FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION – CONSUMER INFORMATION: FREE CREDIT REPORTS
(from the Peterson Military Family Readiness Center – Personal Financial Manager – 719-556-6141)
If you are feeling anxious about your financial health during these uncertain times, you’re not alone. That is why the three national credit-reporting agencies are giving people weekly access to monitor their credit report — free.
This is some helpful news, because staying on top of your credit report is one important tool to help manage your financial data. Your credit report has information about your credit history and payment history — information that lenders, creditors, and other businesses use when giving you loans or credit.
Now it is easier than ever to check your credit more often. That is because everyone is eligible to get free weekly credit reports from the three national credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. To get your free reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. The credit reporting agencies are making these reports free for the next year.
If you are one of the many Americans struggling to pay your bills right now because of the Coronavirus crisis, here is what you can do:
- Contact the companies you owe money to. Ask if they can postpone your payment, put you on a payment plan, or give you a temporary forbearance.
- Check your credit report regularly to make sure it’s correct — especially any new payment arrangements or temporary forbearance. The recently passed CARES Act generally requires your creditors to report these accounts as current.
- Fix any errors or mistakes that you spot on your credit report. Notify the credit reporting agencies directly. You can find out more by reading Disputing Errors on Credit Reports.
FROM: Federal Trade Commission – Consumer Information
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/05/credit-reports-are-now-free-every-week?utm_source=govdelivery (You have to search this URL on Chrome)
TAX FILING DEADLINE & ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS UPDATES
The direct link to the IRS website for more information is: IRS Operations During COVID-19: Mission-critical functions continue | Internal Revenue Service “File electronically. File accurately. And request direct deposit for your refund,” IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in a press call. “If there’s a problem with your return it can create an extensive delay.”
MOVING OUT OF THE DORMS (Click here for the PDF.)
Moving Out of the Dorms – Requirements and Considerations
Peterson SFB, Colorado Springs
The day has come when you can move out of the dorms. Great! However, are you ready financially? Let us see what is required and what you have to consider:
- Contact the Peterson SFB Military & Family Readiness Center Personal Financial Manager at 719-556-6141 to complete a Spending Plan or Budget before you can move out.
- Contact your First Sergeant regarding approval to move.
– How much you can afford and other considerations?
– You will likely have to pay a deposit for the apartment and utilities.
– You may have to pay moving-in costs such as first and last month’s rent and/or utility deposits.
– There may be other expenses.
– Is it furnished? How about curtains, cleaning supplies, groceries?
– Consider purchasing Renter’s Insurance to protect your belongings. This cost averages from $15 – $30 per month. Research for best price.
– Do you have transportation? You will now likely have to drive much further to work. You may have to purchase a vehicle if you do not already have one. You will be spending more on gas and more wear and tear on your vehicle. You will now be driving longer in bad weather like snow and ice.
– Decide if you need or want a roommate: Many understand life is cheaper when you can share the expenses. This is true; however, you need to see if you are compatible to live under the same roof. You may be a stickler for cleanliness and they may not be, or you may like quietness and they may like loud music and many visitors. Can both of you be on the lease or rental agreement so your roommate does not walk away and leave you with all the bills?
– Is your apartment or home in a safe location or area? Your safety and your home safety is very important.
– How do I pay the rent? This varies from apartment to apartment and from property owners to property owners. Most apartment complexes will have some form of online payment for rent. However, ask if there are any additional costs/fees for paying online. Some apartments tack on additional fees for online payments.
– Will my rent ever go up? You should ask about any potential price increases that could be coming when you renew your lease.
– What are my lease terms and is there a military clause? Month to month, 6-month or 12-months. Understand that most rents go up at lease end (upon renewal). You want to protect yourself if you receive PCS, Deployment or Separation Orders.
– What utilities are included and how do I pay them?
– Property owners will often cover utilities like water and garbage with the rent cost. The tenant usually pays gas, electricity, and heating costs. However, this varies apartment-to-apartment. Find out what utilities are covered in your monthly rent, and what you will be personally responsible for.
– To get an estimate of expected utility costs, ask the property manager what a tenant in a similarly sized unit typically pays for utilities. You can also ask current or previous tenants what they have paid in the past to get a better idea. Alternatively, contact the utility providers and see if they could give you an estimate.
– What changes can I make to the apartment? Want to load your new home up with your favorite wall art, or paint the walls to something more your style? You are going to have to go through the property owner first. If you want to add a personal touch to your apartment, check and see what is allowed before signing the lease.
– What is the parking situation? You do not want to be circling around the building looking for parking. Find out if the apartment comes with parking options. Parking could be included in the rent or an additional cost. There may be options for covered parking spots, which are typically more expensive than a non-covered spot.
– How do maintenance requests work? You never know when the need for an immediate emergency repair may arise. Find out how the property owner handles these requests. Nobody wants to deal with a broken furnace on a cold winter day. Check to see if maintenance is available 24/7 and what the typical turnaround time is for repairs.
