Erik Baskin – BLUF Finance, Side Hustles on Active Duty Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 72

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In this episode, Jamie and Spencer Reese chat with Erik Baskin on life insurance, when it's appropriate to hire a financial advisor, and how to start a side hustle or business when you're on active duty.

Learn more about what Erik is working on at BLUF Finance and Baskin Financial Planning.

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #72 Links

Outline of Episode:

  • The idea of the “$100 Startup” and Erik’s journey toward opening his own Financial Planning firm
  • Erik’s advice for servicemembers approaching separation 
  • Life insurance and SGLI coverage
  • Bluff Finance
  • Selling leave versus taking terminal leave
  • Erik’s travel hacking experience
  • Basic beginning steps for military service members to get started with their financial journey
  • Erik’s book recommendations

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 72 Transcript

[00:00:00] Erik: I don't care if you make a million dollars or $1 a year, being intentional with your money. I think you guys had Jesse on from YNAB. Yeah. Then after that, going through that financial order of operations, paying off that higher interest debt, getting to obviously a TSP match as a non-negotiable for military members.

And then moving on to things like the Roth IRA, increasing that TSP, and then you know, when it comes to down payments on houses, if that's something that you aspire to be a homeowner, that's something that is definitely in that order somewhere. I think just knowing where your money's going, spending less than your earn, and investing the difference.

I think Jeremy from Personal Finance Club, who I'm a huge fan of. Says that really well, but if you just do that, you're going to be better than 95% of people.

[00:00:42] Spencer: Hello podcast listeners. Today on the podcast we have a conversation with Erik Baskin. Erik is a 2018 graduate of the US Air Force Academy, but we won't hold that against him.

Erik is the founder of Baskin Financial Planning, a fee-only financial planning service for military families and veterans. He also founded, a low-cost alternative to standard financial advising specifically for military service members. Erik worked as a hospital administrator while on active duty and has an economics degree from the \Academy.

Today we talk about starting a business while on active duty. Things to think about before you transition off of active duty and military travel hacking. Erik, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Thanks, Spencer.

[00:01:49] Erik: Happy to be on here and been a long-time listener and just happy to have a good conversation with you guys.

[00:01:55] Spencer: Yeah, that's awesome. I wanted to start with military entrepreneurship and the idea of the “$100 startup”. When were you first exposed to the idea of the “$100 startup” and how did that eventually end up changing your life? 

[00:02:10] Erik: Yeah, so I started getting deep into reading a lot of books in 2017, I think it was junior year at the academy. After I graduated from the Academy and started my first job at FE Warren doing hospital administration.

I liked my job, but at the same time, wanted to get more information, learn about business, learn about finance, and learn about just life. One of the books I stumbled upon was The $100 Dollar Startup by Chris Guillebeau. I probably just butchered his last name. I don’t know if that's how you say it, but something that he said in that book just struck a light bulb for me.

He said to find something that people come to you naturally for, something that you're passionate about and that people might be willing to pay for. The equation that he puts in that book I've still got the note back from whenever I read this in 2018, passion plus skill, wherever that crosses with problem plus marketplace, that equals an opportunity.

And for me, my whole life growing up have always been really interested in money and investing in the stock market. At the academy, with my friends, and my teammates, I was the go-to guy. They'd be like, “Hey, like what's this Roth IRA thing? What are these Vanguard funds that I should invest in?” That kind of thing?

And so people would always come to me for that. It never really clicked with me that I would go be an advisor. I never really thought about that growing up. Even at the Academy, I had 20 business ideas on a OneNote. I could still pull it up today. I've got business ideas starting like I hate waiting to pay at a restaurant, so reduce that friction, community service, trying to privatize community service.

I have all these crazy ideas and it wasn't until I read this book that I was like, whoa, personal finance, that's something people have money problems people need help with. I'm really super interested in it and people naturally come to me for that. So that led me to go research what is it like to be an advisor?

What's the landscape like out there? You got these big firms like Morgan Stanley and Edward Jones and all that. Then you've also got this thing called a fee-only financial planner and an RIA, a Registered Investment Advisory, and there's this group out here called XY Planning Network that helps people start their own firms from scratch.

So I went down this rabbit hole of researching everything there was to know about that and starting an RIA and taking the Series 65. So I went and did that in 2019. Took that Series 65. Then was like, what do I do now? So XYPN said, do the CFP designation, you should probably go take your test.

At that time, I had four years left on my Service Academy commitment. I wanted to go start a firm, but they're like, Hey, education's probably a good idea. So I went and got the exam taken care of and the education, and at the same time also did my MBA online from the University of Nebraska. Those two things don't go exactly together and I don't really need an MBA to be a financial planner.

But at that point, my firm in getting out and doing this and all that I'm doing now is very far off. So I saw the MBA is almost like an insurance policy. Hey, if this doesn't work out and I stay in the military as a hospital administrator, or maybe I get out and do hospital administrating on the outside, an MBA's probably a good thing to have.

And I had, the fortune or misfortune if that's the word of not being with my wife at the time. I'm alone in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in an apartment and have time to do this after work and on the weekends in my free time. So that worked out well for me. 

So set up the firm, finally passed the CFP, got the BA, and was able to launch the firm in 2021.

We're coming up on almost two years now, and we'll be separating the September 30th to go full-time into the firm. 

[00:05:43] Jamie: Awesome. So you set up all this on active duty. Did it ever interfere with your job or what was it like having this side hustle? Was there ever any conflict with your bosses or coworkers or anything like that?

[00:05:54] Erik: Yeah, I was very fortunate, always to be very upfront with my bosses and they were always super supportive of what I was doing. One of my bosses gave me a day off to go study for that CFP exam and was like writing an email to the whole group, congratulating me for passing after I passed. So they've always just been really supportive of what I've been doing.

I think they've appreciated how forthright I've been. With everything that I'm working on and keeping them informed and in the loop, it hasn't affected, obviously, it's a lot of work at night and on the weekends, but hasn't, I don't think affected work performance and those two things haven't interfered with each other.

So I think that's been a good balance, starting a business as you guys know, and doing things on your own time, on the weekends and at night. Definitely rewarding, but also a lot of work to do while you're on active duty.

[00:06:44] Spencer: Yeah, that's great. I love hearing stories of military entrepreneurship because it's something that I went through when I was on active duty and I did the research and looked at, okay, what are you like actually supposed to do here if you're going to have a side hustle or a side job?

And actually the best resource I found on this is a website, She goes anonymously on the site. I think she was in OSI or something in the Air Force, but she has a whole page on there for every branch.

Basically what you're actually supposed to do, if you're going to have some kind of side hustle in the military, it basically comes down to you have to get your commander's approval and you have to have Jag sign off on it. But the overarching themes are you don't want to do anything that's going to bring discredit to the military service that you're a part of.

