By - Antonio Hicks

Budgeting for Civilian Life

Transitioning from the military can be quite an adventure, and extremely stressful if a service member is not prepared. There are a lot of new things to adapt to, from having to select clothing for work to have less income to live off of. It is important for service members to understand the impact a transition will have on their personal finances so they can plan accordingly.

I transitioned from the Army in 2009. If it weren’t for having a very supportive wife and doing a little bit of pre-planning in our personal finances, it could have been the most stressful time in my life. The uncertainty and change that military members face when they transition into civilian life can strain even the strongest relationship and budget. Planning for the financial turmoil can help lessen stress.

The most important part of the transition, of course, is to find a new job. While you’ll probably find a decent job, the pay won’t nearly compare to the pay and benefits received on active duty. That means a pay cut. To be on the safe side, I recommend planning for at least a 20% pay cut. Then, if the cut’s not that bad, you can consider it a bonus.

Luckily for us, my wife and I had started following the teachings of Dave Ramsey shortly after we married. We were living on a budget, completely debt-free, and had a nice cushion in place by the time I left the military. I would highly recommend that everyone read Dave Ramsey’s “The Total Money Makeover,” especially before considering a transition from the military.

When it comes time to forecast for a post-transition budget, consider the following areas:


One of the best benefits of military service is the housing allowance. The military provides either completely free housing or an allowance to cover the costs of renting a home in the local area. Very few other employers offer this financial incentive.

A service member’s post-transition budget should account for the loss of this benefit, which could be thousands of dollars a month. Also, service members should research the cost of housing for where they plan to live and incorporate that into their budget.


The military also provides a monthly financial benefit for the purchase of groceries. While this benefit is usually small, it should still be considered when developing a post-transition budget. Not only does the benefit go away, but the price of groceries will likely go up significantly.

According to the Defense Commissary Agency, service members save up to 30% on grocery purchases when compared to shopping at civilian supermarkets.

Service members who do not plan on retiring from the military and who are not completely disabled will lose access to the commissary system and should plan to pay higher prices for food. The article “Smart Grocery Shopping” can help shoppers save in the grocery store.


Another financial allowance provided by the military is the “clothing allowance,” which is meant to be used by enlisted members for the purchase of uniforms.

Losing this allowance shouldn’t be a very big deal since it is only a few hundred dollars a year, but the implication is that post-transition veterans no longer have to wear a uniform to work. So in addition to losing this allowance, they also have higher clothing costs.

Military Discounts

We are blessed to live in a nation where businesses value our military members so much that many of them offer military discounts for purchases of goods and services.

From restaurants to movies and cell phone plans, those discounts help military members save quite a bit of money during the span of their military career. Obviously, once they leave the military, they are no longer eligible for military discounts. Some businesses offer discounts to veterans, but those are few and far between.

When developing a post-transition budget, it is important to note that some costs, especially entertainment costs, will increase.

car buying
By - Antonio Hicks

Debt-Free Car Buying: No Consumer Credit, Personal, or Car Loan

With debt at an all-time high and jobs at an all-time low, it only makes sense to “not” go into debt. Life does not cooperate with that very often, however. When you need another car you need one. Of course, you can always apply for a payday loan online with same day deposit from or from a similar website. But in this article, I’m going to share with you three proven ways to buy a car without going one cent into debt.

1. Car trading

This is a very energetic way to achieve a goal of getting yourself a different vehicle, maybe not a new one but one you need. Anyone can do this, however.

You must be willing to scour the want ads, and free ads for people wanting a vehicle that you have. Then you find out if they have a vehicle they would trade for it. You can come out quite far ahead in value by doing this.

Let’s say your purpose is to get say a Jeep instead of the luxury car you own for the manly adventures in the outback, you can probably find someone willing to make a complete swap with you. If the value is off a bit, you may haggle for other items thrown in, or a bit of cash to make up the difference. Another great idea to make up some difference in value is to have the one getting the better deal pay for the transfer of title, and pay for the first set of tags.

If you are wanting a Luxury car, and find someone wanting that old truck in your backyard, they may be willing to trade with you just as I described above.

You can also trade incrementally, working your way up to that Porsche you wish to drive. Look around and see what you own that you can swap for something hopefully more valuable someone else wants. Several trades later you could get that expensive car you wish to own.

