This is a guest post from Trey Smith. He served in the U.S. Navy as a Damage Controlman where his responsibilities included: damage control, ship stability, firefighting, fire prevention, and chemical biological and radiological (CBR) warfare defense. He was also an instructor in the methods of damage control and CBR defense.
There are all kinds of movies that show what military boot camp or officer candidate school will be like. Then there is reality. For me, entering the military was exciting and a little nerve racking. Boot camp was not too bad, however managing my finances after boot camp was challenging, very challenging.
Once your initial basic military training has been completed, you are on your own. Wherever you are assigned, you now make your financial decisions. That should be the really nerve racking part since you are now among your peers and ready to make choices that are going to impact the rest of your life with little to no direction.
Looking back over the time I served in the US Navy, there are many things financially that I would have done differently. With that in mind, I asked my friends who have served or are serving in the military, in retrospect, what they would have done different, financially.
My friends range from those who are currently serving their first year in the military to those who have retired, both officer and enlisted. After speaking with a few friends about personal finances, three clear areas emerged that they would like to change.
Savings, Debt, & Budgets!
Nearly all of those I spoke with said they wanted to change the same things – save more, get less debt, and learn to budget! Each of the reasons given by my friends was a little different, but clearly each of my friends wanted to go back and change how they used their money.
Here are four of the responses by their branch of the military:
- Marine: Since the military was my friend’s first exposure to independence, his money was spent as soon as it was made. He said that it would have been nice to have a training program designed for proper investing and money management.
- Air Force: Start a savings plan when he first joined was what a friend currently serving said. He also said that he would have liked to have known how to create and stay on a budget. His reasoning is that if you can teach someone who is unfamiliar about money how to make a budget, they can take that a long way.
- Army: An Army veteran said that the biggest help would have been a class to save money because by the time he realized how important saving was, his pay was consumed paying off debt he received from companies all too eager to give him credit.
- Navy: Last, a fellow shipmate said he would save more spend less by using the discounts available on base. He, as well as other friends, said that there were a lot of things you could do through discounts given on base that were really fun without spending a lot of money.
Each of these areas apply to everyone’s finances and can be a great starting point when talking with those who have recently entered the workforce, those entering college, and especially those entering the military.
The great thing is that you can help! What can you do to help those who will be joining the military to protect and defend our rights? Share this article with them so they can learn from the financial mistakes of those who have served and those who are still serving in the military.
If you have served or are serving in the military, what financial knowledge do you wish you had known when you joined the military?