And it can't interfere with your work performance. So going and working at the strip club on the weekends, depending on how good you are, might interfere with both your work performance and discredit on the on the service. But if you're running an Only Fans, maybe not. That's for Jag to the side, not me.

Couple of other things you mentioned there. Erik was getting your CFP designation and we actually had a certified financial planner, Rob Shaye, on the podcast. That was episode number 49. I liked your story of going through all the CFP stuff while you were stationed in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It's actually the origin story of Military Money Manual.

I was stationed in Altus, Oklahoma without my spouse, and after playing, I think it was about a hundred hours of Skyrim on the Xbox, I was like, okay, I’ve gotta do something else with my time. That's when I ended up buying the domain for

Then finally the last kind of thought I had where you, you got this idea to create this company, was you did something that was easy for you, but hard for others. I think that's the easiest way to start any kind of business or any kind of consultancy is what do people naturally come to you for? If you are the sports betting guy, maybe you should start a sports betting website.

Not necessarily taking bets, but just, commentary on, “Hey, this weekend, like I would play these lines in these games.” If you are the person who people are always coming to for car trouble, they need to change the oil in their car, there's an opportunity right there, to either set up some kind of side hustle or maybe you're just known as the car guy and that's your side gig right there.

So I think that for the entrepreneurial-minded military service member, you don't necessarily have to completely separate from active duty to beta test and to figure out, hey, is there profit potential here or could this potentially work? You can test stuff, you can experiment while you're on active duty.

And if it's working for you, then it might be a good indication like, okay, maybe I can go to the guard or the reserve and complete my service that way. Or maybe I'm ready for a clean cut and I'm just going to go out and be my own boss.

[00:09:48] Erik: Yeah, I think you nailed that on the head, Spencer. Today's economy definitely in 2023 is not the same as it was 20 years ago.

So many tools are available to us, whether it's Twitter or LinkedIn or whatever platform, as well as courses out there. Lots of creators are showing you step by step, “Hey, this is your topic, this is your niche, this is how you start posting about it. This is how you create a newsletter around that and start to create offerings that you can get paid for.”

Like it, it applies to anything. It could be basket weaving, financial planning is a little bit different, some regulation. Definitely involved with that, which I had to go through, but could be any number of different fields and definitely an awesome opportunity for anybody in the military to go and try their hand at being an entrepreneur while on active duty.

This is the kind of thing that you can do nights and weekends or over your lunch hour and at least test the waters, as you said, and see what's out there for you.

[00:10:44] Spencer: Yeah, a lot of the content on my site was produced when I was on deployments, we might fly for, 24 hours, but guess what?

You get a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours of rest afterward. Usually, it would get a lot more than, or a little bit more than that. So after you sleep for a couple of hours, you go to the gym, you eat and there's nothing else to do in a deployed location, you might as well get some work done. With the power of the internet today, if you have any kind of inclination to start an online business or to start a business that you can conduct remotely, I think you're wasting your time if you're not doing that in your own free time while you're on active duty and setting yourself up for when you get out.

So, Erik, I went through the military separation process last year. I left active duty after 12 years, and I would say that was probably about 70% prepared for life on the outside. There were definitely a lot of gaps in my knowledge and in my preparation for civilian life.

Do you have any advice that you would give to someone who's approaching separation?

And I know you personally are also getting close to your own separation. What are you doing to get ready for it?

[00:11:50] Erik: Yeah, for sure. Separation is I think a time where complexity goes up tenfold compared to when you're on active duty. There are so many things that are taken care of for you and all of a sudden it's not, and you might be moving and there's a lot going on.

So I think some of the top things that I think are important would be cash flow, obviously very important projections. Ideally, maybe for the next 12 months, your expenses are going to change, and your income's probably going to change. So having plans to plug the gaps or plans to put excess funds to good use before they disappear, because we know they do if you don't plan for it.

So cashflow projections are big. Then one, I think that is very time sensitive when you're separating or retiring or whatever is life insurance and disability insurance for that matter. But life insurance for sure, many people are going to submit a VA disability claim when they separate or retire and that can definitely affect your insurability or at least the health class at which you will be insured through a private insurance policy.

So getting life insurance maybe like what you'll need for the next 20 years in place before you go down that, last six months. I'm going to submit my VA claim before you go to get to that. Getting life insurance in place. I did a blog post on this in January, I believe, compared, hey, if I was to get insurance in place, like even three years before I need it.

And I can get insured at a better health class gets way worth it to do that versus waiting and maybe being uninsurable at the worst or getting in a worse health class because of my VA disability. Because you have to, when you apply for life insurance, you have to put, they're going to ask you, have you ever applied for disability?

And you're going to have to say yes if you have. But if you haven't done that yet, that's something that you know you can go get in place. A nice 20-year term policy likely in the seven figures when you're talking about life insurance, that's another topic. SGLI we can actually touch on that as well, but SGLI is typically not enough.

$500,000 it is now. So separating members are probably going to need more insurance than that. When you're adding that, the present value of education, and income loss or income replacement, they're probably going to need a seven-figure policy. So life insurance is a big one.

[00:14:08] Spencer: Yeah, I saw on Reddit the other day people were asking about life insurance policies and, the typical military-friendly ones AFMA, Navy Mutual, USAA all came up and one guy I was surprised. So he got his right before he separated. It was a 30-year policy and it was only $66 a month for a million dollars for 30 years.

If life insurance isn't part of your financial game plan, it's definitely something that, like you said, you want to take care of before you separate and put in your VA disability claim. It's just going to be so much smoother and so much easier. A lot of insurance policies that are specifically for the military are still, are going to cover you while you're on active duty and cover you for those like wartime contingency coverages as well.

So you're covering yourself while you're on active duty. You're covering yourself after you leave and for the right person, a term policy that covers you until you can start tapping into your retirement accounts or just covers you for, it depends on the situation, but let's say that you're planning on early retirement at 44 with your military pension.

Maybe you just want a little bit of coverage from when your military retirement to when you can access your retirement funds in the TSP. So it's going to depend, but you can certainly potentially save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by locking in a life insurance policy before you separate.

So I think that's a really good point, and that's actually something I didn't really look at. I had my SGLI, I was happy with that while I was on active duty and when I went to separate, I just wasn't in my crosscheck. I didn't apply for any, and I still haven't taken care of that box of check in my financial game plan.

[00:15:58] Jamie: You better get on that. 

Erik, you mentioned that SGLI might not be enough for some people and you mentioned it's going up to $500,000 this month here of March of 2023. How do you know if $500,000 or SGLI, whatever amount they choose under $500,000 is enough? Do you have any tips on how to determine if that's enough coverage For our listeners?

[00:16:20] Erik: Yeah. So generally life insurance is to replace the financial loss or income loss. So a good way to add up maybe how much life insurance might be for you. Take whatever income you need to replace or expenses that you need to replace, call it $5,000 a month. That would be $60,000 grand a year. Multiply that by 20.