You can also join groups that primarily deal in only trading of services, and products for services.

This has been done many times over in my family and with great success. My father in law was so successful at this type of trading that he never once went into debt, his whole life. I’m glad he taught what he knew as this is a fantastic means of debt-free car buying.

*Tip: to speed things up, list items you wish to trade in the newspaper as well, and online.

2. Buckle down and save…but how?

Depending on your tax bracket, you can help yourself save up for a new or used car by having your employer take more off the top for taxes. Then go one step further, and have an allotted amount sent directly to a savings account. Make this account totally separate from your checking so you don’t find yourself tempted to dip into it.

This can be done, but it is difficult. It takes gumption to stick to this type of tight living. For most people, this would be a stretch on its own, but you add changing your spending habits to that and it can be managed.

Before you ditch this idea, just remember, you want a new or used car, and you want to be free of debt. Do what you have to do to psyche yourself. Post a picture of that car you want. Write the words freedom, and put them somewhere you go often like the restroom. This may sound crazy but it works, and after a while, the new thinking and habits of living frugally will have kicked in full gear, and you will not need these reminders anymore.

By tax time next year, there you sit with enough cash in your accounts to go buy a car. If you want an expensive new car, it may take a few years to save up but you can do it.

3. My favorite! Inherit enough cash to buy a car

This is my favorite way to get a car without going into debt. I had an Uncle give me a couple of thousand dollars many years back, and my husband and I went and bought a used car with it. It felt so good to pay in full with cash. It was a very nice like-new used car.

Obviously, you cannot buy a like-new, used car nowadays for $2000, and not everyone is fortunate enough to inherit, but I had to mention this as a tribute to a wonderful Great Grandfather who took his responsibility as such, to heart.

He divided his meager wealth amongst not only his kids but he took care of everyone, including me, his great-grandchild. I thank him for his present which truly blessed my family in a desperate time of need, as our car was worn out, and we desperately needed another ride.

So if you don’t inherit but can be a blessing to your family, and distant family, by all means, do so. You never know how much it may mean to them. They may be like I was, in a desperate situation of need.


I hope these proven ways to buy a car, and stay out of debt, inspire you to give it all you got. It is worth it to not be in debt. Who needs to worry about consumer credit, personal finance or a car loan. When you think you cannot do it, just remember, someone else did it, and you can too!

By - Antonio Hicks

How Should You Repay Your Student Loan?

Education is essential but expensive too. Most people are unable to pay all the cost involved in higher education from their savings or present earning. Some students also do not earn. Thus they end up taking student loans. But it is vital to know how to make its repayment.

When You Must Start To Repay Your Student Loan?

Most of the student loans come with a grace period of 6 months. It means that do not have to begin your repayments until 6 months before you become a graduate, drop out or below this half-time position.

A grace period will give you an opportunity of finding a job as well as start earning remuneration before getting flooded with your bills. The following loans include 6 months grace period:

  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans
  • Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford loans
  • Few Private Student loans

Plus loans come with no grace period. So start to repay them once they are completely disbursed. The grace period on the Federal Perkins loan depends on the financial institution that provided you the loan. If you took this type of loan, ask your school about your repayment time.

Private student loan’s grace period will depend on the loan provider and the contract of the loan. Most of these loans include a short grace period. But you need to check with your loan provider to ensure.

You can select to opt for student loan consolidation during the grace period. It will group your student loan into payment and then simply everything significantly.

If you take a federal student loan, you can select consolidation with the educational department via your loan provider or with any private loan provider. A private loan provider will be offering a lower rate of interest.

But it will be applicable to those who have a high credit score. If your credit is good and you want to reduce your rate of interest on your medical school loan, then, for instance, the best option will be to work with a private loan provider.

How You Should Get Prepared For Payments Of Your Student Loans?

  • Make use of grace period for researching the repayment options of student loans.
  • Prepare a budget that must be set up around your student loan
  • Payment of student loans must be prioritized
  • Converse with loan provider
  • Put up automatic repayments for avoiding any late fee
  • Avoid becoming a defaulter of student loan anyhow
  • Be aware of the right date when you should expect to repay the loan. So set a target for yourself so that you can plan accordingly.

How Much Repayment Should Be Done Every Month?

