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Seventeen years ago: Baghdad

Seventeen years ago today I went on a convoy from Camp Victory to the Green Zone in Baghdad.  It was not a long drive, but it was the longest I’d been on outside of the wire, up to that point. The purpose of the trip was to take another soldier in my unit to a medical specialist.  She had some sort of spider bite or bacterial infection that was nearly eating her skin away, and the most common thing she was being told was “huh… I’ve never seen anything like that before.”  Amazingly, helpful and soothing to hear, I’m sure. So in the morning, I was told to PMCS (preventative maintenance checks and services) a HMMWV (Humvee) so that we could convoy.  The vehicle I was checking, had been sitting stationary in desert sand for about eight months and there wasn’t an alternate we could substitute if there was something wrong.  So, with the formality of the checks complete, we were off with two other vehicles – our lieutenant was in the second and the third was our military police (MP) with a gunner in the turret. Shortly into the drive during downtown Baghdad’s rush hour, I hit the brakes and they locked up.  The vehicle spun a full 360 degrees where I ended up next to some Iraqi in his sedan, before it spun 360 degrees  the other direction where I ended dangerously close to the MP vehicle and […]

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Private Benjamin

Nineteen years ago a somewhat bratty former figure skater and former sorority girl left for Army basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  She signed up for the Army a few short weeks before September 11, 2001 and was worried her loan repayment plan may turn into a little more than she bargained for.  She was excited though to take […]

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DIY Financial Plan: Step 3 & 4

The third step of the financial planning process has been to analyze my balance sheet. A balance sheet will help you to calculate your net worth. Things to include in your asset column are: Cash All investments Home value Vehicle value Personal property value Other assets Next, consider your debts and liabilities, such as: Mortgage balance Vehicle loan balance Student loans Other loans Credit card balances The difference in value is your net worth which can be negative or (hopefully) positive. The purpose of determining your net worth is so you can not improve your situation and you will see incremental progress. I began a consistent written budget in April 2018. At that same time I began tracking my account balances and net worth at the bottom of my spreadsheet. During that time (28 months) my net worth has increased 25%. I went from having debt on two credit cards, one auto loan and a mortgage to having just a shared mortgage. I feel comfortable that I know where my debt is, where my money goes and what my asset allocations are. The fourth step of the financial planning process has been to analyze our insurance policies. This month Mr. Cabbage and I reviewed our home and car insurance policies and found we could save money on both. In a rush to close on our home last year we maxed out some coverages that we didn’t need and hadn’t shopped […]

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Growing up after graduation

A friend once directed me to a TED talk given by Wes Moore called “How to talk to veterans about war.”  I highly recommend you take a listen.  It made me think maybe there are some of you interested in hearing a little more about how I went from sorority girl to soldier.  If you know someone who was in the military, it is always an interesting and unique story that starts with the question “why did you join?”  It’s also a nice way to show a veteran that you are interested and thankful for their service. At the risk of aging myself, I will tell you my story.  I graduated college August 11, 2001.  8/11 may be less famous than 9/11, but I remember it well. My cap said “thanks mom” and both my brothers, mom and nieces and nephews made the out of state trek to see me get my diploma. What I could have told you that day about Iraq was what I learned when I was in middle school while my oldest brother was serving in the Navy during the (first) Gulf War.  What I knew about Afghanistan was even less.  I hope (but doubt) I could have found either of these countries on a map.   At the time of my college graduation, I had been stuffing envelopes with folders of resumes and cover letters inside to all the big magazines in New York City.  Yes there was Internet back at […]

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