How To Invest Like A Soldier

career
US Army/Sgt. Leron G. Richards

Every day, approximately 1,300 soldiers and their families leave military life for the civilian world.


That means there are thousands of veterans out there with an array of skills that might help them excel as investors, who may not even realize it.

Think about it this way: The military trains you to identify the desired objective, implement a plan to achieve it, and launch a mission to enact that plan.

Investing is similar–your objective is to build a portfolio that earns a good return for the goal that you’ve set at the specific time in the future. To achieve it, it starts with planning and then following through.

If you’ve mastered the skills below, you’re already ahead of the pack.

Be disciplined.

Many successful investors are disciplined. And luckily for soldiers, discipline is at the very core of military training.

Practicing healthy financial habits, including investing money on a regular basis, is more of a marathon than a sprint.

Applying the rigid discipline of soldiering to your finances is a great way to reframe how you think about money. Knowing when to hold, sell, and how to ride out market waves requires a systematic, disciplined approach.

Do the grunt work.

Investing starts with a planning and research phase that not everyone will find sexy. Luckily, if you’ve spent time in the armed forces, you’re used to tedious grunt work. That’s what researching and planning can sometimes feel like, especially compared to the thrill of simply hitting the “buy” button for a security.

But putting together an investing plan–poring over a fund prospectus, for example–can be far less thrilling. Don’t shrug it off, though. You’ll want to make sure you’re putting your money to work in a way that makes sense for you, at a risk level that you’re comfortable with, and that will hopefully provide a return.

Plan the mission.

Another skill many soldiers pick up during their enlistment is to think critically and strategically. And it’s a strength that’ll go a long way in handling your finances.

Sure, you may spend a good amount of time simply following orders, but you’ll also learn to outline missions and identify objectives. That’s easily applicable to financial planning and investing, which also requires patience, planning, and follow-through.

Set up comms.

If you’ve spent time in the military, you’ve likely had to become a good communicator. Coordination and communicating in a legible, straightforward way is a necessary skill.

You’ll need those skills to able to discuss your goals with your partner or financial advisor. Everyone’s wants, needs, and time horizons are different and there are no one-size fits all plan to get there.

By being able to clearly communicate how you need to change your budget in order to put aside money for your future goals, you can avoid a lot of future problems.

Call for support.

Soldiers know when to call for backup–something that new investors, in over their heads, may not feel comfortable doing.

“Every service has a support agency. In the Navy, it was called the Fleet and Family Support Center, and they had professionals on staff who service members could talk to about finance,” Eric Jorgensen, director of financial planning at Maryland-based Turning Point Financial, tells Stash.

Jorgensen, a 20-year Navy veteran, adds that many service members can be reluctant, however, to use the resources provided to them. “In my experience, it was an underutilized service,” he says “This could have been due to lack of awareness, shame, or ‘no time’.”

There’s no shame in speaking up if you’re unclear about how your money is being handled or if you’re seeing strange fees. Smart investors ask questions.

Make a decision.

Managing your portfolio isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always fun. When the markets are in disarray and you’re trying to decide what to do, it’s important to be disciplined about your decisions. You’d never let your emotions affect your decision-making while in the field. It’s the same with your investments. If you’ve committed to a long-term, buy-and-hold strategy, then you’ll have to stand strong when markets dip.

And that’s what they teach you in in the military, to keep cool under pressure. You may not give it much thought, but decision-making skills are incredibly valuable, in life and when it comes to investing.

Editor’s note: This article is brought to you by Stash. Get more of their financial tips for troops and veterans here.

In this June 16, 2018 photo, Taliban fighters greet residents in the Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan. (Associated Press/Rahmat Gul)

While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.

"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.

Read More
U.S. soldiers inspect the site where an Iranian missile hit at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar province, Iraq January 13, 2020. (REUTERS/John Davison)

In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.

Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.

Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"

The next day was different.

"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."

Read More
A U.S. military vehicle runs a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria near the Turkish border town of Qamishli (Video screencap)

A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.

Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.

Read More
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.

Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.

Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.

Read More
A cup of coffee during "tea time" discussions between the U.S. Air Force and Japanese Self-Defense Forces at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 14, 2018 (Air Force photo / Tech. Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.

While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.

Read More