Now, I have to do the math because I put myself in this hole. So 1.2 million. Then depending on your situation, you might, let's say you have three kids and you want to pay for all of them to go to college, maybe you want to take the present value of that education.

You can look up a present value calculator, NPD calculator and try to pull that number. Then maybe the present value, if you want to have your debt paid off if you're to pass away, leave your spouse so with no mortgage, like maybe you add that in as well. So that's how you ballpark and get into a number of the insurance that you might need.

And again, like for a separating member, a transitioning member, doing that thinking like, okay, three years from now, even because that's like me I'm speaking for me right now, I don't have any kids, but three years from now, I probably will. So I'm thinking down the road, Hey, what will I need for the next 20 years?

Even not just the numbers now, what are the numbers three, or four years from now? Yeah. Because I am, about to go down that separation funnel and things could change with VA disability claims and all that. I will add as well, Spencer hit on it like, term insurance going to be the way to go for most people.

Don't let the guy in your LinkedIn DMs sell you whole life insurance. It's not, that's not cool. Yeah, I had a guy, so it's funny I say that, I had a guy in my LinkedIn DMs like the last three weeks, and his tagline is literally I helped transitioning service members create generational wealth with creative strategies or something like that.

And he is hit me up like seven times and he just won't even look at my profile and see what I do. But he keeps hitting me up and, Hey, do you want to talk? And anyway, so I, that's the kind of thing that motivates me to help transitioning members and part of why that's something I'm starting to offer is like a one-time transition plan to give people like good advice and not try to sell them products.

[00:18:34] Spencer: Yeah. I like the concept of that transitional financial game plan that you're developing for people. 

So what are some of the main points that you want to cover with people with that game plan?

[00:18:45] Erik: Yeah, so I, another one in that same lane would be disability insurance. Something that people don't really think about and isn't really talked about at all, especially in the military, because we don't really have to worry about that.

We're covered by the VA, right? In the case of disability. But on the outside, that's not the case. If you're going to go be an entrepreneur like me, my biggest risk right now is all the income that I haven't earned, right? I have a lot of liabilities in my life to pay for and a lot of income out there to earn.

So that's the thing that I need to protect most. If I'm not alive, I need life insurance. If I'm disabled then can't work, which is statistically way more likely, I need disability insurance. So that's also something that I'm pursuing right now personally. If you were going to go work for Amazon, they probably have a great disability insurance policy group, disability policy.

I'm not going to work for Amazon, so I'm going to go get a private policy. So that's another way to think about it too. I think a private policy is going to be more expensive, but would be the safe route to go in terms of protecting future income. 

Another one is TSP. That's not time-sensitive.

You can make that decision any time, but rolling that over to an IRA or keeping it in the TSP, is a personal decision, to be honest. I see that one. Do you have other plans with that money? Do you want to go make your own investing decisions outside of the five funds that they offer or the lifecycle fund?

It just depends on what you're going to go do. I think keeping investing costs low. What is it? Spencer says LADS. Low, automatic, diversified, simple. Did I get it? Yeah. Awesome. Yeah, so I think that's important. I'm all about that. The TSP certainly does that. You can do that really well in an I RRA as well with a rollover.

Personally, I'm probably going to roll mine over just to have my assets in one spot, but I will keep 50 bucks in the TSP to maintain access to that account in case I want to use roll money back in to use like the G fund someday if it's just paying great rates or something like that.

I just want to keep my account open. That'll keep it open as long as I have somewhat of a balance in there.

[00:20:47] Spencer: That's an interesting strategy. Yeah. I haven't considered that. Most people that talk about rolling money out of their TSP, they're like, I'm done. I don't want to deal with this. Especially with the new website redesign, what was it, a year or two ago?

I check my TSP once a year now because it's so frustrating to use that website, but that's a great strategy. I hadn't heard of that before, where you just leave a low balance in there because of access to the G Fund, you don't want to lose that. That's, it's a very unique fund.

It provides, no loss of principle protection, basically, with those special treasury bills that are only issued to the TSP from the US government. So it's an interesting strategy to keep that alive. I like that. I hadn't thought about that before. 

One thing that you did talk about there, about rolling the TSP over to an IRA potentially, or maybe if you have a really good 401k with a future employer. That could be an option too, if you're self-employed, maybe a solo 401k or, I'm not actually sure if you can roll it into a SEP IRA, but that would be, I don't think so. Yeah, that's actually, now that I'm thinking about it, probably not. But for the solo 401k, you could roll the TSP over to that.

So again and it just depends, I left my TSP there. Part of me is I do like consolidating accounts and closing accounts, but at the same time, it's like I can't touch that money until 59 and a half. So maybe I just leave it there. Then I think it also is like a, is like grand strategy in my head of watching compounding interest in real time as this account, which when I left the service was about $300,000.

In over 20 years, that should be, what, 1.2 million. If it doubles twice, that's, it would be interesting, I think from a real-world example of just leaving the money there and seeing, how much it grows from when I left the service at, what was I 34 years old to when I can access the funds, 20 years later, 25 years later.

One thing that you've been working on, Erik, is this Bluff Finance, I think that's, is it Is that right? Yep. What are you doing there? That's an interesting concept.

[00:22:56] Erik: Yeah, so the idea behind that, I've got the financial planning firm and I do fee-only planning, right?

I don't sell products. I do have a fair flat fee, but there's like a minimum at which you have to charge someone to do it profitably in this business. You don't handle so many clients, and so like standard industry-wide minimums are anywhere from maybe $2,000 to $3,000 a year.

So I have a few military clients. Not all my clients are military, but I have just seen I've, I'm friends with a lot of military obviously, and I've just talked to people and seen that most people aren't running out to hire a financial planner for a couple of reasons.

Military or usually do it yourself-ers. Their situation isn't necessarily as complex as somebody who works for Amazon under certain ranks. They don't make six figures. So they're not probably going to pay somebody $3,000 a year. They don't have, large investment portfolios for someone to go manage.

For so many reasons, they don't fit that traditional financial advisor model. So the idea with Bluff is to bring the value of an advisor to military members for much lower costs. So right now it's $19 a month for anybody who signs up in the first year just trying to get people signed up and deliver as much value as I can, but what it offers is a course military finance course. I think there are 37 lessons. It's over four hours of content. I'm going through every financial pointing area, exactly how it pertains to military and instructional video, with resources. Hey, go here.

Here's how you calculate your life insurance. Here's how you go get more ongoing monitoring with a financial monitoring app called Elements that I use with private clients. Benchmarking of those elements. So the Elements app tracks savings rate, debt rate, and all kinds of financial ratios. So I would like to benchmark the community, Hey, if you're an O-3, you make a hundred grand, like this is how much you should be saving on average based on the community.

