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The Emergency Fund Issue Time to get tough financially 1


Volume 24 March 2014 Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Events 3


Military Kids’ Resources Webinar 4

Tax Bill Strategies




Emergency Fund 101 6

RELATIONSHIPS.............................17 MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE………..17 PARENTS OF SOLDIERS….........….17 PET CARE…………..…………….…18 SIGNIFICANT OTHERS….......….….18

Family Assistance Centers 19

STRESS MANAGEMENT….....…….18 SUICIDE PREVENTION………….…18 The intent of this toolkit is to provide you with available events, deals, resources, and important information. Please take a few minutes to glance at these resources and visit a few sites!



Check out the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon website and sign up for exclusive email updates on monthly local Beyond the Yellow Ribbon events and deals. Great Lakes Aquarium Tween Overnight When: March 15, 6:30 p.m., to March 16, 9 a.m. Where: Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth About: When the lights go off and the last of the day's visitors are ushered out of the aquarium, few people realize that the real fun has only begun. Before the lights go off, military-connected tweens (youth ages 9 to 13) will learn how animals are resilient through a scavenger hunt, behind-thescenes tours and more. Tweens will spend the night at the aquarium. An evening snack and breakfast will be provided. More Info:Registration website Love on Our Military Dinner When: March 17, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. RSVP by March 13 Where: St. Andrew's Catholic Church, Elk River About: Servicemembers and their families are invited to enjoy a free dinner hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon at St. Andrew's Catholic Church. More Info: Flyer Soldiers to Summits When: Sep. 1 to Sep. 13, 2014 Apply or be nominated through March 21, 2014 Where: Mt. Whitney, Sierra Nevada Mountain Range About: This program invites injured veterans and Servicemembers to experience the healing power of the Sierra Nevada mountain range as they summit Mount Whitney. More Info: Website Teen Leadership Forum When: March 21 to 23, 2014 in Mankato About: During this forum, military-connected teens will learn how to become leaders by participating in teambuilding games, learning about the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and listening to inspiring speakers. The forum will also give teens a chance to network with other militaryconnected teens. More Info:Flyer

FamilyLife is hosting a Weekend to Remember When: March 21 to 23, 2014, Rochester Double Tree About: A Weekend to Remember shows you exactly how to pursue a marriage that really works through stories of breakthroughs and blunders. FamilyLife wants you to leave the weekend with encouragement, hope, and practical tools to build and grow your relationship. For Servicemember scholarship information, call 1-800-358-6329. Website Charlie's 6th Annual Hero Hunt & Sporting Clay Shoot When: March 22, 2014 Where: Caribou Gun Club & Hunting Preserve, Le Sueur About: Caribou Gun Club & Hunting Preserve is hosting its 6th Annual 'Charlie's Hero Hunt & Sporting Clay Shoot' for local and outstate Minnesota Soldiers. This event provides returning Soldiers with an all-expense paid day of upland pheasant hunting, sporting clays, lunch and camaraderie with fellow Servicemen and Servicewomen. More Info: Flyer Joining Community Forces - Minnesota Meeting When: March 22, 8 a.m., Detroit Lakes, MN About: You are cordially invited to Joining Community Forces - Minnesota. The goal of JCF-MN is to collaborate and synchronize community resources to support veterans, Servicemembers and their families. This will be accomplished by educating the participants on federal, state and community resources. More Info:Save the Date,Agenda and How to Register Women of the Armed Forces Rock When: March 23, 3 p.m. Where: Hilton, Minneapolis/Bloomington About: National Empowerment and J. MOST present "Women Unite to Win in 2014" women's appreciation banquet. More Info: Flyer



March-Tax Bill Strategies Cristy House– Northern MN Family Readiness Support Assistant

Think of a Tax Refund as an interest free loan that a person is giving the IRS or think of it as a savings account with a negative rate of return. An easy way to get a monthly raise is to divide your refund by 12 and reduce your withholding accordingly. Always check with your tax professional before making financial decisions.

