Remember Independence Day

After the 4th of July, Don’t Forget to Celebrate Independence

 

Remembering the Fourth

The 4th of July is America’s birthday, and the day we look back and remember all the difficulties and trials our ancestors went through to ensure our freedom. People from all over the political spectrum come together to celebrate our independence and freedom. Now that the 4th of July has passed, it becomes very easy to slip back into our bad habits of getting caught up in our differences and forgetting our similarities. The truth is that we should take the spirit of Independence day with us all year round. Shooting off fireworks and barbecuing with friends and family is great, to be sure, but we should make a special effort to do our forefathers justice.

 

Actively Learn About our Country

Read the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence once per month to strongly familiarize yourself with the things contained in them. Watch some documentaries about American history and US presidents, and learn more about how our country got to where it is today. In addition to that, stay current with political affairs and keep track of your representation, both in your state capitol and in Washington, D.C. Be an informed voter, and know where you stand on key issues and know why you stand there. Don’t be afraid to engage in some political philosophy and question your own stances.

 

Follow the US Military’s Social Media Channels

American Social MediaIf you’re a fan of cool technology, inspirational stories, and exciting events, then following the social media channels of the branches of the US military can be a fun way to keep your patriotic feelings up. Keeping apprised of updates to the military can also contribute to the paragraph above, as it helps you learn about what our country is doing both at home and on the world stage. If you disapprove of what the Military is doing, you can use social media to promote a better way of doing things. We all love this great nation and want it to go the best direction possible. You can help do this by following the branches of the US military and sharing their updates along with your opinion.

 

Get Involved with Local and State Government

You’d be surprised how helpful you can be as a volunteer in your local community. Working with your city or county government on a volunteer or even a paid basis can be a great way to build your appreciation for your community and increase your understanding of what government does (and whether you personally believe it should continue to do so). Most importantly, service builds a strong sense of pride and loyalty. When you help make something great, you feel more loyal and proud of it than if you just stood by and watched. By getting involved with local and state government, you can make the difference you used to hope others would make, and you never know, maybe you’ll find a new career path!

 

Make a List of Our Nation’s Symbols

There are a lot of symbols used in our nation. Our currency is chock full of them, the American Flag, the Statue of Liberty, and many others are out there. If you make a list of our Nation’s symbols and then go through the effort of learning what they all mean and how they work with each other, you’ll definitely gain a finer appreciation and understanding for the founding fathers and our heritage.

 

Perform Service for Other CountriesGet Involved in the Community

Visiting places that have less freedom than us and serving them can be a very eye-opening experience. Having spoken with many veterans about the most meaningful times in their military service, I can attest that those who spent time in humanitarian efforts usually cite them as being the most powerful experience, and one that strengthened their appreciation for the country they live in. This may only be an option for some people, but for those who are able, this can be a fantastic way to serve others and keep the spirit of patriotism alive in yourself and those around you all year round.

 

Holiday Freebies for Military Members

It can be difficult if you’re in the military and away from your family over the holiday’s, including Christmas and New Year’s. However, there are some benefits that come with being in the military during this special time of year. The infographic below highlights some of those benefits that we hope add to your joy this holiday season.

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Holiday Freebies for Military Members by Low VA Rates
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Flag Day Guide to American Flag Code

American’s are celebrating Flag Day tomorrow. The United States flag code prescribes specific etiquette to assure that the American flag is treated properly and taken care of correctly. The infographic below breaks down that code and gives you a simple guide to treating the American flag properly. We hope you join us at Low VA Rates in enjoying Flag Day 2013.

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Flag Day Guide to American Flag Code by Low VA Rates
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Must See Memorial Day Celebrations During Your Lifetime

Memorial Day 2013 will be celebrated a week from today, next Monday 5/27/13. In that spirit, we created the following infographic detailing what we think are some of the most amazing Memorial Day celebrations that you’ve just gotta see during your lifetime. Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever attending any of these events and what you thought of it, or what you like to do on Memorial Day to honor United States Veterans. We are excited to celebrate Memorial Day this coming week!

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Must See Memorial Day Celebrations During Your Lifetime by Low VA Rates
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Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

The start of the New Year is always a time to take a step back and examine our lives to decide what we need to improve on.  Every New Year millions of new resolutions are set and days later, millions are broken.

Every January the same New Year’s resolutions are used over and over again.  I asked my family and friends what they typically set as their New Year goals and here are the five most popular answers they gave:

1)      Lose weight/Get in shape

2)      Spend more time with family

3)      Better financial situation (new job, get out of debt, etc.)

4)      Quit a bad habit (Smoking, drinking, drugs, etc.)

