10 Reasons to get Travel Insurance

If you haven’t already started your vacations this year, there’s no doubt the season is upon us. Have you considered getting travel insurance? If not, there are plenty of reasons to consider this often cheap protection for that not so cheap vacation. Here are our top 10 reasons to get travel insurance.

Canceled Trip

Things happen, it’s inevitable. However, when things happen and you’ve paid thousands of dollars for a vacation do you really want all that money going to waste because you need to cancel your trip? We doubt it. That’s why it’s important to consider travel insurance. It’s easy to sit there and say nothing is going to happen or I don’t care if my leg gets chopped off, I’m going on that vacation! It’s an entirely different story when it actually happens—the need to cancel, not the leg chopped off part, although you never know.

Say a family member dies, or a close friend. Maybe mandatory training came up at work and you’ll lose your job if you don’t show up. Maybe your pet is deathly ill or the country you’re going seems a little unsafe for the time being. Whatever the case may be, you’ll have to cancel your trip. If you don’t have travel insurance, or you have insurance through a crappy company, you’ll be out of pocket—some insurers have specific cancellation scenarios in order for them to consider your case. *Read the fine print*

Read our blog, Best Travel Insurance for Veterans, Service Members

Terrorist Attack

None of us wish for anything bad to happen, but it does. Sadly terrorism isn’t an occasional act anymore. And believe it or not, without insurance, some travel companies won’t give you a refund because of a terrorist attack. They aren’t concerned about your safety. They’re concerned about that money you paid them and how to keep from giving it back to you.

You get Sick on your Trip

You’ve sailed off into the sunset. It’s day two of your trip and life really couldn’t get any better. Oh, but it could get so much worse. Because on day three you wake up and feel like you were run over by a bus. You’ve fallen victim to some terrible bug and you might actually die this time. Especially after you find out your trip won’t be reimbursed because you left early and laid in the ICU for a week.

However, if you had something like, I don’t know, travel insurance, you wouldn’t have to worry about this. Instead, you could file a claim and get some or all of your money back and rebook the trip for a future date. Or just go ahead and flush your money down the toilet now – completely up to you.

Photo Credit: (Seaman Michael Colemanberry/U.S. Navy Released)

Lost Passport

Now this one might be news to you, but it happens. I was headed out for Peru one year. I had taken everything I needed to carry with me onto the plane and placed it into one spot for packing. It was about an hour before I had to leave and I went to take this pile and put it in my bag. Book – check, phone – check, earphones – check, wallet – check, passport…wait, where is my passport? I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was not in my safe, where I normally kept it. It was not in my pile. It was not already in my bag. Oh no!

To make a short story even shorter, I found it about 15 minutes before I had to leave (I just looked over it) and was able to make my flight on time. However, what would have happened had I not found my passport? Well for me, a young buck, I would have been screwed out of all my money because I was too wise to buy travel insurance. My hotels were booked, my flights were all booked, my travel fee was paid, everything. And every dime is what I would have lost. Everything paid for and I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of any of it.

You might not think it would or could happen to you, because you’re too organized to lose anything—I thought I was—but it will. And when it happens, travel insurance might have been a good idea. Also, they’ll help by getting a new passport expedited to you – in case it was lost or stolen while in a foreign country, preventing you from getting back home.

Natural Disaster

Natural disasters happen, why, because, Mother Nature wants to ruin your vacation. Okay, not really, but seriously, have you ever wondered why it rains on all your days off? She has some serious mood swings! With that being said, if you’re the victim of this and it ruins your travel plans, travel insurance would have your back.

And no, your travel agency isn’t responsible for what Mother Nature does. So chances are, without travel insurance you won’t get your money back.

You Missed your Connecting Flight

You might be thinking to yourself if I miss my connecting flight because of the current flight I’m on, that airline is then held responsible. No, no they are not. Unfortunately, I have experienced this first hand. Oh, and if you’re traveling internationally and going from international to national flight, they definitely won’t be paying you back. Maybe if American Airline flew you from Italy to DC and DC to CA, you’d have better luck. But trust me, you’re chances of missing a flight when dealing with international flight is highly likely. I’ve missed a flight, almost missed a flight, or got lucky because my connection was also late. It’s almost never been a smooth process

Without travel insurance, you might find yourself out of money for your flight and booking a new flight for more money because it’s last minute. Oh, and don’t forget about the fact that it’s late at night, everyone else is trying to book a new flight, and the next flight doesn’t fly out until tomorrow. So now you’re also looking for a hotel for the evening—maybe the airline will be so kind as to give you a discounted rate toward the airport’s hotel.

Your Flight got Canceled

This one is a bit disappointing, but believe it or not a canceled flight as a result of weather does not constitute reimbursement. Sounds terrible, I know, but it isn’t the airline’s fault that Mother Nature was having one of her fits again. It also isn’t the airline’s fault you decided to forgo travel insurance. Now you’re left with a flight that never even left the airport and you’re missing the money you spent on it. However, travel insurance does account for bad weather and they’ll help you get your money back.

Lost or Damaged Luggage

You probably haven’t considered this one because lost or damaged luggage isn’t actual travel. However, travel insurance will help reimburse whatever was lost and help you buy new clothes and things at your location. Because wearing what you traveled in for a week because the airport lost your luggage is not fun.

