00:00 - 05:00
What's up military millionaires today we have the pleasure of interviewing Lacey Langford, who is a military money expert.
She is a veteran and a military spouse and just phenomenal in the personal finance space. I've been on her show and it was time for us to get her on our show to talk about all things finance, and how you can set yourself up for success for the future.
So definitely pay attention throughout this entire episode. And as always, please if you got something out of the show, or in general, you know, don't forget to go to your favorite channels, subscribe to the channel, and then leave a five star review, right like to tell the world that we're awesome. And not because we're awesome, but because it helps more service members see the podcast which then helps more service members become financially independent, which means that you're awesome for helping those people out.
So we appreciate you having a great day.
Welcome to the military millionaire podcast where we teach service members, veterans and their families how to build wealth through personal finance, entrepreneurship and real estate investing.
I'm your host, David Pere. And together with my co host, Alex Felice. We're here to be your no BS guys along the most important mission you'll ever embark on your finances.
Roger Vick one Oscar Mike.
What's up military millionaires. I'm your host David Pere. And I'm here with my co host Alex fleece. But more importantly, we are here today with Lacey Langford, who you may or may not have heard of or seen on she will she you probably have if you haven't, you should. I've been on her podcast and I know I shared that in the group. So you should go watch that. But Lacey runs the military money show. She's an army brat. She's an Air Force veteran. She's a military spouse. And she's a military money expert. So she does personal finance coaching and consulting for servicemembers, vets, families. And she's in a military blogger community that I'm in. And yeah, so we've helped each other out mutually here and there. We're actually in a podcast mastermind that well, I'd say it meets every other week, but I show up like twice a year. But it happens without me a lot.
And anyway, all that to say Lacey and I have known each other for a while. And I just literally reached out to her like yesterday was like, Am I losing my mind? Or if I have not had you on the podcast yet? like nope, not yet. I was like, well, you want to change that tomorrow. And here we are. So Lacey. Thanks for joining me today are us.
Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here and finally got the invitation.
That's my bad.
So why don't you want to give a little backstory for the audience on how you got into personal finance?
Yes. So well, it kind of started, I grew up military, I served, my husband served. And I had the benefit growing up that I was taught to spend less than I make and save. Now I'm not saying when I was young enlisted that I always listened to that. But I did have that knowledge base.
And so towards the end of my enlistment, I started back to school and was figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I wanted to take my money knowledge to the next level, learn how to invest and build wealth. And that's kind of how the journey started with personal finance. But then I became a military spouse. And it was very difficult for me to work with my husband's career as an infantry officer, following him around with his training deployments and everything in between the PCs scene, it was just very difficult with small children. And so one day, I just got really pissed off. And I was like, you know, I'm gonna start my own thing that can go with me that I have full control over that the army isn't going to impact.
My husband's career is not going to impact and it started small, and then just has built over time from there.
I think it is really cool, because I actually think it's funny. This is probably the most flack I ever got for a video, but I made a video about jobs for military spouses. And I basically tried to kind of not nudge but mentioned like, Hey, you know, one of the most difficult things is, you know, if you're super specialized, you can't just show up, they don't nobody, nobody wants to hire an attorney if they're only to be there for a year, right? It's not the same. And so you know, the ability to take a job with you. It's funny, because I got a ton of flack for not being a spouse and talking about that. But I thought the premise was good. It just blew up in my face that I never really shared the video again.
But I think that's really cool that that's what you jumped into, is moving that around on your own. So how did you originally start that? Like what I guess we could talk about the business side first, and then some general finance stuff, but how did that kind of transform because you do everything that you do podcasting, you do freelance writing you do, you're all over the place.
So how did that kind of go from an idea to something that actually generates income for you?
05:00 - 10:00
Well, it started out with coaching. So I had that down, I knew how to help other people with money, I had the financial expertise. But even though I had a business degree, I feel like I knew nothing about starting a business, the actual nuts and bolts of doing it.
And so it started with just some assumptions. I was like, you know, if I'm going to be moving all the time, I should have a website so people can find me. And then I was like, you know, I got to put something on here. So don't sound like an idiot. And people know that I know what I'm talking about and get to know my personality, because hiring a financial coach is like going to a doctor, you're talking about some really intimate stuff. And if you're not comfortable with that person, then it's just not going to work out well.
So why don't people get to know me, so I built the website. And then, you know, I started blogging because I want to put things on there. And then I started to figure out how to be a better blogger or to write more. And then people wanted me to write for them because they were trying to reach a military audience, but they didn't know how to talk to a military audience. And we all know, you could smell an outsider from a mile away. And so they needed somebody that you know, was authentic in the community, but also had financial expertise.
And so then I started writing, and that helped me get my name out there. So it's just been one little piece that I've added on at a time. So it seems like a lot now. But they're all revenue streams that I've cultivated. And so now I teach a course actually on helping other financial professionals how to start their own coaching business. And I do consulting, I do all different types of business and financial coaching now.
So it's kind of evolved, but just figuring out as I go, a lot of hard lessons learned. But I feel like I'm getting it down now. Like I'm getting into my stride. So it's a lot better now than it was in the beginning. But it's just been figuring out researching it and doing it over and over again, until I've gotten better at it.
Amazing what trying can produce Hmm. So many people, because I get it too, right? Like you do real estate, you do this podcast, you write all this stuff, how do you do it, I'm like you do one thing at a time you work out some of the kinks, then you kind of get a flow with it. And then you can pick up something else.
Yes, that's exactly how I've done it. I was actually just writing a presentation that I'm doing and talking about my beginning. And I remember the first time I tried to sell my coaching services, it was to a couple that worked with my husband. And I met him at a Chinese restaurant. And it was so awkward, because I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn't confident. I didn't know how to sell myself. And of course, you know, they didn't hire me surprise, surprise. Um, but I totally failed there. But I didn't stop, that was, I think looking back this my proudest moment is like in the beginning is so awkward as hell, no everything, you know, you're doing you feel like an idiot. And but I was like, you know, I'm just gonna keep going. Like, it's got to be better the next time. It has to be.
