A Veteran’s Guide to Starting an Online Business (Getting a Small Business Loan)

If you’ve read any of the other entries on Starting an Online Business you will know the purpose of these posts are to help anyone looking to make the transition from the military life to starting their own online business.  In this edition I will discuss finances, capturing a small business loan and even a veteran small business loan, how to financially plan for your entry into the market as well maintain your funds through your initial stages of growth.

One thing I would like to point out in this article is that advice on money should always, without a doubt, be taken with a very heavy grain of salt.  My advice comes from me as a small business owner, not as a financial advisor.  I will say I’ve managed our company’s funds through thick and thin and I do have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.  That being said there are people out there with a lot more money than me who could easily provide a better insight.  Without further adieu, here is my advice…

Step 1 – Get a small business loan

If you’re looking to start a company I personally would recommend not using your own funds.  Your own funds should be reserved for a rainy day, keeping a roof over your head and maintaining your own financials until you’re able to get the company to pay you money.  There are plenty of ways to capture outside funding to include getting a small business loan, getting an angel investor, getting a line of credit and or getting a venture capitalist.

If you’re looking to get a small business loan I would recommend looking at the following companies:

  1. On Deck
  2. Loan Builder
  3. Blue Vine
  4. Funding Circle

When you’re looking at your Small Business Loan you will want to consider a few things.  First, ensure you’re borrowing enough to cover your business expenses.  The biggest mistake people make is not calculating all of the expenses they might incur.  For starting an online business you will want to considering some of the following costs:

  • Labor (shipping, marketing, production, legal, financial etc.)
  • Legal fees (this one sneaks up on people a lot, you will need agreements for a wide variety of things from operating agreements to trademarks and more)
  • Trademark and patent fees (pro-tip: patent, copyright and trademark your intellectual property!)
  • Rent
  • Insurance
  • Subscription fees (this includes things like mailchimp, apps, financial automation tools, photoshop etc)
  • Research and Development (always aim high on this one)
  • First stocking orders (this one get’s people a lot because they don’t anticipate MoQs or minimum order quantities required by a manufacturer)
  • Shipping fees (boxes, tape, labor, label maker, labels, shipping insurance)
  • Marketing (I personally recommend aiming high on this one.  If you need help on marketing hit us up!)
  • Travel expenses
  • Clothing (if you need to meet with clients or have your employees wear a uniform)
  • Samples and giveaways (we include this in marketing)
  • Interest on your loan
  • Building a website (this is another one that will cost a lot more than you expect…. also if you have a “friend” who says they will do it for you, run away)

This is just a short list.  It’s good business practice to write out all of your potential expenses before jumping in!

When you’re looking at your small business loan you will want to really look at the details of the loan.  When deciding which loan to choose, ensure you look at the APR (annual percentage rate), payment terms, length of the loan, quality of the company providing the loan, penalties for faulting on the loan and easy of working with the loan company.  While having someone fund you can be difficult, it’s essential that you not just jump at the first company willing to square you away.  Make sure you do your due diligence and shop around!

Step 2 – Getting a line of credit

A line of credit is a lot like a loan, however the bank will give you a number, say $100,000 that you can pay back and borrow at will.  Most often you have to pay a line of credit down to 0 in a certain time period, usually a year.  The purpose of a line of credit is to float your company when you have large orders coming in and delayed payments.  For example if a company wants to buy 10,000 units of a product and is asking for NET30 terms (meaning they would pay you 30 days after they receive the product from you) but your manufacturer wants you to pay up front you would need to use a Line of Credit to pay the manufacture while you wait for funds to come in from in from your vendor making the order.  I would strongly recommend getting a Line of Credit set up early on, even if you don’t need it.  One good practice is to get a Line of Credit and borrow against it even if you don’t need to, then pay it off as soon as you can.  This establishes a history of being able to pay off your debts which will help a lot when you go to get additional funding.

Step 3 – Look for grants and angel investors

Angel investors are people who are willing to lend you money at 0% APR or a very nominal APR.  These are wealthy individuals who simply want to see individuals like you be successful.  How do you find an angel investor?  Good question.  Usually they are friends, family or just good citizens.  RE Factor ended up using a family member who invested into our company from the start.  Her contribution ended up being the difference in the initial success of our company and we are forever in her debt because of it.

Grants are funds provided by the US government for a wide variety of reasons. You can qualify for grants for having a certain ownership status (Veteran owned, minority owned etc) or for a wide variety of other reasons.  If you’re looking to see what grants you qualify for I’d suggest starting at https://www.grants.gov/.  There are also some grants available from larger business such as FedEx who offer a yearly grant of up to $25,000. 

Step 4- Plan for growth

One of the biggest mistakes new small business owners make is pulling out funds to pay themselves too early.  Just because you have $50,000 deposited in your account doesn’t mean that you actually have $50,000 to pay yourself.  The moment you start to make money you should immediately start to save for a rainy day.  Usually small business owners will start to see good income that comes from hype and early success and they think that the upward trend will continue indefinitely.  In many cases small businesses see great returns early on because they are new, hip and popular.  However, that initial hype can easily wear off quickly and you will find yourself struggling to maintain your business as you settle into your market.  Energy drinks are a great example here.  Most often energy drinks hit the market quickly and see incredible short term returns.  Consumers see a new can with promises of energy, vitamins and vitality and want to try the new hottest stuff.  But after 3-6 months that initial hype wears off and those companies are now competing with the giants like Red Bull and Monster.  Most often those companies end up folding in less than a year.   As a general rule of thumb you should plan on not paying yourself for at least 12 months *longer if possible* and you should reinvest what you make into the company.  Those reinvestments should go to R&D, marketing, optimizing your supply chain and increasing profits.

Step 5- Find additional investing

Now that you have your initial success you should shoot for follow on investments.  Even if you find yourself being successful you should still look to increase your liquid capital (these are funds you have available for operating your business) to help take your business to the next level. These follow on investments can come in a wide variety of forms but steps 1, 2 and 3 are probably your best bet.

Things to Consider with Investors

When seeking out investors you will want to find some sort of incentive to capture their interest.  Nobody will just want to give you their money for the hell of it so you have to give them a reason to invest in you.  Most often people offer ownership/shares in their company, good returns on their investment or other incentives.  For example charities, museums and schools often name buildings or events after investors/donors.  Either way they are still offering a concrete incentive for that person’s cash contribution.

If you do decide to offer a return on your investment keep in mind the cost you’ll incur on the interest on that loan or line of credit.  This can actually be quite a bit of money depending on how much you borrow and what sort of terms you offer.  You will want to ensure that you factor it into your monthly budget. On the flip side, once someone invests in your company or obtains ownership in your company you no longer just answer to yourself.  Investors will want to see profits and growth.  You may be required to make unnecessary business decisions just to keep your investors happy.   In addition, panicked business owners will often offer more ownership than needed in their company.  Step 1 is to always get a third party company to evaluate your business and its present/future value.  You will see a lot of bad business evaluations if you ever watch Shark Tank.  People will say they’d like $100,000 for 10% steak in their business thus evaluating their business at $1,000,000 even though they might have produced $20,000 of sales their first year of business.  This will always get shot down because the incentive they are offering doesn’t match the investor’s contribution.  Once you get a good evaluation of your business you can start to go to investors with concrete offers.

Another solid piece of advice is to go after investors who can also be mentors.  Many investors have the money they have because they are business savvy.  These guys/gals can be a huge help in guiding you with your business.  They are also more likely to understand pitfalls and downturns in the company because they’ve most likely been there themselves.

Don’t borrow from family members!  I will admit that I am guilty of this… However, in general not using family members for personal loans is a really good idea.  More families are broken apart by money than just about anything else.  It also puts a huge burden on you and if you fail you’re not just wasting someone’s money, you’re wasting a family member’s money.

Still looking for a small business loan?  Consider some of these guys if you are!

  1. On Deck
  2. Loan Builder
  3. Blue Vine
  4. Funding Circle

5 Gun Targets to Increase your Marksmanship

Maybe this is getting a bit repetitive, and frankly, we don’t care, but that’s because it’s important. The best target is the one that makes you better. Be honest with yourself, you aren’t getting much out of your range day if you aren’t improving your skills. That’s why it’s important to work with targets that help you improve. Keep reading to learn our picks for top 5 gun targets to increase your marksmanship.

5 Gun Targets to Increase your Marksmanship

1. IQ Target

The IQ Target is one of our favorites, why, because it requires the shooter to focus on accuracy while testing their ability to think between shots. Which means, you’re getting more out of your time and not just sending a bunch of rounds downrange.

IQ targets also come as either rifle or pistol targets, so no matter which firearm you’re shooting; you have a target that will work for you. Combine this with the Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck—choose between the rifle or pistol deck—and you’ll get even more quality practice while having fun at the same time.

Looking for another target option? Read our blog, The Best Silhouette Targets

2. Essentials Target

The Essentials Target is great to help you not only maintain your current proficiency but improve areas where you may have a little trouble. Through various shooting drills when combined with the Essential Shooting Guide, this target will give you the opportunity to work on your marksmanship with the pistol. You’ll find yourself focused on slow aimed fire, weak and off-hand shooting, target transition, trigger speed changes, drawing, magazine reloads, and controlled multiple shot groups. If this doesn’t give you some good quality range time, we don’t know what will.

Looking for rifle targets? Read our blog, The Best Rifle Targets for your Next Range Day

3. Hitman Target

The Hitman Target is great for the long range shooter, considering that’s what it was designed for. The target includes a comprehensive zeroing and engagement system for precision marksmanship. It also comes with a grid overlay system so shooters can see the impact offset and adjust onto different zeroing squares. This not only gives you various points of aim, but it also helps you maintain an MOA zero at 100, 200, and 300 yards. Because if your zero is off, you might have trouble becoming the marksman you so desire to become.

4. Diagnostic Targets

A diagnostic target is excellent for new shooters because it tells you what you’re doing wrong based on where your round hits. If you’re new to firing a weapon, how do you know what you’re doing wrong if no one tells you? If you aren’t taking an official course or working with a trained shooter, this can be a hard task to learn by yourself. Diagnostic targets tell you when you’ve slapped the trigger instead of that slow steady trigger pull, along with other mistakes you’re bound to make as a new shooter.

Want to add more pistol targets to the collection? Read our blog, Top 7 Pistol Targets

5. Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Long Range Target

Targets which give you several points of aim, especially if they’re smaller areas can cause you to focus on accuracy a lot more than if you had one big silhouette to shoot at. Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Long Range Targets gives you just that. They also come with a target on either side so you can choose between one of two common marksmanship exercises. The design was borrowed from the military/competitive design logic, which can help you not only score your shooting but improve it.

Marksmanship Definition

You’ve got everything you need for some quality range time. You’ve purchased several IQ and Essentials Targets and even the Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck for the pistol. Nothing can get in your way to becoming the next top shot. Wrong! Shooting isn’t just about the types of targets you’re shooting at. While it is important you’re varying your targets and your drills, how you shoot will determine if you’ll actually get a round on paper. If you want to be a marksman, you’re going to have to master the fundamentals.

However, before we get much further, let’s address this question first. What is marksmanship? Apparently, there are a lot of people out there who aren’t exactly sure what marksmanship means. Just to be clear, we’re talking about a person who is of particularly good aim, in the case of this blog, with either a pistol or rifle. Depending on whom you talk to, marksmanship may be the difference between shooting 23/40 rounds or 35/40 rounds during military qualifications. Plainly put, however, marksmanship is the ability to hit your target. It’s the precision in your shots that make you a marksman.

Why is good marksmanship important?