We have that, have some heuristics to say, Hey I'm doing good right now. Cause projections and Monte Carlo simulations, like they don't really tell you anything. Like 30 years from now so far off, but like, how are you doing it right now? Are you doing good or maybe how do you improve?

And then, a library of checklists that I've got in there to help with different financial planning situations. Then a Q and A, I'm doing asynchronous office hours, so I'll take questions throughout the month and send out a zoom, answering those questions for the benefit of the group.

And then one-on-one help when you need it. If you're PCSing buying a house, like something super complex, maybe you need to just have a one-on-one for an hour. That would be just at an hourly rate. That's bluff in what I'm doing. With that wrapped up, again, trying to deliver as much value as I can.

Not a one-on-one situation, but more of a one-to-many for a fraction of the cost. Lots of free resources out there. Facebook groups, your Military Money Manual. Awesome resource. I'm a huge fan. I got the book I got it all. But, and then you've got financial advisors that are expensive and all this and there's really like nothing in between.

So I'm trying to shoot for that gap right here for someone that needs a little bit more structure. potentially, but doesn't want to stretch all the way to that thousands of dollars per year for an advisor.

[00:26:17] Jamie: I think that's a really awesome model, Erik. I hope it works out really well for you and your clients because there is that huge divide between people, maybe with not quite the income to pay for an advisor, or they just want a sanity check sometimes. I've been doing it myself, and I'm doing pretty well, but I just want to see if I could be doing it a little bit better or if I could optimize it all. So I think there's something there with your idea. I think it's going to be good.

[00:26:43] Spencer: Yeah I frequently see the Reddit forum, Military Finance. People put finance checks up where they're like, okay here's my situation.

I'm an E-4, and I've got $50,000 in savings. This is my TSP, I'm saving this much a month. Most of the time people are like, dude, you're killing it. Are you just trying to collect, like points, useless Reddit points for this post, because most of the people I see on there, like they're doing way better than the average bear, right?

The average Joe Sailor, Joe Soldier is living paycheck to paycheck. That's a tough situation to be in. So I do applaud what you're trying to do because yeah, like at the low end of the spectrum, you can go and buy my book. I think the audible is like $5 right now or something if you want to listen to it.

Or you can get the ebook for 10 bucks on Amazon. Then at the high end, you've got, Military Financial Planning association. Where you can go and hire, advisors who are usually former military themselves, and they are all, I think all of them are CFP designated. Yeah. So I really applaud what you're doing with this Bluff Finance concept, and I hope that you get some traction from it.

I think having the community too and just being able to, because one thing that I found with my website and also moderating the Reddit Military Finance is 99% of situations are the same, right? Same problems. Everybody's going through the same thing. You just need that human connection of how do I invest my TSP?

Probably a lifecycle fund, how much should I put in my TSP? Yeah, get your match. Then beyond that, it's when do you want to be financially independent? So answering those questions over and over again you begin to develop, the template of, okay, read this, or if you have a question, check here first, and then I'm happy to, have that one-on-one interaction for more complex topics.

One thing that I've been seeing a lot recently is military spouse tax residency questions. This is in flux too Recent changes to the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act and the SCRA Service Members Civil Relief. Where and Jamie actually, you're going through this personally where depending on how the IRS interprets the law, and they still haven't come out with their final ruling yet, but potentially even side hustle income of a military service member would be taxable in the state that they designate, which could be either their state that they joined the military in a state that they declared as in or a state that the spouse has declared residency in.

So that's, that opens up a whole new ballgame of opportunities, both for the military entrepreneur, but also for military spouses that work, while they follow their service member around the world. So I think, having a community like Bluff Finance, that'd be great where people can come in and say, Hey, we lived in three different states this year.

My wife worked in four different states. How do I solve this tax thing? And you just say hopefully in the next couple of months, the IRS gives a ruling and they say, guess what? You lived in Texas. You can all be Texas residents, and there's no state income tax to worry about.

[00:29:50] Erik: That's a really interesting one too.

For me personally, I can say, so the way I've read the rules is that, and this isn't tax advice, I'm not a CPA disclaimer, but the way I've heard the rules are that as a military member, your side hustle income is not SCRA exams so you're not going to get a state tax break on that side hustle income while you're active duty.

So like I'm in Ohio, I'm Wyoming for my W-2 income from my LES, but my business income through September 30th, we'll be taxed in Ohio. However, on October 1st, I'm then a military spouse. So then I get to claim Texas, which is my wife's state, and then my side hustle or my business income is tax exempt from state taxes.

So that's interesting, I might have to talk with CPA this year, to be honest.

[00:30:41] Jamie: So yeah, please come back on the show, come back on when you get an answer because that, yeah, I mean for in my situation, there's no point in us doing LLC income for my wife's nutrition coaching and personal fitness stuff that she does.

If she can do it as an independent contractor, like 1099 stuff, then it's not taxed with this new rule update. So it'll be really interesting to see how states in the IRS clarify the new law.

[00:31:09] Spencer: I think it really drives home the point too, that in the right situation, it can make sense to hire some expert help.

One thing that I've learned working with CPAs is they don't know everything. Even the really good ones that you pay a lot of money for, don't necessarily know everything, but thankfully is actually a pretty good resource. Google too, as long as you're using a reputable source, once you have the links on Google.

I haven't used chat GPT yet for my tax advice, but I'm sure that's coming in the next year or two. Oh yeah. But with using the power of Google plus, it's actually, it's not intuitive, but you can read through the legislation and the rules and the regulations and you can at least present it to your CPA and say, Hey, look, I know you said this, but have you read this?

And frankly, a lot of times they haven't. But just because the tax code is so complex and they might not have a lot of military clients. So I think it's really important both for when you're hiring advisors, you want to make sure that they understand the military lifestyle. That can be either they were former military themselves, or they have a lot of military clients and they understand the complexities of military service but also don't make it overcomplicated.

Right. With the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act, I know it's changed this year in 2023, but in the previous year, it was very clear what military spouses could do. They could either declare their own state of residency, their spouse's state of residency, or the state that they were currently in.

And with those options, there's a pretty good chance that maybe one of those states would've been a no-state income tax state. So there was an opportunity there if spouses were making income from working a job, whether it was side income or full-time work, that they would be able to skip paying the state income tax legally based on the Military Spouse Residency Relief Act.

Okay, Erik, so a little detour there talking about hiring experts and hiring advisors that know your military situation, but I want to circle back to transitioning out of the military selling leave versus taking terminal leave. What are your thoughts on that? I know it's a controversial topic and everybody thinks they have the right answer.

[00:33:29] Erik: Yeah it is. I think the conventional wisdom is if you've got 60 days you just take terminal. I don't know if you guys have experienced that, but it's like everyone assumes, “Oh, you just build up your bank and you just take it.” But I don't know if the answer is really to sell it or take terminal.

