Meet Hosts Spencer & Jamie: 2-Year Podcast Anniversary | Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 77

14,542 grads of the Ultimate Military Credit Cards Course already know why
The Platinum Card® from American Express is my #1 recommended card

Military Money Manual has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the cards that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

Listen to The Military Money Manual Podcast on SpotifyApple PodcastsAmazon MusicAudible, YouTube, or Stitcher.

Spencer Reese from militarymoneymanual.com and Jamie introduce themselves to the listeners of the Military Money Manual Podcast.

Your hosts talk about how they are investing for financial independence, their backgrounds, families, and their military careers.

They also discuss what's changed in their lives over the last 2 years while hosting the podcast. Finally, they discuss the present state and future of the podcast.

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #77 Links

Outline of Episode

  • Jamie and Spencer share a bit about their backgrounds and finances as well as their current favorite books, podcasts, apps, and resources
  • Future plans for the podcast

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #77 Transcript

[00:00:00] Spencer: And so if we can be a resource that helps to guide you towards financial freedom and gives you time back that you don't have to stress about money, because it's all automated, it's all taken care of, and your investments are just sitting there and they just go and you don't have to think about them, then that's that would be the dream, right? That's what I always wanted when I started militarymoneymanual.com, that's what I wanted to do just be that voice, be that resource in the military community. Just to provide a little bit of sanity when it comes to personal finance, when it comes to investing, and now when it comes to travel hacking.

Hey guys, gals. Welcome to another episode of the Military Money Manual podcast. I'm your host, Spencer Reese. Joined today as I am on every episode by my good friend and co-host, Jamie. 

Jamie. What's up? Today we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce ourselves and recap the highlights of the last two years of the podcast.

The first podcast we recorded was two years ago this week we recorded on May 5th, 2021, and we ended up releasing it on May 15th, 202.

[00:01:33] Jamie: It was in my living room in Hawaii at the time. We were both living there and we put one microphone on like a TV dinner tray, and we sat on opposite cushions on the couch.

And kicked my family outside or out of the house or whatever. I don't, I forget where they went.

[00:01:50] Spencer: I think. Didn't your daughter come in at one point and just sit on your lap quietly?

[00:01:54] Jamie: Probably it wouldn't. It wouldn't surprise me.

[00:01:56] Spencer: Maybe that was afterward. But yeah, it was a very low-budget production and it was a Blue Yeti mic we were using.

Not that great audio quality. I cringe a little bit when I go back and listen to that episode, but hey. I think the biggest thing about that was we had to start somewhere and we did. Like you always said, like we just did something. Yeah. And it wasn't perfect. It wasn't great, but don't let perfect be the enemy of good enough.

And it was an 80% solution that I think, now it's turned into a whole bunch of episodes, we'll talk about where the podcast is at, and where we want to take the podcast in the next couple of years or so. But before we do all that, we're going to start off with a little bit of get-to-know-your-podcast host.

So, Jamie, I don't think we've really done an introductory. Maybe in the first episode, we talked about a little bit of background, but what we were doing, but. A lot of people have been listening to us for years now. I just got an Instagram message the other day from someone who bought the book, two years ago and has been listening to the podcast ever since we started.

And so they've listened to every single episode and we've never taken the opportunity just to say, Hey, this is who we are and this is what we're doing, and this is what our family situation is like. And some of that's come out, as we've had conversations. But yeah. Why don't you kick us off, Jamie?

Who are you, where do you come from and what are you doing?

[00:03:17] Jamie: We're both kind of private, so I don't know that we've shared too many details for sure. But I did have a former student of mine reach out last week with some money questions, and he said, oh, I started listening to the podcast and I'm like, six episodes in, and I'm listening to them chronologically, as in I'm starting at the beginning and going, I was like no.

Don't go to the old ones. We're so much better now than where we started.

So my story, I'm active duty Air Force officer and I've been investing for financial independence with a goal of trying to reach that by age 45. I have over 14 years of active duty time. I contracted via ROTC when I was 17 years old, fresh out of college.

I turned 18 shortly after starting college. So I've been in this game my whole adult life, and that's all I've really ever known.

[00:04:02] Spencer: Did your parents have to sign your contract with you?

[00:04:06] Jamie: I don't believe so. I don't remember that at all.

[00:04:11] Spencer: I can't remember if that's a 17 or 18 that happens, but yeah, that's a long time. As you said, that's your entire adult life.

[00:04:20] Jamie: I've been associated and under the grip of the Air Force more than I have not been in my life without revealing my true age. And I actually got a scholarship out of high school for ROTC. I was applying. Not really knowing what I was getting into, but saw a friend applying for a scholarship and he was like, yeah, the Air Force will pay it for you to go to school in Florida or anywhere.

And I was like, oh, that sounds cool. And so I did and had no idea what I was getting into, but had them pay for my college, which helped set me up for a lot of success financially as well. 

Now I'm a certified financial coach and have just really been diving into investing for financial independence as I've gotten more experience and learned more about the hobby here in the game. I love helping people find ways to make their finances less stressful and use money to give them options, as well as travel hacking and maximizing credit card rewards. In general, I love teaching and helping others learn, but some of you that have been with us from the beginning know that my wife and I started with over $118,000 in debt, and we used the Dave Ramsey baby step to aggressively pay that off.

We've bounced between one and two incomes on and off as my wife has worked some and not worked some. And she was also active duty for a period and now she's out and has been for about eight years now, almost seven and a half years. 

So we've seen a lot of the same situations that some of you're in where, how do you do this with kids? How do you do it with only one income? Things like that.