– What is their pet policy?
– Is the building pet-friendly. Then, clarify what pets are allowed. Many property owners have certain breed restrictions for dogs, so make sure to get your breed cleared.
– Most apartments will require either additional monthly pet rent, a one-time pet fee, or a pet deposit. Figure on other pet expenses such as food, shots and other vet bills. Consider pet insurance, but do your research first.
– Consider what you will do with your pet if you PCS, TDY or deploy.
– What is the guest policy? Having visitors should not be an issue, but your friend’s stay might be limited. Some guest policies are stricter and property owners may want your visitors to sign in and not stay for longer than two weeks. Others will be more lenient. The details should be covered in your lease agreement. Guest parking needs to be discussed as well.
THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN (TSP)
TSP Education and Outreach Division, Office of Communications and Education, Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is wanting to enhance TSP Updates and Changes awareness. You can copy and paste the following URL to find out the latest on TSP.
- Download historical documents: Documents and messages currently available in My Account will not transfer to the new system. You may want to download your historical statements and save any messages so you have easy access to them in your records. If you need any historical statements after the transition, you’ll be able to call the ThriftLine and request to have them mailed to you. Statements that post after the transition will be available to you in My Account going forward.
This applies to all that have a TSP account or able to activate a TSP account (Active Duty, Reserve/Guard, Retirees and Civil Service personnel of all U.S. Services).
For additional information or specific information on your TSP, contact your Peterson SFB, Personal Financial Manager, Military & Family Readiness Center at 719-556-6141.
The National Do Not Call Registry was created to stop sales calls from real companies. It’s free to register your home or mobile phone number.
Call-Blocking Information Resources:
You can find a list of call-blocking apps for mobile phones at “citia.org” – a website for the U.S. Wireless Communication Industry. The site lists apps specific to Android, BlackBerry, iOS (Apple), or Windows devices.
The Personal Financial Readiness Team provides information, education, and personal financial counseling to help individuals and their families maintain financial stability and reach financial goals. Seminars, classes and individualized guidance are offered in the areas of budgeting, credit and debt management, home buying, car buying, saving, investing, consumer protection, and general money management.
Subject-matter experts work closely with Peterson SFB leadership to provide proactive classes and individual counseling in areas of specific need.
For more information about these programs, call 719-556-6141.
FINANCIAL COMMERCIAL SOLICITATION
Financial Commercial Solicitation is an issue at most military installations as outside financial organizations many times try to provide financial guidance on military installations without authority.
Updated guidance on AFI 36-2925 “PERSONAL COMMERCIAL SOLICITATION ON AIR FORCE INSTALLATIONS” states as follows:
“2.5. Financial Educational Programs.
2.5.1. The Military and Family Readiness Center (M&FRC) shall develop and disseminate information and provide educational programs for members of the Air Force on their personal financial affairs, including such subjects as insurance, Government benefits, savings, budgeting, and other financial education and assistance requirements. The M&FRC shall ensure that all instructors are qualified as appropriate for the subject matter presented. The services of representatives of authorized on-base banks and credit unions may be used for this purpose. Under no circumstances shall commercial agents, including representatives of loan, finance, insurance, or investment companies, be used for this purpose. Presentations shall only be conducted at the express request of the installation commander.
Any Active Duty, Reserve, Retired member or DoD Civilian is encouraged to contact us on any financial services to include Investments, Thrift Saving Plan (TSP), Securities and Life Insurance needs they may have.
We are available to present at any military function such as Commander’s Calls, Office Meetings, Group Meetings and specific Financial Presentations you may need for your organization.
Contact the Military & Family Readiness Center, Financial Counselor at 719-556-6141 for more information.
For appointments or questions contact: The Peterson SFB Personal Financial Manager at 719-556-6141 or [email protected]
THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN (TSP) – CHANGES TO THE LIFECYCLE (L) FUNDS
TSP is planning adjustments to the L Funds in an effort to improve your investment outcomes.
Effective in January 2019 you would have noticed an increased exposure to International Stocks (I Fund) from 30% to 35% of the overall stock allocation in all L Funds.
To read the complete document, click here.
What Do I Do and Where To Go For Assistance?
(Active Duty, Reserve, Guard, Retired or Civilians)
Are you enrolled in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), but really don’t know where your investment money is going?
Are you someone that wants to sign up for TSP, but just doesn’t understand how to or in what fund to invest in?
Are you new to the military or Civil Service and just don’t know much about TSP?
Many folks both military and civilian, find out after several years after enrolling in TSP that their money was going to a TSP Fund that really is not making them any money or they put off making a decision due to not understanding what and how to invest.
Do you fit any of these scenarios or a similar scenario? Call us to set up a one-on-one appointment so we can answer your financial questions (TSP, Investing, Savings, Budgeting, Spending Plans, Home or Auto Buying, Blended Retirement System (BRS). We can assist all Active Duty, Reserve, Guard, Retired or Civilians – Come see us.
