It’s been a few months since I’ve put up a link summary about financial independence or military retirement, but these are worth the wait. I’m subscribed to nearly 100 blogs in my Google Reader and I see 40-50 posts per day there. Add in Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin and I’m probably scanning a couple hundred daily links. I could retransmit each & every one of them but… you’re already reading enough. I’d rather save this type of post for the unique achievements, the important subjects, or the things you won’t see elsewhere.
USAA’s mobile app
With those priorities in mind, I’ll lead with USAA’s app. They have over nine million members of their vehicle & property insurance business (“All who have served honorably, and their families”) but anyone can join USAA for their financial products. Out of those groups, over five million users have downloaded the mobile app– and nearly two million of those downloads happened in 2012.
Here’s an update on their latest features:
- USAA’s mobile app is the No.1 app in the insurance category (says Key Lime Interactive).
- USAA members made 13.3 million deposits via Deposit@Mobile totaling $7.4 billion in 2012; both up more than 70 percent over 2011. Since inception in 2009, more than 24.6 million deposits have been made totaling $13.8 billion.
- “Animate accident” app launched on iPad in November 2012 enabling members to explain and add narration of their accident using animation and voice capture technology during the claims process. (This is also great for parties and sea story reconstruction…)
- Industry firsts – the ability to apply for life insurance and open a new deposit account became available via mobile in December 2012. Other products now available through mobile include auto insurance, auto loans, renters insurance, valuable personal property insurance, and credit cards.
- New Investment Center capabilities launched in mid-August giving members the ability to trade stocks/ETFs, mutual funds, and purchase USAA CDs all on mobile. After inception, the average quotes increased from 3,000 to 80,000 per week, and nearly 23,000 new watchlists were created.
Yeah, I know, every business (and their dog) has a mobile app. However USAA holds a number of the original patents on scan-deposit tech, and they’ve led the initiative for nearly four years. USAA is becoming my fallback when other financial services fail me (are you listening, PenFed? NFCU? FIA Card Services?). It might be considered risky to put all your services in one Google basket, but these days USAA seems to be running the most reliable basket.
Learn more about USAA’s mobile tools, or text “mobile” to MyUSAA.
I’ve added this link to the blogroll. SargesList recently celebrated their second birthday, and the website is growing even while the military is downsizing. They’re about to hit critical mass, and soon everyone you know will be using them.
They’re “trusted military classifieds”, but the name looks familiar because they’re Craigslist for military: one-stop global shopping for military-friendly buying & selling. The service is brought to you by the same group who developed AHRN.com. (That’s an awesome tenant-finding tool for all landlords, and a great way for military to find a rental. Your military base housing office probably shows AHRN to you right after they put you on the base housing waiting list.) Anyone can use SargesList, whether you’re with the military or not, but listings from .mil addresses are highlighted with the SargesList logo to help servicemembers find each other.
You already know how to use their classifieds, and now you can use it to see what’s available at your next duty station. You should also download their free PCS guide whenever you’re up for orders.
The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Day-to-Day Finances
I spend a lot of time with Jason Hull’s blog, and I tremendously enjoy his insights on the psychological aspects of behavioral finance– or, as he frames it, “Monkey Brain“. We’d like to think that we’re all coolly rational grownups who act logically in our own financial best interests: Warren Buffetts with Vulcan ears. Unfortunately the human reality is that we’re ambushed by emotions, testosterone poisoning hormones, heuristics, and the immediate gratification of every shiny object that interrupts our… sorry, what was I writing about?
Oh, good point. Here’s an example: read why credit card debt may be related to drug addiction.
But the real reason I’m writing about Hull Financial Planning is Jason’s Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Day-to-Day Finances. It’s one blog post filled with links for handling every aspect of your financial & personal life. (And I’m not just saying that because “The Military Guide” made the cut.) Beyond eliminating debt and controlling credit cards, he digs into the resources for: banking, your personal property, your home, negotiating discounts & coupons, men’s health, military personal finance, and even ditching cable TV. You could spend your entire weekend reading it (hey, it’s almost Aloha Friday, you deserve a break) but use it as a reference. Scan the topics and dig into the parts that interest you. Save the rest for the next time you’re grappling with a financial issue.
Ignore these reasons to avoid buying stocks
The New York Times is not exactly world-renowned for their stock-market advice, but Paul Sullivan’s “Wealth Matters” article explains why this time it’s really different. (Thanks to reader Jay for providing the link!) My snarky cynicism aside, the stock market’s recent highs really aren’t as high as they look. It’s been over five years since the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 14,000, but if the 2007 high was adjusted for inflation then today it’d have to reach nearly 15,600. This time corporate profits are higher, and companies have far more cash than leverage. I recommend that investors dollar-cost average or value-average into the market and put it on autopilot, but if you’ve been getting nervous about selling out then I’d take comfort from Sullivan’s analysis. Rebalance if you need to, but don’t try to time this one by selling out. My spouse and I have hung on to our asset allocation through over a decade of retirement, including two recessions (which has made for some very interesting conversations around our house), and we’re staying invested with this market. Especially Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
I’d like to highlight a comment from retired Marine Rob Aeschbach, who incidentally has a great guest post coming up next Wednesday.
Here’s a link for a variety of USMC Reserve billets (long and short term) to help pay the bills, make up for being laid off, or fill in time between semesters.
My favorite one is the annual air show in Kaneohe Bay. They want grunts, engineers, and MPs for security and set-up/take-down. As I used to say to the IRR Marines: “Take out your earrings, get a haircut, put on your cammies, and get three weeks’ pay to go to Hawaii. What’s the downside?”
If you’re a personal-finance blogger who wants to help Planwise test their latest cool feature, then contact me and I’ll pass your name to them. They’re seeking partners as well, and this next tool is going to significantly raise their visibility.
Military Saves Week 2013
And last but definitely not least, Military Saves Week is almost over! Take a look at these two tools:
Automatically transfer a portion of your pay to a savings account every paycheck, and watch your savings grow! http://bit.ly/WpaJQm #MSW 2013
C’mon, do you want to work forever? Try the Ballpark E$timate.
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USAA’s retirement planner and financial goal-planning tools
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