Once we started intentionally, Putting money aside and paying off debt, then we were able to max out our IRAs and max out our TSP. And from there the curve and the momentum just got out of control. The curve just got huge. And now over the last several years, we've been able to save 30 to 35% of our income.

We call that our savings rate if you're new to the podcast. So a 30% savings rate or better for the last several years. And it's been also interesting because my wife, who I love dearly and also helps us on the podcast transcript side, so she'll hear this, so nothing I wouldn't tell her in person, but she didn't really have much financial education growing up.

And my parents, my dad especially was very frugal. And so there's a lot of money conversations that had to happen as we formed our family's views on money and our goals. And the last thing I want to share is that I do have three kids. 11, 7, and 3 right now. And so I love talking about how to have good money habits with your kids and how to teach them the proper way to deal with money.

And so we have a lot of themes like that on the podcast that you'll hear as well. So that's a little bit about me that we've never shared most of those details before. 

And Spencer, what about you? What would you like to share?

[00:06:52] Spencer: Okay. ROTC graduate. Went to school up in New England.

I flew C-17s for about 10 years while I was on active duty, stationed in Texas for pilot training, and then out to the West Coast for a couple years East Coast. I got to go out to Abu Dhabi for two years in the United Arab Emirates, which is a really unique assignment for a C-17 pilot in the Air Force.

And if anybody wants to chat about that or has an opportunity to go live out on the Emirates, feel free to hit me up at Military Money Manual or podcast@militarymoneymanual.com. I would love to chat about living out in the Emirates. And then I finished my active duty career in Hawaii, flying C-17s with you, Jamie.

My family background. So my dad was very financially literate. Lots of conversations about the rule of 72, compounding interest, and making your money work. My dad was a big reader of Rob Kiyosaki, the Rich Dad Poor Dad author, and also The Millionaire Next Door. I think he read that book when it came out as well. So I grew up very much around people who, like my dad, who were financially literate, were investing.

I still remember at a party once, somebody talking about a stock JDS Uniphase, JDSU. If you go look at the stock chart, it's still that, it's still actually traded today, but go look at the chart. In the late nineties, the stock went from a dollar to a thousand dollars. It made like millionaires overnight and this was kind of my first exposure to the stock market boom and what eventually became the.com bust.

And I still remember at the time thinking that's not sustainable. And I was, I must have been, what, 13 or 14 years old when the adults in the room were talking about that. And I still at the time could recognize that sounds like a bubble. And I don't even know if I knew what a bubble was at the time, but it just, it didn't make sense to me at the time that you could have put a dollar in and it turned into a thousand dollars overnight.

So another thing that my parents helped me do was to open up a Roth IRA at a very young age. So I think I had my first Roth IRA when I was 15 or 16 years old. I put the money that I earned working. Over the summer into the account. And so that, that was something that actually when I went to buy my first condo, my first house when I was active duty, I was able to pull $10,000 out of my Roth IRA that I had previously been saving over working multiple summers when I was in high school and college. 

So that was one of those cool things that, having a more financially literate parent enabled me to do. That being said, though, I still ended up graduating college with $66,000 in student loan debt, and I only made $27,000 my first year in the military, according to my W-2 that I went and looked at the other day.

So you could see right there, even as an officer, you're not making a whole lot of money, especially your first couple years in the military. And when you're faced with the obstacle of $66,000 in student loan debt, it was a long uphill battle toward debt freedom for me and my wife. We got married shortly after I graduated college, but we still managed to achieve debt freedom before age 30.

So she had $45,000 in student loans. After she graduated college, but she was able to pay them off in a year before we got married, and then she had, I think paid off 90% of it, and then we were able to pay off the remaining 10%. But she lived extremely frugally and she worked very hard. She moved back in with her parents for the year before we got married.

She worked a high-paying job and she was able to save up enough money, still had money to travel and to live, but also had that, Dave Ramsey talks about the gazelle-like intensity and attacked her student loan debt. Was able to be debt-free, nearly debt free by the time we got married, and then paid it off shortly thereafter.

I wrote about paying off our student loan debt on my website. You can check the show notes of this episode for the link or just search on my site, militarymoneymanual.com for the keyword “debt”. And I talk about how it was actually pretty anti-climatic and the reason for that was, We knew it was coming, right?

Like we had set this plan and it was, okay, we have this much debt, we're going to pay this much per month, and you can just throw it into a spreadsheet and you can say, okay, we're going to be debt free by this date. And we were debt free a couple of years earlier. But even that didn't feel that impressive. It just felt like, it was a sigh of relief and it was nice that, okay, now every dollar that we have coming in, we get to allocate and we get to decide what we do with it.

But it just felt okay, it's just one more step on the road to financial independence. And honestly, at this stage, I'm not even sure we really completely understood what we were doing on the road to financial independence other than we knew that we wanted to be debt free. That was our main goal initially. 

That's how a lot of people get started and for a lot of people that's yeah, that's the first thing that they can see is man, I've got all this money going on in my paycheck every month, and just paying off of things that old me bought and I have nothing, I have no money for the current me or future me.

So I think it's, for a lot of people that's where they start is they start with man, I have to fix my financial situation. And for most people that's paying off their debt in terms of debt snowball versus debt avalanche. In my mind, it doesn't really matter. Just pick one stick with it. You can change too.

If you start off with the debt snowball and you pay off your lowest interest rate debts, or sorry, your lowest amount first, and then you switch to the debt avalanche and you pay off the highest interest rate debt. Then again, you can go on my website, search “debt snowball”, and I've got an article about this.

Or you can just Google it. There are a million articles out there about it. Yeah. But really it's the habits and experience that you build, paying off the debt and getting back to a $0 net worth that is way more valuable than whichever, whatever interest you save by choosing one method over the other. So the biggest thing is just to pick something that sounds good.