Well, why wouldn’t it be important? The entire point of shooting a gun is to hit the target. Your target may be a piece of paper, a deer, or an intruder. Whatever the case may be, you want to hit it. No one shoots at a target and hopes they miss it. But being able to hit the target isn’t the most important reason to have good aim. Safety is.

Don’t have the finances to buy new targets? Read our blog, Free Printable Shooting Targets

If you can’t hit your target, it doesn’t mean the bullet just disappeared into thin air.  When the bullet leaves your gun, it has to impact something.  If you’re in a situation of self-defense, the difference between hitting your target and missing could mean the intruder or criminal gets a shot off first, but most importantly, it could mean you’re going to accidentally hit someone else.  Good marksmanship is important because bad marksmanship isn’t an option. With that in mind, safety is your first step in marksmanship…so let’s talk about that.

Weapons Safety

If you’ve ever taken any weapons course, a good instructor will always start with weapons safety.

Know what’s behind your target

Don’t point at anything you don’t intend to shoot or kill

Don’t place your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot

Always keep your weapon steady and downrange

Don’t joke or jester with your weapon

Treat all weapons as if they are loaded

If you’ve been in the military you also hear, don’t count your rounds on post and don’t take apart or clean your weapon on post. But, those don’t really apply to the example here so you may continue on.

“Good marksmanship” is important for the same reason weapons safety is important. If your aim is off you could potentially cause death or harm to someone you didn’t intend to shoot. If you don’t know what’s behind your target, you may hit an innocent bystander. If you point at someone you don’t intend to shoot, you might unintentionally fire your weapon at them.

Read more about The Best Shooting Targets

If you don’t have good aim, you risk safety, and if you’re risking safety, you shouldn’t own a gun. This is why it’s important to get to the range. Never buy a gun for protection and not practice with it. It’s like buying a car before you learn to drive. Instead of buying a brand new car you’re probably going to wreck, you get a driver’s permit, take a few courses or learn from a parent, get a license, and then buy a car, otherwise, you might crash into someone. Gun ownership is no different. For example, if you’re buying a gun for home protection, the last thing you want to do is buy it and not practice with it, someone breaks into your home, and you shoot your kid standing off to the side instead of the intruder.

Know your weapon, understand how it works, learn how to care for it, how to spot a malfunction vs. a stoppage. Know what you should and shouldn’t do with a weapon. And yes, read the manual that comes with it. This manual teaches you more than safety. It teaches you the details about your weapon, such as how to clean it. Why is it important to understand how to clean your weapon? Because if you don’t clean your weapon, you could cause common issues such as failure to feed or failure to fire, and depending on the situation you’re in when you’re attempting to fire the weapon, could be the difference between life and death.

You should also know how to take your weapon apart. Why? You have to take your weapon apart to inspect it. Say your weapon has a hairline crack in the barrel. You don’t want to ever shoot a weapon with defects.

Learn how to let us design your next shooting target

A new pistol or rifle is no exception to inspection. When you get your new rifle, pistol, shotgun, whatever your choice of weaponry may be, make sure you inspect it and know what kind of ammo goes into that weapon. For instance, you wouldn’t want to put .45 into a 9mm pistol. Why is this you ask, because, it could blow up in your face. If this happens you risk more than a little hearing damage. You risk your eyesight, fingers, etc. So, don’t be that guy or gal. Know how to shoot your weapon and what to shoot through it then keep it clean, because, in order to be a marksman, you have to keep safety in mind, always.

Proper Pistol Grip

With safety out of the way—but always in mind—before you can start your journey into marksmanship, you have to know how you hold a pistol. If you don’t grip the pistol hard enough or in the right location, you’ll miss the area you want to hit. Of course, there’s always a chance you will get lucky, but no one wants to leave hitting the target to chance. When you grip your pistol, do it like you mean it. Hold it tight with the webbing between your thumb and pointer finger as high up into the pistol grip as possible, trying not to leave any space. Keep in mind, while you need a very firm grip, don’t grip it so hard that you’re shaking, this will cause an entirely new set of problems. Your goal is to support the weapon, not squeeze it so hard it pops out of your hand like a wet bar of soap.

Another good rule of thumb is to slightly lock your dominant—hand pulling the trigger—wrist forward. This will keep you from “limp wristing” it. If you do this, you could cause your pistol not to fire. The slide won’t lock back, and while you know you have a full magazine and one in the chamber, nothing will happen. Sometimes, the pistol will fire, but a new round won’t be chambered; yet the slide will return to its normal position, giving you the illusion that a round was chambered.

With your non-dominant hand, you’re going to wrap all four fingers around the fingers of your dominant hand. Don’t grip too hard, this can cause you to pull the pistol down and make you hit low on the target. Next, place your week hand thumb below your dominant thumb. Thumb placement can be up to the shooter’s comfort and level of experience, but whatever you do, don’t cross you weak hand’s thumb behind the dominant hand’s thumb. This could lead to serious injury when the slide cycles. Trust us, this is a mistake you’ll never make twice, and if you listen to us, hopefully, you won’t make it at all.

A second not-to-do is tea cupping. This happens when the shooter holds their hand—like a teacup—under the pistol grip—you’re not having tea with the queen of England here, you’re about to shoot a weapon—and this doesn’t give you the support you need for recoil which could cause you to hit too high on the target, or completely overshoot the target altogether.

Proper Shooting Stance with a Pistol

How you stand when you shoot your pistol is important, so important, it can actually determine if you even hit the target. Why, because it’s about balance. If you don’t have balance, even the slightest recoil could throw your round off target, and we don’t want that, especially if you’re looking to be a marksman.

Weaver Stance

There are few stances people typically take when they shoot. We will talk about two of them here. The first is the weaver stance. The weaver stance looks slightly like a boxer. You will face the target, with your dominant side’s foot back slightly and toes canted approximately 45 degrees away from your body.

Because you’re standing in the weaver position, both arms will be bent, causing your pistol to be slightly closer to your face. Your dominant arm will be bent slightly out and away from your body, while your non-dominant arm will be bent, with the elbow toward the ground.

Isosceles Stance

The Isosceles Stance requires the shooter the stand square toward the target. Your feet should be at least shoulder-width apart, or slightly further, pointing toward the target, with both arms extended out equally. This should cause the pistol to line up with the center of your chest. Your knees should also be slightly bent with your upper body leaning forward. Do not lean backward, it doesn’t give you any balance.

How to use the Human Resources Target

How to aim a Pistol

You’re almost there! Pistol in hand, stance mastered, now you just need to figure out how to aim the thing, and then you’ll be well on your way to marksmanship! When you’re aiming the pistol, you’re going to keep the pistol directly out in front of you. None of that side-ways crap either. You may think you look cool, but trust me, you aren’t. You’re more like that idiot who wears his hat sideways because he thinks it looks awesome when really, it just looks like he doesn’t know how to wear a hat—yeah that’s you. Don’t be that guy. Hold your pistol the right way. Keep your arms straight out in front of you, gripping the pistol as discussed above, but with a slight bend in the arm.

Aim the pistol at the target with equal height, equal light. If you’ve ever taken a pistol course, this may be something you’ve already heard. If you haven’t heard of it before, it just means, make sure your rear sight and front sight post are at an equal height. Equal light refers to the space on either side of the front post, as it lies between the rear sights. There should be an equal amount of light on either side.

Once this is done, you’ll want to focus your eyes on the front sight, with both eyes open. This can be a little difficult for new shooters. When you focus on the front sight, it should make the target blurry. Again, it’s hard to get used to, but it will make you a better shot.

How to Shoot a Pistol

When you go to actually shoot your pistol, there’s a technique. It’s not just a simple squeeze of the trigger. I mean, yes that’s what you’re doing, but when you squeeze, you have to do it right, or you might miss the target.

Your first step is to make sure your finger is properly placed on the trigger. You might hear some instructors say, place as little finger on the trigger as possible. What they’re referring to is the meaty or cushiony part of your finger. This is between the tip of your finger and the first joint.

After your finger is properly placed, you will make a slow, steady pull of the trigger. Now, when we say slow, we mean, you won’t be slapping or jerking the trigger. Instead, you should follow through. This simply means, you pull the trigger back, the gun goes off and you slowly ride the trigger forward. Your finger should not leave the trigger between shots unless of course, you’re going to reholster. By following through with your trigger squeeze, you will keep yourself from jerking the trigger, which will cause the round to either go too far left or too far right, depending on what hand you’re shooting with.

What distance should I zero my pistol at?

So far, you know what targets you need, you know how to hold your pistol, how to stand, how to aim your pistol, and how to shoot it. But, have you zeroed it yet? Like a rifle, you should zero your pistol when you get it. This is done by aligning the point of impact and the point of aim. If you’re pointing your pistol in one direction and the bullet hits in a completely different area, either you’re not shooting correctly or your zero is off. To zero your pistol, you should be able to adjust your sights either up and down or left and right, in most cases. If you’re too far left, then you need to adjust the sight to the right. If you’re too high, then adjust the sight lower. Keep making adjustments until your point of aim and point of impact is at the spot. This should be done from a distance of 10-25 yards.

Shooting Drills

It’s quite simple; if you want to get better you have to practice. Running drills can be a great way to practice and improve your accuracy.

Ball and Dummy Technique

The ball and dummy technique consists of loading a magazine with both live rounds and dummy rounds. For optimal results, you would want a friend to load your magazine, so you don’t know when you’re about to fire a live round versus a dummy round. The point of this drill is to let you see if you’re anticipating the shot. You want to shoot every round deliberately, focusing on accuracy, so speed isn’t much of a factor here. If you’re anticipating the shot, the pistol will dip forward and you’ll be well aware of it if a dummy round comes up. Do this drill several times to help you build up muscle memory and prevent anticipation.

Dry Firing

There’s a lot of debate between gun enthusiasts on whether or not dry firing is a good idea for your gun. In some situations, it’s quite unwise, such as when firing a Rimfire. This is because the firing pin impacts the steel chamber, which in turns damages your firing pin. However, with most modern guns, this isn’t generally an issue. Be cautious though, because revolvers that have floating firing pins, such as that of the Smith & Wesson can create firing pins damaged through dry firing. To help protect your gun in cases where the firing pin could be damaged, you can use a snap cap. In cases, where damaging the firing pin may not be an issue, dummy rounds are good for simulation. It also lets you practice magazine reloads. Don’t be one of those guys that gets butthurt in this section and writes seven paragraphs about all the guns that you shouldn’t dry fire or how it’s all a bunch of bull crap, etc. The above are only a couple examples, we’re certain there are more; these are just the ones we went with. Do remember, however, every weapon is different, again, this is why it’s important to know your weapon because some can handle dry fire and others can’t.

Now that all that’s covered, your first step is to make sure your weapon is cleared! This is always the first step before and after doing any type of training, cleaning or arming and dearming with any firearm. After you’ve cleared the weapon, you want to make sure you’re in a safe area—even if the gun is unloaded, no one wants you pointing it at them.

Next, if you’re using dummy rounds, feel free to load them into the magazine. If you aren’t, skip this step. The entire point of dry firing is to simulate firing your weapon without actually firing a round, so dummy rounds aren’t needed but encourage if working with magazine reloads.

After your weapon is cleared out, you’ve made the choice between dummy rounds or no dummy rounds; you can focus on the fundamentals. What’s great about dry firing is the ability to work on the basics, such as proper grip, stance, trigger control, sight alignment and sight picture, all without spending any money. You’ll simply shoot the weapon as if it were loaded while pointing it at a designated target. For some people, dry firing is great for not only building muscle memory but also helping to reduce the flinch, you know, what you get from anticipating the shot. Some claim that by practicing on a weapon without the recoil, they become so used to it, they stop anticipating and in turn don’t flinch right before the gun goes off.

