The Enlisted Money Guy, Brandon Lovingier – Money Mistakes, Combatting Overspending, What Officers Should Know About Enlisted Money | Military Money Manual Podcast Episode 96

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In this episode, Jamie is joined by The Enlisted Money Guy, Brandon Lovingier from EnlistedMoney.com to discuss the financial differences between enlisted service members and officers, combatting the desire to spend, and what resources are available to enlisted servicemembers. 

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #96 Links

Outline of Episode:

  • Financial differences between enlisted service members and officers
  • Helpful techniques and mindset shifts
  • Combating the desire to spend
  • Where to start with TSPs and IRAs
  • What officers should know about enlisted members and their finances
  • How do you handle a conversation with someone that's struggling financially
  • Knowing what benefits you have

Military Money Manual Podcast Episode #96 Transcript

[00:00:00] Brandon: Maybe you can't match your TSP right away. Maybe you can't, but you can work toward that. And so I think that's the biggest thing that I would say is just defeat yourself before you ever get started, just get started and then just build and make those small incremental changes over time. And you'll be amazed at how much progress you'll make in two, five, 10 years. 

[00:00:45] Jamie: Hey podcast listeners, this is Jamie here. Today I have the honor of hosting Brandon Lovinger, The Enlisted Money Guy for an episode between him and me, where we talk about all things enlisted money. Brandon is a ChFC and MQFP. And he's also known as The Enlisted Money Guy from enlistedmoney.com. He wasn't born into money and he joined the army right out of high school and has served over 18 years on active duty so far, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. When he was younger, he wasted his money on trucks, beer, cigarettes, and energy drinks and everything in between. At one point, he and his wife had to put rent on credit cards just to get by.

Fast forward to now, they're debt free and building wealth. He established his blog, enlistedmoney.com, to help enlisted service members avoid the same mistakes that he made. He earned his Chartered Financial Consultant, that's the ChFC designation, in 2022, and is one of the first to hold the Military Qualified Financial Planner, MQFP designation. He's also been a speaker at Mil Money Con and loves mentoring other service members on their own financial freedom journey. Today, you'll hear about his story, how we have to give enlisted service members grace in their journey, but they have a huge advantage because time is on their side if they start young.

And how enlisted service members need to focus on saving money versus investing it first because the enlisted perspective is just different from what Spencer and I often talk about as officers. 

You can find Brandon at enlistedmoney.com where he helps enlisted service members achieve the financial freedom that they fight for.

If you're enjoying the Military Money Manual podcast or any of these episodes, you're getting value out of them, which we hope is all of them. Please take a quick second to give us a rating or review on Spotify or Apple podcast or wherever you're listening to this show. It means a lot and helps a lot of other service members find this valuable content as well. Now, here's my discussion with Brandon. 

Hey, Brandon, thanks for coming on the podcast today. We're happy to have you.

[00:02:42] Brandon: Hey, yeah, thanks. I'm really excited to be on the show with you, and yeah, just really excited to be able to talk about some of my story and some of the things that we can do to help other military members.

[00:02:53] Jamie: You have an amazing story. You went from, early in life struggling as a young soldier with money and finances even before your time in the Army. And now to Chartered Financial Consultant and underway towards CFP, what gave you that drive and how did you do it?

[00:03:10] Brandon: Yeah, long story short, I sucked with money and then figured out hey, this is not what I want to do.

I was actually sitting in a cold, stinky tent in Afghanistan, looking at bank statements. That's how you know you're really bored. Wow. And I figured out that I was going to pay like $7,000 in interest over the course of my truck loan. And I was like, that's crazy. I could have almost bought the truck I had before.

Her name was Marlia, by the way. I could almost buy that truck in cash for that. And so I was like, okay, this is crazy. So I found a blog, get rich slowly. I feel like I read every single article on there and then total money makeover and went through the each stage and then eventually we got to where we were debt free then after that we took a pause there just just live life weren't really like that into personal finance and stuff like that, but then started to get a little more serious whenever we had our son and hey, I guess I should like.

Be a little more adult, and so fast forward, I feel like I read every personal finance book out there, and I just wanted to learn more, and I wanted to help other people because I felt and saw the change that it made in our own lives, and so that kind of led me down the path of coaching, and I was like, I don't know if that's really the thing. I want to help with everything. And then that led to getting a scholarship to get the ChFC and CFP coursework done. And then as I was doing that, Hey, you need to get hours in order to get these designations. So okay, I need to start doing something. So then I started doing pair planning and then I started a blog and a podcast.

