Why You Need a Credit Card Before Joining the Military

If you’re 18 years old, you may be shaking your head at this headline. I understand. A lot of people fear credit cards. However, these days, it’s not as easy to get a credit card, and most companies won’t give you a credit limit that can get you in ridiculous amounts of trouble. There are tremendous benefits to owning a credit card before you join active duty enlistment – and it’s all thanks to something called SCRA benefits.

If you're enlisting in the United States military, get a credit card before you go to #BMT. Read why here! #military #airforce | Rose Colored Water

If you’ve never heard of the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), now is the time. Whether you’re thinking about joining up or already serving, these benefits will change your life. I don’t want to make this post all about the benefits of SCRA though. You can read about those in the link above. I’m simply going to highlight what relates to credit cards and loans.

Everything is backdated.

If you had credit cards or loans before you joined the military, the SCRA will be your new best friend. This is because the biggest and best benefit of the SCRA states that any interest rate on a loan prior to enlisting Active Duty military must be below 6% interest rate. That may not seem like much, but if you have credit cards with high-interest debt (15%, 22%, etc.), or a car loan at 9%, it will now drop to at least 6%.

For me, it looked like this:

  • CREDIT CARDS | I had 4 credit cards prior to joining, all above a 6% interest rate. Most of them had thousands of dollars of debt on them. My CapitalOne cards dropped to a 4% interest rate, and they credited my account with the difference in interest I had paid since my enlistment began. That was about $300. My Discover card dropped from a 19% rate to 6%. They also credited me the amount I had paid in interest since my date of enlistment – around $150.
  • STUDENT LOANS | Most government student loans are already under the 6% cap, but most private loans are not. I had two private loans through Sallie Mae with 11% and 9% interest rates. They totaled around $9,000 when the SCRA benefits went into effect. Before joining the military, I would pay about $80 in interest every month. My payments at that time were barely covering it. After the SCRA benefits went into effect, my interest rates dropped to 4%, cutting my monthly interest by more than half! I have since paid off those stupid Sallie Mae loans.

As you can imagine, these benefits changed my life. The key thing to remember is that most loans won’t qualify if you obtain them after enlisting Active Duty. They must be on the record before you leave for BMT.

The Benefits Remain Through Your Entire Active Enlistment

Probably the coolest thing to note is that your credit cards and loans will remain at that lowered interest rate through your entire active enlistment. As long as I re-enlist, my CapitalOne card will stay at 4%. My Discover card will stay at 6%. These are extremely low-interest rates if you have a limited credit history (like a high schooler) or a lot of debt (like myself).

I have taken full advantage of these benefits and have transferred higher interest debts that I obtained after enlisting, like my car loans, to greatly reduce the amount of interest I pay over time.

Guard or Reserve?

Unfortunately, Guard and Reserve can only receive these benefits when on Active orders, but it is still a huge benefit for you. I had several friends in the Guard take advantage of these while in BMT and technical school. They were given reduced interest rates for nearly 6-12 months. You can also use these benefits when deployed.

If You Don’t Have Credit, Now Is the Time

Let’s be clear here. I’m not telling you to run out and buy a car and get into a bunch of debt. However, if you have considered applying for a credit card and are about to enlist or leave for Basic Training, now is the time to do it so you can take full advantage of the benefits.

If you have any questions, please let me know or you can google the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act. I have highlighted just one of the major benefits in this post. Good luck!

My 100 Day Spending Fast

In September 2017, I dared myself to survive a one-month spending ban. The ban was mostly successful, thanks to the encouragement and help from my friends and family. In December, after buying loads of Christmas presents, I knew another detox was needed. In my goals for 2018, I vowed to pay down $20,000 of my debt in hopes of reaching a record low of $40,000.

This audacious goal won’t come without sacrifice. That’s why I’m cutting my excess spending for 100 days.

100 Days Spending Ban | Rose Colored Water #debt #money #spendingfast

January 1st – April 10th

This spending fast could not have arrived at a worse time, but maybe that makes it the best time. There’s no time like the present. The next few months require so much of me and my money. I have to:

  • move to a new apartment (deposits, fees, etc.) – My roommate is PCS’ing and most of my friends are moving as well, so I’ll be living in a one bedroom.
  • a lot of going away parties and gifts – my friends know I’m on a spending fast, but I wouldn’t miss their going away parties for anything! I will spend some money to be with them and wish them well on their new adventures.
  • the vet has recommended that Motley’s teeth be cleaned – This procedure will cost around $1000. I am still trying to decide if this is a necessary procedure.
  • the A/C went out in my Terrain – This is not something I am going to fix until I absolutely have to. Living without air in the car won’t be so bad when I’m not commuting an hour each way.

