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28, Active Duty Enlisted USN, 2029 Goal
Old 02-26-2019, 05:42 PM   #1
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28, Active Duty Enlisted USN, 2029 Goal

Good evening! Long time lurker first time poster.

I'm still paying down debts but I do have my eye on the prize for retirement in ten years time. I'm making my plans and financial goals without planning on being promoted ever again (currently an E6 at 9 years). Not that I don't think I will or could get promoted again but just that I don't like to plan for things that are not absolutely guaranteed, like social security existing when its my time to collect. My date isn't exactly hard set on 2029 either, I could end up doing longer in the Navy, along as it stays fun and continues to be a career I enjoy past 20 years I'll stay in.

My why for doing all this is looking around me and seeing all these people having to work after putting 20+ years of their lives into the military. At my current command I have met way too many E-7s all the way up to 0-4s. That had to work after doing 20 years not because they wanted to but because they absolutely had to because they didn't plan properly and put money away during their career. I don't want to be that guy who at his retirement ceremony is having to sweat how he is going to pay his bills for the rest of his life after leaving the military. I want to be able to work a low stress job for fun and fulfillment instead of for a paycheck maybe even become a career volunteer post retirement.

My current plan is to max out traditional TSP contributions using mainly the C and S funds while also maxing out a Roth IRA each year. My goal is for both of these investments to total around $500k by the time I hit retirement in December 2029. Using the 4% rule, this along with my pension will give me and income of $50k a year. The reasoning between me being so aggressive with my TSP is because I see the pension income after 20 years as my "conservative" investment with guaranteed returns in my portfolio, almost like a bond. So I have no need to be conservative with my investments.

I do know that putting away $25k a year into savings while on an E-6 Salary ($60k) Doesn't seem possible to some folks, but you'd be surprised how frugal I can be. After all I have paid down $40k in debts over the past 18 months while CONUS as an E-5 ($50k a year) and on shore duty. I'll also be entering a very challenging sea duty tour OCONUS at the end of the year which should allow me to put away even more especially while underway, which will be the majority of my tour.
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Old 02-26-2019, 05:58 PM   #2
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I know just the guy you need to be in contact with. He literally wrote the book on what you're trying to do. Nords is a long time member here although he only drops in once in a while now. Here's a link to his book:

https://www.amazon.com/Military-Guid...s%2C208&sr=1-3

ETA: Here's a link to one of his more notable posts here:

The "fog of work"
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Old 02-26-2019, 06:40 PM   #3
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Welcome! Another method often employed by military folks is instead of renting off-base housing, buy a property every time you PCS. Especially, if the rent would cover the costs, as is often the case near military bases.

Many I've read about here have built up portfolios of multiple properties, often in multiple states. It's not without risk, and effort, but putting money towards properties rather than rent can save you over the long-run. Best of luck!

P.S. Many military folks also spend all of their housing budget, and then some, leaving themselves with no real estate, and no money at the end of their career. Don't be that guy!
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Old 02-26-2019, 06:56 PM   #4
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Sounds like an excellent plan. The mil pension is hard earned and a huge blessing. Good luck!

Also, well done on the debt paydown.

Iíll echo Walt34: Nordsí book speaks to your situation exactly. Well worth the read.
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Old 02-26-2019, 06:59 PM   #5
Confused about dryer sheets
 
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Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
I know just the guy you need to be in contact with. He literally wrote the book on what you're trying to do. Nords is a long time member here although he only drops in once in a while now. Here's a link to his book:

https://www.amazon.com/Military-Guid...s%2C208&sr=1-3

ETA: Here's a link to one of his more notable posts here:

The "fog of work"
I have not read his book yet but I have heard a few of his interviews and read that post! I do need to pick it up soon! He was one of the first military folks I heard of that had done this and really inspired me!

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Originally Posted by HNL Bill View Post
Welcome! Another method often employed by military folks is instead of renting off-base housing, buy a property every time you PCS. Especially, if the rent would cover the costs, as is often the case near military bases.

Many I've read about here have built up portfolios of multiple properties, often in multiple states. It's not without risk, and effort, but putting money towards properties rather than rent can save you over the long-run. Best of luck!