I think there's a third option that may be optimal for folks, and I think it's certainly optimal for me, which is to take leave during the weeks and not on weekends, on family days. Then maybe you're selling the balance at the end. I did a post on this recently. I see terminal leave and taking leave because if you take 60 days, odds are we've got a family day every four weeks or something like that. Odds are you're going to be taking it over a couple of family days at least, and long four-day weekends. I'm not going to give away those days for free, so I'd rather just take my days off than that terminal leave. But again, I think it depends on what you're doing. So for me, I'm going to start working from home in October and my wife, and we're not moving, we're not starting a new life anywhere.

So that's a kind of a different scenario, I think than some people have. Whereas others are maybe starting a new life, leaving, maybe they're going on the crazy trip to Europe for 30 days that they always wanted to take but couldn't because they had a really intense job. Whereas me, I've got a nine to five and don't work weekends, so pretty easy for me to just use my leave optimally and just slowly transition out instead of this long block of sitting at home and terminal leave.

[00:34:57] Spencer: Yeah, so in my example last year, I ran the numbers as well, and I did the crazy thing where you just move overseas and travel a whole bunch. So for me, it made sense where I was like if I take 60 days of terminal leave, I could be collecting a paycheck that whole time.

I'm collecting Hawaii BAH and I'm gone. I'm just out of here. So I think that it just was really dependent on the scenario, if you have a really good job lined up, like right now a lot of our buddies in the Air Force are pilots, right? And they might have a job offer from United, American, or Delta, and the sooner they start, the higher the line number they're going to get and the sooner that they're going to build seniority out that airline.

So it might make sense for someone if they've got two or three months of leave built up, it might make sense to set a terminal leave date two or three months before they separate and go start that job. Now they're pulling in both the military paycheck and they're starting to pull in the civilian airline paycheck.

And I know one thing that you know, when you start these civilian jobs, a lot of times, like the first paycheck is literally like a physical paycheck, and you have to wait for it to come in the mail and then you have to go cash it. The direct deposit doesn't kick in for a couple of weeks. So it can be like you were saying, when you're setting up to transition outta the military, cash flow is very important.

And like we've talked a lot about a lot on the podcast, having savings, having cash set aside, it's always going to benefit you. If you know that you have a transition coming up, that's the time to start building those cash reserves. That's the time to start setting that money aside every paycheck and making sure that you're going to have either, savings for specific reasons, right?

Maybe you have to move and you need the first month's rent and a security deposit for the next place you're going to, you're going to rent. Or maybe you need a down payment for a new house. We could talk about VA loans, which maybe you won't need a deposit, a down payment on a new house, thanks to a lot of the benefits of the VA loan.

But you might not have a specific reason to be saving, and that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be saving though, because it's amazing how fast expenses add up and how quickly, okay, we had $10,000 saved, but oh man, like it's four weeks after separation and we burned through $6,000 of that, $7,000 of it.

And it's very quickly getting to the point where it's man if you didn't have a job lined up already, now's the time that you have to go get one.

[00:37:35] Erik: Yeah, absolutely. You really hit the nail on the head, especially with moving and maybe buying a new house. The VA loan and saving for a down payment.

You gave me an opening there, so I will take it because I love talking about the VA loan. So the VA loan obviously an awesome benefit, but in especially today's interest rate environment, just defaulting to that 0% down is not necessarily always your best decision. Depends on lots of factors. How long are you going to stay in the house and all kinds of stuff like what your budget is.

And there's a lot that goes into it for each personal situation. But I do see most friends of mine and people I talk to are just like, oh, I'm going to do the VA and 0% down. They don't even, they don't really know there's a funding fee because it just gets rolled into the mortgage and then they don't really think about especially current interest rates.

It's a different world 18 months ago, but for me, like every dollar I put down in a house, I get to avoid 6% interest or whatever that interest rate is right now. So that's a win that I'm going to take to the bank personally. Everyone's situation's a little bit different, but that's just something that I think deserves consideration for anybody in the military.

But definitely transitioning service members. Another couple of topics I'll just hit on quickly for transitioning members that I think are important are like your new benefits package. I'll use the example of Amazon. They're going to probably have all kinds of stuff that you've never seen, like a health plan and HSA and an FSA and all this stuff that you probably have never had an option.

So, educate yourself on tax withholdings. So those will probably be a little bit jacked up in the year that you get out because you're going to start a new, in a new pay system and have to make proper elections there saying that you're married and you got three kids or whatever it is, and then they don't have any historical record on you.

So you're withholdings are likely going to be jacked up. So doing some sort of tax projection and backing into maybe a good withholding number would be a good idea there. Then like miscellaneous fringe benefits, credit cards, right? Keep those like you guys definitely talk about that. People like years out not getting charged cards, not getting charged for those Amex and Sapphire and all that.

So that's one where I'm going to keep those, I've got my Chase Freedom that I'm going to keep forever no matter what, but like I've got all these other cars that like, I'm just going to hang onto those until they start charging me. So that's another one, I think. Or like an Epic Pass. I just came back from skiing in Breckenridge, so I'm going to go get my Epic Pass as soon as I can before I separate, because that's another one I can extend another year instead of getting kicked to the veteran pass, which is $400 more

Nice. Then last one I would just throw on there is the Reserves or Air National Guard. Run the numbers and see if it's for you. That is another common thing I hear like I'm separating and after five and a half years of service and everyone's, “Oh, go to the reserves, no brainer, like healthcare.”

I've run the numbers on an hourly basis. I'm 14 and a half good years from retirement. I've just done the math and it's not, for me personally, it makes more sense I think as you get deeper into service because you've got all this built-up time and all these points.

You only have to do so eight or five or three years or whatever it is to get to that pension and healthcare, Tricare for life and all that. But for me personally, didn't really make sense when I ran the numbers.

[00:40:47] Jamie: So Erik, you mentioned travel hacking and credit cards there. You're going to have the awesome benefit of being a military dependent, as you mentioned earlier.

So you should have a really nice setup on your credit card game. But can you give us a little glimpse into your travel hacking experience and what you guys have done there? How much you've gotten into it, and any insight you have or tips

[00:41:05] Erik: Yeah, for sure. I don't know if you guys told me to get this on your website, but I've got my little book, my little my credit card book.

Yes. So this thing is, yeah, this thing's great. My wife was just flipping through this today and she said this is ridiculous. I need to pay more attention

[00:41:22] Jamie: We are all three holding up the exact same portfolio from Amazon that stores all of our credit cards.

I have black, I can't tell, Erik’s is Blue, but it's the exact same one. 

[00:41:33] Erik: I’ve got blue. Yeah.

[00:41:35] Spencer: I think it's originally for baseball cards maybe, or business cards. But it's perfect for keeping track of credit cards. 