Start paying off the debt and understand if you want to get into it, you can figure out like, oh, am I doing a debt avalanche or a debt snowball strategy? But honestly, it doesn't really matter. Just pick something, and start paying off the debt. Get back to a $0 net worth and then keep those habits going and then start saving for yourself.

So I separated from the military in 2022 and I applied for VA disability and actually did get a rating. We need to do an episode about that in the future, Jamie. But that's something that I didn't really think about when I was going through the military and it wasn't really something on my mind, even as I was leaving the military, and it was something that I wish that I had been a little bit more prepared going into, and so that's something we can cover in a future episode, but that was part of my experience leaving the military last year. 

I do consider myself financially independent now, but I have found it hard to stop working. So I have actually taken another job and I've continued to move the goalposts of what my number, my financial independence number is.

But I recognize that I can cut back on my lifestyle and not suffer greatly at all. And if God forbid something was to happen and I had to stop working, or my wife had to stop working, or there was a situation where I had to go be with a family member for an extended period of time and wasn't able to make money, I do feel like I have the financial resources now that I could fall back on them and I don't have to worry about a steady paycheck coming in.

And that's very liberating. Again, like paying off the debt, it is a little anti-climatic because you know that it's coming, but the freedom that it gives you and the flexibility that it gives you, it's rewarding almost every day where you wake up and you think, Hey, I'm just going to do what I want to do today.

And if I'm doing something that I don't want to be doing, then I have the freedom to choose. And so even with my job right now, it's great because I go to work and I do my job. But at the end of the day, I recognize that I'm doing this because I want to be doing it and not because I need the paycheck. So because of the multiple streams of income, we are currently saving a ridiculously high percentage of our after-tax income.

It's about 50%. Honestly, I haven't calculated out in the last couple of months, but it's very high. We're still saving money even though it feels like we're spending a lot of money on our lifestyle at the moment. But that's just very reassuring to me too. Cause I know that we can cut back on our lifestyle because so much of it is not fixed expenses, it's discretionary expenses, it's things like, video games or going out to eat, or travel. And so I know that we have the flexibility in there that if we had to cut back on those things and just rely on a smaller financial independence number, that we have that flexibility and we have that capability.

For instance, we both have two cars. This is the first time in our life that we've ever had two cars. We were a one-car family for almost 10 years. While I was on active duty, my wife just was able to get around without a car. And those savings that we built up over those 10 years, we're now able to reap the benefits of that.

And guess what? We both have a car and that's fine. Like most, that's what most families do. It's not like we're living extravagantly where we have two adults in the household and we have two cars. That's the standard American setup. But somehow that feels, that might feel a little extravagant to me after only having one car for so much of my married life.

[00:16:16] Jamie: Just to clarify, you have two cars total, not both have two cars, right? Yes. Correct. You each have a car for the first time, but you've been a one-car family for a long time, so that is a big step.

[00:16:26] Spencer: Yeah. Yep. But again, I look at cars as, as long as they're paid off, there are no ongoing fixed expenses there.

Sure you have to put gas in it, but only if you drive it and if you can cut back on your driving or if you can consolidate trips or whatever. There, there are ways to save money on your gas bill. So here's carpooling there's taking other forms of transportation depending on where you live. You might be able to walk or ride a bike, but in my mind, it's much more flexible. When you have two cars paid off so you don't have a monthly car payment, and then really all you're responsible for are those marginal costs of, okay, like how much gas I want to put in my car this month, or, and obviously there are still fixed costs like insurance and maintenance potentially, but in my mind, having the cars paid off, that's like a lifestyle expense that's just completely gone. And if you needed to in a pinch you could sell the car and then you could get the cash out of it. But once you're financially independent, you should hopefully have enough funds that really, I mean there's, and we stopped tracking the value of our cars and our net worth a long time ago.

And hopefully, you can get there. And when you reach financial independence, you're also not tracking the value of your cars and your net worth. So that's going to wrap up my 15-minute rant about who I am and where I'm coming from, but what makes you tick, what makes me tick. But one thing that you mentioned at the end of your introduction there, Jamie, was that you had three kids and so you're making up for me and my life.

We don't have kids and we don't have plans to have kids, and that's possibly accelerated our journey to financial independence, but, I would for sure. I'm sure it does.

[00:18:11] Jamie: I would, I can show you how much I spend on my kids. It does, yeah.

[00:18:15] Spencer: Yeah. But how much do I spend on my dog? So not as much.

Yeah, not as much. I would say that if you're out there and you're thinking should I have kids because it's going to delay my Financial Independence Day, that's not how you should be thinking about it. You that's a decision either way. Whether you're going to have kids, you're not going to have kids.

It's sure you can model it out, you can put it on a spreadsheet. But at the end of the day, those are more existential, philosophical lifestyle questions, wild problems, if you will. Great book by Russ Roberts. Where you can't really break it down into a pro-con column, and it's just not something that can be reduced to a spreadsheet.

So great conversations, great discussions to have with your partner who you want to have the children with. And maybe you can bring up the fact that, Hey, honey, this doesn't delay our financial independence by a couple of years. But at the end of the day, you have to have a delight. You’re such a romantic Spencer.

[00:19:16] Jamie: I don't know how. I know. I know. Speaking of books that are meaningful to you, what are your top influences right now that are helping inform your philosophy and what you're focused on? Books, podcasts, anything like that you're diving deep into these days.

[00:19:35] Spencer: Yeah, so I just taking a look at two of them right here.