All of these things will need to be saved and budgeted for. They may even impact my ability to reach the $5000 debt pay-off goal I’ve set for this 100 day spending fast.

So far, I’ve done well. From what I can tell, I’ve spent $15 on extra stuff since the start of January. That included one going away lunch for a co-worker and a Coke from the vending machine. The next few weeks should be spend-free, aside from groceries and gas.

I look forward to seeing my debt drop every month. Will you join me in the spending fast?

How to Start a Blog in 5 Simple Steps

Starting a blog is easy. Maintaining a blog and making it look like the amazing blogs you read all the time takes more work. I have started more than five blogs over the last ten years, but Rose Colored Water is the only one I’ve followed through with. This is because I finally found something to write about.

Rose Colored Water is considered a lifestyle blog, but I write mainly about managing personal finances and being in the Air Force. A majority of my traffic comes from women looking for answers about enlisting in the military. We need more females out there documenting their experiences!

When you start your first blog, you don’t need to have a focus. Top bloggers will tell you that you must have a focus and niche, plus loads of content before starting, but for a newbie, I believe you must simply begin.

If you want to start blogging but have no idea where to begin, use this simple, five-step guide to get started.

Start a blog with these 5 simple steps! | Rose Colored Water #blogging #hustle

1. Purchase hosting and a domain name.

This is the most important part of starting a real blog. There’s nothing worse than stumbling upon a blog with awesome content, only to see that it’s called – moneyisawesome.wordpress.com. Having a “free” blog is a great place to start, but if you want to be taken seriously and have a blog worth looking at, you need to purchase hosting.

There are a lot of options out there for blog hosting, but I use Bluehost. Many bloggers use Bluehost and have no issues. I have never had any problems and their customer service has always been on point. It is very reasonable for startup costs, especially for newbie bloggers. I highly recommend them!

Click on my ad below or any of the links above so you can have site hosting for just $3.45/month! It’s a great deal and you’re set for the next 3 years!

Get cheap web hosting for just 3.45/month! | Rose Colored Water #blogging #website

Once you get started, you’ll be asked to pick a package and domain name. I use the BASIC PACKAGE. You shouldn’t need any more than that as a new blogger, and you can always upgrade later as your blog grows. I’ve been blogging for three years and the BASIC PACKAGE is still giving me more than I need.

Bluehost signup - start a blog | Rose Colored Water #blogging

After you’ve selected your package, you’ll be taken to the next screen showing you how to choose a domain name. Search for the domain you want, but be intentional about what you name it.

I chose Rose Colored Water because my middle name is Rose, and I liked how it gave the idea that these were my thoughts. For a lifestyle blog, it works. NOTE: You want your domain name to be short, simple, and easy to remember. You should try to make it relevant to the kind of content you’ll be posting too. 

Many people use their names, or a play of words with their name, and it works well for them. Lifestyle blogs have more flexibility than niche specific blogs. Don’t let choosing a name stop you from going through with starting a blog. Many people become paralyzed by this. You can always transfer it later, though it will require more work. Getting started is what counts.

Sign up for blog hosting | Rose Colored Water #blogging #websites

Now that you have a domain name and some decent hosting, you’ll finish creating your account. Bluehost will offer some additional services, but you can add those all later if you need to. Just buy the basic hosting.

Once you’ve finished creating your account and purchasing your subscription, Bluehost will send you a WELCOME! email with a link to your home dashboard called the cPanel. You will complete your next step – downloading WordPress – there.

2. Download WordPress.

Many bloggers use WordPress as the backbone of their site. If you buy hosting through Bluehost, this is the easiest way to go. WordPress allows for easy customization, and gives you everything necessary to start blogging today. Plus, IT’S FREE!

  1. Go to your cPanel.
    • A link will be sent with your welcome email from Bluehost taking you to your home dashboard.
  2. Under the cPanel, scroll to the WEBSITE section.
      • Click “Install WordPress.

    Install WordPress | Bluehost | Rose Colored Water

3. The next page will walk you through the steps of installing WordPress on your site. This is fairly simple, and if you have any issues, you can always email or tweet me, and I’ll try my best to help you through it.