P.S. Many military folks also spend all of their housing budget, and then some, leaving themselves with no real estate, and no money at the end of their career. Don't be that guy!
I'd love to do that, and I actually plan to purchase a duplex or triplex next time I come back to the US. And people spending so much on housing is a huge pet peeve of mine! I actually have something I wrote about housing allowance and how it should properly be used. People seem to think its just to cover rent and normally rent places that take up more than their housing allowance for whatever reason. My rent is currently a third of my housing allowance, I utilize my housing allowance to pay for my housing, utilities, car insurance, gas and vehicle maintenance costs. The way I see it, if I lived on base I wouldn't need a vehicle or to pay for utilities and other housing costs. So my housing allowance needs to cover all my vehicle costs and then some.
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Old 02-26-2019, 10:31 PM   #6
Confused about dryer sheets
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I retired from the AF in 2014 and am currently living/working in Europe as a civilian employee—more because I want to rather than I need to. Congratulations on the frugal lifestyle and your ambitious savings habit. Those two things alone tell me that you’ll be just fine after you hang up your whites for the last time.

I planned on owning a string of rental houses behind me too, but in the end it didn’t work out for me. This wasn’t as much that I couldn’t buy and rent the houses (I could and did) but that it put me and DW through a lot of stress when I was deployed or stationed abroad (which was often). In addition, your tenants will be great (military) but they’ll also move out at short notice. The houses will take a beating with these frequent ins-and-outs.

Your greatest wealth building vehicle will be your savings (imo). Assuming you took the Blended Retirement System option, save up to the match in the TSP, then max out your Roth IRA. You can tap the contributions to the Roth on day-1 of your retirement, and allow the investment gains to grow tax free.

Congratulations on your accomplishments and your goals.
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Old 02-27-2019, 04:50 AM   #7
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Another mil guy here. Retired Navy. Sounds like you are doing all the right things. Get smart on tax-free zones and where to stash TSP and such when you are eligible. IIRC, you want to max Roth TSP (after getting min for match in regular TSP) to best take advantage of the money flowing into the Roth being tax free.

I'll echo that Nords book is great and he is a wealth of knowledge on all things military financial.
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Old 02-27-2019, 10:30 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Military-FI View Post
Good evening! Long time lurker first time poster.

I'm still paying down debts but I do have my eye on the prize for retirement in ten years time. I'm making my plans and financial goals without planning on being promoted ever again (currently an E6 at 9 years). Not that I don't think I will or could get promoted again but just that I don't like to plan for things that are not absolutely guaranteed, like social security existing when its my time to collect. My date isn't exactly hard set on 2029 either, I could end up doing longer in the Navy, along as it stays fun and continues to be a career I enjoy past 20 years I'll stay in.

My why for doing all this is looking around me and seeing all these people having to work after putting 20+ years of their lives into the military. At my current command I have met way too many E-7s all the way up to 0-4s. That had to work after doing 20 years not because they wanted to but because they absolutely had to because they didn't plan properly and put money away during their career. I don't want to be that guy who at his retirement ceremony is having to sweat how he is going to pay his bills for the rest of his life after leaving the military. I want to be able to work a low stress job for fun and fulfillment instead of for a paycheck maybe even become a career volunteer post retirement.

My current plan is to max out traditional TSP contributions using mainly the C and S funds while also maxing out a Roth IRA each year. My goal is for both of these investments to total around $500k by the time I hit retirement in December 2029. Using the 4% rule, this along with my pension will give me and income of $50k a year. The reasoning between me being so aggressive with my TSP is because I see the pension income after 20 years as my "conservative" investment with guaranteed returns in my portfolio, almost like a bond. So I have no need to be conservative with my investments.

I do know that putting away $25k a year into savings while on an E-6 Salary ($60k) Doesn't seem possible to some folks, but you'd be surprised how frugal I can be. After all I have paid down $40k in debts over the past 18 months while CONUS as an E-5 ($50k a year) and on shore duty. I'll also be entering a very challenging sea duty tour OCONUS at the end of the year which should allow me to put away even more especially while underway, which will be the majority of my tour.
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Originally Posted by Military-FI View Post
I have not read his book yet but I have heard a few of his interviews and read that post! I do need to pick it up soon! He was one of the first military folks I heard of that had done this and really inspired me!