And it was and every time I started to become more succinct in saying what I do and how I can help them, how could get them results, so that practicing and trying and failing and getting up and doing it again and again, even though I was embarrassed that I think helped just keep driving me but it's also what sets you apart from other people. Because a lot of people that first fail, like I'm too embarrassed to keep going like why should I try? But if you actually just get over that one failure, you're already lightyears ahead of everybody else.
Getting used to being embarrassed. It's like the strongest, best, most most common, most incompetent building that you can do just embarrassed about all the things I do. Well, man, we're bandaids ripped off now. Life is easy.
Until you go back through it.
I was just going through this with somebody yesterday. Or the other day I was doing a business proposal for this big project that I had going on. And he's like, man, I can't believe you put this how'd you put this together? And it so resonated with me when you said so much because like, here's one that I did four years ago that I had saved in my Google Drive. And it's like, lousy, right? And it didn't work. And I didn't get the I didn't make the sale that I wanted.
But I was like, well, I got better at writing them. I knew if you try and you do, like you said, I put myself in an embarrassing position. It didn't work. But I came home and I'm like, Here's 10 things I could do better. Well, now I can go back, you know, 50% better and then you increase from there.
So go out there try and like you said so many people they're like, well, I don't know, I don't know how to make it perfect. It's like Dude, it's not gonna be perfect at first. Go out there, get embarrassed. I love you say that. Like, that's the most important, do something embarrassing, and then next time be a little less embarrassing.
Right. It really is. And I think that those are the mistakes that you learn from that you'll never make again, you know, so the next time I pitched my coaching to somebody, I did a little research on sales and how to pitch and improved. It wasn't perfect, but that's the way I look at it every time I'm adding one more piece that's going to make it better. And along with actually trying and being embarrassed and failing and keeping it going is the other part is I've always gone after opportunities.
10:00 - 15:00
So when somebody says something to me like, hey, do you do freelance writing, even if I've never done it before, and one day that happened to me, I was like, you know what, I do do freelance writing. Because I'm, I have the mindset, like, I'll figure that crap out, like, no problem. If you're gonna pay me, I could get that done. And the same thing happened to me with consulting work. Somebody wanted to understand how to communicate to the military community when it comes to money. And they needed somebody in the community to explain that to them and walk it through. And I had never done consulting before. And they asked me that I was like, I sure do. I do consulting. Yep. And then I got off the phone, and I called a friend that does consulting, I was like, how the hell do I consult? Like, what's the quick and dirty? The quick and dirty explanation of that, I need to know it, because I'm gonna need to do it next week.
So you just figure it out, you have to say yes to opportunities and, and just go for it. I think that's what veterans are really good at, like, we will figure it out. Because you're always like a project. Even if you're a computer person, they're like, hey, guess what you're doing a whole event for, you know, whatever XYZ thing going on. So that's a benefit that we have.
It's funny you guys talk about, like progressing with just just trying.
This week, I switched from one search engine optimization platform to another and in doing so I had to go back through every blog post I've ever written and update tweak, which honestly, was good practice and easy to read link to old stuff, yada, yada. And it was really good until I got to like page seven or eight of old blog posts and realized how terrible I mean, not to say that I'm good at anything I'm doing now. But I mean, it was, you know, I'm like cringing going through my old stuff. And like, do I delete this? Or what do I you know, and so it's funny, because I had literally been having that conversation because of that, like two nights ago, where it's like, man, imagine, like, it's crazy to think how far some of this stuff has come just from deciding to try something terrible at it when I started.
And it's just decided to try it. And then just keep doing it consistently and amazing how much different things are now a year or two later. So that's cool.
I think too, looking back is very helpful doing some self reflection. And thankfully, I have a good support system around me, my family, my siblings that point out whenever I'm having a bad day, like recently, with COVID, you know, a lot of projects got put on hold or changed up. And I was complaining, mistakenly to one of my siblings about like, hey, like, really bombed this thing isn't going down the way I wanted it to. And they were like, you know what, it's crazy. You're even talking to these people. Like, you know, four years ago, five years ago, it was a totally different ballgame. Like you didn't know how to log into your website. And you had set it up. And now you I'm talking with major brands, and doing all these projects. And so looking back, like, you've seen how far you've come, and the things that you've learned and the opportunities that you have, I think is really huge. And in business and in life in general.
To counterpoint that I do like to look back, I'm like, man, I can't leave how far I've come. But then I also the point you made about you know, friends and family be like Alex, what are you worried about? You're killing it. You're doing so well. I kind of hate that. I hate it because people see you progress. And I like that Alex, you can accomplish anything. And I'm like, and then they tell me that when I'm having a bad day. And I'm like that's not helpful. Right? Just because you saw me get through some stuff doesn't mean that I can get through the next one the same way.
And so it's kind of for me it's very frustrating because people might certainly like Alex you got this I'm like, shut up, give me something useful. I don't ever use platitudes. Things give me something I need some actual help with.
But I think that's what comes with growth. social circles have to grow as well.
That's the whole reason I hang out with you. Because you were like the one friend who will tell me I suck.
Alex and I literally became friends because he was not afraid to tell me what I was doing really bad. And I was like, hey, that helps me out. Thank you.
That's how I've gotten opportunities too, I've gone up and said, Hey, this is something that you're missing. And I can fill that void. And I've gotten work that way, which is you know, people paying attention and being authentic i think is a huge nother characteristic that veterans are awesome at like, we're not a bunch of ponies will say it straight to your face. That's you're doing it wrong. You're doing a good job, maybe won't always say that, but we're definitely giving constructive feedback.
All right. So transition a little bit over to the actual like permanent personal finance side. You know, I'm curious because you do some consulting and coaching there and I am in the military. So I see a lot of that space, you know, and a lot of that but I'm yeah, I'm still fairly in the weeds. So like all I ever see is the people who like made a really bad mistake and somebody's like, Hey, you talk about money, you want to fix this guy. That's really it.
