After the TSP, I invest my money in Betterment and Vanguard. I track all of my investments with Personal Capital. I also wrote a short, 2 hour book called The Intelligent Military Investor summarizing this site. You can buy it here.
I am a captain (O-3) in the US Air Force, rapidly approaching my 30s. As an officer in the US Air Force, I try not to discuss my job, location, deployments, or TDYs for OPSEC (operational security) reasons. I will say that I get to travel a lot internationally and stateside (CONUS and OCONUS) for my work.
My wife and I enjoy travelling, trying new restaurants, hiking, and gelato. We would ideally like jobs that would allow us to live and work anywhere.
In 2011 I graduated a long training course for my primary duty. I became somewhat obsessed with personal finance, investing, and optimizing my life and money. I read every book the small base library had on these subjects and read as many personal finance and financial independence blogs as I could.
I decided to make early financial independence my main financial goal. It was easy convincing my wife of this goal since she had always been a saver.
I began tracking my net worth every month starting in April 2012, when my wife and I were worth -$3714. Now, we’re investing to be financially independent by age 40. I invest about 50% of my after tax pay and my wife saves about 90% of hers.
About My Site
I primarily started this site for three reasons:
- Earn additional income online (see my advertising disclosure)
- Share what I learn about personal finance for military servicemembers
- Help fellow military personnel grow wealthier
For a profit motivated worker, working for government can be difficult as there are no bonuses, no salary negotiations, and promotions are based mostly on seniority. In 2012 I was in a long unaccompanied training course. Living in the dorms on base, there wasn’t much I could do to boost my income.
I started this blog in April 2012 to pass the time, write about what I was doing with my money, and to make some extra income. From April 2012 – April 2016, 200,000 visitors have viewed my site 500,000 times.
Before I discovered the idea of financial independence, I had no definitive goal with my money. I knew that my investments could eventually support my lifestyle, but I didn’t know my number. $1 million? $2 million? It seemed so arbitrary.
Now that I know what my goal is, I want to share it with as many members of the military community that I can. The only real reason to save and invest is to achieve financial independence, so that you can live life as you choose.
Military personal finance can be quite different from civilians. There’s the constant moving across the country or the world (PCS). There’s deployments and temporary assignments (TDYs). There are entitlements, basic pay, incentive pay, tax benefits, BAH, and everything else that makes the military financial community different from the civilian sector.
That’s why a site specific to military personal finance issues is needed.
Thanks for reading,
2 Websites I Use to Achieve Financial Independence
The best way I know to achieve financial independence is to keep your investments simple, diversified, automatic, and low-cost. Costs eat into your returns like you wouldn't believe! A 1% difference in expense ratios can mean $100,000s lost to fees over a lifetime of investing.
Even if you're a DIY (do-it-yourself) investor like I am, you need to check out Betterment. You can read my full review here, but the bottom line is for only $250 per $100,000 invested (0.25% expense ratio) you get simple, diversified, and automated investing. In addition every account now gets free Tax Loss Harvesting+ features, which should increase returns for the average investor more than the minuscule management fee.
If you're not a DIY investor or are just getting started with investing, then you definitely need to check out Betterment. It's what I recommend to my family and friends who aren't strong investors or don't care to learn about asset allocations, diversification, or rebalancing.
I have investment accounts all over the place. To keep track of all of them in one place I use Personal Capital. It combines all of my accounts, shows me where I may be overpaying in fees, and provides beautiful charts showing my overall asset allocation and performance.
I use Personal Capital to track my Roth and Traditional TSP, Vanguard IRAs, banking accounts, SDP, and my Betterment taxable account, all in one place. It's free, secure and presents me with a one-stop dashboard so I can see all my money on one site.
Read my full review of Personal Capital and see how easy it can be to manage your investments in one place. Trust me, once you try it, you'll love it.
P.S. - If you have over $100,000 of assets and a 401k, you really need to run the Personal Capital 401k Fee Analyzer.