Military Finance Report: August 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

USAA Mover's Advantage Review Part 1 - First Contact

In June of 2013, I found out that I was going to be stationed at Barksdale AFB, LA.  After 14 years in the military, I decided it was time to buy my first house.  I did some research and wanted to try USAA's Mover's Advantage program to purchase a house.  This is the first of many posts about the whole process so people can learn from my process.

The first thing I learned was that USAA offers up to $3,100 in cash bonus for buying or selling a home in certain states.  One of the states that you can't get that bonus is Louisiana, so that was disappointing.  I still pressed and applied to be entered in the program on the USAA website.  At the time of applying, I am/was stationed at Kunsan AB, Korea so in the comments section I put that my primary means of communication is my e-mail.  For some reason that request was ignored, because it's most likely an automated process.  They called my wife's phone number and sent correspondence my mail to my home address in California.  I was disappointed in this because USAA is usually well equipped to handle these type of situations where the primary means of contact is e-mail.

I decided to call them directly and talked to a nice representative and explained my situation.  She said she would update my primary means of contact to e-mail and then transferred me to the mortgage section.  Again, I was disappointed because I still get charged for 1-800 numbers from the Korean service I have.  But, the USAA is customer service was still far superior to any other bank I've ever dealt with.  After about 10-20 mins of questions, and after pulling me and my wife's credit report, I was pre-approved.  I chose to go with the VA loan pre-application.  Here were some considerations that the mortgage representative brought up:

  • There is a VA Fee of 2.2% of the home loan (you can put it on your loan)
  • As of August 2013, the VA was 1/8th of a percentage better and less likely to impacted if interest rates were too rise before January
  • There is a $50 pre-approval fee that you have to pay upfront to USAA but they can automatically take it from your USAA Checkings and/or Credit Card
  • Once you find the house you like, then you will have to pay another $300 for a conversion fee from pre-approval to actual approval
  • I approved for the VAs' no down payment loan and there is no Premium Mortgage Insurance
I'll be interested in my readers' experiences.  Please share them by leaving a comment.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Check Your Credit Report and Score for Free

I don't know how long this is going to last, but you can check your Credit Score and Report free on www.myfico.com.  They will make you purchase a free 10-day trial of their Score Watch, but you can cancel within 10 days and you won't be charged.  It's the full access to include the simulator at the end which I recommend to everyone.  It's 7 August today and I don't know how long it will last.  Check it out today!

Once you view your information, you will have to call within 10 days to cancel your subscription or else you will be charged $14.95 for a 3 month subscription to that service.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Secret to Make More Money with the TSP

The Thrift Savings Plan is meant to be a retirement investment.  When investing with the TSP, you should have a long-term outlook.  That being said, it's still essential to want to make the most money as possible with it.  The secret to making more money with your TSP is to START NOW!

Time is the single most important variable on determining on how much you saved in retirement.  The sooner you start, the more you will have when you retire.  Most people wait for an arbitrary time to start saving money or dieting or making a positive lifestyle change.  The more time they wait, the harder it will be to achieve their goal.

The next time you are at your work computer, log into your Mypay (https://mypay.dfas.mil) account and increase how much you are currently saving.  If you are investing in the Traditional TSP, then up your percentage by 1% and then in a month or six months see if you can increase it by another 1%.  If you are investing in the ROTH TSP, then increase it by $25 or $50 a month and then in a month or six months see if you can increase it by another $25 or $50.  If you don't know the difference between the traditional or ROTH TSP, then read my article I've written: Traditional TSP vs. ROTH TSP