It's fitness, health, longevity, and living your best life. So that's The Drive with Dr. Peter Attia. He's a doctor who focuses on modern medicine and longevity, and he has, two or three-hour-long deep-dive podcasts into lipidology and cardiology and all of these things that you just like as a lay person, as someone who's not in medicine, you just would never have the opportunity to understand these things.

But he brings on the world-renowned doctors and professors of medicine and they talk about these deep-dive issues. And for me personally, it's really expanded my knowledge of medicine, but also when you go to the doctor, you can be the most informed patient that doctor has ever seen.

And it's the same approach that I took to finances, to personal finance, where I wanted to become the expert. I wanted to read all the books and understand, how does it actually work? For so long, financial advisors have hidden and, stock brokers have hidden behind this cloud of, oh, it's too complicated. You can't do it. Just pay us and we'll do it for you. And it's the same thing in medicine, and it is complicated. You should have doctors, but you can be much better informed than the average person. And it just provides a better quality of care for you and your family and allows you to understand, what they're talking about and what courses of action that they might be prescribing, and what the effect of, various medications might be on your body.

And it's a great thing to be armed with that kind of knowledge. So that's The Drive with Dr. Peter Attia and then the Huberman Lab podcast, again, a lot of that is fitness, nutrition, and health. And spoiler alert, but there are only four things that you, that really make any difference. And that's moving AKA exercise, right?

Just getting up and going for a walk or going to the gym and doing some squats, sleeping, getting good sleep, drinking water in the appropriate amount, and then not eating junk. And there's great debate, whether vegetarianism or carnivorism or Herbivorism or whatever, split the difference down the middle.

There's tons of debate on, what's good for you and what's bad for you. But basically, if you just don't eat junk and you pick some kind of diet, no matter what it is, you have some room for moderation in there too, right? You always want to be able to take a break, but that's 90% of it right there. That's if you want to be fit and healthy just do those things. 

The Tim Ferris show. Just find a famous person that you admire. He's probably interviewed them. I think the only person he hasn't interviewed is Oprah, but he's got Arnold Schwarzenegger on there. Morgan Housel from the Psychology of Money, Rich Roll, is an ultra marathon ultra athlete.

Cal Newport, who wrote a whole bunch of great books. And then finally Making Cents with Sam Harris podcast. Great deep dive again with some fantastic. Experts in their fields. And he's also got the Waking Up app for meditation, which is another topic that I spent the last couple of years deep diving into.

So in terms of books, a couple of books that I read recently, On Grief and Grieving by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, she also wrote the book On Death and Dying, which I actually read in high school. But this book she wrote was the last book she wrote before she herself died. And in my personal life, there's an older family member who has a terminal diagnosis of cancer, and it's been a great book to just read through if you or a loved one or a friend or someone is facing some kind of loss coming up.

And really we all are, given enough a long enough period of time. I think it, it was a great book. Personally, I've been pretty shielded from a lot of losses in my life. I still have one set of, my grandparents are alive. My mom and dad are still alive, all my siblings, and that's a blessing and I'm glad that's the situation, but I am a little unprepared, I think, for when I do lose a loved one. And yeah, the book On Grief and Grieving, I think has been a great introduction to that from Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks, A book about how to pivot later in life from fluid intelligence to crystallized intelligence.

And if you read the book, you'll understand what those two types of intelligence are. He also did a great podcast with Sam Harris that you can check out on the Making Cents Podcast. And finally, right now I'm currently reading a fantasy book called The Lies of Locke Lamora, which is fun. It's like Assassin's Creed meets Venice. It's a bunch of street urchins running around, stealing stuff.

But I think there's this fantasy aspect in the background. I don't know about 50% of the way through it. It's been a pretty good read so far. So not exactly personal finance related, but Oh, then finally I'll mention in video games, I picked up the New God of War Ragner Rock on PlayStation, which I haven't opened yet, but I'm pretty excited to get started on that.

The last one I played was probably the only video game I played in the last two or three years. And my wife and I are also tag-teaming, Super Mario Brothers, you deluxe on the Nintendo Switch, which has been a lot of fun. I don't think we've ever played a video game together, and this is, we're doing an old school where like you play until you die and then you switch, you give the controller to the other person.

It's you know how we did it back in the nineties when you were playing with your siblings or your friends? So that's been really fun too. Oh, and then I do have one more thing, and that's fitness. I signed up for CrossFit again, which I had done a couple of years ago, but I took a break in the last couple of years and I'm doing a half Ironman again later in the year.

I did my first half Ironman. Ironman 70.3 in 2021. It must have been right after we started the podcast in Hawaii, and I'm doing another one later this year, so I'm super stoked about that. 

So, Jamie, that's again, 20 minutes about me and what I've been working on and things that are interesting to me at the moment.

Pivoting back to you since we started the podcast in May 2021. What's changed in the last two years since then for you?

[00:26:13] Jamie: So since then I committed to more years in the military. But on the personal side, we also hit some major net worth milestones, which is really encouraging to continue to see that work pay off and keep working toward our goals.

We PCS’d once. We live in Alabama now and we're PCSing again this summer. Really excited to get back to Hawaii. And be back on the island there and enjoy the beach. My family is very excited about that. Finished another Master's degree while I was here in Alabama. I also took the time and a slightly easier work life to get back in shape and much healthier.

Started running half marathons and stuff, although my knee is feeling it a little bit now. I also rediscovered my love for reading. If you find me on Good Reads, you'll see last year in 2022, I think I finished with 73 books for the year, something like that. Maybe 63, so pretty substantial reading habit last year.

Not off to a great start so far this year, but took the pilot bonus. We have a whole episode about that and that's what's driving my additional contract. That was actually right around the time that we started the podcast in early 2021. 

