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Entries in Military (2)

Thursday
Jul042019

Honoring Heroes at Home

Ellie Kay is known as America's Family Financial Expert, but she's also the founder and CEO of Heroes at Home and an alumnus of the Military Family Advisory Network. She is an Air Force spouse, mother of seven—including three in the military—and the author of 15 books. In this July 4th UPGRADE, with a special emphasis on the military, Ellie shares financial tips for the military that are helpful for everyone!

"I looked out at the audience of 1300 young Airmen who had gathered at Sheppard Air Force Base to watch Heroes at Home Financial Education event." Ellie said.

"They were tired, hungry and had been told that: 1) they would skip dinner at the 1800 hour, and 2) they were going to sit in on a mandatory 2-hour financial brief.

"To say they were not a happy audience would be a gross understatement."

I (Dawn) got to know Ellie Kay because of her emphasis on financial freedom, but soon found out her strong passion for the military—which is why I wanted her to write something for July 4th. In this article, she combines two of her passions: financial freedom with helping our military Heroes at Home.

Ellie continues . . .

During our live Twitter contest, they were to tweet the best financial tips from the show and a winner got the prize.

Instead, they tweeted photos of hamburgers, tacos, and fried chicken.

One of our resourceful team members had a conversation with the powers that be and we got the chow halls to stay open past the normal time, so they could eat. When our emcee made the dinner announcement, it got the biggest applause thus far in our show!

But by the time we finished with our high-energy, quickly-paced show, they were smiling, happy and getting into the tips we shared. We are dedicated to helping military families and all Americans, find financial freedom. 

We celebrate Independence Day and the less than 1% of our nation’s population who serve in our military, to protect the rights and freedoms of the other 99% of us. 

But we can all support our military members by saying, “Thank you for your service,” and letting them know we appreciate their work on our behalf.

If you want to go above for those who have gone beyond, then you could also:

  • send care packages during deployments,
  • offer to do free yard work for the family left at home,
  • or give a military family gifts cards for the movies, restaurants or other forms of entertainment.

One more way to thank our military is to help them with financial readiness.

Here are some tips that apply to everyone.  

1. Credit Scores

Military members can lose their security clearance if they get into trouble with credit, so their jobs depend on having a decent credit score and what that represents about their debt.

No matter what your financial picture is, it’s critical for every person to improve their own FICO (Fair Isaac Credit Scores). These scores determine not only the APR you pay on a home or car loan, but they also impact auto insurance premiums, whether you’ll get the promotion or the job (many employers check FICOS), whether you pay a security deposit for utilities, and much more.

You can go to Credit.com  or Experian.com to check your score and they’ll even give you specific ways to improve each area of your credit score.

You can improve your FICO in three easy steps:

  • Pay early. Set up automatic payments online so you will never be late.
  • Pay More. Add $5 to $10 more than the minimum balance that is due; this indicates you are paying down debt.
  • Pay Proportionally. Also known as credit utilization, make sure that you don’t have more than 30% of the available credit charged on any one card at any time. For example, a card with a $5000 limit should never have more than $1500 charged.

2. Cut Existing Costs. 

It only takes 15 minutes to save hundreds of dollars. Once you save money in one area, then use those funds to pay down consumer debt or to build up a savings account.

  • Auto Insurance. Once a year, compare policies by getting a variety of quotes. Take the cheaper price back to your existing provider and tell them you will switch companies unless they can match the price. Be sure to check out quotes from USAA.com since you are military and qualify to be a member.
  • RetailMeNot. Download the RetailMeNot app or bookmark it on your computer. This is a code site that offers 400,000 coupon codes at any given time. Just enter the store’s name and you’ll see all the codes to get the better prices. Use this on entertainment, travel, electronics, or any kind of online shopping or in the mall.
  • CouponMom.com. I was one of the original extreme couponers, and I saved 161k while raising my kids by using coupons. If you go to this site, she’s done all the work for you and will tell you what is on sale in your neighborhood, what codes are available, what coupons are out for the item and which stores double coupon. I calculated that over the course of twenty years, I saved our family over 160K!

3. Free Credit Counseling

With a slow economy comes an influx of those who want to "help" prepare you for the worse by consolidating your debt. However, most “for profit” debt-counseling companies charge a hefty fee for their services, which is usually tacked onto your debt load.

Instead, go to the National Consumer Credit Counseling Service found at www.nfcc.org and use their FREE services.

4. Budget Baby

If you don't have a budget as part of your lifestyle, then yesterday was the day to start.

Set one up with a budgeting app such as mint, Wally or Every Dollar.

The problem for a lot of families is not having a budget, it’s sticking to a budget.

Set up a “budget date” once a month with your spouse to revisit how the plan is working. This kind of regular accountability works as well in finances as it does in Weight Watchers. When you know there will be someone asking you why you bought that purple mohair sweater for $198, you’re less likely to give into the impulse to go off budget.