5)      Provide more service/Help others

According to About.com, the top 10 list of New Year’s resolutions is pretty similar:

1)      Spend More Time with Family and Friends

2)      Fit in Fitness

3)      Tame the Bulge

4)      Quit Smoking

5)      Enjoy Life More

6)      Quit Drinking

7)      Get out of debt

8)      Learn Something New

9)      Help Others

10)   Get Organized

New Year’s resolutions provide a great way to refocus our priorities and help us remember what is really important in our lives.  However, the real question is how do we actually follow through with our resolutions?  Anyone can set a New Year’s Resolution, but not many of us have figured out how to keep our resolutions.  Here are three ideas to help you keep your 2013 New Year’s Resolutions:

 

1)      Make a specific daily plan about how you are going to reach your resolution

Most Resolutions fall by the wayside because they are not specific enough.  For example, if you set a goal to “get in shape” you need to specify a plan of how to do that and determine a measurable goal.  Here is what a plan could look like:

Goal:  Get in shape (Lose 20 lbs.)

  • Exercise for at least 45 minutes 6 times a week.
  • Monday:  Run on the treadmill, Tuesday:  Lift weights, Wednesday:  Play Tennis, Thursday:  Ride my bike, Friday: Day off, Saturday:  Sit-ups and Pushups, Sunday:  Swim

A daily plan can go a long way to helping you actually reach your goals.  Daily and frequent reminders of the ultimate goal give individuals a much better chance of actually achieving the goal.

 

2)      Write down the goal and keep it somewhere it will be seen often

Human beings are constantly bombarded with things to distract us from our main goals.  Write down your goal (and plan) and keep it someplace that you will always see it.  Here are some suggestions of the places to keep the goal to ensure we remember it:

  • Cell phone background
  • Desktop/Tablet background
  • Fridge/Microwave
  • Dashboard in your car
  • Bathroom mirror

Find a place that works for you and it will be a constant reminder of your New Year’s resolution.

 

3)      Share the same goal with someone close to you

I’m not talking about just telling a friend or family member about your goal, but actually sharing the same goal.  There is strength in numbers.  Sharing a common goal with someone close to you can provide a nice support.  If the goal is to quit smoking, find a friend or family member that wants the same thing and conquer it together.  On days when the goal seems too hard to conquer, your goal partner can lift you up and help you through it.

 

Good luck with the New Year’s Resolutions and hopefully you can have a wonderful 2013!

Making the most of your money during the Holiday Season

With Christmas around the corner and the New Year quickly following, now is a great time to start thinking about a few simple ways to ensure your finances are in order.

In 2012, the average American spent approximately $925 on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.  Making November and December the “most wonderful time of the year”, but also, the most expensive time of the year!

How can Americans save some extra money during the holiday?  There are a few simple things that can make a big difference in the long run.  Here are our 5 tips to create more money during the holiday season.

 

1)      Use Cash NOT Credit Cards

Research indicates that buyers using cash are less likely to spend more than their planned budget.  Using cash also ensures that families do not go into unnecessary debt during the holiday season.  It takes a little extra planning to use cash instead of credit cards during the holiday season, but will definitely pay dividends.

 

2)      Refinance Your Home Loan

Why pay unnecessary interest on your home loan when interest rates are at an all-time low?  Refinancing your home loan can have families hundreds of dollars every month and thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.  This is a simple way to free up some extra cash and save a lot of money.

 

3)      Create an online Christmas Card

Christmas cards have become a great way to stay in touch with families and friends.  However, they can be VERY expensive!  Since 99.9% of society now has some sort of online presence, an online Christmas card can save families hundreds of dollars and deliver the same message.  You can also spend a little extra time and effort to add some cool effects to your online Christmas card that are not possible with traditional cards.

 

4)      Assign family members to get gifts for other family members

If your family is a little older (out of the Santa Clause phase), try assigning each family member to buy a gift for another family member.  This technique usually works out very well for the giver and receiver.  The person giving the gift gets to experience the “giving” side of Christmas and the person receiving the gift usually appreciates the gift more knowing a sibling selected it for them.

 

5)      Pay off debt instead of buying presents for husband or wife

Let’s face it, once you are married and have children, receiving Christmas presents is just not as cool as it used to be.  Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on presents for your spouse, have a conversation today to talk about paying off your debt instead.  This obviously has to be a mutual decision between husband and wife (otherwise you can look pretty stupid with no present on Christmas morning!), but can pay huge dividends in getting your finances in line and possibly increasing your credit score.

 

The holiday season does not have to be a time to break the bank account and put Americans in financial stress.  Follow these 5 tips and brainstorm with your spouse other ways that can help you save some additional money during the Holiday Season so you can truly think of it as “the most wonderful time of the year!”

Christmas Around the World

Christmas is celebrated in different ways all over the world. This infographic gives some insight on how others celebrate their Christmas holidays. We hope you enjoy this infographic and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a holiday season.

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Christmas Around the World
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