3. Find a theme.

This is the most exciting part of starting your blogging journey. During your WordPress install, they might advertise themes, but I recommend waiting until you have installed WordPress and look through their free themes. I started out with free themes, but around two years in, I went to Etsy and bought the theme you see now, for about $17.

Your blog dashboard will look something like this:

Wordpress themes | Rose Colored Water

  1. Go down to Appearance > Themes.
    • Click on Popular for the most common free themes you’ll see.
    • Click on the theme you want and Install. You will be able to customize it a little more after installation.
  2. Check out Etsy for responsive WordPress themes like mine.

4. Get familiar with how WordPress works.

You will be forever frustrated with blogging if you don’t learn how to manage the back end of your site. Take some time to play around with things before announcing your blog to the world. As I’ve told many friends who’ve started blogging, you will want to change things numerous times before you finally settle on a single layout.

Take some time to learn how to format posts and upload blog images. Decide what you want in your top menu and sidebars.

5. Write three posts.

After you feel comfortable with WordPress, START WRITING! My first posts don’t exist on this blog anymore, but you can bet I wrote a big hello to the world and shared it all over my social media accounts.

If you want to stay in a niche, do some research and write three article-style posts. Once you’ve written a post, click publish.

Type a WordPress Post | Rose Colored Water

Now you have a real blog with a real name with real content! There will be a learning curve, but over time, you will absolutely get the hang of it. It’s a new year, and there is no better time than the present to START YOUR OWN BLOG.

Don’t let fear stop you! Blogging can change your life! Good luck, and hit me up if you have any questions!

How to start your own blog in 5 steps. | Rose Colored Water #blogging #hustle

Goals for the Year 2018

This is the third year in a row I’ve made New Year Resolutions. I started back in 2016 (see my 2016 resolutions and 2017 resolutions) and was so impressed with how successful it was, I kept on doing it. Without my yearly and quarterly reviews, I wouldn’t accomplish half of these goals. Rose Colored Water has been instrumental in what I achieve every year, and even if I never posted, the check-ins alone would keep me going.

This year, I decided to stop calling them resolutions and start calling them goals. My plans and desires are not resolutions by definition. A resolution is something you “resolve” to do. My goals are more than just things I am resolving to do. I could resolve to eat better, but I would rather make a specific goal to cut out dairy three days a week.

See what I mean?

2018 Goals | Rose Colored Water

For 2018, I made concrete goals I can take specific steps to reach. Plus, most require a lot of work and aren’t dedicated to making me a better person. I am not trying to lose weight, eat better, or pursue minimalism. This year, I need to get things done. If I don’t, other parts of my life will rearrange and change course.

CAREER

There are very specific career goals I have in the Air Force, and I hope to complete all of them in 2018. I’ve mentioned it before, but if I don’t get into nursing school, then I can’t apply to the NECP. That will mean another year of waiting for the next cycle to open again. There’s also the possibility that I will get into a nursing program, but not into the NECP. My goals extend past my acceptance into that program.

1. Get into nursing school.

I am applying to five programs, but two of those may fall through before I can finish their application. I will update you as things develop. Acceptance into nursing school means I can move forward with my application to nursing school.

2. Get into the NECP.

Once I am accepted into nursing school, I will move forward with applying to the Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program. If I don’t get into the NECP or can’t apply, this goal will roll over to next fall where I will reapply.

If I don’t get into nursing school or the NECP, I plan on hopping into a few more college courses (pathophysiology, general chemistry II, and medical terminology) to increase my chances and gain more educational experience.

3. Score a 90 on my PT test.

Typically I take my test in October. However, if I get into the NECP, it is highly recommended I test in June or July so my testing cycle falls during summer sessions (less going on and more time to prep). I have never scored below a 90, and I don’t plan on starting now.

4. Make Staff Sergeant (E-5) first time.

I will become an E-4 (Senior Airman) just in time to test for the rank of E-5 (Staff Sergeant). Staff Sergeants are given more responsibility and take on supervisory roles and responsibilities. I want to make E-5 the first time because it comes with a big pay increase and I would finally be the same rank as many other people my age. That’s the tough part about enlisting at an older age. I believe I am ready for that position and hope to have a positive impact in my work center.

If I don’t make it this year, I will have to wait another year to test. If I don’t get into the NECP, it would be horrible for me if I didn’t make this rank the first time. Talk about feeling like a failure…

5. Volunteer 100 hours at the hospital.

I volunteer in the emergency department at a local hospital, so over the next year, I would like to gain at least 100 hours. This provides invaluable experience for me and looks great when applying to nursing school.