And then now full circle is I just want to do something that's for me. I want to do something that is for the 18 year old me now. Yeah, so that's what I'm trying to put out there in the world. The content and the things that I wish I would have read and applied whenever I was 18.

[00:04:55] Jamie: That's great. And there's such a gap there. A lot of people don't know what they don't know, and they're struggling, and they're overwhelmed with finances. And the young airmen, the young soldiers, young Marines often don't know where to turn. So seeing their leaders, whether senior NCOs or officers set the example, be comfortable talking about this makes a lot of headway for the culture of the unit and the security of the families on the team as well.

So that's a great story. I'm excited to have your perspective because Spencer and I are both. We're both in the Air Force. We both have a very similar background and career of how we got where we are now. We've been trying to have more enlisted topics, more enlisted perspectives for a long time.

And so that's one of the many reasons that your expertise here is going to be so valuable to our listeners. 

What are some ways that you think that finances are different for our enlisted service members than they are for the officers?

[00:05:50] Brandon: There's a lot of differences, but there's a lot of similarities to a lot of the same benefits are available for both enlisted and for officers, but I feel like oftentimes just from the get go, enlisted service members are generally coming into the military at a different stage in their life. Say for instance, an 18 year old is much different than a 14 year old. A 22 year old is much different than an 18 year old.

And so that kind of span of time, you're looking at different things. And then also, we just expect officers to do these things and be in charge of these things. And even just like at the end of your schooling and all that, whenever you first commission, you're faced with a very common, difficult choice, like the career starter loan, you're forced to think about finances in a very real way, whereas like enlisted soldiers, we don't have that kind of the idea that, hey, you're going to have a lot of money that you're going to have to manage. We make the assumption, hey, you need to focus on saving money. You need to focus on not buying the car. You need to focus on all these other things. And also, too, I think we come from, in general, and there's end cases for both sides of this.

There's people that come from wealthy families that enlist. There's people from poor families that commission. But on the whole, like my experience as a recruiter kind of showed me like, The people that have a military background, and know the ins and outs. Those are the ones that are probably going to push more toward becoming an officer.

So there's a lot of people like me that I had no experience with the military. I had no idea the benefits. I had no idea about money and actually the only thing I knew is I was going to have to work until I died. And so the idea of being able to invest money was a foreign concept to me. So yeah, I think just from the get go, we start off different.

And then from there we make vastly different amounts of money. We're in different tax brackets, a lot of times. And then also too, it can get pretty complicated for enlisted service members because we actually do have quite a few benefits that are more tailored towards us.

But, There's a lot of different nuances with those things. Say, for instance, the new basic needs allowance, cool program. I think it's a good idea, but now we have to look at, I've got to learn about taxes. I've got to learn how that affects that. I've got to learn how this affects my Snap benefits or something like that. There's a lot of different things that we're not really that well equipped to make those decisions. And sometimes on post the financial counselors know what they're talking about. Sometimes you’ve got to walk them through that. So I think just from the get go, there's a lot of different nuances from where we come from in life.

[00:08:24] Jamie: Yeah, those are really important points. What the enlisted perspective often is again, not to stereotype. There's people on both sides of the spectrum, like you said. I think a lot of times when you're in a unit where there's officers enlisted working closely or conversations there, it's important to understand that there are Potentially differences in perspective in background, if you are taking a work trip, a TDY and you go out to dinner together, there may be more ability for the officers to go to a steakhouse than there will be for the E-3s and not to pressure them and to make sure that they have the right resources as well.

Like you said. It's better than others at each post or each base of what resources they have. There should be the resources available, but whether those people are as helpful as they could be is the variable. 

So how are some ways that we overcome this? Any techniques or other mindset shifts for people to think about.

[00:09:17] Brandon: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is we just have to accept where we're at in life and then just understand that you can achieve financial independence no matter where you start and you don't have to make the same as an officer makes or warrant officer or whatever. In order to have a good life, but it is going to look different.

I think you guys have talked on the podcast before about Dave Ramsey's concept of bigger shovels and smaller shovels. If you've got more Legos to build with, you're going to be able to do more things. So just, you have to accept that it may look a little bit different for you. It may take you a little bit longer.

Maybe you can't max your TSP right away. Maybe you can't, but you can work toward that. And so I think that's the biggest thing that I would say is just defeat yourself before you ever get started. Just get started. And then just build and make those small incremental changes over time. And you'll be amazed at how much progress you'll make in two, five, ten years.