The good news is, the lost luggage department can typically give you hygiene necessities, but they won’t be giving you a week’s worth of outfits. The last time my luggage was lost, I got a white t-shirt with my kit. But, I wasn’t about to wear that in a five-star restaurant in Paris – they probably wouldn’t even let me in. (It’s a good idea to pack a set of clothes in your carry on).

Emergency

Emergencies happen. You might need a medical evacuation from your trip. You might end up hurting yourself while you’re on the trip and need medical care. Travel insurance can often help with this.

Keep in mind, you typically need to purchase additional health insurance for overseas travel. Medical Evacuation Insurance is a thing too. So make sure you read the fine print before assuming your travel insurance company has you covered.

Before you go on your next adventure, read our blog, Protect yourself when you Travel

The Travel Company Filed for Bankruptcy

Something else you probably wouldn’t expect, that your travel company went bankrupt. You’ve paid a bunch of money for them to book your hotels, transportation, amenities, experiences, etc. You haven’t actually been booked with any of these things and now the company you hired is incapable of finishing the job. What do you do? You give up on getting your money back and you go home and cry yourself to sleep.

Or, you call up your travel insurance agent and get that your money back. You can choose not to believe this happens, but please trust us, it does. And when it does, a lot of unhappy people are left without a vacation or the money they spent, unless of course, they had travel insurance.

Disclaimer: Travel insurance is like car insurance. Not all agencies are the same or offer the same coverage. Make sure you shop around and that the company you’re seeking insurance through will cover you for what it is you’re seeking coverage for. Read the fine print because some companies might cover you in the case of a medical emergency but not in the case of a job emergency.

Camp Red Devil Cafe | Get your Beef Patty MRE, Served Hot and Fresh Daily

Apparently, there’s a cafe on Fort Carson that used to be a shoot house. Rumor has it, someone turned it into a cafe that serves MREs. Of course, it’s on a military installation, so it’s exclusive access only. So, if you haven’t had your fill of crappy food lately—though we’ve heard that MREs have had a makeover as far as tastes goes—then maybe it’s worth the visit.

People have even left reviews about the place, earing it a whopping 5 stars on Google—okay, it’s only two reviews, but still. The stars allude to a fantastic dining experience, but the words tell a completely different story.

Cody H. wrote, “Great Food. I’d prefer ordering Pork Sausage Patty (Maple Flavored) for Breakfast. What you pack in, you pack out.” Pack out after three days of constipation, maybe…

Foxtrot Kilo wrote, “Great food, but, you gotta bring it yourself. Also, military only.”

Hmmm, maybe it’s not the kind of cafe you’re thinking of.

If you’ve been the victim of this top-notch establishment, please feel free to leave us your comments below. We’d love to hear about your experience, and find out why people keep coming back – maybe it’s the friendly environment?

Don’t worry, if you can’t take advantage of this fine dining facility, feel free to buy some expired MREs off Amazon. Okay, we’re kidding, they might not be expired. But, they would make a great Christmas present for your brother-in-law, trust us.

USAA Federal Savings Bank | Everything you need to know

We’ve produced several posts on what USAA has to offer, both the good and the bad. To make things a bit easier, we’ve decided to compile everything in one giant article for your reading convenience. Here’s everything you need to know about USAA Federal Savings Bank.

USAA Bank

If you’ve read any of our previous articles on USAA, you know it didn’t start out as a bank, but rather a car insurance company. USAA started out with 25 army officers who wanted car insurance but couldn’t get anyone to insure them. And that’s how USAA got its start. Originally, the plan was to only insure officers—sorry to all the enlisted folks. Good news thought they started to expand to everyone serving at the time. Today, they insure even more people than that. They’ve extended their services to family members of those serving and veterans. Of course, this can be seen as a bad thing because USAA might be getting too big to serve everyone they’re making promises too—which might be resulting in all the complains we’re seeing lately (we’ll get more into that shortly).

USAA Car Insurance

Today, USAA is probably one of the best-known providers of car insurance, home insurance, banking and investment needs for military members and our veterans. So, we probably don’t have to mention they’re pro-military and looking to give you some of the best discounts available—at least that’s how they frame themselves.

From personal experience, they love bundling, and the more you have, the more you save. The nice thing, unlike cable, your bundle won’t end up costing you more next year. I’ve saved so much money over the years by banking through USAA, having my personal property insurance through them, my homeowner’s insurance, my car insurance, and my investment through them. Every time I ask about adding something, it seems like I save another $5 and my fees go down instead of up.

Unfortunately, if you aren’t bundling or you don’t bank through them, the other services might cost you more than you’d expect. Even so, the above will depend on what you’re bundling, how much, where you live, your credit, etc. But, it’s a good option if you want everything in one spot.

Pros 

  • They have excellent customer service
  • They offer huge discounts, especially if you can bundle
  • Free payment plan available
  • Car replacement assistance available
  • Military Installation discount, if you store your car on base while deployed (must be more than 30 days) 

Cons

  • Geico is a cheaper option, in most cases
  • Driver training discount isn’t available in HI, NC, or NY
  • Safe Driver’s discount isn’t available in HI
  • Storage discount isn’t available in HI, NC, or VA
  • New vehicle discount isn’t available in NY

USAA Roadside Assistance

Imagine yourself stranded on the side of the road because you were an idiot and didn’t fill up in the last town you drove through—you know, because you know your car. Or maybe you have a flat, got mad and threw your keys into the lake—yeah they’re gone forever—or your battery finally died; if you have USAA roadside assistance, there shouldn’t be much to fret about.