As far as points go, my wife and I have accumulated over 1 million American Express membership reward points, and we're hoping for a big redemption soon now that Covid travel restrictions are all gone and once we're in Hawaii, it'll be, we have plenty of people volunteering to come out and babysit our kids while we go on vacation. 

With all the rewards we have between Amex and Chase and Citi, we have almost $50,000 worth of rewards. So we definitely need to start redeeming them before they devalue.

And I use the Max Rewards app to simplify our card hacking and tracking of that. And so that's been a big benefit for us. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in the what to do with your IRS tax refund of putting that towards making your life easier. So that's one of the things I did is I paid for the Max Rewards app to help me spend less time tracking my points and credit card benefits.

So, Spencer, that's some of the highlights of the last couple of years for me and what's changed since we began the podcast. 

What about you? We heard a lot about you. What's changed recently for you?

[00:28:17] Spencer: Yeah, so over the last two years also had a pretty substantial net worth increase. It's just nice to see the LADS, the low-cost, automated, diversified, and simple formative investing that I preach about in my book, The Military Money Manual.

Is working and it's, even through a market last year where we were down 20% in the stock market, I still had enough income coming in that I could throw it in and buy stocks on the cheap. It's nice to see, the most important thing with any investment strategy, right? You can be the Bitcoin bull and be buying Bitcoin all the time, but when Bitcoin drops 70%, are you going to be buying more Bitcoin? And if the answer is yes, then okay, then maybe you're going to be a Bitcoin investor. But for me, it's not. I cannot stand cryptocurrencies and I don't think of them in investments.

They're much more like Ponzi schemes. And so I think that sticking with our, low-cost index fund and passive investing has been a great strategy for us. In the last two years. I also published a book that's available in paperback, hardcover, audiobook, ebook, and Kindle on Amazon and my website, shop.militarymoneymanual.com.

I'm pretty happy with how it's going. There's a special distribution of the book that's coming up that I'm just going to tease a little bit on the podcast and when it actually happens then I'll talk about it in a future episode. But there should be a lot more copies of the book going out very soon, which I'm pretty stoked about.

I also got a dog. He's sitting over the corner right now, Win, and he is pretty sweet, but he's also high energy and it's been quite an adventure training him my first pet in over 30 years. But it's been a lot of fun. If you want to read a good book about that. Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor, and that has a lot of good training techniques in there.  

On the travel hacking side, we've got the ultimate Military credit cards course, that's militarymoneymanual.com/umc3. We've had over 10,000 graduates of the course, which is pretty wow, crazy, and that's free, that's a hundred percent free.

And I'll just send you an email with all the information. And it's also got some podcast links in there too. And yeah, you can sign up. Join 10,000 of your fellow military spouses, and military service members at militarymoneymanual.com/umc3, and you can check that out. And if you don't like the emails, you can unsubscribe at any time.

It won't hurt my feelings. Plenty of people have already done that, but I promise that there's no spam. 

[00:30:58] Jamie: Hurt your feelings or unsubscribed? 

[00:31:05] Spencer: Both? No. Just unsubscribed. Yeah, it's still good. But yeah, I've also got a good problem like you, Jamie. I'm using the website, awardwallet.com, which has our points value at $62,000 worth of points.

So over a million Amex points, half a million chase points, and a million Hilton points. We just did our most recent redemption. Was at the Roku Kyoto, it's a LXR Hilton Resort in Japan, 110,000 points or a thousand US dollars a night. Or you can use a Hilton free night certificate. So I use one of mine, my wife used one of hers, and then that way we get double diamond benefits on each room and we're taking her parents and so we'll all get free breakfast and all the other diamond complimentary things.

On both rooms. Nice. Yeah. And that was actually her idea to use her free night certificate. I was just going to use two of mine. And she was like no. What about the double diamond benefits? I also booked Singapore. First class from JFK to Frankfurt, Germany to go see a friend in Germany later this year.

So I'm pretty, pretty stoked about that. That was like 140,000 points and I just transferred them over from Amex and Capital One to Singapore KrisFlyer. Yep. Nice.

[00:32:29] Jamie: Yep. And that, when you say first class, that's like a suite, a Lay Flat Cabin kind of suite.

[00:32:35] Spencer: Nice. Yes, it's a suite with a door.

Yep. Can't wait to hear all about that one. Yeah, that'll be pretty sweet. I'll have to do a travel-hacking episode coming up. I guess the only other thing that I've really. It's like really not changed, but I've just doubled down on the idea of having multiple sources of income to both achieve FI and once you achieve FI, to make it easier to step away from full-time employment.

So right now I've got VA disability income coming in. I've got W-2 income from work. I've got a business that I'm running, my wife has her W-2 income. And when you have those multiple streams of income, it's just, it helps, weather you against any financial storm. And sets you up such that you might leave a job right and cut off your W-2 income.

But if you've still got military retirement coming in, or VA disability income coming in, you've got that backstop and you know that you'll always have that and you'll be able to rely on that so that if you need to eat ramen noodles for a month, but you can still pay your rent before you get that next job, that's, better quality of life or better pay, you can do that.

So I think that's having those multiple streams of income is definitely an advantage to achieving financial independence sooner rather than later, but not necessary. You can do it just purely on one income and one savings rate.

[00:34:01] Jamie: Okay, Spencer, a little bit back to the podcast itself and some of the growth and amazing things we've seen over the last two years.

Like we said before, we started this in May of 2021 and it came from an idea while we were on vacation together, you and your wife and me and my wife had the idea. We have to make sure that she gets credit for that. If not, she will remind us often. And since then, our audio quality has gotten a lot better.