So what are some, what are some trends that you see when like, generally speaking with military finance, and some things that you think are like maybe some potholes to avoid?
15:00 - 20:00
Well, common things I see are on both ends of the spectrum.
So I see a lot of service members that have a ton of debt, that they are living way beyond their means, and don't know how to handle that. They don't know how to get out of that debt, they don't know how to stay out of debt. So they're on one side, and then on the other side, it's people that have listened. And they've spent less than they're making, they're saving their money, but they don't know what to do next. They're missing the investing portion. It's like, what do I do now I've saved my money, I'm not in debt. And it's just kind of this pile of money, like, I'll have somebody come in and say, I have like $200,000, in my checking account. And I'm like, That is awesome. That is good. Good on you, you've definitely been listening to the briefings. But we should probably think about getting that out of your check. And, you know, make a better plan for that. But it's just that they don't know what to do next.
And so I think that you know, that middle ground isn't as much as I see, because people are actually doing the work. They're trying to get out of debt, they are saving, and then they get to this point, it's like, what do I need to do now. So those are the people that I think reach out the most when it comes to money, which is great, because those are two areas that they do need help with. And then I think, you know, within the military community, I want people to be more practical and approachable about money.
So I think it's this telling you all the things that you're doing wrong, the mistakes you're making, like beat you down, versus Hey, we were all 21 once and making steady income, and we wanted to go out and have a good time we're, we're dating or we're traveling or whatever it is that you should be able to spend your hard earned money, but you can't have a blank check for it. Either, that you have to have a plan. And so I think that having people that are teaching you about money, be realistic, instead of giving you a lecture all the time is really important.
I give the example of when I have people come in, I coach them that I'm not judging them with money. If they choose to spend $1,000 a month on Pez dispensers, that's your business. That's how you want to spend your money. That's not how I would spend my money.
But as long as you can pay your bills, and you're saving for your future self, then that's all that matters. Like, get $1,000 with the Pez dispenser. So it's really I think, having honest conversations about money is important.
The second, never do, what you do. I could never do that. Because you're making my blood boil just by saying, Oh, you know, I'm not here to judge and this man, I'm like, yo, you better get your you better. I'd be telling you to be begging ship straight, you're gonna be out of the door. Like, I have no tolerance, I suffer no fools for this stuff. Get it right or get out?
Yes. Well, but you know, that's, I know it's sometimes you have to do that, don't get me wrong, I have a three strike policy, because you get some people to come in. And they're a little big for their britches. And like, Oh, I got this all figured out. They tell you basically, they're the financial expert. And I'm like, okay, so if you're a financial expert, why are you in debt? Why is your security clearance getting revoked? And so I politely Listen, and I give them an idea how to solve the problem. And then they tell me why that will work for them. And like, okay, so give another way to solve that problem. And they tell me how that's not going to work for them.
And then the third time they tell me, I cut them off. And then it's like, bad cop. I say, hey, since you got it all figured out, you break it down for me how you're going to solve this problem, because I've given you solutions. And you tell me every time how they're not for you. So it sounds like you're either not willing to make change, or you're too smart for this. And you know, and then that starts a whole whole nother conversation.
But on the other side. getting frustrated with people is I've seen like the scary side of money. So one of I think I was at an installation, and I was required to shadow other financial counselors before I could volunteer there. And I was sitting in and a first sergeant came in, and he had driven hours from another installation to come to this place to get financial help. And so he had retired and taken a contracting position. And you know, you're making Mad Money in the Middle East. He was making, I don't know, two or $300,000 a year well, after that was done. He came home and he got a job working at I think, you know, a factory of some sort making minimum wage, but he continued to live off of $200,000 a year.
20:00 - 25:00
And so in that moment, he told us he was ready to lose both of his cars. With his houses he had to, and his wife had no idea they were going to be evicted the next day, and he had never told her. And, you know, I was in the capacity to be shadowing and not be in charge of this session. But you could tell like, it was bad, like this guy was at the end. And, you know, first sergeant, he was walking a fine line of he might be in a bad way were hurt himself, or he's here for the help. And so it was just like, a very fine line. And I remember when he left, we gave them all these resources, and definitely handled the situation like we weren't going to make it all better, but we made it so he could, if he's still gonna have a roof over his head, he was gonna have food on his table. And he came up to me and he's like, you know, I didn't know what I was gonna do. Like, I, he's like, this was it for me, like, this was my final thing.
And so it's those times where it's like, yes, sometimes you get an eight year old kid, and they're like, you can't keep going, you know, see dancers every weekend, you can't afford that, you know, but then you give you I call that black ops budget.
So, um, but then you have people that are really like, this is, you know, life changing stuff going on for them. So you have to, like, play it like and really be a good listener. And see where it's going. Because there's all these different hats I have to put on like, Black Ops budget, serious nursery, like you just have to see once they come in the door.
I just want to reiterate that I couldn't do that job because I'm not wearing any other hats. I mean, if you came out to me look, this country is so we're such an entitled bunch of babies do make 200 grand a year come home and then has the audacity to think he's gonna live on 20 grand a year and then doesn't have the self responsibility to tell his wife. Oh, my lord patients would be far gone. All you would see is the blood in my eyes.
I know but if they were gonna hurt themselves. I think that you would be like, okay, like, you give them two talks. Be like, hey, look, I'm gonna help you right now. But I'm gonna kick your butt later.
I get, no I cussed them out first. And then I kicked them on the way out the door. But okay, Oh, man. Yeah, you make my blood boil. I mean, but look, to be fair, this is how I started right? I was in the same position. I was terrible, financial, terrible, terrible, terrible with finances, and I got my stuff straight. And it started with gross self responsibility. And no more excuses, no more living beyond my means and like real sacrifice. And, um, you know, that's what my websites called broke is a choice. But you know, it took a lot of tough love. That's the only way that I had to talk to people or people on the show know that about me, David really knows about me. And so I highly respect that you can be patient with people because some people do need it. But just from a selfish position. I was just saying like, I could I don't, I'm not I'm not the right person for them. Because I'm never gonna do that. I'm never gonna, self love only.