1-2-3 Drill

The 1-2-3 Drill, using the Hitman target and a pistol can be a lot of fun while helping you with precision. On the left side of the target are squares of various sizes. You will shoot one round into the 1” square, 2 rounds into the 2” square and 3 rounds into the 3” square. If you want to make it more challenging, don’t move on until you’re able to place all rounds on the designated target without missing. Once you can do this, you’ll move the target or yourself further out and repeat.

How to be a Marksman

If marksmanship is your goal—as it should be every shooters’—there’s definitely a lot of tools, tips, and drills out there for you to use. Just remember, no matter how good you become, the fundamentals will always be important. Even the most experienced shooters still take the time to practice the basics. These basics can be practiced through drills and improved with target practice. Just keep in mind, the target you use can determine the quality of practice you’ll get. To learn more about quality targets, click here.

Need work on your target transitions? Read our blog, This Drill is Designed to help work on your Target Transitions

How to Apply for the RE Factor Tactical LE/EMS/Military Discount

We are excited to offer those who serve our nation 15% off our product line as a way to say thank you for your service.  Here is all you need to know to get yourself set up!

Who Qualifies?

The following personnel may apply for our discount program.  Please note your status must be CURRENTLY EMPLOYED, we do not accept applications for retired/veteran status individuals.

  • EMS/1st Responders
    • Police
    • Fire Fighters
    • EMS
    • Search and Rescue
    • Medical Services (RN, Doctor etc.)
  • Active/Guard/Reserve Military
  • International Military Units
  • International Police

How to Apply:

  1. Go to https://www.refactortactical.com/account/register
  2. Create an account using your OFFICIAL government email address.  We only accept individuals with active government email addresses.
  3. AFTER you have made your account send an email to info@refactortactical.com with your email address and name with a request to receive the military discount.
  4. We will then confirm your change and you are ready to shop!

FAQ

  1. Can I stack my military discount with other discounts?  No, you will receive 15% off your order, however, you cannot add any other promotions, offers or discounts to your already discounted profile. 
  2. What happens when there is a store wide sale? We will disable your 15% off discount for the duration of the sale. 
  3. Why don’t you offer discounts to veterans and or retired personnel?  We are able to offer discounts to our military/LE customers because they make up a smaller percentage of our customer base.  The rest of our customer base is comprised almost entirely of Veterans and retirees.  So if we extended that discount to them as well we would be offering discounts to our entire customer base.  Unfortunately our company can’t run if we offer discounts to our entire customer base. 
  4. Why am I required to enter my official email address? We ask for your official email address to verify employment. 
  5. Can I just send you an image of my credentials and or DD214? Please DO NOT send us a photo of your CAC Card or DD-214.  It is against DoD policy to scan your CAC card.  If you are from a police department or EMS service and do not have an official email address you may send us a copy of your photo ID, ONLY if it has an expiration date on it that is not expired. 
  6. Are any products not discounted?  Yes, we do not offer any discounts on our holster product line.
  7. Can I buy products for friends and family?  We ask that you only use the discount for yourself
  8. What if I have more questions? Please email us at info@refactortactical.com

VA Construction Loan

VA Construction Loans are another great benefit to serving in the military. Unfortunately, not a lot of people know about this side of the VA. Fortunately for you, we do. So, keep reading to learn more about the VA Construction Loan.

New Home Construction

New home construction can seem like a daunting process. Unlike buying a home that’s move-in ready, building your own requires a lot of work with contractors. If you’ve ever had any experience with contractors, it’s rarely a fantastic process. Most of the time, about 80% of the people you call won’t call you back. Those that do, about 60% of them won’t show up. The remainder will, but it’ll take them forever to get the job done, and when they do, about half of them do a piss poor job. At the end of it all, you’re left wondering, how do these people keep a job? Do they not like making money? Why is it so hard to get a good contractor or any contractor for that matter? Unfortunately, that’s a question we can’t answer.  Fortunately, we can help you find great lenders who are willing to help you through a regular VA Home loan process, such as Quicken Loans, who’s well versed in the VA home buying process.

If of course, you’re still wanting to build yourself a new home, what’s even better is, your problems don’t stop once you’ve found a contractor to contact you back. Now you have to worry about their qualifications. And most important, their insurance. Trust us, the last thing you want is for a contractor to come out, fall off your roof and sue you—it happens all the time. You’ve just spent a crap load of money on a new house or a house you’re building, and now you have to worry about legal fees and paying out a contractor who was planning to fall off your roof before he got there. It may seem like something you only see on TV, but there’s a reason someone dreamt that up, because it happens!

Next to all the contractors, making sure the contractors are protected, and doing their job, you’ll have to worry about inspections. It’s not enough that you were able to get an electrician to your house; you’ll need that inspected. It’s not enough that you finally got someone to come out and put up four walls, you’ll need that inspected too. Now, we aren’t saying these are bad things. Of course, you want your house inspected. If something was done wrong, you don’t want your house falling apart or burning to the ground because it wasn’t fixed before you moved in. If you were to move in without the inspections and something were to be less than superb, because of the contractor, you’d be stuck with the problem and the bill to fix it. All we’re saying here is that it takes a lot of work to get a house built. From the blueprints to move-in day, you’re going to have some headaches. It won’t be a completely smooth process and you might have days where you wish you had taken the easier path. If people actually did their jobs, it wouldn’t be as bad, but they don’t. No one has as much passion for your new home as you do and you have to remember that and be prepared for the unexpected—from everyone you’re working with. If contractors aren’t someone you want to deal with and you’d rather forgo the entire home building process, there are great lenders who can still help you out, such as JG Wentworth, who knows the ins and outs of the VA Home Loan process.

How much does it Cost to Build a House?

People often ask the question, how much does it cost to build a house? That’s not a question that can be answered easily. When you build a home, the cost is going to depend on several factors. How much is the housing market, what season is it, how much are materials right now, where do you want to build the house, will you be using top-grade materials, how big is the house going to be? If you can answer those questions, then you have to worry about the land. How much land do you want, what type of land are you looking to buy, where are you buying the land at? Buying land that’s next to the lake is much more expensive than buying unchartered land with rocks and trees so thick you couldn’t see two feet in. You also have to consider how hard it will be to break land. While untouched land may be cheaper, it’s definitely much more expensive to work with. If you pick a place up in the mountains, it’s going to be more expensive than picking a flat area that is easily accessible to construction crews and equipment.

Somehow, even with all the extra work, people still look to build their own houses, despite the cost and aggravation. Why? Rarely does a home have absolutely everything you want, down to the intricate details. You can customize your new home, and to some people, that’s worth it. Of course, if you’re not looking to build a home, you can always go through lenders like Veteran’s United, who will help get you through the VA Home Loan process without all the hassle.

Home Advisor estimates that it costs anywhere from $149,044-$430,418 to build a house in 2018. But, apparently, some people have built homes for as low as $13,000 and as high as $750,000. With a price gap like this, it’s hard to give a good estimate as to what your home’s construction would cost. But, there are also great tools, such as this cost building calculator, out there which can give you a rough estimate based on the grade of materials you plan to use, how big you’re planning for your house to be, and what state and county you live in. Just remember, this doesn’t include the cost of your land. If that’s scaring you, you can always look at buying a house that’s move-in ready by talking to one of our top rated VA Home Loan providers, like Rocket Mortgage.

VA Construction Loan

A VA Construction Loan works similarly to that of the standard VA Home Loan. You don’t have to pay any money down. But, what makes the VA Construction Loan that much better, your lack of payment during the construction process. With a VA Construction Loan, you don’t pay anything until the day your house is move-in-ready. You don’t have to pay anything to the contractors. You don’t have to pay anything down on the land—if you’re buying it at the same time—which means, you’re not paying to not live in a house. This is great for people who may already own a home. Because who wants to pay a mortgage, or even rent, at the same time as you’re paying for a house to be built. That’s a good way to stretch your finances thin. Plus, the ability to roll everything into one payment is awesome!  Land, house, and construction all paid through your mortgage payment. If you’re dealing with a lender who doesn’t do VA Construction Loans, like Lending Tree, they can still help you get through a standard VA Home Loan process, especially if you’ve already started with a short-term construction loan. NASB is another great lender to look at if you’re worried about the process of building a home.

So, what exactly do you have to do to get a VA Construction Loan? Well, first you need to have a licensed and insured builder. The builder also has to be an approved builder from the VA. Don’t worry; this isn’t very hard to deal with. You may be in a location that doesn’t have any VA approved builders. All they have to do is submit an application to the VA, simple as that. You can also look at the VA’s website here to find out if your builder is VA approved.

It’s also important that you know, you can’t physically build the house on your own. While this may be tempting, the VA won’t allow it—even if it was going to save you money. You have to hire a certified builder, that isn’t you, because watching the DIY Network every Saturday in your underwear doesn’t make you a qualified builder. If that turns you off, you can always look at buying a move-in ready house through Cross Country, who can help you with a traditional VA Home Loan.

To start your process, after you’ve nailed down a licensed and insured builder who is approved by the VA, you and the builder must submit a plan and specs for the home you’re intending to build. Keep in mind, you can’t overbuild—well, you can, we just don’t advise this. If your house is designed for the area, you won’t have any issues. But, say you want to build a mansion style home amongst a bunch of single-family homes; you might have to pay a down payment because you’re overbuilding for the area.

Once you start the application, it will take between 40-60 days for the VA to process your request.

VA Construction Loan Lenders

After you’ve gotten a lot of estimates and decided, yes, you want to build your own home, you’ll need to find a lender. If you’ve served in the military and qualify for a VA Home Loan, you’ll also qualify for a VA Construction Loan. Lenders typically call this the 1x close VA construction loan.

Unfortunately, the Internet is filled with a lot of articles saying it’s near impossible to find a lender willing to do no money down VA construction loans. While this has some truth behind it, it’s definitely not an impossible feat. In fact, as the housing market has improved, more and more lenders are getting on board for this type of loan. So, when you do your research, look at the date of your article.  Some of them are either outdated or using outdated sources. Now, there are far fewer lenders who offer this style of VA loan compared to a standard VA Home Loan, but it is something some lenders offer.  If they don’t, there are lenders who will have you make a down payment on the construction, and once it’s complete, will roll your fees into a VA loan. Below is a list of three known companies that offer a true, zero-down VA Construction Loan, so you don’t have to worry about making payments before or during the building process.

Security America Mortgage

  • Up to 100% financing
  • Land, construction, and mortgage rolled into a single loan
  • One time close – eliminate the risk of losing qualification during construction
  • Loan soft costs and construction interest are rolled into the loan
  • No payments during construction

American Financial Resources

  • Provides construction financing, lot purchase, and permanent loan
  • Single closing reduces closing costs and paperwork
  • Permanent portion of the loan approved before construction begins
  • Construction portion also underwritten and approved
  • No payments due during construction
  • No requalification once construction is complete
  • 100% financing through VA (funding fee may be financed into the loan)
  • Interest rate protected during construction
  • 15 year and 30 year fixed term options
  • 620 minimum qualifying credit score
  • No geographical restrictions
  • One unit stick-built house, new manufactured, multi-wide housing, modular homes
  • Primary residence only

VA Nationwide Home Loans

  • One-Time Close MANUFACTURED HOMES-Brand New Double Wide Homes Eligible Up To 100% On VA & USDA, & Up to 96.5% FHA.
  • One-Time Close MODULAR HOMES– Viewed the same as Site Built Homes, Eligible on All FHA, VA, & USDA Loan Programs.
  • One-Time Close SITE BUILT HOMES– Up To 100% For Veterans on All VA Programs, Up To 100% USDA Eligible Locations, & Up To 96.5% FHA Purchase.

There are more lenders out there, but these are some of the bigger known companies.