What do you do if you have an unplanned tax bill this year instead of a refund? 1. Get a second opinion. Make sure that you are using a qualified tax professional that is familiar with the nuances of military service and taxes. 2. Now may be the time to put off some big purchases or perhaps dip into your emergency fund. If you don’t have an emergency fund or want to increase it , see page 7 for strategies to build your emergency fund. 3. Talk with your tax professional about adjusting your withholding going forward so that you won’t have a tax bill next year.


Emergency Fund 101 What is an Emergency Fund? Just like disability insurance, there are two kinds of Emergency Funds, short term and long term. Rainy days happen, so it is important to be prepared. If you don’t have any savings, perhaps your first goal is to set aside $500 or $1,000. This is the money that will keep your electricity from being turned off. If you aren’t behind on your bills or deeply in debt , most experts recommend having an emergency fund of 3-6 months in place in order to protect against things like a medical event or job loss.

Emergency Fund Considerations If one or more of the income earners in your home lost their jobs or were injured or unable to work, how much money would it take to meet the bare minimum expenses for the household? That number is the minimum Emergency Fund a family should have in place. How much would it take to maintain your current lifestyle? That would be the high end of what an Emergency Fund should be.

Examples Two examples of situations where emergency funds are very helpful are car accidents and childhood illnesses. In the case of a car accident, insurance doesn’t necessarily cover immediate expenses related to missed work, medical appointments, and car replacement. While many adults have disability insurance to buffer the financial effects of an illness, most people don’t have the same coverage for their children. When a child is sick, parents may need to take unpaid leave from work and medical and related expenses can add up.


45 Ways to Build Your Emergency Fund + 1. Temporarily skip Christmas/Vacation/… Look at some of the more expensive events during the year and consider skipping or scaling back on them for a year. 2. Trade with others. I needed lots of D Batteries (baby swing, flashlights), my friend had lots of Ds, but needed AAs & AAAs (remotes). I had lots of those, so we swapped. We both felt like we were getting a fantastic deal. 3. Review and adjust your insurances. This may or may not help, but is a good habit anyways. 4. Get a better paying job, either in different employment or through a promotion. (EPS packets anyone?) 5. Trade services. This comes in very handy with childcare, but can be used for plumbing, electrical, auto work, lawn care,… Let’s say you have a friend that is a plumber with small children. You could ask him to stop by to fix something and bring the kids with while you watch them. In return, you offer a restaurant gift card (you got for Christmas) and you’ll watch the kids during their date night. I heard of a gal that brought dinner to her pediatrician’s house once a week in exchange for their kids’ medical care. 6. Shop with grocery list, or try last month’s grocery challenge. 7. Sell a car. WHAT??? Yep. I have done this more than once. We have sold the “extra” car more than once. We also sold the vehicle with a payment to free up monthly cash. We sold our paid for gas guzzling truck to build up savings too. We are a one vehicle family. It is a pain, but one month, our gas & full coverage insurance on our 05 Matrix was under $200 and we drive 30 miles to work round trip. 8. Pay off debt, this will free up your cash flow for saving. 9. Use your gift cards. A lot of gift cards go unused. Dig through drawers, find them, and use them up to meet your needs for the month instead of cash and put the difference towards your E fund. 10. Reduce interest rates. Try to transfer balances on a credit card or refinance a car loan (better yet, sell the car). Look into refinancing your mortgage as well. 11. Get student loans on hardship deferral. This is not a long term plan, but if you can’t pay your bills, it can help free up some cash for the short term. 12. Consider moving. WHAT??? Yep. I am doing this as well. Sometimes, a house or rental situation just isn’t affordable. And if you look hard enough, you may find something that is better and cheaper and may free up some equity during the sale to better fund your savings. 13. Get a part time job. Walk your neighbor’s dog, babysit, deliver pizza, whatever it takes. 14. Go back to school. If this is part of your plan anyway and the military provides compensation above tuition, this could be a strategy.