Yes, I think that's why I'm a good coach is because I'm willing to see where people are at and then kind of decide how I'm gonna go after it. But definitely, sometimes it's like, I'm done. Like, there's nothing else I can say to you. And then it's like, really like, Alright, then it's, you know, you're not taking responsibility. You're, you know, XYZ, especially situations where I have couples, that's where that's a hard one. That's a hard one, especially when you're trying to be the neutral third party, but you want to be like, Dude, it's your fault. It is completely your fault, this stuff. You're trying to like, be neutral, like, Alright, these are some ways that you could improve.
Even families that have their stuff together financially. So my wife and I, you know, she is. I think it's kind of typical. She's the frugal one, I'm the I don't know about less than frugal, but I have taste right not not like she doesn't have taste but like I have expensive. I grew up on you know, all that my parents were great with you know, envelope budget Dave Ramsey, save money, you know, all that we didn't have a lot of money. We weren't poor, but we didn't have a lot of money.
And so my reaction coming in high school was like, I'm not buying the Kroger van version of that I can afford the real brand now. And so, you know, I'm, I'm much much much, much better with finances now. But I still lean, much less frugal than my wife. And so even though we're both really good with finances, we still definitely get into things where it's like, yeah, I understand I could pay down that debt. But that debt has this interest rate. So I'm not going to pay down that debt to do this. And she's like, No, you know, that, you know, and so I can only imagine how much more painful that would be as you extrapolate it to people who aren't in a spot where it doesn't really matter, because your decisions are more like, well, where do we want to? Where will we get the most bang for buck? It's more, you know, like, if we were two or $300,000 worse off, it can be pretty ugly for us to have very different different approaches to finances.
25:00 - 30:00
Oh, yeah. That's what you get people that come And they are like that they're like 200,000 $300,000 in debt. I had one person come in and they had, I think it was $300,000 worth of student loan debt. And they were not a doctor, they were not an attorney. And they were coming to me because they're like, I think I'm gonna get another degree. And I was, like, gloves off. I was like, No, I was like, as a professional, I'm telling you, that is a horrible, that's a horrible decision. I said, You haven't even used the ones that you have. Now, you know, they're not even paid for. Why would you take on more debt? But a lot of times, that is the thought, especially for military spouses. Like, oh, I'll just get another degree.
So yeah, it's, but yeah, some people it's just their decision making and they'll fight you. If you say, Oh, well, you need to go get a part time job. Like, I know, you're on active duty. But as soon as you get off, you need to be working stocking shelves at Walmart. And they're like, what? Like, no, I'm like, What do you think is gonna disappear overnight? Because it's not like you actually gonna have to take action to get rid of that debt, and your active duty pay isn't gonna cut it?
Do we live in the most entitled country?
So we talked earlier in the beginning of this show about, you know, it's amazing what you do when you try? You're like, hey, look, I'm just gonna try this thing. It's embarrassing. It's difficult. I've never done it, blah, blah, blah, but you'd be amazed what things will compound into. And it's easy to say, it's harder to do. But when you actually do it, you're like, Damn, trying is an amazing, amazingly effective thing.
Well, the second one to that, that people don't won't do is sacrifice. They won't make any sacrifice at all forever. It's like, I want to fix my financial situation. But I don't want to spend any less money, I don't want to give up the Lexus. I don't want to give up the two houses, I don't want to take on anything, I don't want to work anymore. I just want a magic credit card that goes in the balance when I spend money. So I feel you're paying.
Trust fund, and like, meet somebody like magic money. Yeah, it's a lot of times people just don't want to do the dirty work. And that's what it is. It didn't you didn't happen overnight, it's gonna take a while to get out of it. So it is a sacrifice but it doesn't have to be austere. That's what I tell people. And that's why I say you know, to be approachable, stick about money, play to your strengths. For example, I like to eat at home, I'm not huge on going out to eat, if I go out to eat it is going to be a super fancy restaurant I'm going to be waiting on. And it's going to be really good food. I'm not messing around like a chain. But I will also drop $300 on a pair of boots, but I will buy cheap stuff like interior decorating. I'm not really into that. Like that's not my thing.
So it just ebbs and flows. And you have to figure out where you're willing to give it up and where you're not. And that's fine. But getting control and an overview of what you have going on financially can help you make those decisions, knowing yourself and knowing what's going on, I think are the biggest keys.
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Yeah, I agree.
Yeah. It's like just understanding where your money is going and then putting a chokehold on some of it right. Like you don't have to. You don't have to never eat out and have a miserable existence to save money. But you definitely don't have to eat out every day. So it's a balance.
That was the big one for me when I was like, you know, screwing around, I was always broke, but I didn't really understand why. I just knew I was. I can't seem to save any money. You know, I did the whole I don't make enough and then one death broke out. well it's called personal capital now, but I guess back then it was Yoli money, whatever it is or before men, right? They have all these aggregators.
30:00 - 35:00
And so I pop everything in there just to see because I was trying to get my stuff together. And I put everything in there. And it's like negative $40,000 net worth. And I was like, I should just I should, I should pay more attention to this. But because once I knew I could affect change, it's like, well, now 39, better, 38 better, 37 is better. And like, now people see me they're like, oh, Alex, he has all this stuff together as if I did it as if I wasn't 31 six years ago with a negative $40,000 net worth now. Now I'm doing very well. While people they won't take that first day to track everything spread all out, maybe ask for help. Right? I love that you that there are people like you that can that people, some people need help. I didn't want to tell anybody. I want to keep this secret.