I'd love to do that, and I actually plan to purchase a duplex or triplex next time I come back to the US. And people spending so much on housing is a huge pet peeve of mine! I actually have something I wrote about housing allowance and how it should properly be used. People seem to think its just to cover rent and normally rent places that take up more than their housing allowance for whatever reason. My rent is currently a third of my housing allowance, I utilize my housing allowance to pay for my housing, utilities, car insurance, gas and vehicle maintenance costs. The way I see it, if I lived on base I wouldn't need a vehicle or to pay for utilities and other housing costs. So my housing allowance needs to cover all my vehicle costs and then some.
Welcome, Military-FI.

You can find the print editions of the book at most base libraries (around the world) and public libraries, and the pocket guide might even be at your baseís family financial support office. Iím told that itís also in several shipboard libraries. It's also found its way onto at least a dozen military aircraft carrying Space A passengers...

If you prefer the eBook version, though, youíll have to buy that from Amazon.

Iíll trot out my usual disclaimer to take it one tour at a time. Stay on active duty as long as you find it challenging & fulfilling, but when the fun stops then be ready to transfer to the Reserves or National Guard. Financial independence is a lot easier with a military pension (even a Reserve one) but with a 40% savings rate you might be FI before youíre a military retiree. You donít need the pension, and you donít want to be looking back in 15-20 years with regret that you stayed on active duty longer than necessary.

Youíre at an inflection point in your career, and your priorities over the next decade might be different than your priorities during your first decade. I get e-mails every month from servicemembers whoíve reached FI a tour or two short of 20. They wonder why theyíre hanging around for the pension, and itís a sign that their fun has stopped.
https://militaryguide.com/dont-gut-2...ational-guard/

Your asset allocation looks good, especially if you do earn a military pension. If you have any annuity income at all after the military (Social Security or VA disability compensation) then you might be able to keep that asset allocation for the rest of your life. (It depends on your comfort level with the volatility and how well you sleep at night.) I know several FI families who have no pension income and are quite comfortable with a high-equity investment portfolio of 70%-80% stocks.

That advice of ďbuy a property every time you PCSĒ is, to put it bluntly, second-millennium urban-legend crap with a huge dose of survivor bias. Maybe someday itíll be useful again (if the Internet dies) but today you can do better with far less risk. In the meantime that ďadviceĒ has destroyed far more military family finances than itís helped.

Itís still a good idea to invest in real estate, but you should invest where (and when) it makes sense. I get the e-mails from the families who are suckered into buying nice homes at duty stations with the false expectations of selling at a profit (despite the transaction costs) after just 2-3 years, or who think that their lovely family abode is a good rental property. They may have bought their house for what were good family reasons at the time, but they're not investing in rental properties. They canít even spell NOI or calculate their cap rate-- let alone handle a property manager or figure out their after-tax return.
https://militaryguide.com/dont-buy-home-active-duty/
https://www.katehorrell.com/rental-investment/

If you want to buy investment properties during your active-duty career then do it like David Pere or Rich Carey. Donít just buy a place near the ZIP code where you happen to live. Buy where it makes sense, at a property type/size which makes sense, at a price which makes sense. (Or house hack like Scott Trench of ďSet For LifeĒ.) Iíd also suggest a Pro membership on BiggerPockets and subscribing to their e-mails & podcasts. Those deliver short doses of good advice, and theyíll help you figure out where you want to learn more.
https://richonmoney.com/
https://www.frommilitarytomillionaire.com/

Enjoy your sea tour, and remember to set aside enough money to see the world when you're inport!

Let me know if you have more questions-- post here, or send me a PM, or e-mail NordsNords at Gmail.
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Old 02-27-2019, 02:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Military-FI View Post
Good evening! Long time lurker first time poster.

I'm still paying down debts but I do have my eye on the prize for retirement in ten years time. I'm making my plans and financial goals without planning on being promoted ever again (currently an E6 at 9 years). Not that I don't think I will or could get promoted again but just that I don't like to plan for things that are not absolutely guaranteed, like social security existing when its my time to collect. My date isn't exactly hard set on 2029 either, I could end up doing longer in the Navy, along as it stays fun and continues to be a career I enjoy past 20 years I'll stay in.

