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.
Here are 7 of the best personal finance blogs for a military audience. If you think I missed any, let me know in the comments!
The Military Wallet
Ryan Guina, who also founded Cash Money Life, served on active duty for 6.5 years in the US Air Force. He produces extremely well researched and cited articles about all kinds of topics relating to military personnel. He’s been featured in some major publications and is consistently in the Wisebread Top 100 Personal Finance Blogs. His articles on the GI Bill and free meals on Veterans Day offer practical and timely advice.
The Military Guide
Doug Nordman at The Military Guide blog has been in the military personal finance advice game for years. Doug started the blog in 2010 to market his book, The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement (not into pithy titles, Doug?). He has been a great mentor to me, helping me get my blog off the ground, letting me guest post, and answering lots of my questions! His thesis is simple: military early retirement is easy! You get an inflation protected pension, a low cost healthcare plan and the hardest part is deciding what you what to do all day. He made a lot of financial mistakes, retired in the depths of the Dot Com Bust of 2002, and still managed to thrive in early retirement. Check out his archives for some great information on military retirement.
Military Money Chica
Adrianna is the Military Money Chica (nice title!), an Air Force spouse, mother of two, founder of the Military Spouse Bloggers, and personal finance guru! She had a crash course in military PF when she arrived at RAF Mildenhall and became the head of the Personal Financial Management Program with ZERO professional training. Now she shares her knowledge with a Latina twist. She also just started Next Gen Mil Spouse, which brings the best military spouse bloggers together on one site.
Live the New Economy
Mike over at LTNE is an Army O-5 staring down the barrel of military retirement. In April 2012 Mike had over $50,000 in non-mortgage debt. Since then, he’s paid it all of completely and is now working towards paying his rental property mortgage off! We started our sites around the same time, so I feel a kind of kindred spirit with him. Mike writes about frugal living (he rides his bike to work every day), paying down debt, and creating more income streams than your DFAS paycheck.
USAA Financial Advisor Blog
As you probably know, I’m in love with USAA. Their support of the military, customer service, financial products, no fee philosophy – if I could create the perfect bank, I would just leave USAA the way it is (okay, I’d probably add a better credit card rewards program, but that’s a minor point). Scott Halliwell, a Certified Financial Planner with 20 years experience heads up the USAA Financial Advisor Blog. It’s not the easiest format to navigate, but there are always some great tips and tricks in there, some of them unique to the USAA customer. I usually find myself reading one or two of their articles when I check my bank statements once a week.
Paycheck Chronicles at Military.com
Kate at Paycheck Chronicles must know everything there is to know about DFAS, MyPay, and the military pay system. She’s very up to date on the latest pay news and covers BAH, BAS, and all kinds of military personal finance issues. Her posts are short and to the point and she has a “no holds barred” attitude towards crap like overwhelming car payments and payday loans. She also has the pleasure (or horror, depending on how you look at it) of writing the “when will I get paid?” post twice a month. Guess what? It’ll be around or before the 1st or the 15th. Guaranteed. Unless Congress can’t raise the debt ceiling/can’t pass a budget/drives over an actual cliff.
Military Money Manual
I started this site in April 2012 and have had an awesome time sharing what I’ve learned from the experts and what I’ve experienced during my active duty service. I’m excited for many more years of sharing my journey towards financial independence by age 40, using my military pay and benefits.
I wrote in my 2012 year in review that personal finance for military members is an under served market. I believe that there are many opportunities for new voices and new perspectives.
Military financial situations are often much more complicated and unique than your average civilian. It’s tough for an Air Force officer to write about pay and benefits for an enlisted Army guy. It’s not exactly repeatable nor can you relate it to a conversation one would have with their consultant from a company like NorthShore Advisory. I’m not in his situation and I haven’t personally used the specific Army programs available to him. That’s why it’s so important to have lots of people discussing and sharing their experiences.
Did I miss any other great military personal finance blogs or websites? Let me know in the comments!
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.