The Military Guide


Bloggers at the USAA Blogger Event


Let me tell you about the other bloggers I’ve met. Due to their awesomeness and the number of words each one merits, this is probably going to be a two-part post today and next Thursday.  Take your time this weekend to enjoy their sites with a cup of coffee or perhaps a frosty beverage.

The USAA Blogger Event made us bloggers feel that our professional reputations were on the line. (We’re not hyper-competitive, right? Sure.) We had to communicate better than the average writer. We had already begun to get acquainted with each other because USAA set us up on a private Facebook group and gave us logins to their Publishers Community website. A few of the bloggers had attended last year’s event, so we weren’t all total strangers. But we were at the event to ask the hard questions, to explain our readers’ problems, and to bring back the message.

The interesting thing is that we all heard the same words from the speakers (and most of us were listening!), yet we all had a dozen different interpretations. I found it hard to get interested in the subject of business checking (perhaps because I don’t have a business), yet it’s extremely important to many military spouses. I got pretty excited about USAA’s financial & retirement calculators, but I could see a lot of glazed eyeballs in the room. (“Hey, Nords, how ’bout shutting up so we can get through the rest of the speakers and move on to the Paesano’s dinner?”) No problem, I had a chance to follow up on my personal questions with everyone who spoke at the event.

There are many different paths to financial independence and retirement.  It takes many different blogs.  Some of us will plow through all the relevant literature, find a discussion board of like-minded analytical thinkers, and chart our own course. Others would rather have the whole subject packaged into a few neat paragraphs so that they could choose their options, much like the menu at a buffet restaurant. A few of us would prefer to pay someone to guide us through the retirement problem until we reach the goal.

I’d like to think that you could learn everything you need from this blog, but everyone has different learning styles. If you’re not a ponytailed middle-aged highly analytical introverted surfer, then perhaps the way I present the information here doesn’t quite do it for you. I also get a lot of my information from other blogs and websites, so if they’re helping me then they might help you too. Some of the people I met at the blogger event have completely different blogging styles than me, and they may resonate with you. Besides, we all need to read about the funny and snarky aspects of the process– hopefully from funny & snarky bloggers.


So here are a few more sources of personal-finance wisdom. One of the easiest ways to connect to the people and blogs that I’m listing below is to browse through my Twitter list (@TheMilitaryGuid) of people I’m following. I think I’ve mentioned everyone, but please let me know if I’ve missed someone.  These names are in alphabetical order, although some names may have been changed to protect the images of those with superhero avatars. (Guys, if I’ve said something wrong or left something out, please correct me and I’ll make the words right.) If you readers have already found these bloggers on your own, please tell us what you like best about their work!

Katie Bryan manages America Saves, including the military version at Military Saves.  It’s a great morale-booster with stories of successful families eliminating debt and building wealth. The site also links to each military service’s financial-education websites and other programs.  I’ll be following up their post on retirement calculators with one of my own.

Tara Crooks is cofounder of Army Wife Network.  She’s the producer of Army Wife Talk Radio, now in its sixth year of Internet broadcasting. Tara also tours with her speaking program “Field Exercises”, and blogs about money matters for USAA’s spouse community. Different learning & communications styles? She has this part covered.

Ryan Guina created the CashMoneyLife  and TheMilitaryWallet  blogs, both of which I’ve researched for financial posts. In addition to military personal finance topics, he has an especially good series on the details of the TSP. He’s also USAA’s June 2011 Military Blogger of the Month.

Briana Hartzell is the PCS Military Spouse community manager at USAA.  The Navy has gone out of its way to make her an expert on moving to new duty stations, and she’s collecting the permanent-change-of-station experience of all USAA’s members.

You probably know Kate Kashman from the Paycheck Chronicles at What you might not know is that she does it as the spouse of an active-duty Navy servicemember while she’s stationed overseas. If you have a pay question, no matter how obscure, Kate knows where to find the answer. She’s USAA’s July 2011 Military Blogger of the Month.

Terry Howell is the legendary Military Advantage blogger and the current author of The Military Advantage”(“Military Advantage” is the best benefits guide available.  Ever.) USAA’s conference finally gave me a chance to personally thank Terry for all the help his book has given me over the years, both in my own finances and in writing “The Military Guide”. He’s a military retiree too, and he’s willing to slog through piles of Congressional testimony and press releases to distill the week’s latest military-benefits crisis into a few paragraphs. When I’m reading about new legislative proposals or changes to existing benefits, I usually find Terry’s name on the byline.

Ellie Kay is a personal finance author and speaker. She has some serious accomplishments on her résumé, which makes sense when you see that she and her spouse are raising seven kids. With leadership and time-management skills like that, a dozen books must seem easy. In addition to her writing and speaking engagements, her website also has over 60 financial tools and calculators to choose from. You’ll find something here to make your budgeting and tracking easier to set up.

Katrina Kibben isn’t “just” a blogger. She’s also the social Media Manager at, a wonderful network for finding care solutions to your problems. (It’s also a wonderful way to offer your care solutions in your area.) She’s a veteran of over 8000 tweets, well worth adding to your list to figure out how to Twitter right. (For example, I’m a #hashtag abuser.) And I’m not just saying nice things about her because she knows Pennsylvania culture.

Leanne Kocsis blogs at Military Avenue, where she’s also the executive VP for their website’s operations. She grew up in the military yet still chose to marry a soldier (it must be love), so she understands both generations of military family challenges.

We’ll get to the rest of the list next Thursday.  (I’m saving a couple of real characters for that one.)  After I finish this blogger list I’ll add all their links to the sidebar in the new category “Military & personal finance blogs”.

Related articles:
More news from the USAA Blogger Event

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