For more information, call the Military & Family Readiness Center at 719-556-6141 and ask to speak to the Thrift Savings Plan’s Team Lead (who’s an Accredited Financial Counselor).
The new Blended Retirement System (BRS) is now in place as of 1 January 2018. Those military personnel grandfathered under the old Legacy Retirement System who wish to remain under the Legacy System do not have to do anything other than completing the BRS Opt-In Course! The BRS Opt-in Course is mandatory to ensure all eligible personnel as aware of their options.
Eligible personnel wanting to enroll into the new BRS must go to: mypay.dfas.mil using their CAC or password to enroll. The enrollment period is from January 1 – December 31, 2018. Be aware, the earlier you enroll, the quicker you start receiving your matching funds if you’ve met the vested requirements of two years in service.
HISTORIC INFORMATION LEADING TO THE BRS: Eighty percent of our troops leave service before 20 years are up… And in the current system, if they leave before 20 years, they leave with nothing. [BRS] creates a choice that opens up opportunity and allows us to be similar to other [civilian] institutions and therefore competitive with them in getting people to join us and stick with us.” – Defense Secretary Ash Carter
- The Fiscal Year 2016 Nation Defense Authorization Act created a new military retirement system that blends the traditional legacy retirement pension with a defined contribution to Service members’ Thrift Savings Plan account. The new Blended Retirement System goes into effect on January 1, 2018.
- All members serving as of December 31, 2017, are grandfathered under the legacy retirement system. No one currently-serving will be automatically switched to the Blended Retirement System.
- Though they are grandfathered under the legacy retirement system, Active Component Service members who entered the military after December 31, 2005, and Reserve Component Service members who have accrued fewer than 4,320 retirement points prior to January 1, 2018, will have the option to opt into the Blended Retirement System or remaining in the legacy retirement system. The opt-in/election period for the Blended Retirement System begins January 1, 2018, and concludes on December 31, 2018.
- For BRS Resources go to: http://militarypay.defense.gov/BlendedRetirement/
- For more information, please call the Personal Financial Readiness office at A&FRC, 719-556-6141.
- All Service members who enter the military on or after January 1, 2018, will automatically be enrolled in BRS.
Have A Financial Question?
Do you have a financial question you wish someone could answer for you? Your Military & Family Readiness Center at Peterson SFB can help. One-on-one financial counseling is available to all military members at Peterson SFB. Classes covering areas of finance are held on a monthly basis. For more information, please call 719-556-6141.
Don’t have time to come? Email us your financial questions. We will research and respond to your questions within three business days. Most questions are answered within 24 hours. Email us at [email protected]. Or you may call us at 719-556-6141 (DSN 834-6141).
NOTE: If you have an inquiry regarding your military pay, please contact Finance Customer Service at 719-556-4770 or email them at [email protected]. If you have an inquiry regarding your civilian pay, please contact the Civilian Pay Help Desk at 719-556-4765 or email them at [email protected].
Personal Financial Readiness Classes Offered at Peterson SFB
Provides education, information and counseling to DoD personnel and their families on a wide range of personal finance topics. Classes are offered on a regular basis. For details, call 719-556-6141.
- Bundles for Babies – Addresses budgeting for baby, investing for the future, calming the baby, and shaken baby syndrome. Open to all ranks and services, but only active duty Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps families may receive an Air Force Aid Society bundle valued at more than $75. Held quarterly.
- Car Buying – Learn how to get the best deal on a new or used car purchase. Offered to on-on-one or to group class.
- Estate Planning – A will may not be enough to protect your family. Discover why an estate plan can benefit anyone with valuable assets. A must for single parents, mil-to-mil and parents of children with special needs. Held quarterly.
- Financial Planning – You must bring a copy of your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) and a list of all monthly expenses.
- First Term Enlisted Center (FTEC) – Mandatory for all first duty station Airmen E4 and below. Topics include checkbook management, budgeting, saving and investing, debt and credit management, and local area consumer issues.
- Home Buying – Find out about real estate financing options, items to consider, the normal process before buying, considerations on choosing a home and much more.
- Investing Today – Discussion of investing terms such as risk tolerance, trade, stock brokering and more. This class highlights why you use different products to meet life goals. There is a heavy emphasis on retirement planning to include information on the civilian and military Thrift Savings Plans. Open to all.
- Small Business Seminar – Learn steps essential to establishing a small business, especially regarding taxes. Conducted by SCORE. A $15 fee for materials may be collected.
- Thrift Savings Plan – Get information on the investing options, retirement plan, and process to get started. Offered as a class or one-on-one. Click here for Understanding Your Thrift Savings Plan information sheet. For additional perspective, this Thrift Savings Play: Fund Comparison Matrix might be helpful.