VA Home Loans

If you’re not looking to build a home, but you’re a qualifying military member, veteran, or spouse, you may still want to buy your own home using the VA. If this is you, there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. A traditional VA Home Loan comes with no down payment. Yes, you still have to pay the funding fee—unless you’re exempt—but you’ll save a lot of money in initial costs and be able to move in much sooner because you don’t have to save up 20% to buy the house.

Be aware, you could be expected to make a down payment in cases where your home costs more than the county’s loan limit, as set by the VA. If this is your second home, you could also potentially make a down payment, if the combination of the first and second home exceeds the county’s loan limit. If you were to purchase a home where the appraised value is less than the cost of the home, you’ll have to make a down payment. Your best option here is to try and get the owners to sell at a lower price or to look at buying a different house that falls within the limits. You can read more about loan limits here.

VA Home Improvement Loans

If you want to purchase a home that’s less than stellar, you can get a VA Home Improvement Loan, combined with a traditional VA Home Loan. This way you can fix your house to the standards without having to pay for it up front. Your lender will simply roll the costs of your improvements into a traditional VA loan. You can read more about VA Home Improvement Loans here. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll have to provide the VA with a list of what you’re planning to fix, who will fix it, and how much it is going to cost. If the combined cost of the house and renovations are more than the county’s loan limit, you will most likely have to make a down payment.

VA Energy Efficient Upgrades

If you’re planning to make some energy-efficient upgrades, the VA will authorize up to $6,000 with a qualifying lender. If you need more than $6,000 to make this upgrades, you can request it through your lender, and the VA might approve it, but it is difficult to get approved from more than $6,000. Keep in mind, this is different from a home improvement loan.

VA Funding Fee

No matter what kind of loan you choose to use with the VA, you’re going to have to pay a funding fee. This is a fee that’s paid at closing. This fee can be rolled into your financing, but it will be there. This fee makes sure the VA can continue to offer no money down loan options for future generations. However, there are some qualifying members who are exempt from this fee.

VA Funding Fee Exemptions

If you have a disability rating from the VA, you qualify for a funding fee exemption. In fact, if you decide to pay for a second home, you will be exempt from that funding fee too. You must have your rating and show proof during the purchase of your home, otherwise, you will not be exempt and will be required to pay the funding fee. You don’t even need a high disability rating, 10% is enough to qualify for this exemption. You can read more about funding fee exemptions here.

If you want to know why a VA Loan is better than a traditional loan, click here.

VA Home Loan Guide

No matter what type of home loan you’re planning to use, it requires extensive knowledge on how the process works if you want to get the best deal. You can read more about the different types of VA Home Loans here. Just because you’re a qualifying military member, veteran, or spouse doesn’t mean you have all the answers. You may be left asking, is a VA Home Loan right for me? What type of VA loan am I looking for, and how does it work? If you’re left with a lot of questions like these, you can read our VA Home Loan Guide here, where we not only list the top lenders of 2018 and why they’re the top lenders, but how to start the VA Home Loan process from start to finish.

Small Business Loans for Veterans

If you’re looking to get a small business loan, you’ve probably discovered how hard it is qualifying for one. Fortunately, if you’ve ever served in the military, there are a lot of resources out there to help you get started. Continue reading to find out about veterans’ small business loan programs and how to qualify.

Top 4 Small Business Loan Providers for Veterans

1. Ondeck

Ondeck is a company dedicated to the small business owner. They offer fixed loan terms as well as lines of credits. As a company accredited by the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating, Ondeck has been the largest online lender in small business loans since 2007.

What we like

Only need 500 on your personal credit score, where some lenders require well over 600

Will provide you 11,000 other business executives for confidential advice whether they can help you or not

What we don’t like

Have to have at least one year in business and $100,000 in revenue over the past 12 months

Not an option for people who have yet to start a business

2. Loan Builder

Loan Builder claims to use a unique approach to underwriting in an attempt to help as many businesses as possible. They work with owners to get them lower payment plans, longer or shorter terms, and lower fixed fees.

What we like

Accredited by the Better Business Bureau

Can apply for as little as $5,000 and as much as $500,000

There is no origination fee

Can fund your account as fast as the next business day

Only required to be in business for 9 months with $42,000 in annual revenue

No early repayment fees

What we don’t like

You have to call or fill out a form online to see all of their minimum qualifications

You only have between 13 and 52 weeks to pay off your loan, depending on the amount

3. Blue Vine

Blue Vine offers an easy to start line of credit. They advertise their dedicated advisors, who are there to help you through your loan process needs. With an A+ rating through the Better Business Bureau, they have a reputation to maintain. If you have unpaid invoices, they provide an option for invoice factoring.

What we like

Line of credit is up to $250,000

You only pay for what you use

Funds are replenished as you pay back what you took out

No prepayment penalties

Can apply online and be approved within 20 minutes

What we don’t like

Only offers s a line of credit, no a standard business loans

4. Funding Circle

Funding Circle offers an easy online application process. You can submit your initial application within 10 minutes and then get a call back from the company within the hour. Once your application and documents are submitted, Funding Circle can give you a decision in as little as 24 hours and fund your account in as few as 5 days.

What we like

Can apply online, it only takes 10 minutes

Can borrow up to $500,000

Can choose to repay between 6 months and 5 years

Applying won’t affect your credit score, in most cases

What we don’t like

Rates as low as 4.99%*, some lenders offer a slightly lower rate

Monthly repayment plan can be high

Where to Start for a Small Business Loan

Where to start may be the hardest part, especially if it’s your very first time running this race. Qualifying for a small business loan is like qualifying to buy a car at 18 without a co-signer and no credit history. It seems like it’s nearly impossible, but it isn’t. You just get stuck with ridiculously high-interest rates. So, we’re not going to lie, it won’t be easy. You’re going to need some stamina to get through it all. There’s a lot of paperwork to fill out, documents to provide and your business credit history—if you have it—is incredibly important for both qualification and a low-interest rate.

Unfortunately, if you just got out of the service and have no business history you won’t have any business credit. Now, you may be thinking, okay, so you have to have business credit to get business credit? No, actually. If you don’t have a business credit history, lenders will look at your personal credit history. Depending on the type of loan you’re applying for, you’ll need a personal credit history ranging from about 640 to over 700. And, like all lenders, the higher your credit score the lower your interest rates will be. In fact, through a simple online search, you’ll find experts advising credit is the first place you start.

Now, if you don’t have the best credit history, because your Dependapotamus ran your credit into the ground, don’t worry, it can be fixed. It may take some time, but checking your credit score and rebutting some of the things that affect it negatively is a great first step. You wouldn’t believe how many errors show up on your credit report, and it usually only takes a matter of minutes to rebut.

However, let’s say you have amazing credit. Maybe you’re lingering in the upper 700s or even over 800. Lenders love seeing credit scores in this range, and they’re more likely to give you a loan at a decent if not their lowest interest rate. So, if this is you, you don’t necessarily need to start by working on your credit. Instead, you need to work on getting the right documents together.

We know, there is so much paperwork involved in applying for a small business loan, it seems daunting. But, the more you have your stuff together, the more likely you are to get a loan. It’s similar to applying for a job. The more prepared you are, the more likely it is you’ll get the position. Why? Because you’ve made a good impression, which shows you’re serious about what you’re applying for. Lenders are the exact same way. If you don’t have the basics down, such as a business plan, they aren’t going to take you seriously. Lenders want to see that your business is going to succeed. And if you don’t even know how you’re going to get your business off the ground, how can they trust that you’ll be able to make a profit, and pay the loan back? That’s a rhetorical question because no one will lend you money if they have the slightest hint of doubt in your ability to pay them back, especially a big lending company.

With that being said, you may not know how to get this type of documentation together. Your first step is just like applying for a home loan. If you don’t have a business plan together quite yet, that’s okay—for the moment—you can at least start getting basic documentation together. The lenders are going to need your background information. Know that lenders are going to need to know where you’ve lived over the last several years, so you might as well go ahead and get that information together because we know this can be hard to recall if you’ve been moving around your entire military career. Lenders will need your tax returns. If you have some history in business, you’ll need your business income tax returns for the past three years, but be prepared to submit your personal income tax returns too. Be prepared to present a financial statement, bank statements, collateral, and legal documents.

You’ve probably looked at the above list of documents and thought, collateral!? Yes, collateral. Applying for a small business loan is much different than applying for a car. When you buy your first car, lenders are more likely to give you a loan, even if you haven’t built up a lot of credit history. Why? Because your car can be used as collateral. It’s easy to take a car or home away from someone if they can’t pay the loan back. However, it’s much more difficult to take a business away. This isn’t to say it can’t be done. The lender just isn’t as likely to make back the money they lent you in return, because you’ve used the money to get a lot more than the actual building. There’s a lot more to risk, and lenders don’t like risk. Imagine lending money to 20 people you’re associated with. You’re not likely to lend them all a bunch of cash. Instead, you might pick and choose the most qualified, those who are most likely to succeed and of course the ones who are likely to pay you back. You are very picky because it’s your money. Lenders work the same way, and they aren’t going to give a loan out to everyone who walks through their doors. You have to convince them as to why they need to give you a chance. If you’ve ever watched the show Shark Tank, it’s like that. No one will invest in you if the risk is higher than the reward. This is why you’ll have to put collateral down. Collateral can be your car, home or property. So be prepared, if you fail it won’t only affect your business it might also leave you homeless.

As far as convincing goes, there’s a chance lenders may ask for a resume; this isn’t all lenders, but be prepared, because it’s very possible. The difference with this resume is it strictly shows your business and/or management experience. It’s similar to applying for a job. If you want the job, you write your resume in a way that highlights your skills for that job. When you apply for a business loan, you highlight the skills for the loan you want.

We also mentioned legal documents being a requirement for a small business loan. Legal documents refer to items such as a business license or registration, articles of incorporation, copies of contracts with any third parties, franchise agreements, and commercial leases. Lenders love seeing you have all this stuff before you start your loan request application. Again, this is because they like seeing that you’re prepared. Your preparation shows how serious you are about succeeding. If you’re too lazy to have basic documentation, then you may be too lazy to keep your business going. Running a business isn’t easy, it takes a lot of effort and hard work. You’re going to have sleepless nights, you’ll need to put in more work than any of your employees and you’ll have to get people coming to your business. These things are by no means easy and lenders know this. And if you aren’t willing to do the stuff that is easy, like providing the basic documents, they won’t have faith in your ability to work hard enough to get your business off the ground.

Questions Small Business Loan Lenders Ask

After you’ve gotten all your legal documents together, made up a resume, created a financial statement—if applicable—got all your tax documents and improved your credit score—if applicable—you’ll need to be prepared to answer a few questions. Lenders want to know some basic stuff, and frankly, if you don’t have the answers you might as well not even apply for a small business loan.

Why are you applying for a loan?

Okay, seriously, if you don’t know why you’re applying for a loan, then don’t’ apply for a loan. But, we’re pretty sure you know the answer to this. Just be prepared to answer it in a professional and well-conveyed way. Be honest and be detailed about your answer. The more detailed you are, the better your chances are of being approved for the loan.

How will you use the loan proceeds?

Again, we think there’s a good chance you know what you’ll be using the loan proceeds for. But, make sure you’re detailed when the lender asks this question. If you can show how much everything is going to cost, such as how much you’re going to spend on equipment, the products, etc., you’ve increased your odds for loan approval. Again, lenders love having details. Providing a cost sheet is definitely a step in the right direction.

What assets need to be purchased and who are your suppliers?

This is similar to the loan proceeds question. If you can provide a list of what you need to purchase, such as a company vehicle, cash registers, etc. then lenders will feel more comfortable about giving you a loan, because they can see where their money is expected to go. To increase your odds even more, show who you plan on getting your assets from, this shows you’ve done your homework, and lenders love that.