We have an editing team behind the scenes now, so shout out to Justin and Kyle and the team at SimplePod Solutions, but we have Zencaster as our main recording. We use Shure mics and Bose headsets, and I think the quality has just improved significantly since then. And for the most part, our delivery of the product has been a little bit better as well than where we started.

Sometimes we still tend to go on a little bit longer, like our first audible review.

[00:34:54] Spencer: Yeah, that's true. I think for me at least, it's just one of those things where the more that you do something, the more comfortable you become with it. And that's true for just about everything in life. I remember the first time I flew the C-17, I wouldn't describe it as a comfortable experience.

It might have been fun and exciting, but I was not comfortable. And towards the end of my career, after 3,000 something hours in the C-17, Getting into one was like getting into my car, it was a comfortable experience where I knew where every switch and every button was supposed to be, and I knew exactly what I needed to be doing, what my team needed to be doing.

And it's just the same thing with podcasting. And if you're out there and you're like, man, I really want to start a podcast, the best way to do it is just hit record. I think it's, is it Spotify that does free recordings now?

[00:35:42] Jamie: Yeah. Spotify for podcasters.

[00:35:45] Spencer: Yep. So we use Libsyn for our backend. That's LIBSYN.

That's $20 a month for I think basically unlimited hosting. And I went with that method just because I wanted the flexibility that if we ever wanted to leave, it was a lot easier. And I know for Spotify, maybe if you start with their free program, it might be a little bit harder to leave. But that being said, I mean it If you don't have a podcast, then you can't leave, so might as well start somewhere.

If you're interested in starting a podcast, just start doing a podcast about your cat or plants or something, right? And get all the kinks worked out where, okay, we need to get this microphone and I need to have this set up and I need to, this is how I'm going to do interviews with guests, or this is how because I know for me when I actually did try to start a podcast before the Military Money Manual podcast.

And it was really hard because I couldn't just do a monologue into a microphone. It was impossible for me. I hated the sound of my own voice and I couldn't script it out enough or make it interesting enough. At least in my mind, I thought why would anybody listen to this? But the trick and.

Kind of the tip that I give to most people is to get Jamie on your podcast. That's the trick right there. No, it's, have a friend and then just have a conversation and record the conversation. And, for us, we've also had some guests come on, which I think have been really interesting and we'll talk about some of our favorite episodes coming up, which for both of us, we had guests on the podcast.

But I think for me the biggest trick was because I'm not naturally extroverted. I can't just talk into a mic and have enough intelligent things to say that I feel proud enough to hit publish. But for some reason, when I'm having a conversation with a friend and a co-host, it just makes it much easier to actually produce this podcast.

So thank you, Jamie, for doing that.

[00:37:59] Jamie: Thank you. Thank you. So far we've recorded together over 75 episodes and we are almost to 100,000 downloads. By the time this comes out, we may be even closer, 158 five-star reviews on Spotify and on Apple podcasts. We're at 4.9 stars out of 67 reviews, and one of the most amazing stats to me was according to Spotify's end-of-year review in 2022, we are in the top 5% for most shared globally in Spotify, in all of Spotify's podcasts, top 5% globally for the most shared, which is incredible, which is 43% of you shared it via text message if you care. I thought that was interesting as well. 

We are the number one podcast for about 223 of you listening consistently on Spotify and in the top 10 podcasts for almost 1,200 of our listeners in 2022, according to Spotify.

[00:38:54] Spencer: That's pretty awesome. 

Jamie, I mentioned earlier about favorite episodes, but what was your favorite episode that we recorded?

[00:39:02] Jamie: So I have two favorite ones. The first one is when we had Jesse Mecham, the founder of YNAB, on episode 58. I just thought it was really cool that he took the time to come on and someone that I followed for a long time.

I've read his book, I've listened to all his podcasts, watched all the YouTubes, and been a fan of the product for over three years. That was really neat to sit down with Jesse and have him on episode 58. I also liked episode 15. I went back and listened to this week. Although it wasn't our most polished delivery of an episode, I really enjoyed how we shared our stories of debt to hopefully help encourage and inspire others when they're feeling behind or feeling overwhelmed because we want money to be life-giving, not draining for you.

What about you, Spencer?

[00:39:47] Spencer: Yeah, two great episodes there, Jamie. I agree that Jesse was a champ. I really liked having a conversation with him. I like how we just went down all these rabbit holes about how personal finance is like shooting and what he would do if he lived in Japan and didn't have, what does he have, what does he have, like eight kids or something.

So yeah, I thought that was a great episode. For me the 2022 Air Force Pilot bonus episode, and we'll record another one for 2023. Once we have the details about the Air Force pilot bonus and the accompanying article on my website. It has been extremely useful to thousands of pilots. It is one of the most popular episodes that we ever put out and it's one of the most popular pages on my website.

And thanks to you, Jamie, for helping me write that. Actually, you wrote it and I edited it, so I'll give you all the credit, but that was a great, that's a great article. That's a great podcast episode and I think it, hopefully, really helped a lot of people think through. What could potentially be a life-changing decision?

Kind of one of those, those inflection points where you are, choosing two different paths. And I think it, it helps some people with making that choice. But I'm going to give the crown to our episode with Ben Miller from ChroniFI. I thought that Ben was an extremely interesting guy to chat with.

And some of it was a little bit of an echo chamber because we read a lot of the same things, but he's coming from a completely different place. He worked on Wall Street, whereas, both you and me, Jamie, grew up in our adult lives in the military. So that was episode 65 and I really enjoyed that conversation between us and Ben Miller.

So Jamie, since we're doing behind-the-scenes speak behind the curtain, and meet the hosts, I thought it would be good if we could talk about where our money is after all. This is a personal finance podcast. 