Healthy Money Habits– PantryFund Challenge Ways to Build Your Emergency (cont.) Cristy House– Northern MN Family Readiness Support Assistant

15. Shop clearance racks, especially on big purchases (better yet, avoid big purchases!). 16. Return some gifts. Sometimes we receive gifts that we really don’t need (sweaters, socks, …). 17. Have cereal for dinner one night a week (assuming you are getting good deals on cereal). 18. Stay-at- home parents can make $200 a week or more watching an additional child. 19. Clean out your kitchen cupboards and sell what you don’t need (Quesadilla maker,...) 20. Sell books on your bookshelf. This can be especially lucrative in college.

30. Get a programmable thermostat. 31. Sell scrap metal, aluminum cans, …

21. Sell a piece of furniture. Maybe your sectional couch is too big.

32. Close an old bank account.

22. Analyze your pet expenses and figure out ways to cut back.

33. Cash in a change jar or start one.

23. Shop at thrift stores and garage sales.

34. Host a freezer meal exchange.

24. Get rid of your gym membership.

35. Become a do-ityourselfer.

25. Don’t buy bottled water.

36. Deliver flowers on

26. Quit drinking soda.

Valentine’s or Mother’s Day.

27. Quit drinking alcohol.

37. Join a grocery sharing program or start dish one.

28. Consider a less expensive hair care routine. 29. Consider selling a collection (coins, stamps, baseball cards).

38. Start a part-time kids’ clothes flipping business, Good Housekeeping picking them up from ga-

39. Sell plants. If you have too many perennials in your garden, thin them out and sell/trade them. 40. Rent a room or your house on I am hoping to do this during a festival weekend. 41. Sell firewood. If you have an extra tree(s) that you don’t want, have someone pay you for them. 42. Sell unused jewelry (at a jewelry store, not a gold buying place). If you don’t have any, consider asking a relative if you can help them clean out their jewelry drawer and offer to bring the broken/used jewelry to the store and split the proceeds. 43. Sell extra tools in the garage. How many drills does a person really need? 44. Get a roommate. This could cut down your housing expenses dramatically. 45. Sell unused sporting equipment (treadmill, old figure skates) April SFTK Sneak Peek: Money Saving Spring Cleaning Ideas and Recipes


Healthy Money Habits– The Emergency Fund Cristy House– Northern MN Family Readiness Support Assistant

When I started this column, I wanted to practice what I preached. Too often, I have read financial columns by people that were obviously not doing what they were writing about. Personal finance is very personal. It takes self-discipline, something most Americans like myself are sorely lacking. One of the best things my husband and I ever did with our finances is to start an emergency fund. Before we had one, we lived from one financial crisis to the next, now those things are merely annoyances, and sometimes pretty funny. While we have an emergency fund in place, we have found ourselves in need of additional money outside of our normal budget to cover some large upcoming expenses. Our goal for February is $2,000. We set aside a certain percentage of our income each month towards savings. This month, that will be $700, leaving $1,300. Here is our path to get there. First $400

Our First Emergency Fund

1. Emptied a Change Jar $20

The week our first child was due, was the first time we really had to use our emergency fund. We were patching the ceiling of our kitchen and learned the hard way that glass top stoves aren’t for standing on. The oven had already been on its last legs and we had to prop the door shut and it only opened halfway. Our refrigerator decided it was a freezer that week and was having issues as well. I was very excited when I heard the shattering sound, because we could finally get new appliances. The problem was that it was noon on a Saturday and the appliance store closed at two. Another issue was that our debit card had a $600 limit, so we also had to use cash on hand. The cashier had a story to tell that night. In walks a 40 week pregnant woman, covered in drywall dust and paint, crying (tears of joy), and paying for a fridge and stove with one dollar bills. The baby arrived before the fridge and was a nice welcome home gift.

2. Sold savings bonds $330 3. Closed an old checking account $50 Second $400 1. Sold our unneeded baby gate $30 2. Sold some gift cards to a family member $60 3. Got some Menard’s rebates in the mail $110 4. Returned some things at Menards $40 5. Sold unused cloth diapers $160 (I thought using them would save money) Remaining $500

1. Sold a train set ($20), floor mat ($10), and toy cars ($10) on Craigslist $40 2. I redeemed my Huggies rewards points for a gift card that I will sell $15 3. I am going to redeem some of my frequent points for a Target gift card $25 4. Current Craigslist postings $490, more to be posted this weekend. As of the date this goes to print, we are still short of the goal, but we hope to meet the goal by the end of the weekend.