USAA has 24-hour online roadside assistance. Below are some of the things you should consider before electing USAA as your roadside assistance provider.

24-Hour Online Roadside Assistance 

Contrary to what some may say, USAA roadside assistance isn’t free. Roadside assistance is an add-on. You might get a little discount for the addition, but in some way, you are paying for it. There are also some policies which include the service, but again, it’s included at an additional charge.

Either way, if you want roadside assistance, it’s easy to get, and you can take advantage of it 24-hours a day—from your driveway even. Now, the bad news. Just because you can use roadside assistance any time of day or night does not mean it’s a speedy service or that you can use it anywhere. Yes, in some cases you can call and a USAA approved mechanic or the likes will come out to you in a reasonable time. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. This is in part because USAA does not affiliate with every tow company, locksmith, etc., and the nearest one might be 60 miles away from where you find yourself needing help.

Now imagine you’re asking for that service at an unreasonable hour; you’ll have to wait on the notification to go through, for that person to get ready—because they aren’t at work, just on call—and then make the drive to wherever you are. You might be sitting stranded for longer than a few minutes.

Of course, if you happen to be calling from your driveway, have another source of transportation, or you aren’t in a hurry, maybe this isn’t a big deal. But that one time you aren’t stranded in your driveway, that’s when you might be wondering if you should have shopped around a little more.

Roadside Assistance (If it’s NOT an Accident)

USAA provides roadside assistance for pretty much any problem that might leave you stranded. However, these are services rendered when you haven’t been in an accident. Also, there are a few caveats to their services, so keep reading.

Vehicle Tow

USAA will send a representative to come out and tow your vehicle, but only if you’re stranded on or near a public roadway.

Flat Tire

If you don’t have a spare tire available, it’s pretty much pointless to call USAA. If you want someone to change the tire, you better have a tire to replace it with. The tire must also be in good condition—because changing a flat with a flat doesn’t make much sense now, does it?

Unlock your Vehicle

USAA will send out a locksmith to come open your car door for you. But, if you’re calling about a lost key, your policy will not cover the cost of a new one.

Deliver Gasoline

Gas delivery services do not cover the price of gasoline. They’ll pay for the delivery of the goods, but not the goods themselves.

Jump Start

USAA will send a representative out to jump start your vehicle. So, if you’re parked at the local mall, come out to find your battery is dead, someone will be there to help you – but it might take a while if you’re not close to a USAA approved company to provide those services.

Submit a Claim

Most of USAA’s complaints come from their car insurance and claims departments. However, submitting a claim is not a hard process. You can file your claim via the claims center online, over the phone, or through the USAA Mobile App.

Request Reimbursement 

If for some reason, you did not use USAA to get a tow truck out to you or you were towed to an unapproved location, you can request a reimbursement. Simply keep a copy of your receipt for the tow and send it in for a USAA representative to look over and consider – requesting a reimbursement does not mean you’ll get approved.

Roadside Assistance Outside of the United States, Canada

If you breakdown on the side of the road in a foreign country, USAA might have services you can take advantage of. However, this requires you to go through their international contact directory. Unfortunately, we can’t promise the services elsewhere will be the same as what you’ll get here in the US and Canada, as we haven’t actually used roadside assistance outside of this great country or talked to anyone who has.

USAA Roadside Assistance Contact Information

Contact Number: 800-531-8555

International Contact Directory

USAA Renters Insurance

Whether you’re living in an apartment or base housing, chances are pretty high you’ve been required to get renters insurance. The good news, renters insurance doesn’t typically break the bank, but the type of coverage you get and your payments will depend on who you get it through. So, while you might save a few cents here and there with one insurer, you might not get the same type of coverage.

USAA Renters Insurance Application Process

Signing up for USAA renters insurance isn’t very hard. I personally did it over the phone, just because I like talking to people over using the Internet. But, you can do it online too. If you aren’t already a member of USAA, that will be your first step. If you have that knocked out, here’s what’s next:

  1. Sign-in
  2. Click on “Products” at the top of the page
  3. When the menu drops down, click on “Renters Insurance” on the far left-hand side under “Insurance”
  4. Click “Get A Quote”
  5. Fill out the renter’s location form
  6. Get your rental insurance offer

Proof of Renters Insurance

Access your proof of insurance by first logging into your USAA account and clicking on “my documents.” You can have it mailed, emailed, or sent to the landlord requesting proof. Keep in mind while USAA is pretty fast about getting this out in the mail, downloading it online and emailing it to your soon to be apartment complex is a much faster option.

USAA Renters Insurance Claim Process

If you ever have to use your renters insurance, filing a claim through USAA isn’t very difficult. All you have to do is file your claim through the claim center. You have the option of calling the claims center, filing online, or filing through the USAA Mobile App.

What USAA Covers

  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Silverware
  • Phones
  • Military Equipment
  • Jewelry
  • Storage
  • Fine Art
  • Bicycles
  • Sports Equipment
  • Cameral
  • Liability
  • Coins
  • China or Crystal
  • Music Equipment
  • Guns
  • Furniture
  • Stamps
  • Antiques
  • Computers
  • Appliances
  • Furs
  • Hearing Aids

When USAA Coverage Applies

  • Fire and lightning
  • Flood and Water
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Collapse of building
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Earthquake
  • Smoke
  • Freezing
  • Falling objects
  • Explosion
  • Theft
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Vandalism and malicious mischief
  • Riot and civil commotion
  • Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning or bulging
  • Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current

How much is Renters Insurance

The price of your renters’ insurance will vary based on where you need coverage and how much of it you want. Your deductible will also determine how much your coverage will cost.