So Jamie, how have you set up your investments? Where's your money? How do I get access to it?

Can you give me your bank account details? Okay, you don't have to go that far, but what's your asset allocation?

[00:41:58] Jamie: It's all in the coffee can buried in the backyard by the swing set. That's how to keep your money safe, right? No, I have mostly Vanguard brokerage accounts and IRAs with Vanguard as well as the TSP. 

In general, we have about 75% US stock, about 18% international, 5% bonds, and about 2% of miscellaneous and cash. Some of that miscellaneous is a small percentage of crypto. But we have almost no single stock very little single stock. So Vanguard and TSP is where most of our money resides. And on the Starbucks app, because my wife loves Starbucks.

I couldn't resist. Sorry babe. So that's where our money is. 

Spencer, what about you? What's your asset allocation look like these days?

[00:42:48] Spencer: So previously I've talked about the app, personalcapital.com or Personal Capital, and I've since moved away from using that and now I keep track of everything with an app called Kubera, that's K U B E R A.

It's at kubera.com. Do you have to sign up on a desktop because of the way that they connect your accounts. You also don't have to connect your accounts. If you want, you can manually update the values. Which I do for some of my assets, but I actually like that it costs money. So it's a 14-day free trial or maybe it's a dollar for the first 14 days, and that's $150 a year after that.

And I like that because it establishes the relationship very clearly. Kubera is working for you. You are paying them, and because of that, they protect your data and they're taking care of your information. And it's not like mint.com or personal capital.com, which are free services where you can track your net worth.

Or like on mint.com, you can track your spending. But they're using your data as payment, basically. So I would rather just pay cash, and keep my data private. And like in the instance of Personal Capital, if you sign up for their service, then their salespeople will cold call you and try to get you to sign up for their services, which is fine. That's their model, that's how they want to do it. I just don't want to deal with that anymore. 

So I still keep a Google sheet updated with monthly values. But Kubera is my go-to at the moment and I really like it. I really enjoy it. And I'm not an affiliate, that's a free plug right now, they're telling me my asset allocation is 15% cash, money markets, and bonds, 60% US stocks, and 25% international stocks.

That's pretty high on the cash, money markets, and bond side. I usually don't like to keep that much around. So I'm a bit overweight on the cash and money markets, and I'm probably going to need to slide that into US stocks. My usual target is 65% US stocks, 25% international stocks, and 10% bonds. I just have a lot of cash sitting around at the moment, which is a good problem to have.

We were going to be purchasing a house, and so we wanted to have some cash on hand for a large down payment, and we ended up not buying a house. So that's what that money is doing sitting there. I also have money in the TSP, about $300,000 in there from when I left active duty in 2022. I've decided for now just to leave it in there.

There are pros and cons of rolling it over to another 401K or to an individual retirement account, or IRA, but I've decided just to leave it there for now. At Vanguard are all of my assets. So other than the TSP, I've got a solo 401k for my business. I've got Roth IRAs for my wife and me, and then I've got our taxable brokerage account there as well.

In terms of the actual funds I'm investing in for the money market, I'm using the Vanguard Treasury Money Market Fund. It's currently paying 4.3% or something crazy like that with almost zero risk. So I'm like okay. That's a pretty good place to park some cash at the moment. That's VUSSX is the ticker symbol.

It's a, I think it's an Admiral Fund, just one of their mutual funds. VUSXX. That's their treasury money market fund. For US stocks I'm using the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund. So I hold the VTIETF Exchange Traded Fund and also the VTSSAX, the Admiral Fund. I don't think there's a big difference between the ETF and the Admiral version in the long run I have both. 

One day I'll probably get around to just selling one or converting it. You actually don't have to sell it. You can just go to Vanguard and ask them to convert from one to the other. And it takes about a day and it's not taxable, just converting from one class of shares to the other.

For international stocks, I use Vanguard Total International Stock Market Fund. The ETF is VXUS or the Admiral Fund. The mutual fund is VTIAX. Again, there shouldn't be a big difference in their performance in the long run between the two funds. I don't have any crypto anymore, thanks to the two crypto exchanges that I use going bankrupt.

So that was great timing on my part, getting into the crypto market as was it Celsius and Voyager collapsed. And yeah, I'm happy that I no longer have any crypto and I'm happy to never play that game again. So I resisted it for so long, and then by the time I got into it the music had stopped and all the chairs were occupied.

I'm just glad I wasn't, what was it, FTX, that one was even worse. And that's it. So I've just got two funds, the Total International Stock Market and Total Stock Market Fund. And then I hold my bonds mostly in the TSP through the G Fund and the F Fund. And in the TSP, I'm at 11% G fund, 10% F fund, 66% C fund, and 13% S fund.

Those are not recommendations. I don't think anybody should probably have that portfolio that just happens to be by a portfolio at the moment. Is it perfect? No, absolutely not. Is it what I would recommend for someone? No, probably not. I'd probably just recommend the Lifecycle Fund. This is just how my portfolio shook out when I left the military over a year ago, and I've just kept it that way for now.

I'll reallocate as required, but right now I'm happy with how it's balanced. And then for day-to-day banking, I'm just using USAA still. And if I have spare cash that I want to invest, I either put it into that Vanguard Money Market fund, or I just search, doctorofcredit.com or go look at, some of the best CD rates, or Certificate of Deposit rates out there, and then I just park my money there.

I don't really worry about it as long as it's FDIC insured. So I'm talking about Ally, Marcus, and American Express. There are a couple of other banks out there, CIT Bank, not to be confused with Citibank. They offer really high certificates deposit. Navy Federal had a 5% CD recently, and I think even currently they're above 4%.