EVERYONE: During this time of the year, be sure to thank those Heroes at Heroes at Home—and if you know a Vietnam Vet, then say “welcome home” because most of them have never heard those words from a grateful American.

For more information on where Ellie Kay’s Heroes at Home is visiting next, explore their website at HeroesAtHome.org.

Ellie Kay is the best-selling author of fifteen books including Lean Body, Fat Wallet, and Heroes at Home. She is a Toastmaster Accredited Speaker as well as a popular international speaker and media veteran who has given over1,200 media interviews including appearances on ABC, CNBC, CNN and Fox News. As a popular columnist, she writes for six national magazines and has been a Subject Matter Expert for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post. Currently, Ellie provides financial education to military members through her “Heroes at Home Financial Event” sponsored for USAA. Ellie is married to LTC Bob Kay and they have seven children.

Graphic adapted, Flags of the Military, Wikipedia.

Tuesday
Jul042017

How to Biblically Upgrade Your Patriotism

On thing I admire about Morgan Farr is her unabashed patriotism. As an Army wife, she ministers to other military wives with the kind of passion for America we all can embrace. In this Independence Day UPGRADE, she encourages us to think about our level of patriotism—and how to raise it to a higher level.

“In an age of political division and international strife, patriotism has become a quasi-dirty word,” Morgan says. “But for Christians it doesn't have to be.”

I (Dawn) know what Morgan means about the word "patriotism." People on the Left and Right have their own idea of what it means, but it's not a partisan word.

Former President Dwight Eisenhower once said, "I don't think the United States needs Super-Patriots. ... We need patriotism, honestly practiced by all of us, and we don't need these people [who pretend to be] more patriotic than you or anybody else."

He was right. Patriotism is for all of us.

Morgan continues . . .  

When most people think of patriotism they think of things like bald eagles, WWII, and Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to be an American”.

Patriotism gives you a feeling.

You know it when you see it, but it is a word that is difficult to define clearly. Even Google stumbles with it saying patriotism is “the act of being patriotic, or vigorously supporting one’s country.”

Currently our political climate is such that you have people on all side of the political spectrum “vigorously supporting” things that oppose one another all in the name of our country!

Senator Marco Rubio said, “Our national motto is 'In God we Trust,' reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.”

This is why I believe we can upgrade our patriotism by turning back to our Bibles, rather than turning to political ideologies.

In doing so, I see three main keys to biblically upgrading your patriotism.

1. Let’s start with the most basic idea: God put the leaders of our country in place.

The Apostle Paul said, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God" (Romans 13:1).

That is pretty cut and dry.

As Christians, we are to give proper respect and honor to the people that make the sacrifice of leading, regardless of which animal adorns their campaign banners. 

In short, you may not agree with President Trump on many different things, but he has been allowed to be the governing head of the United States by the Creator of the heavens and Earth. Now your responsibility is to pray for him and his counsel every day.

Love what he is doing? Pray to God.

Hate what he is doing? Pray to God.

2. Our military is an excellent reminder of sacrificial love.

John, one of Jesus' twelve apostles, wrote, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 5:13).

I am an Army wife, so I am reminded daily of the incredible gift that is our military.

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, you are able to stand there because an American soldier died fighting for your freedom, and they continue to do it today.

At each one of our duty stations there has been an audible reminder of the men and women standing between us and evil.

  • At Fort Hood the thunderous artillery would knock pictures off the walls.
  • Fort Bragg had the subtle, constant hum of Blackhawks and Chinooks.
  • And San Diego boasts the roar of soaring jets.

Want to be a part? Volunteer with the USO, babysit for a family with a deployed or TDY spouse.

Maybe you don’t live near a military post so you don’t have that daily reminder or the ability to hands on help, but you can still be in prayer for our military and their leaders every single day.

3. We need a biblical perspective.

I want to remind everyone that no matter what goes on politically, socially, or economically, it really doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, we are not of this world.

Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."

We have read the end of the story (The Book of Revelation) and we know how it ends.

Christ didn’t die for the American flag, Christ died to redeem us from sin.

Our job is to go forth and tell others of his overwhelming sacrifice.

Ultimately, being patriotic and vigorously supporting the United States has more to do with being in prayer and being a witness to nonbelievers than it does with the actions and reactions of politicians.

So be patriotic. Vigorously support our government in counsel, participation, and prayer.

What does patriotism look like in your family? What do you do to upgrade your level of patriotism each year?

Morgan Farr is an Army wife currently stationed in San Diego, California. with her wonderful husband Brian and their two sons. Morgan is a homemaker who dedicates her free time to ministering to other military wives through Bible studies, food, and physical training. Morgan writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood at The Forgiven Former Feminist and you can find her fitness training and nutrition programs at Farr Functional Fitness.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pexels at Pixabay.