USAA Renters Insurance Quote 

As of this article, USAA provides basic coverage for $12/month. Again, this will depend on a lot of different variables. So, if you’re in the market for renters insurance, the best option is to talk with an actual representative who can let you know what you need and how much and tell you if you qualify for any discounts.          

Why get USAA Renters Insurance

  • Your stuff is safe and protected
  • You’re covered for flood
  • Earthquake coverage is standard
  • USAA replaces the old with the new
  • Move, take and store your stuff, worldwide

How to Cancel USAA Renters Insurance

If you’re looking to cancel your renters insurance because you’re moving or want to switch to another provider, simply call USAA. The process is smooth. Simply call USAA and tell them you want to cancel. They’ll probably ask why to ensure you’re going to be covered in your new circumstances. 

Renters Insurance and Military Housing

If you’re still serving, you probably already know this. But if you got out before 2015 or came in after 2015, this might be news to you. Have you ever wondered why you haven’t been asked to get renters insurance when you move into base housing? Well, you never have because renters insurance used to be a part of your BAH. However, in 2015, the DoD decided to remove this from BAH.

Because of the changes, service members have gone from not needing renters insurance for base housing, to needing it. If you use USAA for banking and other insurance needs, you can get renters insurance for pretty cheap.

USAA Renters Insurance Phone Number

210-531-USAA (or 210-531-8722)

800-531-USAA (or 800-531-8722)

USAA Student Loans 

We are only covering this topic because so many people are still asking questions about USAA student loans. Unfortunately, this is a thing of the past. USAA announced it was no longer giving its 25% discount to USAA members who got a student loan through Wells Fargo back in 2016.

With that being said, it does not mean they aren’t working to continue helping poor college-age students. If that’s you or you created one of these needy spawns, keep reading.

What to do if you have a USAA Student Loan

So, here you are now in the middle of paying off your USAA Student Loan, or maybe payments haven’t actually kicked in yet and you find out USAA is no longer participating in the Student Loan market. What is your next move? Have things changed? Will this somehow affect your current loan? Does this mean you lose your discount? We can’t answer any of these questions, but Wells Fargo can. Give them your loan number and they’ll be happy to help, or at least we hope so.

Last we checked, your questions can be answered by calling Wells Fargo at this number: (877) 336-1316 

How to Refinance your USAA Student Loan

Back to our comment about refinancing your USAA Student loan: the bad news, you can’t refinance through USAA, the good news, you never could. USAA just got you the discount. Which means, you can still refinance your loan through Wells Fargo, just not with USAA’s blessing. 

What to do if you need a new Student Loan

If refinancing isn’t on the horizon, but instead an entirely new loan, you’ll have to look elsewhere besides the USAA/Wells Fargo partnership. However, before you start burying yourself in a new student loan, make sure you take the appropriate steps to get all the financial aid you need.

Look into FASFA, grants, other federally based loans, scholarships, and even work-studies through the school you’re planning to attend or you’re planning to send your child/spouse through.

Start a USAA College Savings Fund

USAA may not offer student loan services, but they do offer some great financial advice on how to start saving for a college education. We’ve taken the liberty of covering some of the ways they’ll help you do this below, so keep reading.

Apply for a Free USAA College Checking or Savings Account

Set your kid up for success in the financial world by opening up a USAA College Checking or Saving Account. You can set debit/ATM card limits, choose if they can make transfers and even deposits, and get text alerts when your little angel spends too much and the account balance drops too low for your comfort.

When they turn 18, USAA will automatically convert the account to a free classic checking account, and you’ll be given the option to continue your joint account or let the little birdy leave the nest and make all the financial mistakes you’d hope they’d never fall victim to—completely up to you, of course, failing at life can be the best lesson.

How to Apply for College Financial Aid 

USAA has an entire article on how to apply for something called FASFA. If you haven’t heard of it, it stands for Free Application for Student Federal Aid.

If you don’t qualify for federal financial aid, there are grants and student loans with discounted rates for those falling into a certain income bracket. There are even work-studies, which will let you basically work for your education. Typically, this is work on campus, with a schedule that works around your classes.

USAA Debt Management

USAA might not have given you the student loan or all that other debt you’ve racked up, but they’re there to help you manage it. Simply talk to one of their advisers, tell them about your debt, let them build a debt payment plan, and help monitor your progress. You’ve made it this far, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the advice from the financial experts at your bank.

529 Plan

A 529 is just one more way you can help prepare yourself or your child for their education. The difference between this account and other investment options are the tax benefits. If you have to withdraw from the account for any educational costs, including K-12 expenses, you won’t have to pay federal income tax on it.

You can open an account for as little as $50 and make automatic investments of at least $50/month or do an initial investment of $250 and save yourself from having to do make that automatic $50/month contribution.

USAA Education and Training

If you want to do a little more research on what USAA has to offer in regards to investing in your future—or your child’s—education, they have plenty of resources. If you visit their Education and Training page, you can start looking at what steps can be taken to save for college and securing financial assistance when the time comes.

