After college, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. I chose to become an enlisted member versus becoming an officer for two reasons: 1) it immediately paid off all my college debt (about $50,000), and 2) I’m an influencer by nature and knew I could make a positive impact on the lives of younger service members.
Throughout my time in the military, I noticed many troops had the same financial problems and made the same poor financial decisions. It wasn’t necessarily due to irresponsibility; these were elite soldiers. It was simply a lack of knowledge—on the parts of both the soldiers and their leaders!
To illustrate the point, one day a soldier who had recently returned from combat rushed into my office and excitedly explained that he had just used his hard-earned cash from deployment to buy a brand new $70,000 Z06 Corvette. It came with a $1,000 per month payment! I saw and heard stories like this my entire career.
Financial Illiteracy in the Military—and Beyond
Lacking financial savvy is a common thing among soldiers and civilians alike. Many Americans buy shiny things they can’t afford.
In most cases, people are buying liabilities instead of assets—and depreciating liabilities at that. In their defense, it’s hard not to buy things they can’t afford. Most aren’t taught the difference between assets, liabilities, and good vs. bad debt in school.
Unfortunately, the military doesn’t do a good enough job teaching financial concepts either. It does offer service members a Thrift Savings Plan (aka a TSP, which is similar to an IRA), but it’s often only explained through a short “death-by-PowerPoint” presentation in a stuffy auditorium. And that’s pretty much the extent of the guidance they’re afforded.
The nail in the coffin on service members’ chance at financial freedom are the car dealerships, pawn shops, and “fast cash” pay-advance businesses that are situated directly outside most military posts. But if we start educating troops properly, these establishments will be unable to take advantage of them.
I’m determined to improve financial literacy among service members. I won’t give up on my educational efforts until proper, thorough discussions about finance are taking place on military installations across the United States. And I truly believe real estate investing is one way both active service members and veterans can create a solid financial foundation—and even achieve financial freedom!
What is the Best Real Estate Investing Strategy for an Active Duty Service Member?
Well, it kind of depends. But I do know how busy life in the military can be. For that reason alone, any passive income-producing asset, such as a turnkey property, is likely the best option to get started.
There are a multitude of passive investment options, even within the real estate space. There’s private lending, crowdfunding (syndication), tax liens, first-trust deeds, turnkey, self-directed IRA investing, and more. I’ve used all these strategies personally, but the…