The minimum repayment every month depends on the loan type, owed loan amount, the duration of the repayment plan and the rate of interest. Typically students are provided 10-25 years to completely repay their federal loans. Short repayment time or a huge loan amount will cause high payments every month.

The Standard 10-year Repayment Plan is the most famous plan as many students have enrolled for it. But it does not imply that it will be the best one for you.

It is the default plan and any borrower has enrolled automatically in this Standard Plan until they select another one. You need to make fixed repayments each month for 10 years.

It looks like an excellent plan if a student can manage the monthly repayments and the affordable choice of long duration as he will be paying very less interest. But if he has no such income for supporting any such payments, he must enroll in any repayment plans that are income-driven.

Moreover, in making extra payments, you will be able to repay any amount that is more than your least repayment every month. No penalty will be applied for early repayment. By taking such an approach you will be able to save a considerable interest amount over time.

How To Make Repayments?

Once you bill is due, you should be responsible to send your payments each month to those companies who hold your loan.

If you are unaware of where you should send the payment, check out your school’s financial help office. They will inform you about your loan providers. You will get to know who they are and then you can contact them directly with any specific query.

But you should remember that your payments will be due even if you never receive any bill. If you relocate after you graduate, let your loan provider have an idea of your current address so that you receive the bills and can make regular payments without becoming a defaulter.

If you wish to create easier budgeting, you can consider changing the due date of your loan. The loan repayment can be due every month before you get your paycheck.  Get in touch with your loan provider to find out if your repayment date can be directly switched to any date after you are paid.

If you are unable to make your repayments, you must inform your loan provider. Review your repayment choices instead of not paying anything and creating a default.


By - Antonio Hicks

Get An Idea Of Bank Loan For Startup Business

In a start-up funds play a pivotal role and securing it is one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs. As there are several options available related to funding, it is important to understand the available schemes carefully and then choosing one wisely by understanding the financial position and the requirements.

Do Banks Offer Start-Up Loans For A New Business Venture?

There are many investors and capital firms who invest a lot of funding to these start-ups along with that there are banks who also provide funding for the start-ups however entrepreneurs are not that much aware of that fact. In U.S., banks are one of the largest funders for the start-ups each year. Banks and financial institutions provide financial assistance to the companies in all stages of a business lifecycle. Start-ups can lend the funding as a working capital or asset backed loans depend upon the desideratum. Banks used to lend if they find the business model is sustainable. They examine the returns from the business and whether the business has the potential to pay back the loan along with that management experience and expertise play a key role in this.

Do Banks Offer Start-Up Loan To Businesses Beginning In Unusual areas?

In order to get a funding for your start-ups in unusual area, there should be a proper business model. Banks usually insist on higher collateral security coverage typically with other sources of income. If you can provide the same, Banks will definitely lend you the funding for the start up with novel business models.

Can A Start-Up Get Bank Loan For Research Work And Technology Development?

It is possible that you can get a start-up loan for research work as well as technology development from banks. Any loan that is backed by asset can be utilized to develop latest technology as well as marketing or any other efforts for expansion of a start-up venture. Loans backed by asset will be provided typically depending of the market value of any residential, commercial and industrial property that will be pledged. Apart from the collateral that will be offered as a security, an individual also need to make the bank understand the expected financial returns from their business and funds’ source to meet the interest as well as principle of the loan that will be scheduled on time.

Can A Start-Up Loan Be Availed To Buy Equipment Or Machinery?

Any start-up can get hold of term loans to buy equipment or any machinery. Banks extend the loans for any purchase and commissions of any capital asset like machinery or equipment for using it in the business.

Can A Start-UP Loan Be Obtained For Stocking Inventory?

If you are going to begin a start-up venture, you can get a loan from banks for your stocking inventory or to provide credit to consumers. Banks usually try to assess working capital need of any business on the basis of the projection that is provided as well as take a conservative approach for lending any working capital amount.

Will It Be Possible For A Start-Up To Get A Bank Loan Without Collateral?

If you are planning to begin a new business, you must be eager to know how to get a start-up loan without collateral for financing your ideas. There are two main types of loans; unsecured as well as secured. The major difference between these two types of loans is that the first one needs an asset that will be acting as a security i.e. you will require collateral. But the second type of loan comes with no such necessity. There are some start-up loans that are accessible without any collateral. They are not easy to get hold of or readily obtainable like standard secured loans.