So but you know, the internet, the internet is an amazing place where you can get a lot of help and still be anonymous. And so yeah, if you just know, some people a lot of it is just like, Look, let me go ask for help. Let me try a little bit. Let me track everything. Let me make some sacrifices for these small things, these, these activities are free. You know, learning is free on the internet, sacrifices free it's like to do a little bit less than the car that's got to be the number one you see is the car.
It's either a Dodge Charger or jacked up truck like...
I'm at Fort Bragg. And a couple years ago, back when I was still in the car business. I knew people in the car business. They cannot afford cannot this big truck of fiber now called a raptor. And it's like a $70,000 truck. Nobody. Nobody needs to own this. Nobody owns this vehicle. And I see him around him all the time. I'm like, you know, Fort Bragg, like, army guys don't get paid enough to make on a $70,000 car. Flat straight up. There's no, there's no exceptions to that.
And so I went to my buddy who ran the Ford store late down the street. And he's like, we're like the number two Raptor dealer in the country.
I believe it. I believe in Fort Bragg.
It’s like next to Dallas, like the number one in Dallas is like that. I'm like, bro, you guys got to tighten up with this 70,000 our truck and E5 budget. What are you thinking?
There's an E3 I think, who has the brand new Supra in like right next to where I work. And I remember seeing it one day like, oh, it must be the OCS car like Lance Corporal gets out of the car. And I was like, I don't even want to know. Like, I don't even want to know, just no questions. It's not the stock, you know, base model like, I don't know, you know, just keep my mouth shut. He was like, I was talking to him once. And I didn't bring it up. I didn't even know it was him actually. And he's like, you know, watching car videos like, Oh, that's cool. And he's like, Oh, yeah, check out my car. I like just like, just like, nope. Like, dude, your car cost you more than like two of my rental properties. Maybe three, like, come on, man.
My only hope is that they'll get there one day they'll realize it and but it will be hard lesson learned. I think you'll you're talking about sacrifice. And you've been on active duty been in the military that if you think money's hard on active duty, wait to get out like it's you're getting out of the military one way or the other. At some point and you're going to lose your BAH, you're going to lose your BAS, you're going to not have as big of a tax advantage. If you deploy every other year, you're not paying federal income tax.
So it looks like you're making way less money than you are you now if you haven't retired, you're going to be paying for medical insurance, which is huge, especially if you have a family just $1,000 off the top right there. So losing your BAH is going to be probably $1,000 losing the medical stuff is $1,000 so if you can't come up with an extra two grand in your budget while you're on active duty, you're not going to get it off of active duty.
Like stability like the guarantee. Not just like oh, I lost 60 grand a year it's like No bro you may never get you'll never gonna even get 60 grand a year. They can fire you.
They can fire you COVID see ya.
The army it's like yeah, getting raises every year.
So the whole mindset shift of I'll tell you, like the army wasn't a good fit for me for years. I loved it, I got out and it took me a long time to kind of it took me much longer than people think to really get my stuff together. Like 10 years almost before I really started getting some momentum. And so people think they're gonna get out and get a job. That's the same, it's like it's not the same.
And then and then which is kind of what I wanted to talk to you about the beginning show or before we talked about on the show, I alluded to this personal financing which allowed me to then become an investor. And then sort of now I'm at this trajectory where I'm becoming an entrepreneur. But I had to have that stability of personal finance. And so when people are in, they don't realize the stability risk that they don't take on. So it's not just the income. It's like, it's that guaranteed income.
35:00 - 40:00
You always have a roof over your head and food on your table, too. That's the thing not gonna let you go hungry. And, yeah, it's a job. And I mean, you might get kicked out. But yeah, there's a lot of, yeah, it's real hard, especially in the army.
But yeah, it's, you know, it's something that you will have to learn eventually, so why not get on it now, like, it's always gonna be something that will nag at you if you're in debt, or you haven't saved your money for retirement, because right now you're saving money for two people, you're saving money for yourself and your 85 year old self.
And if you aren't putting away money and saving for the future investing, you're not putting a roof over your head 85 you're not gonna have quality of life at 85. So it just only continues to get harder. So might as well just face it now. And take little steps to fix it. You don't have to like, rip the tablecloth off, you could do little things to make change.
Yeah, I love that.
I was talking to someone the other day, he basically just said, no matter what, at some point in your life, you're gonna have a period of sacrifice. You either sacrifice it now, and you figure it out. So you don't have to sacrifice later or you end up not wanting to but you're sacrificing, you know, whether you want to or not as you're when you're older. And I thought that was a really cool way of putting it because it's people people forget, like, Oh, yeah, well just figure it out.
You think taxes are gonna get more affordable, you think? Like, it's gonna be easier for you to work in 40 years, you think you're gonna make, like in you know, like inflation and monetary, like economic policy and devaluation of like, you think everything is just gonna magically get better in 60 years? Maybe but I don't know if that's a bet I want to take I'd rather try to prepare.
I look at it more like it's easy to take a second job now that you hate than to take a single job stocking at Lowe's at 60 when you got that pride, you know, I'm 60 also to have my stuff together not be I mean, I mean, look, people do it. And they should and I'm glad I'm you know, some you know, some people just do to stay busy. But if you have to do it, you're not going to be fun, be as fun might as well take that second job now, then do when you're 16 you're like shoot like and bro time, time, time time, the most valuable resource at all of all so like you said, get started now a little bit goes a long way because otherwise you're gonna work five times as hard when you're 65 and, and have no chance. You don't have 40 years ahead.
Yeah, that's what I really love helping young servicemembers that aren't married yet. They're just starting out cuz it's like, oh, you have it so easy. Like you think it's hard right now when you get a wife is gonna get worse. You know, when you get a husband is gonna get worse now you have to account to somebody and, and compromise versus right now you could do what you want with your money, you could save 50% of your income, live on ramen, just eat in the chow hall and and save that money for the future for when you want to get married or get that car or, or get out and take a gap year after the military. I completely agree with what you were saying Alex, it takes a long time for people to, I call it decompress or unwind after active duty especially giving people the deployments to combat those types of things. It really takes a long time and so saving you money while you're on active duty can give you the freedom to make the transition out go a lot smoother, because a lot of houses follow people coming back to duty that separates them because financially they can't handle it. Mentally it's not for them and they're not around, you know, people that they're used to being around like that environment the way that kind of veterans do things and servicemembers.