What other business debt do you have and who are your creditors?

No matter what kind of loan you apply for, the lender wants to know if you have any debt and with whom. This is a common question because lenders want to see how much you owe. If they think you owe too much already, and them lending you more money would only hurt you, they won’t lend you much, if anything at all. Why? Because the more you owe, the harder it is to pay back.

Who are the members of your management team?

Of all the questions a lender may ask, this is possibly the hardest one to answer. Not because it’s a difficult question, but because you have to be willing to let other people into your business plan, and that can be a hard thing to do. Not everyone is trusting, and not everyone is trustworthy. But, it is important that you have a plan as to who will be beside you or under you when running your business. This is important because you can’t be healthy 365 days a year for the rest of your life. Things will happen, you’ll have to take days off, sometimes without notice. If this happens, you need someone who can step in and keep things running while you’re gone. If you don’t have this detail figured out, lenders are less likely to lend you money. Why? Because if you leave, who will run your business? Can you make money if you aren’t there? If not, how will you pay the lender back?

Educational Resources for Veterans

Maybe you haven’t even made it to the point where you’re getting documentation together for your new business.  Instead, you were sitting in TAPS, a representative came in and asked, how are you going to continue your life outside of the military? You’ve probably been thinking about that a lot, but maybe you didn’t have an answer. The representative says, will you use your GI Bill and go to school? Will you be going to work? Or, will you be starting your own business? At this point, running a business may have been the furthest thing from your mind. “Run a business?” The more you think about it, the more interesting it seems. Currently, you have no clue how to address this new idea. You probably don’t have a business plan, let alone a business idea, but it’s intriguing. You start piling through all the online material about starting a business, but nothing seems to fit, because you still don’t know what you’re doing. Here’s the good news, there are resources out there, even for you. If you’re a veteran, your resources have increased drastically.

Boots to Business

Boots to Business is a great program for veterans who are interested in owning their own business or interested in other self-employment opportunities. If you don’t have any idea what you want to do, Boots to Business will help you explore your options. Mostly, they will help you decide if owning your own business is really for you. You don’t need a business plan; you just need to have the interest in attending the program. Boots to Business actually has two programs. If you’ve been to the first, and decide owning a business is for you, then they have a follow-on program which you can enroll in. If you go to their basic course, here’s what you get according to their website:

  • Assistance in exploring business ownership or other self-employment opportunities
  • Instruction on business basics and techniques for evaluating the feasibility of participant’s business concepts and foundational knowledge required to develop an actionable business plan
  • Introduction to SBA resources available to access start-up capital, technical assistance and contracting opportunities
  • Connection to resources in participant’s local communities

V-Wise

V-Wise is a program intended for women veterans. Again, you don’t need a business plan, you just need to be entertaining the idea. If you’re thinking about running your own business one day, you can take this course in three parts. The first part is 15-days of online training. It’s similar to taking an online class, with group forums and an instructor facilitating the discussions. After you’ve completed the 15-days online you can then attended a conference provided by the program. It only cost $75, and while you have to provide your own travel, they do provide lodging and most of your meals. They invite successful businesswomen to come and speak and then provide you with a third phase after you leave, where you will receive ongoing mentorship to help launch and grow your business.

Ignite

Ignite is another program for women veterans. This program is like V-Wise, which falls under the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship program. Unlike V-Wise, Ignite is only one-day and costs $25. You’re also required to pay for your own lodging and transportation, but they do provide meals for the day. They invite experts, local and military friendly business, acclaimed speakers, resource providers, and other successful veteran women and military spouse entrepreneurs. According to their website, during the program, they provide the following:

  • Explore the lifestyle of an entrepreneur
  • Discover the pathways to small business ownership
  • Connect to the community of support available to aspiring women veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs

VETToCEO

VETToCEO offers free online programs open to all veterans. The programs are both created and facilitated by other veteran entrepreneurs. If you take the core entrepreneurship program, there are some locations that offer it face to face, upon request. The core program is 7-weeks long, also called the Entrepreneurship for Transitioning Warriors. According to their website, during the program, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Apply what you learn in each of the seven modules to construct a viable business model based on the military planning model framework.
  • Develop a funding strategy using what you learn about different types of funding sources and learn how to develop a complete set of financial projections for your business.
  • Collaborate with other veterans with similar interests that may lead to partnering opportunities.
  • Participate in on-going mentoring/support in starting your business.

SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development

SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD) offers support for veterans, service-disabled veterans, reservists, active duty, transitioning service members and their dependents or survivors. They work by connecting you to other services as well as helping you to find funding for your business, including, SBA Veterans Advantage and The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL).

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal is hosted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Through the portal, you can find a lot of educational resources, such as how to start a business, how to access financing, how to grow your business, find opportunities and so much more. If you don’t know where to star, this is definitely a good place to go. They even list other training and employment programs unique to veterans.

Small Business Loan Options

You’ve finally made the decision. You’ve gone through all the courses, basically majoring in business and you’ve got an airtight business plan. If this is you, and you have all your documentation together, the next step is to decide on a loan. This is the hardest part. There are so many options out there, and depending on your business background, there may be a lot of loans you don’t qualify for, even as a veteran. Below are only a few of the options you have, so please, make sure you shop around before making a choice and weigh the pros and cons of any loans you’re looking to procure.

If you’re looking for a business loan, check out these guys!

Ondeck

Loan Builder

Blue Vine

Funding Circle

SBA Government Loans

The Small Business Administration offers a variety of small business loans. However, before you get too excited, these loans are extremely difficult to get. These loans require a history of business experience. If you’re coming off the street with no business knowledge, your chances of getting an SBA Government Loan is zero.

Why is it so hard to get this type of loan? Because you need to actually own a business first and for over two years. You also need a personal credit score of 640 or more and $100,000 in annual revenue. While it’s the hardest loan to get, it’s most certainly one of the best, because lenders know that they’re going to get paid back if you fail. You’re also more likely to get your loan under better terms, which makes this loan so appealing to borrowers.

Loans the SBA offers:

  • 7(a) Loan Guarantee Program
  • MicroLoan Program
  • 504 Fixed Asset Program
  • Disaster Assistance

Equipment Financing

If you’re starting a business and you don’t qualify for an SBA loan, you might still need equipment. Your equipment could be company vehicles, machinery, computers, cash registers, you name it. Qualifying for equipment financing is much easier than applying for a small business loan, which makes it a good option for people just getting into the game.

Line of Credit

Using a line of credit works for people who may not have any business credit history. While that sounds like a good thing, it does come with some disadvantages. For instance, a line of credit has an interest rate ranging from 7%-25%. This means, if you need $25,000, you could potentially pay 25% more from that amount. However, the great thing about this is, if you open a line of credit for $25,000 but you only need $4,500, you’ll only pay interest on the amount you used. This could be a good option for:

  • Supplement gaps in cash flow
  • Get more working capital
  • Buy more inventory
  • Pay off more expensive debt
  • Payroll for temporary employees
  • Backup coverage of unexpected costs

Business Credit Cards

There’s always the option of using a business credit card. The pros, you get funds quickly, you don’t have to worry about collateral, it’s more flexible, and in some cases come with a 0% introductory APR. Or, if there is an interest rate, so long as you pay it off before it’s due, you won’t have to pay any extra. Both business credit cards and a line of credit are options available to people who do not qualify for a traditional loan.

What’s the Best Small Business Loan?

Getting a loan for your business can be a difficult task, which is why a lot of newly seeking business owners elect to open business credit cards, a line of credit or simply do equipment financing. If you have business experience and good revenue, then an SBA Government loan is the best. We understand that’s a hard answer to hear, that’s why starting with some of the educational resources available before even starting an application is your best bet. If you’re a veteran or transitioning service member, make sure you take advantage of that. Programs like Boots to Business can help get you started.

If you’re ready to start your loan application process, check out these lenders.

Ondeck

Loan Builder

Blue Vine

Funding Circle

LifeShield Home Security Review

When it comes time to invest in any type of home security, make sure you read the fine print. Read all the reviews. Look at Better Business Bureau. Look at what real people are saying, who’ve had personal experiences with the systems. Look at why negative reviews are negative and positive reviews are positive. And never let the sales representative “sell you on a product” because they’re a nice person. That’s their job! If you’re looking for a security system, compare before you buy. Some of the negatives of a home security system are long contracts, most companies have this. Also, be careful where you get your reviews. Are the high ratings coming from paid “reviewers”? Look at the dates of your reviews. Are all negative reviews from 10 years ago, but things have drastically improved? Or, is it the complete opposite? We know all that can be a lot to deal with, so we decided to help you out and give you a very detailed report of one particular security system, LifeShield. And trust us, we aren’t afraid to give you the cold, hard, honest truth. So here you go, our LifeShield Home Security Review.

DIY Home Security

LifeShield is known for their DIY home security installation. While you have the option of scheduling an appointment for a professional to come in, you don’t have to. This is especially a great option for individuals who are tech-savvy. If you’re not, they claim anyone can set up their system easily—most within an hour—without a lot of hassle.

Another great upside to this option is, you don’t have to worry about some stranger coming into your house, tracking mud around, and then leaving knowing all your security information—because you had to give it to them to set the system up. Either way, it’s good to have options, especially when those options come at a decent price.

LifeShield Pricing

Many companies make you call them or come into their office to divulge their prices? LifeShield isn’t one of these. Often, you’ll have a security company list their package prices online, but you won’t get a full price of the equipment until a company representative comes out to your house, determines how much equipment you actually need and then throws all these “deals” at you, so it seems like you hit the jackpot. LifeShield is pretty upfront about their prices, and this may be due to the fact that you can request to install the equipment yourself. They still list your “instant discount” at a ridiculous “over $1000 savings”—probably because they jacked the prices way up first.

Either way, you can at least see how much it cost to add things, such as an extra entry keypad, keychain remote, security touchpad, motion sensor or door and window sensor. No extras included, your discount is a “you aren’t paying for the equipment” discount. With that being said, it’s not actually much of a deal, considering you have to give the equipment back. That’s like saying, here, you get this free car, but you’re still paying us money each month while you lease it. It’s not free, you’re paying to rent it and then you give it back. Of course, this isn’t a huge deal, because most security companies out there are the exact same way. Just keep this in mind when you’re shopping around. Discounts aren’t always real discounts.

They do charge a $99 activation fee; this is also the average rate, as of the writing of this review. Monthly monitoring for a contract length of 36 months is $29.99 for the Security Essentials package deal.

The Security Essentials package includes:

24/8 Professional Alarm Monitoring

Advanced Mobile Apps

2 Window Stickers

1 Yard Sign

1 Fire Safety Sensor (not compatible with all smoke/safety monitoring system)

1 Base (S30)

1 Entry Keypad

1 Keychain Remote

1 Security Touchpad

2 Motion Sensors

6 Door and Window Sensors

1 Indoor Security Camera

Cloud Video Storage

Like the Security Essentials package, you can add additional keypads, keychain remotes, security touchpads, motion sensors, door and window sensor, and indoor security cameras and customize your plan with additional equipment. Again you’re not paying for the equipment unless it’s an extra.

You can also customize your order with an indoor security camera for $140, a class break sensor for $110, an outdoor security camera for $180, a wireless freeze sensor for $70 and a wireless flood sensor for $70.

The Security Advantage package includes:

24/8 Professional Alarm Monitoring

Advanced Mobile Apps

2 Window Stickers

1 Yard Sign

1 Fire Safety Sensor (not compatible with all smoke/safety monitoring system)

1 Base (S30)

1 Entry Keypad

1 Keychain Remote

1 Security Touchpad

1 Motion Sensor

4 Door and Window Sensors

LifeShield does offer a 12-month warranty on the equipment listed above, to include any extra equipment if you decide to add that to your contract. Make sure you read the small print in their terms of agreement though, because the warranty does not cover all incidents with the equipment, such as normal wear and tear.

