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How I Used My USAA Career Starter Loan

I applied for the USAA Career Starter Loan in November 2008. At the time, I was a junior in college and about 18 months from commissioning. It was quite the rush to see $25,000 deposited into my checking account. From start to finish it took about a week to complete the loan application and have the cash deposited into my USAA checking account. I moved the money into a savings account within a day or two, and then began to think about what I wanted to do with the money.

I knew I wanted to invest most of it. At 2.99% interest, I was convinced that I could use the low interest rate to profit from arbitrage. I researched for a few days and then went into action.

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How to Send Money Instantly Between USAA Members (Pay Someone Mobile App)

USAA offers many easy, cost effective, and outstanding financial products and services to military members and their families. Their mobile banking app is one of the best in the industry. They were also the first US bank to offer mobile deposits through scanners and then iPhones and Android devices. These kinds of innovations make it easy to use USAA as an “online only” bank (although I have been to their San Antonio branch and done a few transactions in person, which was a bizarre experience, having never been in a physical bank in so many years).

I recently was able to use a new feature on their mobile app: “Pay Someone.” This is an awesome financial tool and it was astounding how easily it worked. Doesn't it bother you that in the days of iPhones, wireless electricity, and Google Glasses, there is still no easy and free way to electronically send money to your friends to, say, split a bar tab or a restaurant bill? It really bugs me!

The “Pay Someone” feature is located under the Transfers/Deposits section of the USAA app. I'll walk you through my experience on an Android device:

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Should I take a military pay advance when I PCS?

For many situations, yes. Taking a pay advance when you PCS is a great way to help yourself out get ahead financially and stay out of debt while you PCS. There are many costs associated with a PCS, not all of which are reimbursed.

A pay advance is a 0% loan to your present self from your future self. You can usually get a month's pay (BAH + Basic Pay, no BAS or incentive pays usually) advanced to you (with the taxes taken out) and then pay it back over the next 12 months. It's a fairly painless process that can usually be accomplished through your online finance office or in the finance customer service area on one form. If you only take a month's pay out and repay it over 12 months, you don't even need a commander's signature: it's automatically approved.

Read moreShould I take a military pay advance when I PCS?

Should you keep student loans around for the tax advantaged interest?

I've heard from several people that they only make the minimum payments on their student loans because they have tax advantages. Basically, the interest you pay on a student loan is tax deductible, so it lowers the amount of money you can be taxed on, therefore lowering your tax burden. Shouldn’t I just keep making the minimum payments so I can claim the interest on my taxes every year? Short answer: no. Long Answer…

Read moreShould you keep student loans around for the tax advantaged interest?