DEPLOYMENT RESOURCES WWW.MNVETERANSCOALITION.COM BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS  Recommendations for Children (PDF)  Recommendations for Teens and Young Adults (PDF) book_resources_for_teens.pdf  Recommendations for Adults and Families (PDF)  Recommendations for Educators (PDF) POST-DEPLOYMENT AND REINTEGRATION RESOURCES  After Deployment Wellness Resources:   Military OneSource:  Becoming a Couple Again: The Courage to Care:  Concerned Significant Others Article: eLibrary_COS.pdf  Real Warriors, Real Battles:  Operation Healthy Reunions:  Department of Veterans Affairs: PTSD Center:  National Veterans Foundation:  Wounded Warrior Project:  Adapt Parenting Program, U of MN:  University of Minnesota Extension- Parenting Education Resource:  Homefront and Deployed Parent: Reunion Checklists: IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING COMBAT STRESS, PTSD OR OTHER STRESS RELATED ISSUES: Take your stress related symptoms seriously and contact your:  Chain of Command - Team leaders, squad leaders, platoon sergeants/leaders, first sergeants, company/battalion/brigade commanders, command sergeants major  Chaplains – Battalion or Brigade Chaplains or local place of worship  Fellow Soldiers - Talk to your friends about your feelings. Oftentimes they are a reality check  Military Family Life Consultants  Military One Source Call 1-800-342-9647, or visit the Web site  TRICARE Counseling - Spouses can go for free. Service members can often share a family member's appointment for marriage counseling  Veterans Administration - or Veterans Centers.  Army Substance Abuse Program - Especially helpful if the Soldier or family member has a problem with alcohol or drugs  Primary Care Managers - Many family practice physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are quite comfortable treating depression and sleep problems  Community Mental Health Service - They usually have at least one psychiatrist and a variable number of psychologists and social workers on staff as well as behavioral health technicians


ONGOING RESOURCES & DEALS INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL VACATION DISCOUNTS LOCAL MINNESOTA SUMMER R&R:  Free & Reduced Stays at Leech Lake Resort: 15% military discount to all current Servicemembers and up to a free week stay for all Servicemembers within a year of their return from deployment overseas. They offer fully equipped lake homes (whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, Cable TV, wireless internet, fully equipped kitchens) to daily planned children's activities to excellent fishing. See their website for more information.

 Veterans on the Lake Resort: Where: 161 Fernberg Road, Ely, MN 55731 Toll free at 1-800-777 7538. A barrier-free full service resort for veterans and their families. In conjunction with the US Forest Service and the provisions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness, Enjoy lake view cabins in Northern Minnesota, inside the Superior National Forest area.


The Minnesota National Guard Chaplain’s Office is offering you a truly outstanding program. Strong Bonds offers a fresh approach. It is basic and straightforward. Strong Bonds begins with teaching effective communication skills, addresses problem resolution strategies that work, reveals how to discover the hidden issues in every relationship, and then moves into caring, fun, and friendship. In addition to the couples retreats the Single Soldier program is designed to help you establish relationship goals and gain essential skills to help you make a good choice prior to picking a partner for life.




CHILDREN MN MilitaryTeen Summit and Newsletter: Minnesota Parents Know: After Deployment Adaptive Parenting Tools, U of MN, Military Kids Toolkit: Military Child Education Coalition: Grants to Help Pay for Activities for Children of Deployed Soldiers: Website: $500 after school activity grant for youth ages 3 – 18 during a deployment. Our Military Kids can also help fund scouting, driver’s education, camps, and more. Military & Family Life Consultant: Darlene Wetterstrom 651-212-0943 Provides assistance in a variety of areas, including guidance on reintegration with children following deployment. Websites specific to Military Children and Families:



Military OneSource offers non-medical counseling services online, via telephone, or face to face. Eligible individuals may receive up to 12 sessions of non-medical counseling addressing issues requiring short-term attention, including everyday stressors, deployment and reintegration concerns, relationships, parenting, grief and loss, and marital problems as well as assistance with financial management, taxes, career services, health and wellness, and much more. This personalized support is available 24/7 no matter where you live or serve. Contact Military OneSource toll free at 1-800-342-9647 to get connected to counseling. Also visit online at for more information. Veterans Linkage Line: 1-888-LinkVet (546-5838) They will provide assistance connecting soldiers and families to necessary resources to obtain help with crisis counseling, veteran’s benefits, healthcare, education, and reintegration. Available 24 hours day, 7 days a week. VA OIF/OEF Program & Hotline: 612-467-3757 *Available 7am-5pm, Monday through Friday. Connects OIF/OEF Veterans with local resources. When calling the number, press 2 to be connected to crisis center.

VA Regional Office OIF/OEF Coordinator: Duane Kamp 612-970-5249 Provides assistance with VA Benefits - available Monday through Friday. Lutheran Social Services (LSS) Counseling and Family Resources of MN: 1.888.881.8261 Director coordinating counselors for units around MN: Debra Schloer 612-879-5317 Available Monday through Friday and has a 24 hour crisis line. *Support for individuals and families, assistance for couples, and helps for children *Specialized Financial Counseling: Money problems can create other problems. LSS offers budget, debt management, and bankruptcy counseling so that people can regain control of their finances. Catholic Charities of Minneapolis and St. Paul: 612-664-8500 Assist in a large variety of problems and needs, including counseling and financial support.


ONGOING RESOURCES & DEALS COUNSELING SERVICES CONTINUED…  MN Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC): Call 24 hour line at 651-282-4078  Statewide Domestic Abuse Hotline at the House of Peace: 1-866-223-1111 Offers temporary shelter for women and children leaving domestic abuse situations. *Available 24/7. COUNSELING / ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOR  Drug Abuse Hotline: 1-800-437-8422 *Available 24 hours day, 7 days a week  Drug Information, Treatment and Referral Hotline: 1-800-662-4357 Provides support for people dealing with drug addictions. *Available 24 hours day, 7 days a week  National Council on Problem Gambling: 1-800-522-4700: Confidential hotline for people struggling with gambling, Helps connect people to resources to help them fight their gambling addiction. *Available 24 hours day, 7 days a week CULTURAL RESOURCES  The World Fact Book:  Culture Gram: o Free access through the DoD MWR Library Tab on the side of page. DEPLOYMENT  Focus on Family: Know Before you Go: features/2010/0610_knowbefore   


ONGOING RESOURCES & DEALS EDUCATION Scholarship and programs: Spouse Career Center: Military Child Education Coalition: Service Members Education/GI Bill: EMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE Transition Assistance Advisor:

Provides assistance to soldiers seeking employment and help in accessing Veterans Affairs benefits and health care services such as TRICARE from active duty and when you return. They also assist with dental care programs, insurance information such as SGLI and TSGLI, rehabilitative care, and help with disability claims. Available Monday through Friday Contact Vince Hokkanen: or 651-282-4234 Office: Cottage Grove Armory: 8180 Belden Blvd, Cottage Grove, MN 55016 Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development: Work Force Centers: Family Medical Leave Act:

Jobs for Veterans Program: Career Counselor and Employment Specialist Lisa Nabbefeld: 612.752.8408 Provides assistance to soldiers seeking employment. *Available Monday through Friday Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR): What: ESGR exists to maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law, and resolving conflict through mediation. Their vision is to Develop and promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees. Service members are encouraged to follow “best practices” to keeping their employers aware of their service commitments. FAMILY SUPPORT AND ASSISTANCE

State Specific Family Support:Minnesota Army National Guard State Family Programs Office: 651-268-8200. The MN Army National Guard has ten different Family Assistance Centers (FAC’s) located throughout the state. Call the FAC nearest to you for assistance or access to information regarding the many programs available to soldiers, family members, children and couples. *See FAC Map at the back of toolkit Military Family Care Initiative: Coordinates free assistance for MN soldiers and families in a variety of ways. Examples include: wood chopping, cleaning gutters, wedding or baby showers, handyman (minor home repairs) etc…