So it's important to just take little steps not spend all your deployment money, put some of that away and you don't have to be a seer and not live. You should go out and do things with the money you've earned. But you should put part of it away too.
Curious if you have a recommendation, a general spot for a young service member that you think is the first place or the best place for them to begin putting money away.
I think the first thing they should do is they should save $3,000, now I know everybody's like oh you just save $1,000 Yeah, you should get there as soon as you can. But here's the thing with young service members that people often forget. It's just not about emergencies. When you're 18 is only you, I mean what emergency like you know, get home take care of family like that might be the emergency, but you don't need a ton of money. But what service members have is a lot of opportunity, so you have the opportunity to pick up and go backpacking in Europe on the weekends while you're over there, you could go on a ski trip, you could just pick up all this leaf.
40:00 - 45:00
So I say put it into a savings account, if you get to $3,000. That's great, but you also need to start putting money in your tsp. Hands down, that's what you should be doing. Thankfully, they've changed it now with a BRS. So you're automatically going into it. But you need to make sure that you understand where your money is going into if it's in the lifecycle fund, or if you are divvying it up yourself, you know, through, you know, 70%, stocks, 30% bonds, whatever you're doing in those, those funds, having an understanding of that is really important. And, and don't touch it, do not touch it, we have people that like oh, well, you know, now, I kind of want to get married, you know, get a new house and take some money out your tsp don't take money out of your tsp just explained, that's your 85 year old self.
So you are robbing your 85 year old self blind if you take money out of your tsp.
So I feel strongly about that. I know some other people feel differently, but you should put your money for the future and then continue, don't just set a number, let's say you are going to give $300 a month to your tsp, every time you get a pay raise, you should increase that amount. And then maybe divide it in half your pay raise if it's $100, put $50 more a month into your tsp, and put $50 more a month towards your quality of life, because you don't want to always be working on one day, you want to start moving a little bit. So it's just those little tweaks that make a huge difference in the long run and building your wealth.
So I have an interesting story. I was like that habitually broke my whole life. And then I remember the first time I had like 10 grand in a bank account, which is a lot for me, and not as long ago as you should have been given my age. But for people who don't really understand that when you have money, then opportunities will arise.
So $3,000 I like that, because $1,000 is just really not that much to solve any real big problems. I don't think, but I like what you said about opportunity. And so I don't know that $3,000 has that much to do with big opportunities, travel is a good one. I like that. But the first time I had $10,000 in my bank, I remember it started to allow me to have conversations with people that I wouldn't normally have. Because I'd be like, I just have no chance. And then you start having this money. And I remember that I got an opportunity to buy this restaurant locally. And it was the first time I'm like, I actually can afford this. Now I have to learn, is this a good deal? Is this are these conversations with people I went out reaching out and like asking for help other people. And I ended up not doing it. Because I realized that it wasn't that good of a deal by any means.
But just when you save that money, people think oh, Alex, you know, how do you go out and buy this house and I do stuff? I'd like to get 50 grand in your bank, you'd be looking for stuff to do with it.
But you have to have the 50 grand first you have to have the Seven tene Grand, the 20 grand, whatever it is, right? There's stuff around, but if you are always broke, you're like, what am I gonna save for? I don't know. So people, then I think they just go Well, I'm not missing anything. That's like no, go save the money. But that $10,000, 3000 is a good start. I'm with you on it's good for emergencies, but put that $10,000 in a cash cow and then go look to invest it in something and then you will find opportunity for sure.
I mean, that's what people like, say, oh, you're lucky. No, no, I've been preparing my whole life for an opportunity. And when that opportunity came, I was prepared to meet it. And that's what turns into luck. So that's with money. It's just if you have a ton of debt and you don't have money saved, you don't have freedom. You are painted yourself into a corner versus having the ability to walk away. Let's say you have PTSD. You're like, I can't do this active duty stuff anymore. I can't wait 20 years, like I need to walk away now.
Having money gives you the ability to do that. But like, you know what? The retirements are not worth it for me. And that's a personal decision. Or it's like, This isn't good for my family life anymore. My wife's miserable, I was miserable. My kids are miserable. We're gonna walk away now. And we have the money to be able to do that. And so also two situations I've been in especially when I came off of active duty. I was working in Fayetteville and I was in a situation where, you know, the manager was like, really mean to me it was just a really aggressive situation. And I was so miserable. On the one hand, I was like, You know what, dude, I don't need this. Like I'm here because I wanted extra money because of going to school and but I've actually I just it's not worth it to me I can get by and you know, eat some ramen. But I had the ability to do that where other people are like they have to have that paycheck that week or they're going to be in big trouble. I wasn't in that situation. So I could get myself out of a situation that wasn't good for me.
45:00 - 50:00
Money isn't necessarily, the real value of money isn't the opportunity, you can now say yes, it's that you can now say no. That's the real freedom. Like, yeah, no, not doing that. Not doing that. I tell people no all the time now feel like, your money, so he can't buy me beat it.
Yes, that is, it is so true. I had a deal where somebody's gonna offer me $25,000 to, like, do some consulting work. And I was really tempted by the money, but I was like, you know what this like, isn't gonna be a good fit. I know, this is gonna be you guys kind of don't know what you're doing. So I'm never gonna be able to deliver and be successful for you. Like, it's always gonna be a cluster. And I was able to be like, you know what, no, I'm gonna hustle for something else. I'm good right now. So I have to put myself in that situation to just have a miserable result for everyone.