[00:10:14] Jamie: So it sounds like one of the takeaways is envy, trying to keep up with the Joneses or seeing someone else's life, whether it's on social media or. Based on the house they have or the car they drive, assuming that they have this lifestyle and maybe feeling jealous of those young service members, they see the XO's car, they see the DO’s or the commander's car and they're like, man, I wish I could have that.

And that's sometimes what drives them to go out and get a car loan that's way above what they can afford or something like that. 

How do you, as a young soldier starting out in the dorms with relatively low income, combat the desire to spend and have things that look pretty?

[00:10:56] Brandon: That's one of those things that especially vehicles, I could talk about vehicles for I feel like forever because I've made a lot of mistakes there, but I think I've done a lot of good things there too.

But if you look at what somebody else is doing, it's irrelevant to what your personal situation is. And also to, I think Morgan Housel in his book, The Psychology of Money points this out very well. Like somebody has $100,000 and a vehicle. The only thing you know is that they either have $100,000 less money and a car or $100,000 more debt in a car.

You don't know anything else about their financial situation. And so I think it is easy to get caught up in that's where I should be, or that's what I should work toward. And it's pretty interesting too, just because. Officers have those nice things doesn't mean that they're doing all that well financially either.

I can pretty quickly look in the parking lot and start running the numbers and yeah, that you said that was leased. Okay. All right. Yeah. So that's going to be so that I start doing the numbers and okay, they're probably spending a pretty good chunk of their salary on a car that's going to depreciate, and that's one of those things with vehicles.

You just got to think about what you really need it to do? Maybe you look cool for a minute, but that doesn't make you a better person. So I think you have to shift a little bit of what gives you value and meaning to you. So I was happy as all get out to drive my old rusty pickup until it had mechanical issues and I had to get rid of it.

But that was a truck that looked ugly, but it did everything I needed it to do. And now I drive a little car or whatever, but I'm still able to do fun things like I would rather put that money towards a vacation with my family versus having a nicer car. And that's just what's important to me right now.

But, we pay for cars in cash and we've slowly upgraded our cars over time. So you can do it. It just, like I said, might take a little bit longer, but in the long run, not trying to go after those things right away will give you a little more security. So then you can take advantage of things whenever you have a chance.

So I can't tell you how much money I've probably saved just buying cash and learning how to negotiate.

[00:13:04] Jamie: You mentioned earlier about how the enlisted perspective needs to focus on saving more than investing initially in a lot of ways. And you just talked about a minute ago, how financial independence doesn't depend on your income.

It's all about how much you save compared to your income. And then now you're talking about you're going to get things later. It's just delayed. You need more time to build up as an enlisted service member. You'll need more time to save up for the car for the house. It's not saying you'll never have those things or nicer things or things like your friends have it just might take you a little bit of time To save up towards those goals. 

So all really amazing points and hopefully motivate a lot of people and give them the assurance that you're not terrible. You're not behind. It doesn't mean that you're behind on your money goals because you drive a used car.

In fact, you're probably well ahead of your money goals if you drive a used car. In that one example, because like you said in Morgan Housel’s book, you don't know what their situation is. They could be drowning in debt. You focus on your goals. You focus on saving. How can I cut expenses to get more into my Roth IRA?

And into my TSP, make sure I get that match in my TSP. And then from there, you'll slowly start to build and compound and interest will take effect. The nice thing is you'll be able to start typically very young as an enlisted service member. I know there's exceptions to that, but if we're talking about 18 year old soldiers, you got a lot of time for that life to grow in your interest to grow.

So be patient, you'll save and it'll come.

[00:14:35] Brandon: Yeah, no, absolutely. And that's why it's super important just to get started and do something. And I'm a big fan of the save more later program that, from the book Nudge, if you can start it at 5 percent or even if you're like, there's no way I can do that.

We'll try it first. And then every time you get a pay raise, just bump it up one or 2%. Like this year, if we're going to get what the NDAA says, you get 5.2%. I would probably put 2 percent in there and then keep bumping that up. And you'd be amazed at how much money you'll have in there before too long.

That's how I did it. I got up to 15 percent and then I was like, okay that's probably good for right now. But yeah, the earlier you start, really, you'll never have it easier on your investing journey than when you're in E-1. All those dollars are going to be worth so much more if you just start early.

So that in and of itself will make it so much easier. And you'll build those good habits right from the get go.