USAA Investments

If you’re looking to invest, there are plenty of ways to do so through USAA. However, before you start, you need to think about your goals. Some investments offer tax benefits, while others don’t. There are short-term investments, long-term investment, education investments and more. So first, consider your goal, and select the option that will benefit you the most financially.

Disclaimer: Never invest if you’re not in a position to do so. Make sure you have an emergency fund saved up, you are paying all your bills on time, and make sure if you have debt that it’s manageable.

USAA Mutual Funds

You can open a mutual fund for $50/month after you’ve invested an initial $50 when opening the account. You also have the option of simply opening an account with $500, without the $50/month.

Minimum investments range anywhere from $50 to $3000, depending on what type of mutual fund you open, which will depend on how much risk you’re willing to take.

Digital Investment Adviser

Knowing which exchange-traded funds or EFTs to invest in can be confusing, especially if you’re new to investing. That’s why USAA has something called a Digital Investment Adviser to help you out.

All the hard work is done for you and you’ll end up with a globally diversified portfolio, according to USAA. If your account becomes unbalanced, they’ll rebalance it for you, without an additional fee. There isn’t a transfer fee or any additional trading fees either—if USAA is the one buying and selling for you.

However, there is a .50% annual fee for what your account is worth. This excludes underlying fund fees. You’ll also need $2,000 to open this account.

This is an option for those who are looking to make a long-term investment of 5 or more years.

Exchange-Traded Funds

EFTs are an investment in diversified securities. If you want to invest in this, you’ll first need to open a brokerage account. You’ll also need a minimum of $3,000 to get yourself started. Unlike some of the other investment opportunities, this requires you to do the work. You have to give USAA your trade details and complete your own orders. USAA won’t be investing for you.

If you need a little help, don’t worry there’s something called Morningstar Investing Education, which has several virtual classrooms on everything you’ll need to start investing properly. You can learn about EFTs, mutual funds, and stocks through this resource.

Managed Portfolios

If you have $25,000 or more you can have a USAA managed portfolio. You’ll start by telling your representative all your financial goals—retirement, vacation, new car, house, send your kid to college, etc.—how much risk you’re willing to take, and then they’ll let you know what type of portfolio fits your specific needs and desires.

They’ll monitor, reallocate, and rebalance when need be. However, this does come with a fee, but you’ll get diversified investments and a professional to keep you on track toward the goals you’ve set with them.

If you have $250,000, you have the option of doing a UMP Wrap with Wealth Management—USAA Managed Portfolio with additional benefits. This option is a bit more custom, and you’ll get a lot more than investment management basics.

USAA CD

If you’re not wanting to hold your money up in a retirement account, but still want to invest, you might want to consider a Certificates of Deposit or CD. With a much lower risk than dealing in the stock exchange, you can choose to deposit as little as $250 and let your money sit for days or years. Of course, the longer and larger your investment, the larger your APY.

USAA IRA Options

IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account.  You have the option of a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. Both are intended to help you save up for retirement. With an IRA you can choose to place your money in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, and even a managed portfolio, for a financial expert to manage for you. Which IRA you choose will depend on a few things, such as your future tax bracket and when you want to pay taxes on the money you invest. In both cases, the following apply:

  • If you withdraw money before you turn 59 1/2 you’ll risk a 10% tax penalty.
  • You may invest a maximum of $6,000/year if you’re under 50 as of 2019
  • You may invest a maximum of $7,000/year if you’re over 50 as of 2019

Traditional IRA

Traditional IRA accounts aren’t for everyone. But if you think your tax bracket will lower once you hit retirement, this could be a good option for you. It’s also great for people who would rather pay taxes once they start withdrawing money than right now. If you aren’t planning on taking out any money until you’re 71 1/2 this could be a beneficial investment.  It’s also a good option for those who are still making taxable income up until age 71 1/2.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is nearly the opposite of a Traditional IRA. It’s optimal for those who intend to stay or be placed in a higher tax bracket in retirement compared to their working years. It’s best for those who don’t want their tax benefits now and would rather wait until retirement. Do not mind paying taxes on their investment now, so they can make tax-free withdrawals once they’re retired. And it’s good for those who don’t want to worry about minimum distributions.

How to roll a TSP into a USAA IRA

Rolling your TSP over is pretty straightforward. It’s really a matter of transferring funds. Many banks will let you do this. If you’re a USAA member, simply sign on to your account and request to rollover your TSP into one of their IRA options.

  1. First, open an IRA account with USAA. You can do this online or over the phone with a representative.
  2. Select, “Rollover” for your funding source
  3. Download the form that applies to you: TSP-70 (full withdrawals) or TSP-77 (partial withdrawals)
  4. Mail, send via member message, or fax the completed form to 800-292-8177

USAA Review – What people don’t like

Believe it or not, it’s true; there are people out there who really hate USAA. Hate may seem like a strong word, but if you were to talk to the individuals feeling this particular way, you might use the word hate too. In fact, some of them used it themselves, keep reading to find out why.

