Investing While in the Military

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Investing While In The Military

Today we’re talking about investing while in the military!

Do you find yourself dreaming about retirement and wondering how you can afford the lifestyle you so desire?

Understanding these investment vessels will help you achieve these goals much more quickly. The faster you learn how to invest while in the military, the more wealth you will build. (Compound interest is a beautiful thing!)

Now, let’s start making some money!

A Head Start 

You were given an investing advantage when you joined the military!

You may not feel like it, but that’s because you probably did what most service members do: threw away your advantage.

Think about it.

When you joined the military, your housing, food, and insurance (health, medical, AND dental) expenses were immediately paid for!

The Service Members Civil Relief Act (SMCRA) reduced the interest rate on any debt you had to 6%.

You earned the ability to complete college for free.

On top of these expenses being eradicated, you gained a salary. With guaranteed pay raises, this salary is comparable to, if not better than, any job you could get out of high school.

In the stroke of a pen and the raising of your right hand, you achieved level one financial freedom!

Over time, you probably spent this on new cars, motorcycles, tattoos, alcohol, or a myriad of other expenditures for which the military is known.

Now you are finally realizing the error of your ways, and you’re looking for ways to invest in the military.

Here are some of the most common ways that you can invest in order to set yourself up for life in the civilian world!

Also, download your FREE copy of my E-book First Term Wealth!

TSP

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) should be the first investment you utilize.

This 401k is a great foundation for long-term financial gain. It can be automated and forgotten about in order to continually build wealth the entire time you’re in the military.

Unfortunately, the TSP is often overlooked.

With the new blended retirement system (BRS), it is even more important that you understand the importance of the TSP. The military will now match your contributions, up to five percent of your paycheck!

That is FREE money!

If you want to keep your TSP investing as simple as possible, set up the allocation for the Lifecycle fund that coincides with the year you plan to begin making withdrawals.

Simply allocate a percentage of your paycheck you wish to invest (I recommend at least 10%) and never lower this allocation again!

Now that you have set this investment up, forget about it! Do not lower the amount you invest and do not move the funds around all the time.  Just “set it, and forget it.”

I would have almost twice as much money in my TSP if I had listened to my own advice when I was younger, but I was clueless.

Compound interest will grow your TSP into a huge retirement nest egg, and it is always a great fallback!

*Bonus* the money in your TSP can be used as the required cash reserves when purchasing real estate investments through a bank.

Here is a more detailed analysis of TSP investing strategies.

Education (in yourself)

The next (and arguably most important) investment you need to make is in yourself.

Investing in yourself yields the best return on investment you can get!

To be clear, I’m not talking about going to college.

I’m talking about personal development—reading books, listening to podcasts, taking courses, paying for a coach, etc.

All of this personal development is the best way to invest while in the military! The nice thing is that these investments will make you more efficient, competent, and wealthy in the civilian world while simultaneously making you more promotable at work!

I think you should always be reading a book or listening to an audiobook. Find books on a topic you want to improve and read them. Then pick up another book and learn something new!

You can teach yourself new skills by watching YouTube videos too! Or improve your mindset by networking with other high-achievers!

The return on this investment is huge, and I highly recommend that you take the time to invest in yourself every day!

Audible is a great way to listen to books while commuting.

Index Funds

The three main differences between index funds and 401k’s are as follows:

  • Index funds are not tax-advantaged like 401k’s are.
  • The money you have in index funds can be withdrawn at any time without penalty.
  • There are no matching contributions from your employer with index funds.

Index funds are great though because you reap the benefits of compound interest without the restrictions of being penalized for withdrawing the funds before you turn 60.

As with any stock market investing, you need to do your homework and be aware of market risk.

You also need to do your research on the index fund(s) in which you choose to invest. You want to understand what market(s) they are invested in, what fees they charge you, and their track records. Understanding the risk versus return is crucial to deciding if a fund meets your investing style/criteria.

I have always been a fan of Vanguard (the father of index funds), and I like VTSAX, which is a total-stock market index fund. This fund essentially has stock in every publicly traded company in the United States.

I figure if you’re invested in every publicly traded company in the U.S., you’re basically betting on the economy as a whole. I like how the future of the U.S. economy looks, so it makes sense to invest in it.

Index funds are another great way to invest medium-term or long-term, and I recommend you add them to your portfolio!

Stocks

Now we are going to discuss investing in individual stocks, as opposed to an index fund.

Honestly, this isn’t one of my favorites, but it has its place!

I have had some bad luck investing in the stock market, but that is because I was trying to play the short-term investment game.

I didn’t understand the dividends.

Nor did I understand the concepts of reinvesting capital gains and never touching the principal.

Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with investing in the stock market, but I don’t like the idea of making it your main investment. Your gains are taxed at a higher rate with stocks, and you can’t leverage the bank’s money to purchase them.

I think it is very hard to outpace the market by investing and reinvesting stocks. For this reason, I don’t advocate for day-trading, although I’ve seen a few investors successfully pull this off. This is far from passive income though, requiring you to be near, or on, your phone at all times throughout the day.

Going forward, I will invest in dividend funds and reinvest the dividends when I receive extra income payouts.

The stock market is very liquid, however, and can be a good place to park cash depending on the situation.

Let me know in the comments if you would like me to do more content about stock market investing in the future.

A fun app to utilize for investing in stocks is Robinhood

VA loan

Investing while in the military

The VA loan is a huge advantage for those who are smart enough to invest while they’re in the military!

I really like the VA loan house hack. With this strategy, you purchase a multi-unit property with as little as no money out of pocket, live in one unit, and rent the other units out so you can live for free.

When done successfully, you could own a home while other people pay for all your expenses as a homeowner!

I especially like the aspect of leveraging a bank’s money to purchase real estate. This allows you to build wealth quickly and consistently for years to come! As if that wasn’t enough, rental properties benefit from a lot of tax advantages too!

There are many other ways to benefit as a military real estate investor too!

Investing While You’re in the Military

If you’re not convinced that investing while in the military is a good idea, then I don’t know what to tell you. The only question left in your head should be “Which investment(s) do I want to utilize as my primary wealth-building strategy?”

You didn’t join the military to get rich—none of us do.

But that doesn’t mean you need to exit the military broke! If you take the time to learn about new investment strategies and then implement the tactics you like, you can leave the military with an impressive foundation of wealth. There are also ways to earn extra money while you’re in the military.

Never stop investing.

NEVER STOP INVESTING!

You can attain financial freedom without sacrificing your lifestyle too much. That means you can retire from the military and never have to work again!

That doesn’t mean you’re going to sit around on your butt all day, but it means you’re free to choose when, where, and for whom you will work. That is the power of investing in the military!

Now, get out there and start building wealth for yourself and future generations!

 

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David Pere

David Pere

David is an active duty Marine, who devotes his free time to teaching personal finance and real estate investing for service members, and the working class!

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