[00:15:25] Jamie: There's a really good technique, great points. So if someone's brand new to the military, they just enlisted or they're considering enlisting and somehow they found the show at the perfect time where they have all this potential growth over their lifetime.

Where do they start? Because sometimes they'll see a blog or hear maybe even us say, you need to max this, you need to max this. And that's not reasonable, at least at the beginning, but they need to set that goal for the future maybe. But where do they start? Is it a 1%, a 5%? 

And what do you think they should do first?

[00:15:54] Brandon: That's obviously going to be individual, but if you at least don't get your match, if you're in the blended retirement system, then you've got to at least do that. And I know initially you don't get the full match, but I think at least putting that in to start. So then that way you'll never miss it.

It'll be a whole lot easier to have it at 5 percent and then it'll just automatically do its thing versus. Oh, Hey, it's two years. I got my match. I want to bump it up. But really anymore, the default, it should automatically be at 5%. I would still caveat. You also want to look at Roth as an option as well.

So I'm a big fan of Roth myself. I think if you can at least start at that 5 percent mark and then just. Let it grow and keep bumping it up. I think that's a good goal at least. But yeah, you're right. That's and that's part of like whenever I hear, hey, max out your TSP. I'm like, yeah, it sounds nice, but the fact is, I think last year my taxable income, my wife's stay at home mom now I think our taxable income was like $60,000. So it's can I put a third of a third or more in, in the TSP, yeah, we probably could, but it'd be pretty tight. It's pretty hard to live off of $40,000 plus housing expenses. So it's doable, but probably not all that practical and it may not be necessary.

So for us, it's probably not going to be necessary. I'm not going to need millions of dollars to live the life that I want to live. I have pretty small goals.

[00:17:15] Jamie: And it's important for everyone to remember too that no matter what your goal is, it's an individual decision, like you said, I've been guilty of it myself of, everyone should be doing this or everyone should be pointing towards maxing their TSP.

And it's not feasible in a lot of cases. And it shouldn't be the goal that every family looks after, at least initially, it's something to consider. But what are some other things that sometimes you hear officers either around the unit, around the battalion or around posts or other blogs talk about that's different and or let me rephrase. 

What do you wish that officers knew more about enlisted members and their finances?

[00:17:49] Brandon: That's one of those things. It's tough, but the biggest thing is just the “shoulding”. So you should be doing this. You should be doing that. I get it, but this is also coming from a person that's, Hey, we're going to stay late tonight because we got to do layouts late or whatever the case may be.

If I had time and I knew how to do that, maybe I would but also to, there just needs to be some understanding about the person. And I think that. You can tie that back around into general leadership, in the first place is just, hey, you need to know what's going on before you make a judgment and decide what they should or should not be doing.

And you also have to understand we're all human first, and then we join the military and become something better. So you've got to remember that the baseline is we're all human, so we all have different competing things that we're working on. Say, for instance, a young family, maybe they just got married or maybe they just had kids.

And they may not have the bandwidth to really think through what the best financial decision is at the time. And it might be really clear to you, looking as a leader, to see, oh, they should be doing that, they should be doing this, but. You've got to understand how they can mentally get to that point and the other barriers that may be there.

[00:19:01] Jamie: Takes a lot of empathy, which is often not a stereotype of military officers.

[00:19:08] Brandon: Yeah, no, and I think a lot of that comes honestly too. It's hard, it's really difficult for somebody that is, you know, making maybe $5,000-8,000 dollars a month to understand what it's like for somebody that makes $3,000 a month.

It's a completely different thing. And so until you're there, if you really want to know, yeah, change your budget and just say, Hey, I'm going to live like an E-5 this month and see how you do. It would probably be. Actually, I should probably do that too and see what that's like. Cause I can tell you it's probably not that easy, especially once we start looking at childcare and all these different things.

[00:20:48] Jamie: So let's say that someone listening to the podcast has been in the military for a little bit. They've made some decisions financially that maybe weren't great, or maybe they came into the military with financial baggage. And they're just in a situation where they're beating themselves up.

How do you handle a conversation with someone that's on the struggle bus financially?

[00:21:09] Brandon: One, I would say I've been there. My wife and I at one point in time, and we were putting rent on a credit card not because we were trying to get points, but because we literally had no other money to remedy that.

We eventually moved on post, but, and then that kind of helped for a while. I think you've just got to A, understand where you're at and give yourself some grace. Doesn't matter how you got there, that doesn't help you necessarily fix what you're going to do moving forward. And just like with anything in the military, we're big on looking at the objective and planning it out and then making it happen.