Top Reasons People are Dissatisfied with USAA

  • Car insurance is too expensive
  • Claims center doesn’t know what they’re doing
  • It takes too long to get through to a representative
  • You will get the runaround with your claim
  • Getting USAA to pay out is near impossible
  • Some discounts aren’t available in all states
  • USAA doesn’t call their customers back
  • Concerns go unanswered, and members don’t get updated
  • USAA has been known to close accounts and open old accounts without authorization
  • Customer service is rude
  • USAA doesn’t have answers for their mistakes
  • Unless you’re actively serving, you don’t get as many benefits

Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle insurance is through a third party with USAA. This simply means you get an extra discount by going through USAA. But, who’s to say you can’t just tell the other company you’re military and still get the same thing. Also, USAA uses after-market parts, so if you’re looking for a better quality replacement on your motorcycle or car, you might want to consider elsewhere.

USAA Student Loans

USAA used to get you a 25% discounted rate for getting a student loan with Wells Fargo through them. But, guess what, they don’t do it anymore. Now you have no choice but to go directly to the company, and the discount isn’t included anymore.

USAA Car Insurance

The cost of car insurance is hit or miss. Depending on your driving record, how long you’ve been with USAA, and if you have any other products through USAA will alter your premium. Even your credit score could prevent you from getting a good deal—this is with most insurance providers. However, these things seem to hit a little harder when getting a good deal through USAA. So, shop around before you make your choice.

USAA Home and Personal Loans

Loans are not the easiest thing to get through USAA. And if you get approved, their rates are typically higher than most banks. This is the case for home, car and personal loans. Even if you have a good credit score, you’re looking at some pretty high interest rates. Personally, they told me I couldn’t get a VA loan through them because my civilian job wasn’t related to what I did while I was in the military—first time I’ve heard that. 

USAA Investments

Investing your money is a smart move. You need to save up for retirement, emergencies, and just everyday life. But who you invest with, how you invest, and the rate at which you invest are all just as important. USAA does a good job of advising their members on how to do each of these. However, they do not always have the best return rates (not always the case, but just shows you should shop around before you invest).

USAA Banking

USAA does a great job of offering more than just banking services. They offer a lot of products that other banks don’t. What might be attractive with USAA is how much you can get out of the company. It’s convenient to bank, invest, pay loans, and get insured all in the same place. But, that doesn’t mean it’s financially the best choice. If you’re looking to save money, it might be wise to get these products from different companies. Of course, in many cases, bundling these things with USAA does save you money. But, not always, so shop around.

2019 Buyers’ Guide to Laser Sights

If you’re looking for laser sights, look no further. Actually, you’ll have to look a tad further, because we don’t sell any. However, this is a great place to start before you actually buy a sight. Here’s our full buyers’ guide to everything laser sights.

Top Red Laser Sights

Red laser sights are probably the most popular. Not because they’re better, but because they’re cheaper than a green laser. Red lasers work great in low-light conditions and work well up to 25-30 yards in well-lit conditions (such as outside during daylight hours with no overcast).

LG-410 LASERGRIPS® FOR KIMBER® EVO SP

 

Description

Crimson Trace® LG-410 Lasergrips® are a compact and versatile laser sight system for Kimber® EVO SP pistols. With a simple replacement of the factory grips, the LG-410 features Crimson Trace’s famed Instinctive Activation™, allowing the laser to be activated with a normal grip on the pistol – via front activation button.

These Lasergrips include a Master On/Off switch, are fully adjustable for windage and elevation, and are eligible for Crimson Trace’s “Free Batteries For Life” program.

LG-410 Lasergrips fit Kimber EVO SP Two Tone, TLE™, Raptor™, CDP2 and Custom Shop models.

Price: $339.00

MBS-AA Borelight

Description

Low Power Mode for Low Light Conditions
Stainless Steel Bore Rods (2) Fully Adjustable for Windage / Elevation Rotary Switch for Easy Operation
Powered by One AA Battery
Includes Arbors for these Calibers:
    ⁃    .22/.223/5.56mm Oversize
    ⁃    .223/5.56mm
    ⁃    7mm
    ⁃    .30/.308/30-06/7.62mm
    ⁃    .38/.357/9mm
    ⁃    .40/10mm/.45/.50

Price: $279.00 (Must purchase directly from Steiner for this price)

TLR-4® GUN LIGHT

 

Description

  • White 170 lumen LED and red laser for long-range targeting
  • 3 modes: White LED only, Red laser only, or both LED and Red laser
  • Runs 1.5 hours to the 10% output level ( LED only or LED and laser); 15 hours (laser only)
  • Compact – weighs 2.81 oz. (79.7 g) with included battery; 2.73″ (6.93 cm) long
  • Key kit included for mounting to a variety of weapons (H&K USP models do not include key kit)
  • Rail clamp designed to rapidly attach/detach from side of the weapon. One handed snap-on and tighten interface keeps hands away from muzzle when attaching/detaching
  • Windage and elevation adjustment screw mounted in bushing for dependable zero retention of laser
  • Ambidextrous momentary/steady On-Off switch
  • Uses one 3V CR2 lithium battery (included)
  • Impact-resistant polymer construction with durable anodized aluminum facecap
  • Borofloat high-temperature glass lens
  • Operating temperatures of -20°F to +120°F
  • IPX4 water-resistant
  • Serialized for positive identification
  • Models also available for H&K USP Compact frame and H&K USP Full-Size frame
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Assembled in the USA

Price: $131

Top Green Laser Sights

Green laser sights are generally more expensive than red lasers. This is because the technology behind a green laser is more advanced. Green lasers work better than red lasers in well-lit environments. For instance, if it’s during peak daylight hours and you’re outside, you’ll be able to see your laser for up to 100 yards. In low-light conditions, the green and red lasers are about the same. However, green lasers are more powerful, which means the battery life isn’t as long as a red laser sight.

