“So..” I said as I looked around the room. “Who has signed up for blended retirement?” Complete silence and a room full of lowered hands looked back at me.
It was May of 2018 and my last day as a platoon leader in Charlie Troop, 2-6 CAV (Wheeler ArmyAirfield, Hawaii) and I stood before a room mostly consisting of of E-4s and below. Over half of the Soldiers before me would likely go on to get out of the army at the end of their current contract — yet none of them would have anything in their TSP to show for it. I went on to read a satirical Duffle Blog article describing the Army’s new T-Rex option in which an X-Box and a 10 percent off Rent-A-Center Coupon would take the place of blended retirement. The room burst into laughter at the financial illiteracy described in the mock news report.
The financial illiteracy I found in the room that day, however, is no laughing matter. Despite a 100 percent completion rate for the Army’s required blended retirement system training, most Soldiers did not seem to know a thing about it. What’s worse is most didn’t know the benefits available to them and a few even had car loans with astronomical rates such as 15% interest on E-3 salaries to boot. This blog is dedicated to spreading financial literacy to those who need it most so that next time I speak to a group of Soldiers I’m not confronted with the same tales of woe. Armed with knowledge of such topics as the Civil Service Relief Act, Thrift Savings Plan, and even a basic understanding of compound interest a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine can go a long way.
So who am I and what are my credentials?
I am a 26 year-old Army Captain and graduate of the United States Military Academy with degrees in economics and operations research. I’ve twice held roles as a Platoon Leader and am currently at Captain’s Career Course with the intent of becoming a Company Commander. In five years in the Army I’ve managed to save over 40% of my salary each year, profitably flipped a house in Hawaii, purchased a rental property in South Carolina, and accumulated hundreds of thousands of credit card rewards points (we’ll talk about those in a later post). I’ve read over 50 books on the topic of finance and financial management in my spare time and I am a rated aviator in the AH-64D. Quick disclaimer: my posts do not represent the ideas or opinions of the United States Army nor do I endorse or receive money from any of the products I write about. My goal is as stated in my mission statement: to convey the financial options available to the modern Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine. Feel free to reach out and contact me if you have any questions. I’m here for you!
In the coming months we’ll discuss topics such as retirement, the Thrift Savings Plan, the power of compound interest, buying a home, buying a car , interest rates, credit cards… you name it! If there’s anything you’re interested in hearing about, drop me a note. $