It's funny, Erik, my wife says the same thing where, she'll find it somewhere and she'll be like, these are all in my name.

And I'm like, you told me I could open these. Yeah, sure she did. Yeah.

[00:41:52] Erik: It's funny. Yeah, my wife will be she's looking for a card like last week to go pay for something. She's like, where did this card go? I'm like, you got a brand new one? I gave you the Amex Reserve or whichever. The purple one.

Whichever one round. Use that one. Yeah. We're rotating here. We're on a program, but we went pretty hard. I went pretty hard on it out of the academy. I think I found you guys five years ago. I think it was. I was on your website though and went pretty into it and then I don't know if I hit a limit, but I went through a gap. I think we were on, we were just trying to do the companion pass. That's what it was for Southwest. Oh yeah. Just were zoned in on that. Then we moved to Ohio and now it's Southwest is like not great here. I've opened my mind back up in the last six months.

Been like dialed in on your guys' site, which I highly recommend to anyone I talk to that is interested in travel hacking. So we're rotating through just like the batting order of cards. We're both on active duty, so like I get a card, I add her to it, we hit the signup bonus, and I refer her.

It's like the carousel that goes round and round. Yeah. That's kinda what we're doing right now, we got maybe 15 cards or so and just getting those signup bonuses and going for those, we don't maximize every spend. I don't know if you guys do that. I know you guys talk about the signup bonuses being the best bang for your buck.

Another thing I've done, like when I get a new card, so I've got the book right and then I use YNAB. So I add in there and then each statement gets auto pay. Full statement. I set that up right away. Then I've got a OneNote where I keep which one we're focused on right now.

And then I use the Points Guy App. I don't know if you guys have recommended this, but that's one that I found, I don't even know how I stumbled upon it, but a good way to like track, I've got Delta and United, and all these different points, accounts that you can see them all in one spot, which just, which is cool.

[00:43:40] Jamie: Except for American Airlines.

They sued him. American was like, no one else can show our points.

A lot of good stuff we could dig into. Travel hacking. 

So one other question I wanted to ask, if someone is feeling maybe overwhelmed or they're, wow, these topics are way more advanced than where I'm at or where my family's financial journey is right now.

What are the basic beginning steps that you give to military service members or clients that you talk to get them started? If they feel like they're ready to make a bigger step with their finances, but they don't maybe know where to start. Or maybe they are living paycheck to paycheck and just reaching out for help.

[00:44:24] Erik: Yeah, absolutely. So tracking your spending is huge. I don't care if you make a million dollars or $1 a year, be intentional with your money. I think you guys had Jesse on from YNAB. Yeah. That's why I'm using YNAB is from that episode. But that's something that he talked about that I loved.

And I think that applies to everyone. Being intentional, knowing where that money's going is huge, especially for those that are in maybe worse financial situations and you've got consumer debt or whatever it may be. So knowing where your money's going is ground zero. Then after that, going through that financial order of operations, paying off that higher interest debt, getting to obviously A TSP match as a non-negotiable for military members.

And then moving on to things like the Roth IRA, increasing that TSP, and then, when it comes to down payments on houses, if that's something that you aspire to be a homeowner, that's something that is definitely in that order somewhere. I think just knowing where your money's going, spending less than your earn, and investing the difference.

Like I think Jeremy from Personal Finance Club, who I'm a huge fan of says that really and I love to repeat that because it’s such a great mantra, but that's the basics. If you do that, you're going to be really well off. There's all these other kinds of tax planning stuff we can talk about and all this stuff.

But if you just do that, you're going to be better than 95% of people. 

Then, getting proper insurance in place. Certainly important. We talked a little bit about life insurance, estate documents, something that I talk about that nobody has done. To be honest, most people I talk to don't have a will, and even the ones that have kids, just haven't gotten it done. It's just that nobody likes thinking about dying or talking about dying, but we're all going to do it. So probably something that you should prepare for, but those are some of the basics. I would say. Just I think Spencer says it too, just keep everything simple, keeping investing simple and you don't need to go run out and get the next hot stock or the next hot mutual fund or financial product.

Just focusing on spending less than you earn investing the difference and just figuring out ways to increase that delta.

[00:46:21] Spencer: Nice. Awesome points there, Erik. I couldn't agree more. It's personal finance is very simple, but not easy. If it was easy, everybody would do it, but I think a lot of people don't realize how simple it could be.

And honestly, once you set up the system and you put it on autopilot, in my mind it's okay, you've solved the money part of life now you've freed up your time and you realize okay, now I gotta solve the relationship part of my life. I have to solve the health part of my life, the fitness, and all that you do once you solve the money part of your life is you've just bought yourself more hours every day to solve all the other problems in life. The problems never go away, right? You always, you're always going to have challenges. You're always going to have interesting problems to solve.

In fact, if you can get to the point where you're bored like just enjoy that for a little bit. But for most people, They never solved the money thing. So then that's just one more thing that sucks away all their hours of the day. But just like you said, if you can spend less than you earn and invest the difference early and often, just like Jeremy Schneider from Personal Finance Club says, then that's right there you're going to put yourself ahead of 95% of the American population and now you have a couple more hours in your day that you can go out and you can say, okay, what should my TSP allocation be? And you might realize that if I can do maybe a thousand hours of research and come up with the exact optimal balance of international and US stocks.

And maybe get a 0.1% return differential over the next 30 years. Or I can just put in a life cycle fund and move on with my day. Now I have all this time to figure out all the other interesting problems of life. For you, me, and Jamie who are spreadsheet guys, sometimes that's hard, right?

Because we're like, no, look at the net present value of this. Most people out there, maybe a lot of people who listen to this podcast, care about that stuff, but most people out there don't, right? They want to solve their money problems and then move on to the next thing. That's the great thing about personal finance is once you, even if you can just, you just dip your toe in the water, right?

Even if you just go follow Personal Finance Club on Instagram and look at a couple of his Instagram posts, just reading those and you're ahead of 80% of the American population and if you can set up your finances in such a way to emulate, the principles of spending lesson you earn and investing the difference into low-cost index funds, like we talked about earlier, the LADS system, low-cost, automatic diversified, and simple.

If you can just do that, you're going to buy yourself so much time and so much freedom. If you can stick to that program, it's amazing how much progress you can make in a year. I think it's even more amazing how much progress you can make in 10 years. I think that's what a lot of people don't realize is that when they catch the personal finance bug, I know like for me, my wife and I had $100,000 dollars of student loan debt and it took us five years to chip away at that.

But by the time we were done with that, we had ingrained so many habits of personal finance. We had set up such a good system that as our income, especially in the military, where your income, grows almost automatically because you're getting promotions, you're getting time and service pay increases.

You're getting, annual pay increases like the military did this year in 2023. As time goes on, you just discover, okay, I'm getting the fire hose of income is starting to turn on, and you're like, okay, then I have all these buckets to catch it and to invest it. Then guess what?