My why for doing all this is looking around me and seeing all these people having to work after putting 20+ years of their lives into the military. At my current command I have met way too many E-7s all the way up to 0-4s. That had to work after doing 20 years not because they wanted to but because they absolutely had to because they didn't plan properly and put money away during their career. I don't want to be that guy who at his retirement ceremony is having to sweat how he is going to pay his bills for the rest of his life after leaving the military. I want to be able to work a low stress job for fun and fulfillment instead of for a paycheck maybe even become a career volunteer post retirement.

My current plan is to max out traditional TSP contributions using mainly the C and S funds while also maxing out a Roth IRA each year. My goal is for both of these investments to total around $500k by the time I hit retirement in December 2029. Using the 4% rule, this along with my pension will give me and income of $50k a year. The reasoning between me being so aggressive with my TSP is because I see the pension income after 20 years as my "conservative" investment with guaranteed returns in my portfolio, almost like a bond. So I have no need to be conservative with my investments.

I do know that putting away $25k a year into savings while on an E-6 Salary ($60k) Doesn't seem possible to some folks, but you'd be surprised how frugal I can be. After all I have paid down $40k in debts over the past 18 months while CONUS as an E-5 ($50k a year) and on shore duty. I'll also be entering a very challenging sea duty tour OCONUS at the end of the year which should allow me to put away even more especially while underway, which will be the majority of my tour.
Sounds like you have a good strategy overall. The advice from the above posters are on target. with one caveat on the real estate investment issu; I lean towards Nord's advice. I've bought a few homes over my 30 years in the military and they were difficult to manage from a distance and the transaction costs, taxes and never ending maintenance were nothing to sneeze at...Not sure from your post whether you are married or have children. If you answer affirmative to both and you've got a plan for the children's college, then I would say you've got a very good strategy. If your answer is in the negative-- I'll share my perspective. I had a 20 and retire plan as well until I met DW at year 8. DW and 4 DDs later, my plan became 30 and out DW believes frugal is a dirty word and it took the additional 10 years and a lot of financial battles to maintain a high savings rate to avoid, the angst I saw in my predecessors who retired before me looking for a job to keep a roof over their heads--as you alluded to.

Best of luck to you Mil FI...strong winds and fair seas and so forth (I'm Army so I probably got that wrong)
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Old 02-27-2019, 06:05 PM   #10
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Listen to Nords. Better yet, read his book. It's got some good gouge. I recommend dropping your paperwork for OCS or go LDO. Get that commission and retire with double what your current pension would be.

Addly, don't forget about VA. Get yourself into the clinic and start (if you haven't) documenting what is broken and what is breaking. I promise you, after 20 years of service you will be broken to some extent. Part of the job. You signed a blank a check to Uncle Sam the day you raised your right hand, make sure he follows through on that contract. The VSO (veterans service officer) with DAV (disabled american vets) I used for my claim was the one that gave us our TAP briefing. She was an old crusty retired Senior Chief MAA that had spent some time in the desert and had some ied memories to share with the class. Anywho, she told us that 50% of the folks that retire are at least 80%. Or maybe it was 80% of the retirees were at least 50%. Cant remember it was six years ago. But this anecdotal finding made me dig into my records (as well as DWs) and we both received ratings that help us stay unemployed. I even read CFR C38 cover to cover to actually see "what the reg says". I printed out the index that identified those items that could be disabilities and, with a highlighter, went line by line on each disability. I asked myself could this disability pertain to me? If there was a chance, I highlighted it. Then I pulled the pertinent reg to see what made qualifications for the specific disability. I pulled my own medical records to ensure the verbage used by the Doc in them was enough to satisfy the written requirement. If it was close I left it alone. If not, I went to see the doc to see if I met the requirement. If I did, he put it in my record verbatim how the reg is written. It is harder for VA to deny a claim when you use their own words. I made sure this was all completed by my final out physical. If anything was not in my record by final out I made sure it was by my final out. In all I submitted 20 disabilities. 11 of them came back as service connected. I filed a notice of disagreement for 2 not service connected and one which was a lower rating. After appeal, I have 13 service connected disabilities. Two years later, when my wife retired I did the exact same thing to her record. I scrubbed it and we submitted. All her disabilities were service connected.