LIFESTYLE

These are the general goals I want to accomplish in 2018. They aren’t necessarily important to anyone but me, but I place them high on my priorities.

1. Take one big trip.

Hopefully, this trip will be a big move to wherever I get into nursing school, but if that falls through, I would like to take a real vacation. I want to go somewhere I haven’t been so I can forget about my problems.

2. Move closer to work.

As you may already know, last year I moved to be closer to my husband’s (now ex) work. This increased my commute time from 30 minutes to more than an hour each way. Now that I am divorced, I can move back to the area I lived before – shortening my commute time, increasing my happiness, and reducing my expenses.

I will have to give up my two bedroom lifestyle because my roommate is PCS’ing in April and I move in March. There is no one else available to live with right now, so I think it’s best for me to downsize and sell some stuff. This will help with some of the debt pay-off and improve my minimalist mindset.

3. Read my entire 2018 book list.

Every year, I make a reading list. This year, I am attempting to read 39 books. It’s an audacious goal, but some of these books are from my 2016 and 2017 lists. Check out this page to see all my book reviews as I work through the list this year.

4. Make intentional purchases.

I hope to spend very little money in 2018, but I also want to create a space that feels cozy and minimal. Right now, I still feel my home has too many odds and ends. Reducing the amount of stuff (furniture, random knick-knacks, etc.) will create a much quieter, peaceful environment.

I’m going to continue purging old things I’ve found in dumpsters (literally) and start saving up for specific furniture and decor pieces I’d like to have. Check out my Home Decor Pinterest board to see some of my minimalist style wants.

FINANCIAL

1. Pay my debt down to $40,000.

I have about $60,000 in debt. This is scattered across credit cards and student loans. Paying off $20,000 on my salary is going to be tough, especially since I will be living alone. However, I’m dedicating 2018 to the biggest, most bodacious, nearly unachievable goals.

If I can put an additional $1000-$2000 a month towards my regular debt payments, I can achieve this goal with the help of other things. Paying down my debt to $40,000 would be ALMOST as good as getting into the NECP.

Below are some goals that will help put more money towards my debt.

2. Refund my extended warranty on my car.

I admit it. Buying the extended warranty for my GMC Terrain was a decision made out of fear. It felt like the right thing to do to reassure myself. Now that I’m trying to cut my expenses and find some loose cash, the warranty must go. I’ve never needed it, and with a healthy emergency fund, I will be able to handle anything that comes my way.

The fine print reassured me that even if I did need to use it, they would find a way to not honor it. So… through a bunch of hassle and letters, I will attempt to get back the pro-rated amount left over on this extended warranty. It will go right back into paying this car off.

3. Pay off my car.

Of the $20,000 I want to pay off this year, my car is the first priority. I am still underwater on it and it is the biggest payment I have. I hope to pay it off in full by September.

4. Switch to the Blended Retirement System and get my employer match.

As of January 1st, a new retirement system is available for military members. I won’t go into details here, but I’ve decided to opt-in to this plan, which will now include a 5% employer match to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). I want to continue contributing 10% into my TSP, so now it will be like I’m putting in 15%. Pretty dope, right? Once I pay off more debt, I’ll increase my contributions.

5. Reach $5000 in my emergency fund.

That ever-elusive $5000 I’ve been trying to save is finally going to happen. Honestly, I’d rather have this sitting in my bank account than paying down the debt to $40000. I want to feel secure financially, and this is the most important way to achieve that.

BLOGGING

1. Monetize Rose Colored Water.

Last summer, I said that monetizing my blog was a priority and I wanted to make $500 a month by the end of 2017. This was also around the same time I decided to end my marriage. Everything blog-related was put on the back-burner and I vowed to eventually get back to it. This is the year. I am still keeping the goals of making $500/month on the blog by the end of 2018. Through affiliate marketing and ads (possibly), monetizing my blog will help me reach the goal of paying $40,000 in debt off by the end of the year.


Want to help? Start a blog through Bluehost for just $3.45/month! CLICK THE BANNER ABOVE (I will earn a small commission) for a great deal on blog hosting and help me on my journey to debt freedom!

2. Retake/Finish the Making Sense of Cents Affiliate Marketing Course.

I started this course back in April 2017 and never completed it (for the same reason as above). After May, I really want to dig back into this course and get to work on affiliate marketing and optimizing my posts.