Those buckets start to grow because of compounding interest. Then before you know it, you paid off your student loan debt five years ago, but your net worth has increased. It took you five years to pay off a hundred thousand dollars of debt, but five years after that, your net worth isn't a hundred thousand dollars.

It's probably $200,000. So $300,000, it just grows exponentially. It's hard in the moment to recognize that and to see that and to realize that these small habits compounded over long periods of time end up resulting in these huge results. The difference between sticking with it for a year and sticking it with it for 10 years isn't a 10x result.

It's usually like a 100x or a 1,000x result.

[00:50:44] Erik: You nailed that on the head, Spencer. You said something that I think really resonated with me at a point I wanted to bring up was, I think you, me, and Jamie, from what I can tell are we're all like spreadsheet guys. We're quant is what they call them, right?

We’re Econs, I think was another term, but I think moving beyond the numbers is also important. So whether you're talking about spending, like aligning your values with your spending, that's something I think you can do really well with YNAB or even just deciding how much to put away in a TSP or your Roth IRA or whatever it may be.

What I'm getting at is you don't want to be the guy with 20 million when you're 80 years old and you worked till you're 65, or you didn't take those trips, or you didn't, you didn't align your life with your money. Money is just a tool, it's a means to an end. That's something that like, I think I've learned in the last few years, like getting into personal finance and being a financial planner. I thought everything when I started this, I was like, everything's in a spreadsheet and I can perfectly build this little cell that leads to this cell and I can optimize anyone's financial life. What I realized is life isn't like that.

Everyone's situation is different and aligning your values and goals and your lifestyle with your money is important and definitely different in every situation. That brings up a great book recommendation. Die With Zero. You guys have talked about this on the pod before. Yeah, but I am, I read that, God, I don't know, five months ago and I am such a fan of that book.

I'll probably read it and reread it every year because it's such a good reinforcement of living purposefully and doing that, in concert with money decisions. So I've definitely used some of those concepts in our own financial situation. We don't need to put X amount of dollars per year away into retirement accounts if we've already saved a good amount.

Like we can start maybe saving for our dream house. We want to move to Colorado Springs. So that's something like, we're starting to divert funds towards that and not necessarily all of our excess surplus towards retirement. because it's I don't want to be that guy who regretted I didn't get to live in the house I wanted to, or my kids didn't get to go on the ski vacation. I want to, align my life with my money.

[00:52:51] Spencer: Excellent points. Yeah, I couldn't agree more there, Erik. We're big fans of the book Die With Zero on the podcast. I don't think we mention it every episode, Jamie. It's pretty close. 

[00:53:08] Jamie: We gotta get, we gotta up our influencer game.

I feel like it should be like, and don't forget to go to for a 20% discount. We don't, that's not a real link by the way. We don't have that, but we should because we keep talking about it.

[00:53:21] Spencer: One of the things you mentioned there, Erik, was you're spending aligning with your values and so one thing for my family, going through 12 years of active duty service is we never really bought furniture. Every time we would get to a new duty station, we'd have some things that we had PCS’d with, and maybe we'd go to a thrift shop if we needed a dining room table.

Or if we needed a couch, we would go to Ikea. When we went to leave Hawaii, we ended up selling or giving away almost all of our furniture after our active duty service. We went out into civilian life without furniture. We got through the last year fine, but now we're looking at buying a house and actually using a VA loan, which is going to be a great topic for a future podcast.

But we're looking at buying furniture and it's going to cost a lot of money, or what I think of as a lot of money. $25,000 is not unreasonable for a dining room, a living room, and a couple of bedrooms. I was shocked when I saw those numbers, right? I was like, can we just go back to Ikea?

And my wife was like, yes, we can. We're like, we can do that, but is that what we want to do? We literally haven't owned decent furniture for 12 years. Like why not? And we've diverted all of our money to our retirement accounts and all of this, all of these savings for our future selves.

And Die With Zero says, like, when's the party? Like when are you going to actually enjoy that? And if I spend $25,000 or even $50,000, which is absurd, right? It's like the, you could go buy a new car for that if you end up spending that on furniture, but it lasts you for 10 years or 20 years.

But the other part of that too is what if you die in five years because catch a disease that's not curable and for the next five years, guess what you really enjoy sitting on that couch and it costs a lot of money. Yes, you could have put that, $25,000 into your spreadsheet and projected it out and would've been like, oh my gosh, that's going to be a million dollars in 30 years.

But guess what, we're not guaranteed to get that 30 years from now. So I think it's a balance. I think having people like you, Erik, in your corner as a CFP, I think that's great that, that you're going out there and you recognize that, okay, I can do the numbers, but at the end of the day this is somebody's life.

This is some, this is somebody who's out there actually living this. I think that's great that you've already developed that perspective. So you mentioned Die With Zero, and you've also mentioned The Hundred Dollar Startup. Do you have any other books that you would recommend?

Let's say somebody's listening to the podcast, just got into the military, or maybe just commissioned, or even they've just, they, caught the bug for personal finance and they want to become financially independent. Any book recommendations?

[00:56:12] Erik: Absolutely. Like I said, love reading. I think you guys had me beat, I can't remember, one of you guys had 70 books last year. That was impressive. 

I need to find you guys on Good Reads, but, so Military Money Manual, got that in my hand right now. I do recommend that, that was a nice quick read. Really enjoyed that. A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel, an awesome book. One of the first I read about investing. Just really simple. Why low-cost indexes are the way to go. 

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel, one of the best behavioral finance books I think ever written. Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley. Awesome. Study of millionaires and what they buy and speaking of furniture, they buy used furniture and used cars and all that.

Just a good kind of showing you what millionaires actually buy. 

Die With Zero, we talked about that. 

Just Keep Buying by Nick Maggiulli, I think that's how you say it, but a really good book, just reinforcing good habits, ignoring the broader financial news and events and all that. Just keep buying and you're going to be okay.

The One Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards, I'm a huge fan of Carl Richards. He's like a legend in the financial advisor and financial planner world, and then Unshakable by Tony Robbins. Some of the stuff that he's written is in the personal coaching and his concerts and stuff are like fanatical.

But this book is actually really good. It just talks about being prepared for, the storm that's going to come, the recession, the downturn, whatever it may be. Whatever that next, that pandemic. Whatever it may be. Just be prepared mentally for that and stay invested. So just a lot of good books there to keep you focused and just invested for the future.

And then I would also say either ignore the news or read good sources. I think that's important, certainly for investing. You can probably ignore the news, but just in general, if you're going to read, if you're going to read the news, two sources I personally read and recommend are just central sources, Wall Street Journal, and then the Economist that I've been getting this year that I have really enjoyed.

Just some deeper world topics that have been some good weekend reading for me.

