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.

State Issued IDs May Not Be Sufficient to Visit Base, or Fly

Did the gate guard stop you from entering base over the weekend? If so, it may be because of your driver's license.

As of this month, all military installations will no longer accept driver’s licenses from Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington and American Samoa as proof of identity.

The ban is due to the REAL ID Act of 2005.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Congress began examining how states issue driver's licenses and ID cards when they realized most of the terrorists involved had licenses issued from Virginia and Florida.

Want to Start Your Own Business? Learn How, Here!

You can go back to school to learn your craft.

You can spend years perfecting your skills.

An employer will hire you to run their business, their way. And a good employer will not just ask you to work, but will challenge you to expand your skillset and improve every single day.

But what if you want to start your own shop? Where do you learn how to do that? You may know the basics of setting up the storefront, working the cashier and bringing in customers. But what about managing taxes, finances and setting up a business plan?


For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.