Just like soldiers across the board we're used to being handed a big pile of stuff at work and then figuring it out, you can apply those same concepts to your personal finances and make it happen. 

But I think the biggest thing is just be gentle with yourself. Don't beat yourself up about it.

Like I said, we went from in about a four year time span. We went from basically ground zero, like zero net worth to buying cars in cash with a debit card. It can be done, but it's not always going to be an easy thing, but it is worth it. It's really nice to look back where we were and you guys do this too.

You check every year kind of net worth and how you're growing. And I think that would be one of the biggest things, check where you're at and then just start somewhere and work on it.

[00:22:26] Jamie: And that's one of my favorite things about your story and the EnlistedMoney.com section of the confessions where you are transparent with some of the mistakes over the years and a number of the blog posts mentioned how you got to where you are now through your journey.

And it's not always pretty and it's not always a great place when we're starting off. And I think the more that Airmen and soldiers, Marines, they hear these stories. They hear people that overcame negative net worth and they came through it. Spencer and I both talked about how we had a large amount of debt when we commissioned, my wife and I were over $118,000 in debt.

And it's a lot of money and officers get paid fine as a lieutenant, but not good enough to make that a miracle overnight. So it still takes work. And it's still in the situation where you're going to have to be fighting. But the more they hear that people say, Oh, I'm not the only one that has debt, or I'm not the only one that's struggling with how much to put into my TSP.

I'm not the only one that was concerned about how I was going to buy groceries last month. It happens. And it's probably more common than any of us truly appreciate unless you've been in a role of senior NCO or first sergeant type of thing where you've been working with those hurting service members on a day to day basis.

So giving yourself grace is a great one. It's hard in the military sometimes to tell your boss like, Hey, I need a little bit of time to focus on this. I'm distracted because we're struggling at home. My wife or my husband recently lost their job. And so we just got our budget cut in half. And I'm not sure how to do this because it's a lot of time it’s go, go, go. We got three weeks in the field and you may or may not have comms with your family while you're out there.

And military life is not designed to make sure that your budget is in place before you do any of those. They have programs to try to help with that, but you have to take it on yourself to make sure that you're set up and that your family's there financially and prepared for whatever the military needs you to do.

It's not always easy.

[00:24:20] Brandon: Absolutely. And that's the thing too. Whenever you start layering on all the different things that we've got, plus once you have a family, it adds on. And also too, people have extended families and things like that too, that add a whole nother dynamic.

You could tell somebody, Hey, this is the exact right thing to do with their money, but their mom living with them at home or spouse or whoever oh no, we're not going to do that. Like we're, you're not. And so you have those kinds of things that come into play too. And it can get pretty tricky, but I think those stories are my favorite. Like I get, I was so excited when I got the first enlisted money confession. I didn't, I think we've got two up now, like to balance it out and get some success stories in there. So if that's you, I'd love to hear a success story but I think the people learn best through stories.

We've got the dairy land divorcee and we've got the credit card swiping sailor. Trying to make it a little bit light, but no, I think those are really instructive. And like I said, you do have to just. Except, hey, I made a mistake or whatever, but as long as you learn from it and you don't repeat those mistakes, then for me, I'm atoning for my sins, quote unquote, by trying to help other people avoid the same ones.

There's no reason why people have to make the same mistakes I did. I'm a big believer that experience is cheap if you're smart enough to get it secondhand. You may as well get it from me and or you or, whoever, and just avoid those to begin with.

[00:25:38] Jamie: Another one that I liked on the enlistedmoney.com on your website. It might be a little bit of a clickbait title, but it definitely got me interested. It's called E-1's Becoming a Millionaire, and it definitely got my attention, definitely got me to click on it. 

Can you tell me a little bit more about that article where you say that E1's have it easy?

Maybe a little bit of a hot take.

[00:25:59] Brandon: Yeah, I wrote that because I just, one trying to get people's attention but also to, I do think it's true. You'll never have it easier on your enlisted journey, as far as investing whenever you're young. And just looking at it, definitely doing the numbers and stuff like that.

When I was playing around with it, I was like, oh, gosh, I missed out on so much money that I could have had. I don't know, I don't know who pulled up, I've calculated I at least left like $173,000 on the table by not investing early. So that, that definitely hurts. I don't know about you, but I can't afford to make, at least I can't afford to make another $173,000 mistake.

And I don't think most E-1s out there can either. So yeah, it is a little ornery as far as the title goes, I just want to make the point that the earlier that you start, the easier it's going to be.