How Should You Approach A Bank Or Private Loan Providers For Start-Up Loan?

Before you approach a bank or any private loan provide with a request for financing your business, you need to prepare one such pitch that will explain your business model, your background, the revenue model projected sales, profit, rate of growth as well as returns. Return on the investment is a major factor for banks and also equity investors. So it is crucial for you to collect, acquaint and also compile all details in a presentable report at first. Once you are ready with your investment pitch, you need to identify the prospective banks that include schemes or any facility to provide the needed funding. You need to make up your request in such a way that it will suit into the framework of all the financial institutions lending policy. So you should not request for funding at any institution that only offers term loans. After completing these two steps, you can approach a financial institution or private lender and exhibit your pitch as well as funding request to them.

Thus you are aware of the available financing from banks as well as private loan providers. You must understand your situation well and then opt for the most viable funding option accessible to you. This way you will be able to manage the required fund for your start-up venture.


By - Antonio Hicks

How Do You Get A Grant To Start A Business For A Woman?

The fact that the grant is free financing makes the competition to be fierce among women entrepreneurs. However, if the will is there, the light at the end of the tunnel will appear. We shall be looking at places where women can look up to for the grants that will inject life into their business.

The above site is where to be for women that need grants for their business. With a unique 9 digit identification number (DUNS). There are results at the left hand of the page under the tag eligibility; filter it and you will be able to access the grants that are there for women in business.

The Girlboss Foundation Grant

The operation of this foundation dates back to the year 2014 and it is the brainchild of entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso. Grants can be gotten here twice a year by women who need capital to push their business forward. Each of the recipients is entitled to $15,000 and those that can qualify for the grant are women who are into any of the following fields of business: design, fashion, music, and the arts. Successful candidates are the ones that can convince the panel that they are in dire need of the finance coupled with their creativity and business acumen.

Economic Development Administration

If the will is there for women entrepreneurs who need cash to beef life into their business, then there is a way out. Another area to look up to is the one stated above. Each state, especially in us and even some cities, have economic development resources whose main target is the development of the local economies. Taking California as a reference point, there are several economic districts there in the mould of Superior California Economic Development District whose main concern is to provide funding for local entrepreneurs for their business. Women can look up to such for business founding.

Amber Grant

This is another area that women can look up to for grants going by the frequency with which they give grants to women. This is done every month of the year. Successful women applicants will receive a $2,000 grant. The process here is pretty simple; the application fee is $15 and you are expected to describe your business line of operation and explain how you intend to make use of the money upon approval. At the end of the year, the best that can prove the success of effective use of the grant is granted an additional $25,000 to beef up the business further. This is a place where women entrepreneurs can try their luck.

Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant

Each year, this foundation awards the bulk sum of $100,000 to women in business. This some is spread among a maximum of 10 women each year. If you are interested, then you must fulfil the following conditions: the business ownership and leadership should be made up of about 51% women; the business should show proof of being in business for a minimum period of three years; the average turnover per year should not be less than $1million and the business interests should be focused on positive impact on the environment/social change.

Minority Business Development Agency

Are you a minority business owner? If yes, then you can get the desired grant easily by checking on what is on offer at MBDA. The chances are high for women in business to get the desired business funding here. Aside from granting the needed finances, they give education for women in minority business on how best to handle and sustain their business line of operation for better effectiveness in business.

NASE Growth Grant

The number pre-requisite to obtaining the grant for business here is to be a registered member of NASE. You will be required to identify a particular business need and go on to state your blueprint on how you are going to fill the gap. Those that are successful and can convince the panel will be given a grant of $4,000 business development grant. This is for real, so far, they have given such grants to the tune of $1,000,000 to beneficiaries over the years past.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

This is dedicated to women in business. Those that are successful with their application are expected to get the sum of $125,500 in total cash and prizes. This is inclusive of credits targeted at FedEx printing and business services. The grant is spread across 10 women recipients at various sums. Successful applicants are determined through a voting process; each of the applicants is expected to project their business line of interest.


The above areas of references are sure areas that women can look forward to getting the much-needed funding for their business. The rules are simple; follow them and the results will follow.