Dont forget your GI bill or even vocational rehabilitation if you are qualified (at least 20% disability required).

Make sure you attend the TAP class at least one or two years out and then again the final year. Use your time on AD to get yourself sorted for the transition. Max out your TSP as much as you can.

Life is good on the other side brother. Especially when you don't have to report to anyone or "turn in your eight oclocks!!!" Fair winds and Following seas Shipmate!!!
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Old 02-27-2019, 06:25 PM   #11
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Addly, don't forget about VA. Get yourself into the clinic and start (if you haven't) documenting what is broken and what is breaking. I promise you, after 20 years of service you will be broken to some extent. Part of the job. You signed a blank a check to Uncle Sam the day you raised your right hand, make sure he follows through on that contract. The VSO (veterans service officer) with DAV (disabled american vets) I used for my claim was the one that gave us our TAP briefing. She was an old crusty retired Senior Chief MAA that had spent some time in the desert and had some ied memories to share with the class. Anywho, she told us that 50% of the folks that retire are at least 80%. Or maybe it was 80% of the retirees were at least 50%. Cant remember it was six years ago. But this anecdotal finding made me dig into my records (as well as DWs) and we both received ratings that help us stay unemployed. I even read CFR C38 cover to cover to actually see "what the reg says". I printed out the index that identified those items that could be disabilities and, with a highlighter, went line by line on each disability. I asked myself could this disability pertain to me? If there was a chance, I highlighted it. Then I pulled the pertinent reg to see what made qualifications for the specific disability. I pulled my own medical records to ensure the verbage used by the Doc in them was enough to satisfy the written requirement. If it was close I left it alone. If not, I went to see the doc to see if I met the requirement. If I did, he put it in my record verbatim how the reg is written. It is harder for VA to deny a claim when you use their own words. I made sure this was all completed by my final out physical. If anything was not in my record by final out I made sure it was by my final out. In all I submitted 20 disabilities. 11 of them came back as service connected. I filed a notice of disagreement for 2 not service connected and one which was a lower rating. After appeal, I have 13 service connected disabilities. Two years later, when my wife retired I did the exact same thing to her record. I scrubbed it and we submitted. All her disabilities were service connected.


This was great. Very useful. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 02-27-2019, 10:42 PM   #12
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Addly, don't forget about VA. Get yourself into the clinic and start (if you haven't) documenting what is broken and what is breaking. I promise you, after 20 years of service you will be broken to some extent.
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This was great. Very useful. Thanks for sharing!
One of the items on my blogger To Do list is updating my VA disability series with the actual rating criteria:
The Original Legal Text of the Schedule for Rating Disabilities

This post is the "Why", not just the "How":
https://militaryguide.com/file-veter...laim-not-just/
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Old 02-28-2019, 07:14 AM   #13
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Listen to Nords. Better yet, read his book. It's got some good gouge. I recommend dropping your paperwork for OCS or go LDO. Get that commission and retire with double what your current pension would be.

Addly, don't forget about VA. Get yourself into the clinic and start (if you haven't) documenting what is broken and what is breaking. I promise you, after 20 years of service you will be broken to some extent. Part of the job. You signed a blank a check to Uncle Sam the day you raised your right hand, make sure he follows through on that contract. The VSO (veterans service officer) with DAV (disabled american vets) I used for my claim was the one that gave us our TAP briefing. She was an old crusty retired Senior Chief MAA that had spent some time in the desert and had some ied memories to share with the class. Anywho, she told us that 50% of the folks that retire are at least 80%. Or maybe it was 80% of the retirees were at least 50%. Cant remember it was six years ago. But this anecdotal finding made me dig into my records (as well as DWs) and we both received ratings that help us stay unemployed. I even read CFR C38 cover to cover to actually see "what the reg says". I printed out the index that identified those items that could be disabilities and, with a highlighter, went line by line on each disability. I asked myself could this disability pertain to me? If there was a chance, I highlighted it. Then I pulled the pertinent reg to see what made qualifications for the specific disability. I pulled my own medical records to ensure the verbage used by the Doc in them was enough to satisfy the written requirement. If it was close I left it alone. If not, I went to see the doc to see if I met the requirement. If I did, he put it in my record verbatim how the reg is written. It is harder for VA to deny a claim when you use their own words. I made sure this was all completed by my final out physical. If anything was not in my record by final out I made sure it was by my final out. In all I submitted 20 disabilities. 11 of them came back as service connected. I filed a notice of disagreement for 2 not service connected and one which was a lower rating. After appeal, I have 13 service connected disabilities. Two years later, when my wife retired I did the exact same thing to her record. I scrubbed it and we submitted. All her disabilities were service connected.