LG-401G FRONT ACTIVATION GREEN LASERGRIPS® FOR 1911 FULL-SIZE

 

Description

The LG-401G green laser sight for 1911 pistols combines Crimson Trace’s celebrated Lasergrips® platform with the visible advantages of green laser technology. Using the smallest laser green laser diode available, the LG-401G emits a powerful green beam yet still provides over two hours of run time on (4) #2016 batteries.  The LG-401G utilizes Crimson Trace’s famed Instinctive Activation™ technology – meaning that when the pistol is held in a normal firing grip, the laser sight is activated.  A Master On/Off switch allows the shooter to completely power down the unit for range training without the laser.  Green Lasergrips® set a new standard in 1911 green laser technology.

This product is not compatible with ambidextrous safety levers. We stock shortened ambi-safeties from Wilson Combat® in BLACK and STAINLESS. Gunsmith installation is required.

Price: $399.00

Steiner TOR Micro

Description

The TOR Micro is a sub-miniature rail mounted aiming laser for pistols available with a green or red laser.

The TOR Micro features a Type III hard-anodized machined-aluminum housing and rail mount. It is dustproof and splash-proof to IP54 standards and is available in red (635 nm) or green (520 nm) lasers. Both the green and red lasers are direct diode type allowing them to operate in extreme cold weather. Other features include left and right fire buttons for ambidextrous use, constant power drive that ensures the laser output remains constant throughout the life of the battery, low battery indication, as well as windage and elevation bore sight adjustment screws.

The universal rail mount on the TOR Micro will fit all pistols that have a Picatinny or Weaver style rail forward of the trigger guard. This design of the TOR Mini and TOR Micro allows optimum positioning of the laser so that the fire buttons are easily accessible for a wide range of users.

Price: $199

Streamlight TLR-2® G GUN LIGHT

 

Description

  • 510-530nm direct drive green laser with a wide operating temperature range
  • Green laser provides long-range targeting even in daylight
  • White LED delivers 300 lumens and 12,000-candela peak beam intensity
  • Runs 2.5 hours (LED/Laser simultaneously); Laser only function runs 17 hours
  • Powered by two 3V CR123A lithium batteries with a 10-year storage life
  • Rail grip clamp system securely attaches/detaches quickly and safely with no tools and without putting your hands in front of the muzzle
  • Mounts directly to handguns with Glock-style rails and to all MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) rails.
  • Includes keys for Glock-style, Picatinny, Beretta 90two, S&W 99 and S&W TSW and Sig P320
  • Durable, anodized aluminum construction with high-impact, chemical-resistant polymer laser housing
  • Ambidextrous momentary/steady on/off switch
  • User programmable strobe can be enabled/disabled
  • Windage and elevation adjustment screws mounted in bushings for long life and dependable zero retention
  • Highly accurate sight repeatability when remounting
  • Fits existing light bearing holsters
  • 3.39 in. (8.61 cm); 4.72 oz (133.8 grams)
  • Operating temperature: -40°F to +120°F.
  • IPX4 water-resistant
  • Lithium Battery Notice under DOCUMENTATION
  • Remote switches are available as optional accessories and must be used in conjunction with 69130 remote door switch. All switches and door switch are sold separately. Reference TLR Accessories Brochure in DOCS/INFO tab for more information.
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Assembled in the USA

Price: $316

Why Mount a Laser on your Pistol

You might be asking why you should mount a laser on your pistol, especially if there are things like the guide rod laser, which requires replacing your original guide rod and won’t make your pistol any bulkier than it already is.

Well, you see, the smaller your laser is, typically, the less powerful it is. You might consider doing a mounted laser because these tend to be more powerful, meaning you can see the laser better. However, you’ll never get anything more powerful than 5 mW—legally speaking.

Best Red Dot Sight | The 2019 Buyers’ Guide

Green vs. Red Laser Sights

We’ve already pointed out that green lasers require more advanced technology, they work better in a well-lit environment, and they’re more expensive. People who purchase green lasers do so because it works for the environment they plan to be using it in.

With that being said, yes green lasers are easier to see, particularly because humans see green better than any other color. And yes, that makes green lasers seem brighter than red lasers. However, the amount of power needed to operate a green laser effects more than the battery life.

All that power also means green laser sights are sensitive to temperature, which doesn’t affect your red laser as much. A green laser sight can operate between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you want to shoot in conditions under 40 degree or over 100 degrees, you should probably look into getting a red laser sight instead of the green option.

Disadvantages of Using a Laser Sight

Besides having to buy a new holster dedicated to holding your pistol with a laser on it, there are a few other disadvantages. One of these is that some people become too reliant on the tool and forget that the basics still matter. Your laser is meant to be a tool to use with your iron sights, and it can be easy to forget that for some.

A laser is not an excuse to forget the fundamentals. It is also not an excuse to disregard the fundamentals if you are a beginner. This, however, does not mean lasers can’t be a great learning tool – we’ll get into that shortly.

Advantages of Using a Laser Sight

While disadvantages of using a laser sight include the possibility of losing fundamental shooting skills—because you stop practicing or focusing on this—it does not mean there is a lack of advantages. In fact, it can help improve your aiming. You still have to use your fundamental skills, but it’s a great option for improving speed to acquiring sight picture.