[00:26:44] Jamie: It's all about the time that you have your dollars when you start earlier and have so much more time to grow.

And that's the point of the article, not that life is easier, that it's easy to have that income level. And I think you did a really nice job balancing that out and explaining what you mean. So I did enjoy that article.

[00:26:59] Brandon: Yeah. Thanks.

[00:27:02] Jamie: As we start to wrap up the conversation, it's been really great so far.

What are some, maybe one or two most common pieces of advice or conversation topics for your young soldiers in your unit or the people that you've coached or counseled through your ChFC experiences so far.

[00:27:20] Brandon: Biggest thing is just to look at all the benefits that you have out there. My favorite go to is MyArmyBenefits.

It's MyArmyBenefits, but most of those benefits apply to all services. It's got a nice little map. You can click on state benefits. There's so many state benefits I'd never heard of, like Missouri, where I'm from, 50, I can get $50 credit hour in state tuition. That's pretty cool. So there's just a bunch of different things like that, and then just make sure that you're looking at your overall financial picture and getting a gauge of where you're at.

So I think the biggest thing would just be to calculate your net worth, your assets minus liabilities and get your net worth and just measure where you're at and then just compete with yourself. You don't need to compete with anybody else. So as long as every year you're working toward building your wealth, you're on the right path and over time your goals are going to change.

Don't be afraid. You don't have to have a particular goal forever. My goals changed pretty significantly over the years. When I had my son, I had this, that changed a lot of our goals. When my mom passed away, it definitely gave me a pretty big perspective shift, so those kinds of things in life that maybe shape what we want to do.

So it's okay. To change what you're doing, but as long as you're moving forward, then I think you'll be okay. 

So to sum it up, start with something, make sure that you're getting everything you can out of the military because Lord knows they're going to get everything they can out of you and then just make sure that you've got an idea and got the finances squared away for when you do exit the military because we're all going to exit the military. So don't be that person that six months before they get out oh, I don't know what I'm going to do. 

Get your plan in place and just make sure that you're making progress every year. 

[00:29:05] Jamie: It's been a while since we've had a “just do something” quote by Jamie, so I appreciate you bringing that back up and it's a great insight and great guidance.

And Brandon, I know that we first connected on LinkedIn through a mutual friend. You're really putting out a lot of great content on there, on social media, on your LinkedIn. Where can people follow you, find your website and learn more about your work? And especially if they're interested in the enlisted perspective on money.

[00:29:27] Brandon: Yeah, the easiest place to find me is either on the website enlistedmoney.com or Instagram. I'm on there quite a bit. So that's @enlistedmoneyguy. And then yeah, other than that, yeah, you hit me up, send me an email at hello at enlisted money and you can get on the website, if you've got an enlisted money confession or enlisted money success story and love to hear it and the plane of action there is just to give my perspective on something and kind of help somebody if they're stuck.

So similar to what you guys do, but no, I just really appreciate you having me on. It's been a lot of fun and hopefully this will be helpful to some of you out there. I think it will for sure.

[00:30:04] Jamie: Thanks, Brandon.

[00:30:05] Brandon: Yep. Thank you.

[00:30:08] Jamie: Wow. A lot of great things to think about there from the enlisted money guy, Brandon.

Thanks for joining us again on this episode of the Military Money Manual podcast. My three main takeaways for this episode. 

Number one, understand everyone's perspective and don't expect that everyone should do it the way that I think, or the way that you think as a leader or as a mentor to our enlisted service members for sure.

Number two, young soldiers. Have a lot of time on their side. So if you can invest. Time is on your side and those dollars that you put to work early in your career will grow exponentially over your lifetime. 

Number three, you don't need to compete with anyone else or keep up with anyone else. Financial independence and that journey does not depend on how much money you make.

It's how much you choose to spend versus how much you choose to save based on your chosen lifestyle. And it's okay for your goals to change. It's okay for you to not have the nicest things right now. It's temporary. Just keep making progress. Keep making steps in the right direction. And before you know it, you'll be like Brandon, having a positive net worth and building wealth and then helping others build that wealth as well.

What a great episode to share that perspective from Brandon, the enlisted money guy. Really appreciate all that he brought to the show today. And again, follow him on Instagram @enlistedmoneyguy or enlistedmoney.com.

[00:31:51] Jamie: The views and opinions presented here are those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the views of the DOD or its components. Reference to any commercial products or services does not constitute DOD endorsement of those products or services.

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