If you have some cash sitting around and you are maxing out your TSP and you're maxing out your Roth IRA, or you want to put your emergency fund to work into a higher yield investment that's still safe, that's still FDIC insured, then I highly recommend you take a peek at CDs or Certificates of Deposit.

[00:49:15] Jamie: With all that being said, what does the future of the Military Money Manual podcast look like? We have some ideas, but we also want to hear from you. So if you have any ideas, questions, topic suggestions, or guests to have on the podcast, send them to us at podcast@militarymoneymanual.com or via Instagram direct message @MilitaryMoneyManual.

Maybe we have some of you on the show, either help with your situation, talk through something, or share your success stories, but we do plan to continue to find the most important topics for our listeners. Cover those topics that no one else is covering in the same way for our military families. We plan to continue to have more guests that are experts in the personal finance space and in military benefits, and continue to provide more specifics about various credit cards to help you decide when to expand your credit card portfolio and what should be next.

We'll probably also revisit some of our most popular topics like the TSP to help clean up our audio and our flow from the early days from episode 2 which is really popular. And so we probably need to redo that one to make sure our listeners have the best product possible. And most importantly, Spencer and Jamie back together in the same location is going to be clutch to the future of the show.

[00:50:28] Spencer: That's true. I didn't even think about that. Yeah, so we're both going to be spending some time in Hawaii in the next couple of months, or years. That's going to be pretty awesome to be able to record the podcast in person after, I don’t know if people realize it, but we've been remote for almost the entire two years, so it's gone pretty well.

And when I describe to people how we record, they're like, what? How can you do that? And I'm like, it's just like a Zoom meeting, man. We can see each other,

[00:51:01] Jamie: can we say where you are right now? Like the time zone difference, we're like 14 hours apart or something like that?

[00:51:07] Spencer: Sure. Yeah. So currently I'm in New Zealand and it's the next day and several hours off. So Jamie's getting ready to go to bed. So it's Monday afternoon for me.

[00:51:20] Jamie: Monday afternoon for you. It is Sunday night for me approaching my bedtime and we've just made it work. We've had a consistent time and it's been really awesome.

So thank you so much for having me be part of the journey for this podcast with you, what's your vision? 

Anything else in the future you want to share?

[00:51:39] Spencer: I think everything you covered is pretty good. For me personally, If the Military Money Manual Podcast is the best military personal finance investing and travel hacking podcast available anywhere, then I think that we've achieved our goal.

What we have to do is just keep working towards making it even better. Now, when you niche down to the point where you're a military personal finance investing and travel hacking podcast, there's probably only one or two of those, but we can still be the best one out there. So I hope that's what the future holds is that, first of all, we'll get to a hundred thousand downloads.

That's going to come up in the next couple of months. We'll get to a hundred episodes. That'll be pretty awesome. I get lots of positive feedback on the direct message on Instagram via email. People shoot me emails and over 10,000 graduates of the travel hacking course.

So I just hope that we continue to deliver value to people and to be a part of military service members, military families, and military spouses, journey to financial independence, and to being, just a little bit calmer, a little bit happier, and a little bit less stress when it comes to money, when it comes to finances.

And that just permeates throughout your entire life, right? If your money's going well, it just gives you more time. To focus on other things that matter. And money matters don't get me wrong. But other things matter so much more than money. Your health, your family, your relationships, your loved ones, your spirituality, your religion.

There's so much more to life than just money. And so if we can be a resource that helps to guide you towards financial freedom, And gives you time back that you don't have to stress about money because it's all automated, it's all taken care of, and your investments are just sitting there and they just go and you don't have to think about them then that's that.

That would be the dream, right? There is, and that's what I always want. When I started militarymoneymanual.com, that's what I wanted to do is just be that voice, be that resource in the military community. And just provide a little bit of sanity when it comes to personal finance, when it comes to investing, and now when it comes to travel hacking.

And that was a new thing that I picked up, the site didn't start with that, but that's definitely been something that I've latched onto. And I think it's one of the craziest benefits that not many people talk about still, even after 10,000 graduates of my military travel hacking course. I bet if you walk into any unit in the military and 80% of the people won't know they can get an Amex Platinum card for free.

[00:54:29] Jamie: Or if they do, they think that's the only one they can get. 

[00:54:32] Spencer: Yeah, that's true.

[00:54:34] Jamie: I love it. Spencer. I was just thinking about it while you were talking, that if people talk to their friends in the military or family members that are in the military and think of money, travel, hacking, investing, or anything personal finance related.

The military money manual website, book, and podcast are the top recommended items, and that would be amazing because there's a lot of value you've put out over the last 12 years. There are a lot of amazing blog posts, and a lot of great benefits in the course that you mentioned, and now the podcast over the last two years has just really been, I think, the cherry on the top to make the military money manual as helpful as it is to military families.

So thanks for all your hard work over the last 12 or so years, and the last two years of the podcast have been great, and hopefully, there are many more years ahead of great podcasting.

Listeners, thank you so much for joining us today, two year anniversary of the Military Money Manual Podcast. As we celebrate all the amazing statistics.

Hopefully, you learned a little bit more about Spencer and Jamie, your host here. If you've been following us since the beginning, some of that may have been a little bit of a repeat, but I think we did get into some stuff we've never shared before without revealing too much of our inner beings with the world.

If you have any questions, as I mentioned before, you can hit us up on Instagram at Military Money Manual or via email, podcast military money manual.com. We truly do appreciate all your reviews and sharing with your friends each time you do that. It helps spread the content to other people that need help with their finances and that can benefit from the amazing benefits like the Military Lending Act, giving free credit cards to military members and their spouses.

We hope you'll join us again next week on the Military Money Manual Podcast.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.