Dont forget your GI bill or even vocational rehabilitation if you are qualified (at least 20% disability required).

Make sure you attend the TAP class at least one or two years out and then again the final year. Use your time on AD to get yourself sorted for the transition. Max out your TSP as much as you can.

Life is good on the other side brother. Especially when you don't have to report to anyone or "turn in your eight oclocks!!!" Fair winds and Following seas Shipmate!!!
Wish i had that advice 25 years ago.

Also look into the warrant program.
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Old 02-28-2019, 06:16 PM   #14
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Thank you for all the useful advice! The insight I'm getting here is very helpful!

Nords I have thought about possible hitting FI before my 20 year mark, which according to my math it seems very probable. If that happens and the Navy isn't fun anymore I'd have no problem switching to the reserves. But so far its been great and I honestly think once I have reached FI it will just make my work much more enjoyable and less stressful because I won't be one of those folks who "needs" to promote to pay the bills.

Retire52, no wife and no kids so far. So not having to worry about that aspect just yet!

Luckily I ended up passing on purchasing anything when I got to my current command, and now the local real estate market is getting ready to start a downward trend here due to some big development news here. Its very easy to get caught up in the real estate bug, especially you always here about that one E8 or 04 at the command that has bought a house in every homeport they have been and they make more in rental payments then they do in base pay. I also actually just started up my package for LDO Griffithee! Also thanks for the reminder about 8 o'clocks, can't wait to chase people down for those again! Also one day I might be eligible for CWO Ransil, I'll for sure be submitting one then as well.

Also I have actually already spoke with DAV and had them scrub my record. We found a few key things that will trigger disability claims. Thanks for all that advice, I really like the pulling out the black and white and making sure the verbiage is in the record. I'll have to remember that when I talk with the doc.
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Old 09-06-2019, 08:30 AM   #15
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Fellow retired squid here - I lived on E5 pay for decades!! I took the scenic route through the USN, active-reserve-recalled-reserve-mobilized-reserve-recalled...total of over 30 years, with 23 being 'active' - now a retired LCDR...I applaud your planning!! It IS doable - so many military members live paycheck to paycheck. Good call on meeting with DAV rep while in - make sure you get all the pains & illnesses documented - despite the PITA we know medical can be! Research the states you might be interested in retiring to - different states have some great benefits! Wishing you luck on going the CWO/LDO route - the life is totally different, but your pension dollars will thank you!! (I was enlisted for 21 years, and VERY grateful I had the lobotomy!) Feel free to PM me with any questions - I just retired from USN this year.
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:27 PM   #16
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Welcome. You've received some great advice from some very smart and experienced posters. I've never been in the military, so I don't have much to add, but I would caution that a lot can change in 10 years. You may want to get married and have kids and that can change your saving habits and timeline. But all the saving you're doing now will give you a good foundation for whatever you decide in the future.
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:57 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiek View Post
... a lot can change in 10 years. You may want to get married and have kids and that can change your saving habits and timeline.

This is a lot of why most military people, especially enlisteds, have to keep working. Just about the time you're retiring the kids are expensive and the money you had been saving has been reapportioned the past 10-15 yrs.
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Old 09-08-2019, 06:17 PM   #18
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Yeah, look at the O4 pay, and then E7 (at 20+years). Then decide to go to the dark side. Realize that promotion rates to E9/E8 are way lower than for O3 to O4. In the Army, an O3 doesn't have much more responsibility than an E8(1SG).

In the meantime, max out the TSP, especially when in a tax-free zone.

Sounds like you're single... So if you get married, make sure she is financially compatible.
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