Yeah, and then, and then you can control your schedule too like, that's, that's my biggest thing, exiting, exiting, you know, going reserves or whatever is like, I have the money to control my time to control my schedule, say yes, no to, to work on what I want, when I want where I want it, you know, I haven't taken that jump yet. Because I, because I don't have the time. I got to wait a little longer to like and control that time. But that's like, the thing that I'm most excited about is just knowing like, hey, like, I get to make that decision. It's, you know, it's like, cleaning your room.
As a kid you hate cleaning your room as an adult. I like having a clean room. What's the difference? Well, it's my idea now. It's not I'm not having to do something I'm, you know, Okay, I'm gonna do you know, and that's a terrible example. But whatever, I'm gonna just backtrack for two seconds, and just reiterate, for those listening to the TSP piece, because I think that's huge. I mean, people who've heard me talk about this, know that I just, I did contribute, but I didn't know what I was doing. I left it all the dangi fund, you know, in the best growth years, the economy is seen for like seven years, I, I did the math, once I'm 30 or $40,000, short on where my tsp would be, if I had just used the allocation I have right now, even if I didn't contribute any more money, which, you know, you extrapolate $30,000, over the next, you know, 30 years, and that's a very substantial amount of money that I will never get back, because I didn't know what I was doing, even if I didn't contribute more.
But for me, the really cool thing with the TSP, and the reason I don't touch it, the reason I don't buy into like tsp loans, because you might be able to get a better investment or whatever all this other stuff, is because if I have $50,000, sitting in a bank account, as Alex pointed out, it's gonna, it may not burn a hole, but I'm gonna find somewhere to put that $50,000 I'm gonna find an investment I'm gonna there is going to be something that I find that I'm very good about not having that $50,000 in the bank account for too much longer.
So the TSP is like the money that I know I don't touch. It's my you know, it's there. Well, what’s really beneficial for real estate. Because you always need a super emergency fund. You always need cash reserves. If you go to take on a mortgage, they're like, Hey, we need six months cash reserves, it's great to be able to be like, my, my tsp has been pledged now on 15 units as reserves, like Yeah, yeah, there we go. Right there. There's my reserves. And you know, if all of them went south, I don't I mean, it would still cover them for a year, but, but it's really nice to know that I don't have to, oh, man, I spent the money, I don't have the reserves, I need to get a gift from someone to whatever. Or if there's an emergency, like, I have all those things. But if for some reason, all of those things fail, this thing that just compounds for the rest of my life will cover anything and everything in my real estate portfolio for at least six months to a year, probably more than that right now. But that's really comforting. And that allows me to take risks that I wouldn't be able to take if I didn't know that I've covered it, right, like when everything happened at the beginning of this year, and everything shut down. Everyone was panicking. I looked at my tsp and said, I can cover my rentals for 18 months if they're 100% vacant. Okay, not worried.
That's really, really, really comforting. So I love the TSP for a lot of reasons. But I think that piece is why I love it the most. It's like, you know, if I mess everything up, I'm covered for a while.
That's what I think you are investing in, there's all different ways to invest all different levels, and also your risk tolerance. And so you could have your tsp that's one component of it, you could have your real estate investing, you could have a brokerage account where you're just trying to buy different types of stocks. So there's all these different ways but I think, you know, when you're young and, you know, also building a family like the TSP is a great way to build wealth long term that maybe doesn't require as much work as some other investing.
For my real estate investors, the TSP can be used as reserves for when you qualify for a mortgage because you need six months PITI for every property when you get a fannie mortgage, you need six months PITI for every property you have. And so you can use that tsp as that reserve.
So having that money sitting around, really can pay it like David said, it can pay some dividends on what you can do with it, even if you leave it in there.
Yep, that's great.
50:00 - 55:00
But it shouldn't be in the G fund.
No, don't do that. And luckily now...
It should not be in the G fund all of it. That's what it used to default. So that's how it was, when you came in and you started it, you turned on your tsp through my pay it all the money that you allotted to put in, went straight to the G fund until you took your tsp login, logged into the TSP website and changed your allocation.
But a lot of people didn't do that. They didn't know that. That was the next step. Yep. And so for a long time, and I would have people come to me all the time, they'd be like, Hey, I'm gearing up to retire. Can you tell me more about my tsp? And I would look at it and like, wow, like 15 years, you've been in the G fund, like, yo, it's been a great savings account. But you know, you haven't really kind of built the wealth that you probably thought you were so but now they've changed that. So it defaults to the lifecycle fund closest to your 62nd birthday, which is much more helpful, because, what?
Well, what is the G fund? I don't know what that is.
Bonds, government bonds, never lost money, but...
No, the G fund is government security. So they're backed by the full faith of the government. The F fund is the bonds. So yeah, so government securities, there's, you know, not a lot of risk, though. So there's not a lot of return, and often you're losing money with inflation.
So I averaged from 0-8, when I joined to 15. When I figured it out, I averaged around two to two and a half percent return in the G fund.
Meanwhile, the funds that I'm in right now, averaged anywhere from I think they averaged 18. But there was a year where the funds that I'm in right now collectively, were over 30%, like two or three years in a row. And so I look at it and I'm like, Huh, all right. Yeah. That's cool. I'm glad I earned 2% that year. Thank God, I didn't lose any money. Like, yeah, yeah, it's just at a young age, you know, you can afford that risk, but I didn't even, it is what is.
Lifecycle funds are good.
Agreed. Yeah, it's a very, very good step in the right direction.
And so I have a few questions that I asked every guest. And I never prepare anyone, but they're not super hard. So the first one is, if an E1, E2, was to walk up to you asking for financial advice, or just life advice, what's the one thing that you would tell them? Like, what's the one thing you wish you knew when you were 18?
You should save 30% of your income. You should just start. Yep, you should just start right then. Yes.
Because it will get harder as you get older and have more responsibilities, but you're just coming in and maybe are in a long term relationship. And you're just starting out with a career and having that type of money, that you just get used to living without it. And it will just get easy to start snowballing savings.