LifeShield Pet-Friendly Motion Detectors

It’s nice to have pets, they’re great company and they’ll pretty much always love you. However, pets aren’t always loved by home security equipment. LifeShield does off pet-friendly motion detectors, you simply switch it to pet mode and your pet won’t set off the motion detector. We talked with customer service, and they said they’re rated up to 80 lbs., which is great for dog lovers—because we doubt you have an 80lb cat, at least we hope not.

LifeShield Contract

LifeShield has a standard 36-month contract. It’s the average length of most major home security providers. You can break this contract in the case of military service or the owner’s death, with proof. If at the end of your contract, you do not want to renew the service you MUST provide a written request no later than 15 days prior to the end of your current contract. If you do not provide this request, your contract will be renewed for 12 months, and you will not be able to terminate the new contract without paying a cancellation fee.

There are several customers who complain about this, claiming their contract was renewed because they did not cancel in time. Please, with all contracts, make sure you read the entire thing! It will save you a lot of headaches and keep you from missing things like a 12-month auto-renewed contract.

If contracts aren’t your thing, and you don’t want to worry about auto-renewal and cancellation fees, LifeShield may be a good option for you. One of the best features they offer is their no contract offer. Yes, after all the reviews you’ll see online complaining about lengthy contracts, they offer service without one. The biggest difference is, you’re buying the equipment. If you want the Security Essentials with no extras, it’s $299.99 +monthly monitory at $29.99/month and $399.99 +monthly monitoring at $39.99/month for the Security Advantage package. Just be careful when you shop online with LifeShield. While they advertise no contract, once you click on the “buy now” button, it takes you to their equipment page, which shows a 36-month contract. Your only option is to call the company directly. We tried doing it all online and talking with a representative via chat, but they insist you call and give you their direct phone line. If you call them, don’t let them talk you into something more than you originally wanted.

The no-contract deal does come with the same equipment as the contract version according to the representative we talked with. It’s funny how they advertise over $1000 in saving with a contract on equipment you have to return, but only charge you between $300-$400 for that exact same equipment when not signing a contract for equipment you get to keep.

LifeShield Technical Support

LifeShield does offer support. While they advertise a DIY friendly installation, you can request to have someone show up and install the equipment for you. This is probably the better option for those of us who aren’t too tech-savvy. There were several reviews claiming that once the equipment is installed, no one will come back to your house and you will have to troubleshoot any issues you have with the help of a technician over the phone. A lot of complaints come from customers who are constantly calling tech support only for them not to be any help. Plenty of customers say they will have issues going on for years, including equipment not working at all until they finally decide to pay out their contract and go with another company.

LifeShield Home Security Reviews

To be frank, LifeShield’s positive customer reviews are far and few between. Since 2015, when AT&T merged with DirecTV, the customer complaints have absolutely skyrocketed. After reading other customer reviews from 2004, when LifeShield was founded to the present time a trend became quite noticeable. On a scale of 1-10 and a star rating of 1-5, customers’ ratings were mostly 10s or had given the company five stars—between 2004 and 2016. After 2016, the ratings have gone to pages and pages of reviews rating the company as a whole with zeros and one-star reviews. However, since the company’s new owners took over in mid-2017, things seem to be looking up.

When you look at these negative reviews, make sure you’re really reading them. If a company gets a lot of complaints, but say, 90% of them are related to long contracts, but service is great, customer service is awesome and all the other major companies have the same contract lengths, then maybe those reviews aren’t that helpful. Unfortunately, LifeShield doesn’t fall into that type of complaint issue. LifeShield complaints are heavily related to the system not working. Customers complain that the system goes down often, and tech support is pretty much worthless. There are even reviews about people having their homes broken into and alarms being set off without having police or fire services dispatched. For a company that has a job dedicated to home security, they sure don’t seem to be providing much security at all. Again, we’re hoping this is changing, since the company is under a new owner.

Home Security

We wouldn’t be doing anyone any justice if we didn’t discuss the security issue in detail. If you look at the technology trend over the past 10-15 years, there have definitely been huge advancements. Technology has grown so much that it’s hard to keep up. In the midst of all that advancing, ‘wireless’ has really started taking off these past few years. It seems like everyone’s jumping on board, including LifeShield. While LifeShield’s biggest complaint comes from their security system not working, customers need to be aware that wireless systems require Internet. If you don’t have good Internet, your security system is likely to go offline. Therefore, when you buy any security system involving wireless, make sure you ask the representative what Internet speed you need. Of course, we can’t know what Internet speed these users with negative reviews had; but it’s definitely something worth figuring out.

On a positive note, LifeShield does offer “4-layers of protection”. Their security systems can include the Internet, landline, cell data, and battery. Which means you have several back-ups. Meaning, if you’re worried about someone cutting your landline, there’s Internet. If you’re worried about the power going out, there’s a 24-hour battery life. They do have an advantage over several security companies who offer only wireless and landline options or a combined wireless/landline option.

Breaking your Home Security Contract

We understand situations where the company isn’t letting people out of their 3-year contracts. It is a contract after all. However, some major complains have come from customers who say the equipment doesn’t work, the company won’t fix the issue and they still aren’t receiving and refunds. If the company is breaking their contract by not providing you the security you’re paying for, shouldn’t you be able to break yours without hassle? On the more positive side, customers who have been complaining to LifeShield over the past year—online—have had customer service representatives responding to complaints. Now, we can’t be certain, because we weren’t on the other end of the phone conversation when these complaints were resolved, but LifeShield was saying a lot of “we let you out of the contract” and “no extra fees were charged” and if we lined all the “I’m sorry” statements side-by-side, there’s a chance they’d stretch from one side of the US to the other—but that’s just a guess. Maybe that’s why DirecTV sold the company to Hawk Capital Partners in 2017.

Equipment Setup

Another big area of complaint many customers are having is with the equipment and technology setup. LifeShield gives customers the option of installing their own equipment. It’s going to save you money compared to using the professional of other companies, yes, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, is it worth your security? Several of the equipment failure complaints came from “self-installers”. We can’t be sure if these self-installers knew what they were doing or not, but consider this when you read some of the reviews yourself. With that being said, there have been complaints about professional installation, but at least you can’t blame your technology difficulties on yourself.

*Professional installation only available in some areas*

LifeShield Customer Support

If you are thinking right now, there’s no way I’d ever invest in LifeShield because of all these complaints. Don’t worry; there are more complaints to help validate that thought. LifeShield also has an issue with customers being able to reach a representative. Unlike some major security companies who provide troubleshooting or deal with your concerns 24/7, LifeShield does not. If you put in a simple Google search for LifeShield’s 24/7 emergency support number, you won’t get directed to a LifeShield website. This is a bit concerning since the only 24/7 listed number was found on an obscure website. We called it—it’s a real number—it’s just an automated deal. You won’t talk to a real person without going through a serious of “if this is why you’re calling, press X”. Even then, they all have business hours and our efforts were pointless. They tell you if it’s an emergency to hang-up and dial 911. But, I don’t think 911 will do anything about my monitoring service not working in the middle of the night. Which means, if someone does break-in, I’m paying for a service that wasn’t doing its job, and it’s simply too late. When, if I would have had my monitoring service up and running, they could have dispatched 911 for me, since I was probably sound asleep, unaware someone broke into my house and then shot me and my family…good thing the police are unaware I’m lying dead.

Again, not everything is negative. While LifeShield’s normal customer service departments close at the end of the business day, their monitoring center does not. What does this mean? So long as your system is working properly, you’ll have protection 24/7, even if you can’t reach a real person. Which customers of 2018 don’t seem to have a huge issue with. Again, we think it’s the new ownership.

LifeShield vs Brinks Home Security

LifeShield compares their services and products to that of Brinks Home Security. And their comparisons aren’t exactly accurate. I mean, some of it’s honest. But saying one company doesn’t have home automation when they clearly do is a blatant lie. Of course, if you’re smart you’d check out the competing company’s website anyway. LifeShield also claims they offer live video and fire and carbon monoxide protection, but Brinks does not—actually they offer all of those things. Of course, under the fire and carbon monoxide protection statement, it does say standard in every plan. We’re not really sure if that’s what they’re referencing since it’s not in bold…

So, with all these complaints and lies, why do people keep signing up for LifeShield security? We think it may be due to the new ownership. It’s true, LifeShield hasn’t been doing well since the founder sold it.  But, now we have a new owner stepping up to the challenge, and we think they’re headed in the right direction.

Pros

Cheaper than most major companies

Offers 4-layers of protection

DIY installation

Transparent about their prices

Offers a non-contract option

You don’t have to pay extra for fire and carbon monoxide monitoring

They offer services for rental properties

The company’s customer reviews have been more positive with new ownership

Cons 

A lot of negative reviews overall

Customer service

Equipment failure

Technical support

Emergency support 

LifeShield Home Security: Is it for you?

Overall, LifeShield doesn’t have a lot of flattering reviews, yet. But, they offer the same services as most of the other major home security companies. The difference, they do it at a much cheaper price. They offer a no-contract option and claim to make their equipment easy enough to install yourself. They also offer fire and carbon monoxide as a part of your contract—or lack thereof—which some security companies make you pay extra for. If you’re very tech-savvy and/or think you won’t have the same issues thousands of other customers had, then LifeShield may be the company for you. Also, take into account the new owner.  We’re seeing some improvement, and we’re really hoping it continues that way!

If LifeShield isn’t the company for you, check out some of these other companies before you buy.

ADT

Protect America

Guardian Protect

What is a VA Funding Fee Exemption

Ah, the VA. Just like any government entity, you can always find some type of waiver or exemption to get you through the gate. Which can cause a lot of headaches, if you don’t know about them upfront, especially dealing with any department within the Great. Almighty. VA. There’s so much detail involved it can feel like someone took away your birthday, stole your puppy, ate your lunch out of the company refrigerator, poured salt in your wounds and then kicked you into a 20 ft. pool, knowing you can’t swim. On the bright side, there’s a VA funding fee exemption. So, keep reading to find out what a VA funding fee exemption is. Because you might still feel like you’re drowning, but stand-up, you’re in the shallow end.

VA Home Loans

Before we get into some of the more intricate details of the VA, let’s talk about VA Home Loans as a whole. Such as who does and doesn’t qualify. It’s not as simple as enlisting into one of the Armed Forces Components. You have to meet certain requirements. For instance, if you served four years, but got out on less than honorable terms, you do not qualify for a VA Home Loan. If you served less than 90 days, you don’t qualify for the VA Home Loan either, unless you were discharged for a service-connected disability.

Who Qualifies for a VA Home Loan?

Current or Veteran members of any US Military components serving or released on anything not titled, “less than honorable”, who have served at least 90-days or served less than 90-days due to a service-connected disability qualify. Surviving spouses also qualify if your spouse died during service or due to their service-connected disability. Spouses of service members who are MIA or a POW qualify. If you are a surviving spouse who remarried before December 6, 2003 and applied for a home loan after December 15, 2004 your application will be denied, no exceptions, no waiver. Also, you have to be at least 57-years-old.

The list of who qualifies and how they qualify is actually much more extensive than the above. But it gives you a general idea of the qualifications. There are entire sections dedicated to qualifying members who served during peacetime, during war, those who have already separated (for both officers and enlisted members—yes there’s a difference), Active Duty personnel, select Reserve and National Guard personnel, spouses and of course there’s a section titled, “Other Eligible Beneficiaries”. If you fall into one of those categories, your best bet is to visit the VA’s website and look up your component, status, and service dates and read that section. Otherwise, this article would look more like a novel. And we all know you’re probably not going to read past the section titled “how to get free cake for a lifetime”, let alone a novel. I’m kidding, there’s no free cake. But, you should keep reading, because there’s always a chance we’re lying.