ONGOING RESOURCES & DEALS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND CREDIT RESOURCES  Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University: or  Military Debt Relief: (National) Provides direction for people with large credit card, school loan, tax, or other debt. List your debt types, estimate your total debt, and get a free quote to see how much you can save on monthly payments.  Potential Mortgage Relief (National): This is a website to help consumers find out if they are eligible to reduce their monthly mortgage payment as part of the "Making Home Affordable" program.  Free Credit Report: Go to By law, everyone is entitled to one free credit report a year.  Improve your Credit: Sign up to be put on the national do not call list for credit and insurance solicitations. Signing up can help raise your FICO score.  Energy Assistance Program: Get connected to the program in your area, call 1-800-657-3710  Minnesota Military Family Foundation: Leave a voicemail at 763-544-2255 or email for help. Their mission is to seek funds to financially support deployed Minnesota military HEALTH / MENTAL HEALTH  TriCare: Military Health Care Program:  Telephonic Counseling 24/7 and other resources  Military Pathways: Free Mental Health Screening:  Exceptional Family member Program: Special services for disabilities: www.armyonesource  Complimentary Health Care Services: Northwestern Health Sciences University and the Adler Graduate School have combined to provide a new complimentary health care service program available to all military personnel and their families. Chiropractic health care services, Oriental medicine, psychological therapy, family counseling, acupuncture, and massage therapy are available to all Servicemembers and their immediate family. Senior interns supervised by faculty clinicians provide services.


ONGOING RESOURCES & DEALS MEDICAL ASSISTANCE  VA OIF/OEF Medical Outreach Coordinator: Dianne Peterson 612-467-5087  VA Medical Center Minneapolis: Troy Perdue 612-467-1514  VA Medical Center St. Cloud: Mike Mynczywor (pronounced “minz-war”) 320-255-6480 ext. 6453  VA Medical Center Fargo: Deb Kunkel 701-232-3241 ext. 93787  VA Medical Center Sioux Falls: Elizabeth Flinn 605-335-3230 ext. 96983 LEGAL ASSISTANCE / ISSUES  Legal Assistance – ***Refer to your Family Assistance Center    MN Assistance Council for Veterans will refer to legal aid: Metro area: 612-726-1327 Duluth: 218-722-8763 Mankato: 507-345-8258 MARRIAGE AND RELATIONSHIPS  Strong Bonds: Marriage Retreats:   MORTGAGE OR RENT ASSISTANCE  Rent or Mortgage Assistance - MN Assistance Council for Veterans: Website: or 612-726-1327 If you fear you may be unable to pay your rent or mortgage, call the MN Assistance Council for Veterans. They provide rental assistance and mortgage assistance for veterans in danger of becoming homeless. They cannot make backdated payments on mortgage or rent, so contact them as soon as you see a potential problem. They will also refer you for additional help you may need.



ONGOING RESOURCES & DEALS PET CARE  (recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense)  SPOUSES & SIGNIFICANT OTHERS  Spouses and Significant Others:  Military Spouse Magazine:  Military Wives and Women in Uniform:    STRESS MANAGEMENT    SUICIDE PREVENTION  Suicide Prevention Lifeline (soldier specific): 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Provides the following support to anyone interested in suicide prevention, treatment, and service referrals ***Services are free and confidential. - Dealing with suicidal thoughts, feelings of hopelessness or extreme sadness - Concerned about a loved one who may be experiencing these feelings - Experiencing abuse or violence, Economic problems, Post-disaster needs, Homelessness issues, Substance abuse/addiction, Physical illness, Loneliness, Relationship problems, Family problems. The hotline is staffed by trained counselors and can refer to support services that can help you. *Available 24 hours day, 7 days a week MISC…  Firewood - Free Firewood for Families of Deployed Minnesota Service Members The Adjutant General for the State of Minnesota has authorized the availability of firewood from the Camp Ripley for families of all Minnesota Service Members that are currently deployed (including pre-deployment and post-deployment). Families are entitled to 2 full cords of wood per year. Contact Mrs. Tami Klucas from the Family Assistance Center at 320-616-3117. This is an ongoing offer.



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