I 100%. Agree. Yeah, I wish that my tsp allocation, it looked like that when I first joined it, it does now but it didn't back then. And it was a lot harder to grow into it than it is to just stay there.
Right. If you start that way, then it won't be difficult.
That's a big number. But I love the advice if you can get used to it. And then the other thing that we really talked about was, um, you know, momentum, you start seeing that money pile up and you're like, I don't want to spend it. I want to have a big hit again. And so I think there's factors like do the 30% make that sacrifice in a year, you got an account, you're like, oh, man, I don't want change. I don't wanna slow it down. Now I want to speed it up.
You know, what's really crazy is what motivates some young servicemembers when I tell them this. And I know it's crazy, but it works so I can continue to do it. I tell them like you should be saving a ton of money like 30%. Let's talk about what that can build up to. Like you could have $100,000 and then I'm like, you know what, and you need to ask your girlfriend for a prenup if you're going to get married. And as soon as I say that they would need a prenup. It's like, oh, like I should like there's start thinking about having that kind of money that they would be demanding a prenup. And it works like okay, yeah, I can build that up. And yeah, I'm gonna prepare myself for the future.
So I tell them all the time. If you have a lump sum like that, you're not just going to be able to marry anybody without a prenup.
Legal Services probably like who's this lady? They keep telling people.
I didn't need a prenup when I got married. I wish I did. Oh, man.
All right, resources, what a book course website, whatever, like what kind of resources would you recommend for anybody looking to start the personal finance journey?
55:00 - 58:08
I think the biggest resource is just budgeting. I know that people don't like that. But the biggest problem is people don't know how much they have coming in. And they don't know how much money they have going out. So they have a clear picture of their LES. So that's really important. I actually have a whole article on how to read your LES, which a lot of people don't do, and start really being familiar with that. And then knowing everything that you're paying for the things that don't happen every month that gets everybody every time is you don't pay your vehicle registration every month, but that's going to come if you don't get tires every month or every year, every two years. But when you have to pay for tires, if you're living paycheck to paycheck, it's going to be held. And so really having a firm grasp on what's going on, I call it the layout, just like you would have to lay everything out to do a packing list, you know, layout all of your money.
The next thing I would say is use the free resources first, obviously, I practice what I preach, and you should get things low cost and so you have access to free financial counselors and coaches on most every military installation. If you don't like that person or they don't jive with you, you can go to the next one. Or you can go to a military onesource and they can give you a free financial counselor that can meet you online, meet you off post me to off base.
So make sure you're using those free resources first, and then as your skills or money grows. I think that's when you start to need to further your education, and any personal finance book is really going to be helpful.
Thank you for listening to another episode about my journey From military to millionaire. If you liked it Be sure to visit Frommilitarytomillionaire.com/podcast to subscribe to future podcasts. While you're there, we'd love for you to rate the show. Give us a review on iTunes. Now get out there and take action.
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Join David Pere and Alexander Felice with Lacey Langford as they discuss the importance of financial management for military service members.
Lacey is an accredited financial counselor, military wife, mom, and veteran. She is also the creator and host of The Military Money Show.
Being a military wife and frequently transferring to different places has made it hard for her to find work. So, she leveraged her knowledge of investing and building wealth and started her own coaching business to help other service members, veterans, and their families get their financial lives running smoothly.
In this episode, Lacey shares her insight on living below your means, preparing for your retirement while on active duty, and why you should save 30% of your income while you’re still young. Stay tuned!
About Lacey Langford:
Lacey Langford, AFC® is The Military Money Expert® and the founder of LaceyLangford.com, a personal finance blog specializing in the unique world of the U.S. military. Lacey’s the creator and host of The Military Money Show, a podcast dedicated to helping the military community with personal finance.
Besides being a financial coach, Lacey teaches other financial professionals to build a portable and profitable coaching business through her Financial Coaching Business Builder course.
She’s an Accredited Financial Counselor® with over 15 years of experience in financial planning, counseling, and coaching. Her education includes an Executive Certificate in Financial Planning from Duke University and a B.S. in Finance from the Unversity of North Carolina at Wilmington.
As a U.S. Air Force Veteran, military spouse, financial coach, speaker, and writer, she changes people’s mindset from being fearful of money to having control and confidence with it.
She likes long walks on the beach, cross-stitch, and opera. Just kidding. She loves reality, TV, chili-cheese Fritos, and laughing.
Advice to an 18-20-year old:
Save 30% of your income!
Learn to budget!
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Outline of the Episode:
- [02:44] Building a career when you're a military spouse
- [06:54] The amazing things you can accomplish by just trying
- [09:35] Saying yes to opportunities that come your way
- [12:22] How self-reflection helps you overcome a bad day
- [15:23] Two common financial hurdles military service members have
- [18:13] How to deal with uncoachable clients. You have to draw the line at some point!
- [22:55] The challenges in coaching couples about financial management
- [26:53] Making sacrifices to get out of debt. You have to do the dirty work!
- [33:09] Why you should take care of your finances when you're still on active duty
- [35:39] Saving money for two people – yourself and your 85-year-old self.
- [39:36] How much money should young service members put away as savings?
- [43:27] The freedom of not having to live paycheck to paycheck
- [46:35] Why you should not touch your tsp.
- [51:11] G fund and F fund – what's the difference?
- [52:39] Saving 30% of your income while you're still young
- [54:52] Lacey's recommended resources
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My name is David Pere, I am an active duty Marine, and have realized that service members and the working class use the phrase “I don't get paid enough” entirely too often. The reality is that most often our financial situation is self-inflicted. After having success with real estate investing, I started From Military to Millionaire to teach personal finance and real estate investing to service members and the working class. As a result, I have helped many of my readers increase their savings gap, and increase their chances of achieving financial freedom! – Click here to SUBSCRIBE: https://bit.ly/2Q3EvfE to the channel for more awesome videos!
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