Are you looking to build a new home? Check out our blog on the VA Construction Loan before you start.

eBenefits

If you’re ready to prove you qualify for a VA Home Loan, you can do so through eBenefits. If you haven’t heard of eBenefits, it’s basically your life source to the military and all your benefits once you’ve separated, to include filing for VA Disability. You’ll use eBenefits to get your CEO (Certificate of Eligibility), which shows the lender that you actually qualify for a VA Home Loan. You can also apply for your CEO via mail or through your lender, but ebenefits is the fastest way to get that done. After all that’s done, then you can start worrying about all the fees you’re going to pay or not pay, such as the VA Funding Fee.

What is a VA Funding Fee?

A VA Funding Fee is intended to help reduce the loan’s cost to taxpayers. Now, you might be thinking, what do taxpayers have to do with my loan cost? Last I checked no one is paying for my loan.

This is true. Taxpayers aren’t dishing out any money to help you with your loan process. The VA Funding Fee is meant to keep that from happening. By the VA not requiring taxpayers to dig a little deeper into their pockets, they can assure future homebuyers that VA Home Loans will be around for them too.

How much is a VA Funding Fee?

The VA Funding Fee isn’t just one flat rate, although that would probably make things a lot easier for those of us who have mathematics disorder—yes, that’s a real diagnosable disorder. There is, however, a flat percentage you owe at closing, and if you know how to use a calculator, there just might be hope for you after all. Or, just use this funding fee calculator found here.

In 2011, the VA updated their funding fee table, which you can see here. Based on your military status, how much you put down, and if it’s your first VA Home loan or a subsequent loan—which increases your funding fee—will determine the percentage you’ll have to pay.

If you served as a regular, active duty service member and you put no money down on your first VA home loan, you’ll pay 2.15%, or 3.3% if you’re applying for subsequent use. As a Guard or Reserve member, you’ll pay 2.4% or 3.3%.

The VA Funding Fee doesn’t have to be up to 3.3% of your loan amount though if you’re willing to put some money down. While we understand, in most cases there’s no required down payment with a VA Home Loan, there is an advantage to putting down as little as 5%. If you pay 5%, regular military members will only pay 1.5% of the home loan, no matter how many times they’ve used a VA Home Loan. Guard and Reserve members will only pay 1.75%. If you can swing 10% or more, as a regular military member, you only pay 1.25%, and 1.5% as a Guard or Reserve member.

Do I have to pay the VA Funding Fee?

Now, let’s get into the good stuff. Do you have to pay the VA Funding Fee? During normal circumstance, the answer is yes. Now, this may not seem like a good thing, but refer yourself to the tax deduction section below if you need something to make you feel a little better.

If however, you don’t fall into the normal circumstances, maybe it’s because you have a VA service-connected disability, causing your exemption of the funding fee. If you’re a surviving spouse of a veteran who died during service or as a result of their service-connected disability, you’re also exempt from paying this fee.

While it’s unfortunate that anyone leaves the service holding onto a disability rating, it does get you out of paying a VA Funding Fee.

For example, say you purchase a home for $280,000. If you met all the qualification, and for the purpose of this example, served as a regular active duty member of the military; as a first-time utilizer of a VA Home Loan, you’re going to pay 2.15%, if you don’t put any money down. That’s $6,020! A Guard or Reserve member will have to fork out $9,240! Now imagine you’re paying for a more expensive home, your VA Funding Fee may break the bank. Of course, you have the option of financing the fee or paying in cash, either way, you’re going to have to pay it at closing. But, if you’re a veteran receiving disability compensation, you don’t have to pay anything.

Disability Percentage Needed to Waive a VA Funding Fee

When it comes time to take advantage of all the opportunities that come with having a VA disability, the rate seems to float around 30% service-connected. However, a waived VA Funding Fee only requires the veteran have a 10% service-connected disability. Which makes a $0 down, $0 funding fee home loan attainably realistic.

Is the VA Funding Fee Tax Deductible?

Tax season is like Christmas. Unfortunately, depending on which side of the list you’re on, that can be either a good or bad thing. The IRS is like Santa, and they’re either bringing you a lump of coal in the form of a bill or what you’ve been hoping for all year, a big fat return check, paid in full by the US Government. Some years, however, you might have to fork out even more cash than you anticipated, and Santa seems more like the Grim Reaper, here to take your soul and sell it on the black market. Luckily, if you had to pay a funding fee when purchasing a home with your VA Home Loan, you’re funding fee is most likely tax deductible. There are some factors that could disqualify you, but for now, let’s focus on the nice side of the Christmas List.

If you qualify for the VA Funding Fee Tax Deduction, you have met the following qualifications:

You purchased your home between January 1 and December 31 of the year you’re filing for.

You have a gross income of less than $100,000

The house you purchased is listed as your primary home.

If, none of the above applies to you, still talk to your tax preparer so they can look at other deductible options, such as points.

Other VA Home Loan Fees

Fees, they’re everywhere. If you don’t believe us, try and pay a loan off early, use a credit card to pay your electric bill or for a new drivers’ license instead of cash, or even try keeping a checking account open. The ways companies find to make you pay them just a little more is astounding. I mean really, who makes you pay more for giving them all their money early? ‘You owe me $20,000 and if you give it all to me today, I’ll only charge you 2% extra’—this is a real thing.

Luckily, the VA doesn’t penalize you for using them, but they do have a few fees you need to keep in mind outside of their funding fee. Also, remember, the VA doesn’t set your interest rates, discount points, and closing costs, so these are fees you need to pay close attention to when dealing with your lender and going through the loan processes.

Fees you need to prepare yourself for using a VA loan include:

Closing Costs: There’s a difference between closing costs and money down. Keep this in mind as you’re looking to purchase a new home. If you want to buy an $80,000 home, your closing cost is likely going to be cheaper than if you decided to go for that $200,000 home. Closing costs are fees that are paid on the day you can officially call the home yours, and because lenders set closing costs and not the VA there’s a lot of room for negotiation. In some cases, the seller will pay your closing costs, but it’s not guaranteed. You can include it in your negotiation process, but again, this is not something the VA has full control over.

With that being said, the VA does have a slight hand in closing costs. The seller can’t pay for more than 4% of your loan. According to the VA, only some types of costs fall under the 4% rule, including pre-paid closing costs, VA funding fee, a payoff of credit balances or judgments for the veteran and payments for temporary “buydowns”. This simply means; while the seller can pay some of your closing costs, if you include, for instance, a payoff of your credit card or some other loan; how much they’re paying for it at closing can’t exceed 4% of your loan.

Other fees you may or may not have to pay include:

VA appraisal, credit report, state and local taxes and recording fees all fall under your closing costs. Again, closing costs are negotiable as to who pays them. So, while the seller may be willing to front the costs, it’s not guaranteed. In some cases, the seller will pay for a certain percentage of your closing costs, leaving you with the rest. But, there are also cases where you’ll be required to pay the entire closing cost without any help from the seller.

Fees the VA won’t let you pay include:

The VA won’t allow you to pay some fees. They know you’ve sacrificed a big part of yourself for the military, so they’re going to cut you a break by not making you pay all the fees a lot of lenders would require; because you’ve earned it.

Maybe it isn’t a lot of money, but in the end a little adds up, and you find yourself grateful you didn’t have to pay for the termite report—unless you’re refinancing—the commissions, broker fees or “buyer broker” fees that you might have paid for otherwise if not using the VA.

VA Construction Loan Fee

If you’re building your own home, there will be an additional fee outside of your funding fee. However, unlike a funding fee, it only applies to those who are building a home and will range from 1.25% to 3.3%.

If you’re interested in learning about VA loan limits, read this.

Understanding VA Home Loans

A big thing to understand with the VA Home Loan process is how it works, not just how to apply. Never rely solely on the experts. Understanding things such as the funding fee, exemption and other fees like closing costs are all important. Knowing what is and isn’t allowed when utilizing a VA Home Loan is also key to getting through the VA loan process as smoothly as possible. Just because a lender works with VA Home Loans doesn’t mean they know everything. So, the more knowledgeable you are, the better. If you qualify for a funding fee exemption, make sure you tell your lender and then be prepared to show proof. Otherwise, you may end up paying a fee you were never required to pay.

Also, know the VA isn’t the one lending you the money. They set the rules and standards for utilizing their home loan process and they make guarantees with the lenders, but they aren’t forking out that $150,000 loan. You need an actual lender for that. So, make sure you’re looking for a lender who not only knows the ins and outs of VA Home Loans but also have some of the best interest rates and services which meet your particular needs. Because the VA doesn’t set your interest rates, you need to shop around. Some lenders will charge you more fees than others, so look out for that. Again, just because a lender works with the VA does not mean they’re the best option for you.

Interested in purchasing land? Check out our Guide to VA Land Loans.

Best VA Loan Lenders of 2019

If you’re looking for a top lender, here are our top recommendations. You can read more about them here. If you’ve already been through the process of applying for a VA approved home loan and need to make some home improvements, visit us here for a detailed description of how that’s done.

 

 

P.S. We told you there wasn’t any free cake, but thanks for reading anyway.

RE Factor Tactical Marketing Services

In 2015, RE Factor Tactical began offering marketing to third party companies within the tactical gear/gun industry.  Our entire marketing team comes from a Special Operations background, giving us a unique ability to offer a marketing service that is authentic, engaging and organic.  We pride ourselves in creating a marketing product that stands out in an incredibly saturated industry.

Services Offered:

Design- We offer a wide variety of design services from logos to t-shirts and everything in between.  Our in house design team works to design imagery that is unique to your product, your company and the industry.

Blogging- Our in house blogging team is specialized in providing blogging content that will help drive your SEO on key search terms that pertain to your product and company.  Because our bloggers come from a military background they can easily create content that is both accurate to the tactical gear industry and perfectly optimized to help drive organic keyword traffic.

Consulting- If you’re not sure where to get started we can help!  We consult in a number of different avenues from Social Media, SEO, photography and more.

Videography- Our team of school trained videographers have an in-depth knowledge of your customer, how to market your product to the customer and how the customer would use your product in a real world setting.  By starting with the customer we are able to visualize how your products work in a real world setting and we create content that is edgy yet marketable to the end user.  We know how the end user perceives your product because we ourselves are the end users!

Photography- RE Factor Tactical’s marketing services began through photography and we’ve quickly earned ourselves a spot in the industry as one of the top content creators available.  We can offer photography for small projects to large full blown photoshoots.  Our team can show up and capture content or build your photoshoot from scratch by finding venues, equipment and models.

 

Search Engine Optimization- Our team of SEO experts will assess your company and products to find search terms that you can compete on to help drive organic traffic and beat out your competitors.  Our services vary from simple product descriptions to full on blogging campaigns and everything in between.

For more information on our marketing services or a consultation please email info@refactortactical.com

The Best Silhouette Targets

Targets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. One of the most recognized may be the human silhouette. Silhouettes also come with an array of intended purposes; therefore not all silhouettes are created equal. Here’s a list of the best silhouette targets you might consider using on your next trip to the range.

Silhouette Targets 

Silhouette targets can be found in an assortment of material, such as steel, paper, self-healing, etc. You can even find them in different shapes. Animal silhouettes, such as the doe are very common. But, that leaves a lot of questions unanswered, such as what’s the best steel silhouette I can buy? What the best paper silhouette target, and can I print them for free? Or, what’s the difference between this human silhouette and that human silhouette? If you’re purchasing a paper silhouette, is there really such thing as better quality? And so much more. We’ll start with the most common, paper silhouette targets.

