Earn a Degree and Reduce Your Tax Debt

Most moms and dads out there know that child care and preschool costs are tax deductible. But, did you know that when you head back to class some of your educational expenses can also lower your tax bill?

For the 2016 tax year there are two tax credits you can take advantage of as you file your taxes:

the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.


New to the Military? The Benefits Are Endless

By Jenna Moede

I’ve learned over time that life doesn’t always turn out the way that I planned. Sometimes, it turns out even better than I could have imagined.

Life married to a man in the military definitely fits the unplanned bill. Even though I always feel surprised by new things, even after doing this for several years, I found a few twists and turns that surprise me more than others.

I learned pretty quickly that my spouse’s work center and the people he met there became like a second family to him.


Are Volunteer Expenses Tax Deductible? You Bet!

Military families are also often dedicated volunteers, sometimes to several organizations.

Tax return time is a chance to recoup some of the money we spend to help our communities.

Sure you get a warm and fuzzy feeling for helping out. You make new friends. You learn new skills. And, if you keep your records correctly, you can use the money you spend to volunteer as a deduction on your annual tax form.


New Military Only Shopping Site Launched

Do you enjoy online shopping?

If so, Blue Star Families has a new perk just for you.

This month the military family support organization launched a new, members-only, online shopping platform.  Blue Star Deals is open only to military members, their spouses and children. The site requires only a name and email address for registration.

Tabs in the online portal divide shopping into wellness, financial, travel, hotels, car rentals, tickets, electronics and other general categories.


Practice vs. Habit

By Amy Nielsen

Practice versus habit. That is the topic today. I recently started a yoga practice. I am also trying to stop the habit of smoking. Why is one called a practice and one called a habit? Why does one have a positive connotation and one negative? Can I change my habit with a different intention, a different word? Can I practice stopping smoking? Should yoga become a habit?

In exploring words lately, I realize that the intention behind the word is the key. So I went to look at the definition of practice and habit.


Cut the Expense of Summer Fun, Visit the MWR Office

Traveling this summer for PCS or vacation? It's worth a stop at your closest MWR facility and a call to your vacation destination. A military discount is not always what it seems.

Last month, we headed to Clearwater, Fla., to visit the dolphins, Winter and Hope of movie fame, Dolphin Tale.

Our home MWR office said they didn't sell discount tickets, but, not to worry, a military discount was offered at the gate.  

It sure was - to active duty only. My husband is a retiree.


Resume Dos and Don'ts

You need to write your resume. For many job searchers, this task can be daunting.

There are professional resume services, that are happy to charge you between $80 and $700 to

not only edit your resume, but to write it completely as well as draft your cover letter and the thank you notes you should follow up with after each interview. Shooting for an executive position? High-end resume services that include interview and salary negotiation coaching can cost you a cool $2,500.


Looking at a Community College? Know the Facts

Women outnumber men on college campuses.

Experts have been tracking the growing presence of women in classrooms since World War II

when the end of the battles meant women could begin straying further from the homefront and pursue a degree. By the 1960s and 70s women wanted careers, not just jobs.


Retiree Healthcare Will Cost More

Retirees will pay more for their healthcare under the 2017 proposed Defense Department budget.

Under the plan, Tricare will be re-aligned into two plans that reward families for using military treatment facilities. Under both Tricare plans, active duty families who use military facilities will pay nothing.

Families who choose the plan that includes civilian doctors will pay between $20 and $250, depending on the type of doctor and service provided. 


Passport Wait Times Expected to Lengthen

Need a passport, or need to renew? You might want to get that paperwork submitted ASAP.

U.S. officials warn that they expect passport processing to be backlogged through 2018. Why? A U.S. law in 2007, dubbed the western hemisphere travel initiative, required any U.S. citizen travelling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda to hold a passport.

That year, U.S. officials issued 18 million passports because of the new law. Most of them are due for renewal in the next two years, meaning lines and waits are about to become longer.

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