[00:58:25] Spencer: That was, are great recommendations. I also majored in Econ and college, so The Economist holds a special place in my heart, but I usually subscribe for a year at a time. The magazines just stack up and I'm just like, I feel so bad that there's, oh yeah somebody spent all this time producing, like 120-page magazine every week on this and going super in depth on these global topics and I'm just like ignoring it.

That's the reason I unsubscribe from The Economist and then it takes me like two years and then I resubscribe and I feel guilty again.

[00:59:01] Erik: Yeah. I just got back from, I took a ski trip to Breck and like on the plane back, I'm like on page 60 out of 85 or something, and I thought I was doing okay and then I check the mail when I get back and I was like, oh, got another issue come behind.

So I had to finish this morning and oh, it's crazy how much content that is on a weekly basis. So certainly a good resource

[00:59:21] Spencer: I think. Yeah, definitely. A couple of other things you mentioned, A Random Walk Down Wall Street was also extremely influential for me and had a big influence on developing my LADS system of investing where you just keep it low cost, automating, diversified, and simple.

and just stick to your classic index funds. The other one was Jack Bogle's Common Sense investing

[00:59:44] Erik: The Little Book on Common Sense Investing.

[00:59:45] Spencer: Yes, The Little Book on Common Sense Investing. That's it. That's it. Little Book on Common Sense Investing by Jack Bogel. Basically, it just gets to the point, like being average in investing is the best-case scenario.

Like you just want to be average, you just want to get the average return. Because that's what a market does it takes the person who got the best return, basically took it from the person who got the worst return. So if you can be in the middle of that bell curve, then you're going to do, you're going to do just fine.

And that's what index funds allow you to do. Just Keep Buying. The author's website is, which is a great website. I check it frequently. He's got some really in-depth personal finance and investing articles on there. But he takes a really big-picture approach to it and I think it fits into what you were saying about when it comes to investing, and I think actually this applies to so many things in life.

Just don't check the news, like anything that was published in the last month, or year, you just don't need to read it. Let time, and I think this is addressed in Antifragile by Nassim Taleb, you let time be your filter, right?

So basically just you can say okay, I'm not going to read anything that was published less than a year ago. Then you can go and check, okay what was a best seller in 2021? Was it still a bestseller in 2022? If so, then maybe it's worth reading. If not, then no, you could probably skip it.

Because it didn't hold up its value. It was specific to a moment in time. That applies, if you go all the way back to, reading like Marcus Aurelius Meditations, which has been around for 2000 years and people are still reading it because it still holds its value and there's a reason that they keep publishing it, right?

And so I think, having an information diet where you restrict yourself and you, and for me, it, I will admit I'm a little bit bad. I do have the New York Times subscription, which Amex Platinum pays for. I want to say it's primarily for Wordle. But no, I do actually check the headlines occasionally.

And I think it can be fine as an investor if you can develop the fortitude to not react to it. The most recent massive bear market that we had was in March 2020 with the Covid Pandemic. If you were able to read those headlines and not make any investment decisions, or if you were able to throw more money into your accounts, then you were doing the right things at the right time.

but if you were reading and you were panicking and it was you were making the wrong decisions or you were pulling your money out, or you were selling, you missed a massive rally in 2020 and 2021. I think it's important that if you do read investing news that you basically just have to be stoic about it.

You can't react to it. You can't change your investment strategy, because CNBC says, oh have you considered crypto stocks and you put all your money into crypto stocks and 2023, or sorry, 2022 hits, and all of a sudden now you don't have any money left over to investment in Crypto stocks.

So, great recommendation there. Tony Robbins, actually, I just picked up his, I think it's seven, seven money rules or something. He's an interesting guy because I have this, I think this nineties and early two thousands conception of him as a self-improvement guru type, but he's actually got some really good material out there and he's helped a lot of people. So I reserve judgment on him. I really haven't gone too far down the Tony Robbins rabbit hole, but from kinda the surface-level interactions that I've had with his content and his material, I think as long as you don't take it too seriously and go too far down the rabbit hole, there's a lot of value to be gleaned there.

[01:03:36] Jamie: So Erik, as we bring this episode to a close, it's been really awesome. Where can people find you if they want to follow you, and what are the things in the hopper next for what you're working on now?

[01:03:47] Erik: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm on LinkedIn quite a bit, posted there, interacting with people there so definitely that's a spot.

I've also got an Instagram account for Bluf Finance, which is a military-specific offering that I've just launched about a month ago to give the value of a financial advisor to military members at a much lower cost. We talked about that. 

Also working on a military transition plan. So a one-time plan that's going to be actually a buy one, give one plan.

So for every plan that I do for somebody, I will give a plan to an E-4 or below. I've got a partnership with Warrior Transition Outdoors for that, which is a nonprofit focusing on helping transitioning veterans through family advocacy programs and outdoor experiences. So really excited about that.

That just went live last week. Those are the two kind of military-specific offerings that I'm working on building up. Then just the main firm, Baskin Financial Planning, which is just So that's the main hub for me. Then the Bluff Finance website is just

Then, like I said, the Instagram account that goes along with that and maybe a podcast in the future.

You guys inspire me. So sometime this year that that might be coming up.

[01:04:58] Spencer: We'd love to help you get that podcast launched. Maybe this can be your inaugural episode. So you're welcome to use it. Love it. Yeah, I really like what you're doing with the buy one, get one financial transition plan there.

I think that's an awesome service. I've often thought about how to do something similar with my site and my products where an E-3 or an E-4, spending 10 bucks on a book might be tough, right? Like they can have a pretty tight budget. So how do I get this information to the people who want its hands while still not devaluing it, right?

Because people value things that they pay for. Part of how I've done that is basically my entire book you can find on my website. I think the entire contents of my book are scattered across my website. You have to read multiple pages, but it's there. That's kinda my gift to those who want to go down the rabbit hole.

But in the meantime, I think what you're doing with the buy one get one is that's an awesome strategy and I think a lot of people will benefit from that. So thanks for doing that. 

Erik, thanks again for coming on the podcast. Had a great conversation, covered a lot of interesting topics, and wish you all the best with and is his financial planning site.

Thanks again for coming on the show.

[01:06:20] Erik: Thanks, Spencer. Thanks, Jamie. It's a blast to have this conversation with you guys. I've been a longtime fan of the website and reader of the book and a listener of the podcast, so just fun to get on here and talk with you guys. It's just been a blast, so thanks for having me on.

[01:06:33] Spencer: Have you found this episode valuable? The easiest way you can say thank you is by leaving us a five-star review on Spotify or Apple or wherever you listen to the podcast. Thanks for all the great reviews we've already received. If you have any questions or feedback, you can message us on Instagram @MilitaryMoneyManual or by email at

We'll catch you on the next episode of the Military Money Manual podcast.

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