Want to improve your marksmanship? Read our blog, 5 Gun Targets to Increase your Marksmanship

Paper Silhouette Targets

Paper silhouette targets are easy to come by, which generally means you can find them at low cost—compared to buying a steel version. If you’re in the market for paper, here’s a good place to begin. You can also read about the best shooting targets overall, to include paper targets here.

1. Iceman Target

The Iceman Target is great for shooters of all levels. But, like we say, the best target is the one that makes you better. This target can help you do that. Iceman lets the shooter know the importance of shot placement. With that should come a better focus on accuracy. You can also work on your target transitions using either a pistol or rifle, which makes this another reason you should bring this target with you on your next range day.

Looking for rifle targets? Read our blog, The Best Rifle Targets for your Next Range Day

2. Blue Man Target

The Blue Man Target is similar to the Iceman Target. It shows the importance of shot placement and makes the shooter focus on basic skills, with an intention of improving accuracy. The real difference between the two targets is the more realistic human silhouette. While neither is as realistic as a picture of say, Osama Bin Laden, there is an advantage to shooting at the Blue Man Target over the Iceman Target. The Blue man has arms and gives points of aim by importance. For example, the target has points with numbers including 0, 8, 9 and 10. If you hit 0, fatality or stopping the criminal is near impossible. Hitting a 10 location, however, is the most valuable area, which can cause the most damage.

3. ATF Transitional Target

We want you to become a more proficient shooter, which requires you to focus on your shooting fundamentals and ability. This can be done using the ATF Transitional Target. This target is similar to the Blue Man Target. It gives you a human silhouette, only this time there aren’t any numbers showing you the most valuable areas on the body. However, it does come with two extra points of aim, which can allow you to work on your target transitioning skills. This target is primarily used for the ATF Pistol Qualification Test.

Want to add more pistol targets to the collection? Read our blog, Top 7 Pistol Targets

4. Triple Silhouette Reactive Shooting Target

The Triple Silhouette target is another great option for shooters wanting to work on target transition. Having three silhouettes can also lead to shooters working on their level of accuracy. For instance, if you have three silhouettes on one target, and only one of them is the “shooter”, you’re not going to aim for all three. Instead, you imagine, the non-shooters are your hostages, and if you shoot them, game over. That’s why owning a gun of any kind comes with a lot of responsibility. When you shoot it, you better shoot it at the right target. This is also why it’s important to practice with multiple points of aim any time you’re out on the range. You don’t want to get the title “most likely to shoot the hostage”, so practice with accuracy in mind.

This particular paper silhouette target is also a splatter target, which means you can see where you hit instantly. This is great for shooting from a further distance, and it’s fun.

5. B-27 IMZ Human Silhouette

The IMZ Human Silhouette is another great silhouette-style target. This target was designed with self-defense in mind. It contains a human skeleton structure inside the silhouette, and with its bright, high-density ink, you can get more out of each round you send downrange. The skeletal system is definitely an added bonus and will let shooters know the impact of their hit.

Don’t have the finances to buy new targets? Read our blog, Free Printable Shooting Targets

Steel Silhouette Targets

Most people like steel targets, because unlike paper targets, they have a long lifespan. They also have the advantage of instant feedback. Paper targets don’t fall down when you shoot at them, if they do, you’ve probably hit the tack or staple holding it in—you’re not supposed to do that. Steel targets, however, fall down, make a heavenly sound and in most cases, popping back up or spinning around, awaiting your next round. You can learn more about steel targets here.

1. AR500 12×20 x 3/8″ Silhouette steel shooting target with full stand mount kit

If you read our blogs regularly you’ve seen us talk about this particular steel target a few times now. We like it because it considers safety. If you’re not careful, steel targets can sometimes cause rounds to ricochet. This target takes that into account and gave it a 20% incline. The incline will help prevent ricochet by deflecting it toward the ground. Keep in mind, this particular steel silhouette is AR500 with a 3/8” cut. This type of steel is rated to handle the impact from magnum handguns and rifles up to .308. It can also be used with .223/5.56, 5.45×39, 7.62×39 and other similar rounds. You can read more about this here.

Read more about The Best Shooting Targets

2. High Caliber AR500 1/2″ Thick Animal Silhouette Targets – For precision practice

 

Animal silhouettes are often used by hunters and are even better if you can get a life-sized one. Now, we can understand why finding or even making a life-sized 1/2” thick bear silhouette would be pretty hard to do, considering the cost and weight of such a target. With that being said, it’s still good practice, just pretend it’s a small bear. This particular animal silhouette works with .300 and .338 magnum rifles. Anything beyond this, such as a .408 will require a 3/4” piece of AR500 steel. 

3. Jumping Targets Animal Steel Shooting Target Rockin’ Rabbit

Any target with the name “rockin’” in it sounds like a fun target to shoot at. This steel target is an AR500 3/8” piece of steel. It’s a great target because it moves and then resets itself after it’s been shot. So, you can both hear and see that your round landed on the target. This rockin’ rabbit includes four small targets on the ends of the rockers to help improve accuracy. We also like this target because it’s a rabbit wearing sunglass, and who doesn’t love an animal wearing glasses?

Doe Silhouettes

We gave doe silhouettes their own category, not because they’re so much more superior than other animal silhouettes, but because they might be the most popular in the category of animal silhouettes. Doe silhouettes are great for the hunter. And because it’s a popular game, a lot of hunters will choose it over others, such as a pig.

You can get doe silhouettes as either a steel or paper silhouette. The advantage to some paper silhouettes, is they show you the sweet spot on the deer—you could probably add this to a steel target yourself if you know where the sweet spot is. However, a steel target can be used over and over again. Remember, while steel is great, you should get the one rated for your caliber. You can read more about the best steel targets and their ratings here.

Learn how to let us design your next shooting target

What is a Reactive Target?

A reactive target is what it sounds like. It’s a target that sends a reaction. For example, a steel target is a reactive target. When you hit it, you’ll hear a sound—it’s action/reaction in an instant. Some steel targets do more than make a sound. There are reactive targets, which fall when you hit them and then reset, which tends to be a lot of fun for new shooters because they give instant gratification.

Steel targets, however, are not the only reactive targets on the market. Paper targets can be reactive as well. For instance, splatter targets. When you hit a splatter target, you get instant confirmation because you can see where you hit immediately. A spatter target will show a bright ring around the point of impact. These tend to be a bright green ring, but the colors will vary from target to target.

You can also make your own reactive targets. Again, a reactive target just means you get a reaction out of your target. For instance, some people will fill balloons up with paint. When you hit the balloon it sends paint everywhere, which youth shooters generally love.

How to use the Human Resources Target

Reactive Silhouette Targets

Again, a reactive target is simply a target, which gives you immediate feedback. That feedback can come from sound, movement or splatter. Therefore, keep in mind, all steel targets are reactive targets. When you see an advertisement saying, “steel reactive target”, it’s just reiterating it’s going to make a noise when you hit it.

1. AR500 Steel Silhouette Reactive Reset Pistol & Rifle Target

This target is clearly reactive because it’s steel. However, it also has two holes cut out in the shoulders. Because of this, you can hang your target from a chain. This means, you’ll get a second reaction—it’s going to move—when you hit it. Meaning, it’s great for those of us who are hearing impaired. You no longer have to rely on a sound you can’t hear, and you can see that you hit the target when it swings back and forth.

2. Jumping Targets Animal Steel Shooting Target Rockin’ Gopher 

Jumping Targets makes a 3/8” AR500 steel target that does more than just make an auditory reaction. This particular reactive target rocks back when you hit it, and should reset for your next round. The “Rockin’ Gopher” also comes with four smaller targets on the sides so you can work on improving your precision.

3. Threat Down Silhouette CTZ Bundle

Threat Down Silhouette CTZ targets are definitely not your average paper targets. This style of reactive targets comes with small paint pouches on them. If you hit one of the key areas on the target, paint come oozing out, making it feel like a more realistic shot. It helps the shooter improve their accuracy while also giving instant feedback on shot placement.

What are IPSC Targets? 

To answer the commonly asked question, “What are IPSC Targets?” It is important to first know what IPSC stands for. IPSC is the International Practical Shooting Confederation. This confederation recognizes handguns, rifles, shotguns and action air. They are recognized at the World Shoot, as their flag passes during the closing ceremonies. During competitions, IPSC makes sure that they never have the same course of fire. This means competitors are getting a lot of diversity by shooting in these matches. It also keeps the competitor form becoming too familiarized and being able to play the system. However, a simple online search will show you variations of IPSC targets. This lets competitors practice on what could be one of the many styles of targets they could encounter. It is important however to know that IPSC uses a lot of variety. They use multiple targets, moving targets, reactive targets, penalty targets and partially covered targets. So, if you were thinking about entering a shooting competition with IPSC, make sure you’re working to become a well-rounded shooter.

Need work on your target transitions? Read our blog, This Drill is Designed to help work on your Target Transitions

Here’s a list of some targets rated for IPSC competition

1. IPSC/USPSA Practice Target

This target is an approved IPSC and USPSA practice target. It is specifically designed for training to compete in IPSC/USPSA shooting matches. If you were thinking about signing up for one of these matches, this would be a great target for you.

 2. IPSC/USPSA Cardboard Targets

The IPSC/USPSA Cardboard Target is sized at 18” x 30”. It’s also reversible. One side is white, while the other is brown, as seen in the picture above. However, unlike the picture, these targets don’t actually have lines. The target is perforated, and the lines are simply pointing this out. You can use this target multiple time—depending on your shooting habits—simply use a matching colored sticker to patch the holes.

3. Target Stand Shooting Holder Base

Okay, we know this isn’t a target, but it’s a target stand holder that was made with the IPSC shooter in mind. It’s a stand made with steel and it holds both standard IPSC, USPSA and IDPA targets. It’s also a collapsible base, which makes for easy storage.

How Big Is a B-27 Target?

A B-27 is one of the most common targets out there. You can think of B-27 as a code. With that being said there are varying “codes” for different targets. These codes, like the B-27 target, are kind of like a model number for a car, except this is a model number for shooting targets. A standard B-27 full-size silhouette paper target is 24”x45”. You can get a B-27, B-27-E, B-27 PRO-G and more. Again, the code is in reference to the model of the target. A target with a man holding a gun is a different model number than a standard black silhouette target. Say you wanted a target with a man shooting a gun at you, you would be getting a B-60 target, whereas a B-27E is a simple silhouette of the human torso.

B-27 Silhouette Targets

1. Official NRA 50 Yard B-27

This official NRA B-27 target is a silhouette of a man with his arms hanging to his sides. This style of target is extremely recognizable to shooters but used mostly by different law enforcement agencies. You’re likely to see avid shooters with this target pinned up at the range. And with the 7 numbered rings, it allows the shooter to realize the importance of shot placement.

2. B-27E Economy Target

The B-27E Economy Target is a different variation of the standard B-27 target. This target comes as a silhouette human torso only. It still has 7 rings in the center of the body to help shooters work on hitting the most vital areas of the body. The only major difference is the lack of arms.

What’s the Best Target for me? 

Overall, the best target for you is the one that gives you quality training and a lot of variety. When you’re looking to purchase a target of any kind, even a silhouette, make sure it’s the one that fits your needs and helps to improve your accuracy. If you want to know the best targets for rifles, click here. If you need pistol targets, check out this article here. If you’re not in the market for targets because your budget is a little tight, you can also find free, good quality, printable targets here. Just remember, no matter what target you’re looking to get, the best one is the one that makes you better.