Friends and ESPN and been viewed by millions.
Josh Ellege spoke about focusing on growing your business and serving others with your blog. His key takeaway for me was spending at least twice as much time growing my business as actually running my business. For me, that means spending more time marketing and selling my products and articles than writing. Unfortunately I haven’t been writing much recently so I need to pick it up on all fronts!
Ryan Guina showed us how to supercharge our blog income. His ideas of conducting a site audit and focusing on the top 10 performing articles motivated me to do just that. He also gave me the idea to develop the top 10 most profitable articles on my site and write more content like that.
My USAA Digital Military Experience
I took my wife with me and we tacked on some extra leave to visit Air Force friends who were stationed nearby. Total costs were $333 for two plane tickets (thanks Frontier!), $400 for 3 nights at the Hilton (special conference rate), and $40/day for dining out.
A productive trip for under $1000 that I think will pay for itself in increased blog exposure. One thing I wish I had brought was business cards! It’s funny how in the digital age a small piece of paper exchanged by hand can still be meaningful.
The speakers were motivational without being over the top. I enjoyed meeting a few of the retired, veteran, and current military financial blogger community members. It was good to see so many military affiliated bloggers and organization in the room, all of whom want to get their message and story out to military servicemembers and veterans.
USAA also had an impressive exhibition room setup on the evening of the final night at the conference. They had many of their new and innovative products on display, which I’ll cover in a post next week. It’s good to see USAA is not resting on their success since the 2008 financial crisis. They appear to still actively try to stay at the forefront of financial services for their members.
All together the USAA Digital Military Experience conference was definitely worth attending. If my schedule allows I plan to attend again next year, only this time I’ll definitely remember to bring business cards!
2 Websites I Use to Achieve Financial Independence Faster
I have investment accounts all over the place. To keep track of all of them in one place I use Personal Capital. It combines all of my accounts, shows me where I may be overpaying in fees, and provides beautiful charts showing my overall asset allocation and performance.
I use Personal Capital to track my Roth and Traditional TSP, Vanguard IRAs, banking accounts, SDP, and my Betterment taxable account, all in one place. It's free, secure and presents me with a one-stop dashboard so I can see all my money on one site.
Read my full review of Personal Capital and see how easy it can be to manage your investments in one place. Trust me, once you try it, you'll love it.
P.S. - If you have over $100,000 of assets and a 401k, you really need to run the Personal Capital 401k Fee Analyzer.
The best way I know to achieve financial independence is to keep your investments simple, diversified, automatic, and low-cost. Costs eat into your returns like you wouldn't believe! A 1% difference in expense ratios can mean $100,000s lost to fees over a lifetime of investing.
Even if you're a DIY (do-it-yourself) investor like I am, you need to check out Betterment. You can read my full review here, but the bottom line is for only $250 per $100,000 invested (0.25% expense ratio) you get simple, diversified, and automated investing. In addition every account now gets free Tax Loss Harvesting+ features, which should increase returns for the average investor more than the minuscule management fee.
If you're not a DIY investor or are just getting started with investing, then you definitely need to check out Betterment. It's what I recommend to my family and friends who aren't strong investors or don't care to learn about asset allocations, diversification, or rebalancing.