3. Publish 10 posts a month.

I have not wanted to blog for a long time, but I am dedicated to growing my site and helping others. This year, I hope to publish at least 10 posts a month. This will require me to re-motivate myself and work through my lack of inspiration. I have a ton of ideas and drafts; I just can’t bring myself to write them. This is my year though. I’m going to make it happen.

4. Finish re-optimizing my blog posts.

This is something I worked fervently on last spring, but fell to the wayside when all my life changes happened. I hope to continue this and finish making all my blog posts beautiful with Pin-worthy images.

These are big goals for the year, but I believe I can accomplish a lot of them if I stay motivated, excited, and energized. Many of my friends are PCS’ing this year, so I will be spending more time indoors (alone, sadly). The positive side to this, if I don’t get into the NECP, is that I will be able to put more time into reading and blogging.

What are your goals for the year?

Books I Read | December 2017

I admit it. I completely fell off the blogging bandwagon in November, causing me to miss my November reading recap post. December’s reading recap will be an accumulation of books I read in November and December. I did pretty well once classes ended. I even checked off some books that were on my reading list from 2016.

Some of the books I read were complete trash. It was very disappointing. I guess that’s the way it goes when you choose randomly on Goodreads.

Books I read in December 2017 | Rose Colored Water #readingchallenge

A Practical Guide: How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-Do List, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together – Rachel Wilkerson Miller

I decided to start bullet journaling in late November, and I really enjoyed it. It slowed down once my classes ended because I didn’t feel like I had a lot to put in it, but this book is a great way to get started with the process. I highly recommend it if you’re considering starting a bullet journal.

bullet journal | Rose Colored Water

Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life – Jen Hatmaker

I listened to this on audiobook and it was really good! Jen Hatmaker is a Christian writer with some liberal views on faith. She narrated and added her own tidbits that aren’t in the written text, which was refreshing and insightful. If you are interested in hearing from a woman who loves God and isn’t a fire and brimstone type, put this book on your list!

The Bette Davis Club – Jane Lotter

This book was so underwhelming. It started slow and didn’t pick up or get interesting until the last 50 pages or so. I thought it would be a fun read, but it was doldrum. There is very little related to Bette Davis, and the analogy in which she is used is dumb. Don’t read.

The Gemini Effect – Chuck Grossart

Another disappointing read. I am so glad to finally have this off my list. It was on my 2016 reading list and I was able to read it using my free Kindle Unlimited Trial. I thought it sounded so interesting, but it was poorly written and felt like the author stole from a thousand other stories. Picture I Am Legend and World War Z in book form.

The best part about this apocalyptic novel was that it started in Kansas City. I don’t recommend it.

The Winged Histories – Sofia Samatar

This book has great reviews on Goodreads but it was so difficult to read and understand. The writing is unique and beautiful, but I found myself asking what the heck is going on right now? I skimmed the whole thing. I did not enjoy it and if someone asked me what it was about, I wouldn’t know what to say.

Friends Like Us – Lauren Fox

This was exactly what I thought it would be. I actually read it a few days ago (getting an early start on my 2018 list) because it was on Hoopla as audiobook. It definitely feels like the author stole everything from Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. It was written well, but so overdone. If you like these kinds of stories, go ahead and read it. Just don’t expect anything big.

Beneath the Surface – John Hargrove

I’m not quite finished with this, but I’m close enough to write a review. I have been torn apart in multiple ways reading this book. This man, a senior trainer who worked with orcas at SeaWorld – unveils the truth behind performing orcas and the work that went into making these carnivorous creatures seem like cuddly, understanding beings.

Many people don’t know that I have my scuba certification and went to college in Maine for a year to pursue this career.  The summer before I left, one of their oldest and best trainers was killed by Tilikum. That was in 2010. After the trainer’s death, workers were no longer allowed to get into the water with the whales. That piece, among so many other things, killed my dream and I decided to pursue something else.

Hargrove details his rise in the SeaWorld training ranks and how he eventually left the company because his beliefs changed. While I love seeing the orcas perform, Beneath the Surface opens your eyes to how animals in captivity react and endure life in captivity. There is no “thriving” in that kind of environment.

I could write an entire post on that book, but I recommend reading it for yourself. (And definitely read before you watch Blackfish.)

That wraps up my December reads. I am excited to get started on the rest of my 2018 reading list! What have you been reading lately?