Laser Grips

Laser grips are great for those who aren’t looking to add extra bulk and weight to their pistol. You can get grips that automatically turn the laser on from the pressure of your hand or a grip you must make a conscious effort to switch on. The downsides to these are, they aren’t interchangeable between all pistols, and they aren’t ambidextrous.

Best AR-15 Triggers | 2019 Buyers’ Guide

Left-Handed Laser Grip Options

Unfortunately, the number of left-handed laser grip options are limited. If you’re left-handed and choose to purchase a right-handed laser grip, know that the possibility of your hand impeding the laser is likely.

Rear Sight Lasers

Rear sight lasers are a popular choice because they tend to be lightweight compared to some other options out there. They’re typically much easier to install compared to a guide rod laser. However, some users have complained that the laser is not as powerful because it’s much smaller than other laser sight options.

Trigger Guard Mounted Lasers

Trigger guard mounted lasers are convenient because they can be used on multiple pistols. However, if you’re purchasing this type of laser for an existing pistol you carry, you’ll likely have to buy a new holster too.

These lasers are bigger and will add weight to your pistol. The laser is typically more powerful on a trigger guard mounted laser as well. However, your accuracy may be affected negatively if the mounting bracket doesn’t provide the secure attachment you’d expect—which is a common issue with this type of laser sight.

Guide Rod Lasers

Guide rod lasers are great for those of us who don’t want to add additional weight to our pistols or don’t want the worry of purchasing a new holster. However, unlike some other laser options out there, they’re a bit more complex when it comes to installation, as it requires you to replace the existing guide rod. If you know how to do this it may not seem like a big deal. However, it will affect your ability to adjust your sight’s windage or elevation.

Rail Mounted Lasers

If you have enough rail space to mount your laser, rail mounted lasers are simple to install. However, you might find it difficult to keep the laser completely still, as some mounting brackets just aren’t that good.

Legalities of Laser Sights

Believe it or not—insert dramatic eye roll—the federal government does have regulations on laser sights. This involves the power of your laser. Legally you can have a laser sight, so long as it is no more than 5 mW.

Concealed Carry with a Laser Sight

Depending on what style of laser sight you have on your pistol will depend on how much it affects your concealed carry. Some options will make your firearm bulkier, meaning it might be harder to conceal the fact that you’re carrying, because you’ll also need a larger holster. However, some laser systems—such as the guide rod laser—won’t make much of a difference.

Holsters for Pistols with a Laser Sight

In most cases, when you attach a sight to your pistol, chances are you’ll need to purchase a new holster. Some laser sights, such as the guide rod laser, won’t require a holster change. However, if you’re planning to add a laser to your trigger guard or do a rail mounted laser, you’ll be adding bulk, which means you’ll be needing a new holster. So, if you’re set on keeping the holster you have but also want a laser, you might have to settle for a smaller and less powerful laser.

Training with your Laser Sight

Anytime you add something new to your pistol you must practice with it. Yes, a laser can help you find your target quicker, but that doesn’t mean you should opt out of training with your new tool.

Chances are a laser will change the weight of your weapon, how you function—need to turn the laser on first or is it automatic—and maybe even the holster in which you’re drawing from. These changes may seem small, but they could mean the difference between hitting your target in time and not. So train to be comfortable with the changes. Train so you maintain accuracy. Train for safety. And always keep your fundamentals as a part of said training.

Fundamental Handgun Skills

A laser sight is not meant to correct or replace poor form—trigger squeeze, proper stance, etc. It is a great tool but it is not intended to make up for a lack of training.

How to set up your Rifle Sights and Optics

Laser Sight FAQs

Below are some of the most frequent questions people are asking about lasers.

Are laser sights legal?

Yes.

Which is better, a red or green laser?

The answer will depend on your environment. Green is easier to see in a well-lit environment. Green is also more expensive. Both options work well in low-lit conditions.

Are laser sights useful?

Yes, and no. Maybe you’d be surprised to hear that laser sights aren’t always a good idea, depending on who you are, how you operate and even the weaponry you use.

For many, lasers can have people forgetting their fundamentals or attempting to use them as a crutch rather than an additional tool. Of course, you can prevent this by training, but often people forget to train on the basics after attaching a laser. You might laugh about this, but it’s seen too often not to address.

Lasers, however, can be a very useful tool. Your laser is intended to be used with your iron sights. A laser simply helps you find sight alignment a little quicker in high-threat situations and when you’re in an awkward position to find that same sight alignment and sight picture with the iron sights.

Laser sights are also great training tools – especially for new shooters. The laser not only makes it easier for the instructor to immediately notice that you’ve shot low and to the left, but it also lets the shooter see that they don’t have proper sight alignment. Again, the laser is a tool – it does not replace your iron sights. You should train with both your iron sights and laser sight to maintain proficiency.

Are green lasers legal?

Yes, green is just as legal as red lasers. However, in both cases, the power of your laser cannot exceed 5 mW, per federal regulation.

How far do laser sights work?

The answer to this depends on which laser you’re using and your light conditions. A green laser in a well-lit environment can work up to 100 yards. However, a red laser in a well-lit environment might only give you a distance of 25-30 yards. Both are great options for low-lit situations.