Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

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PMM32683
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Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:42 pm

Bogleheads,

I am currently an E-7 in the Army with about 13 years of service and trying to hold on until the 20 year mark where I will be eligible for a government pension and very low cost health care for the remainder of my life. My wife (an Army civilian employee) and I have been talking about becoming Financially Independent and Retired Early (FIRE) over the past year and are drawn to the idea of both retiring on our own terms in 7 years. The end of the road seems rosy enough according to my calculations:

Total of about 900k stock market investments currently
48k annual contribution rate for the next 7 years
Should total an after-inflation nest egg of approximately $1.7M in 2025 (6% real return on 80/20 allocation)
SWR @ 3.5% = 60k annually
My pension = 30k annually
Total passive income = 90k

The problem is that I've recently been struggling with the lifestyle that being in the military entails. We are about to PCS to my sixth duty station with a 15 month old and will likely have to uproot our lives at least twice more before my retirement. Does anyone else on the path, or who has already completed the journey, have any tips on navigating the waters for several years and what has motivated them to press onward? The thought of getting out of the Army is growing each and every day because it's not what I'm really passionate about, but doing that at this point seems like a fairly drastic move and perhaps not the wisest in the grand scheme of things. Thanks in advance!

gks
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by gks » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:20 pm

PMM,

I feel your pain, as I suffered the same thing for the last 10 years of my career. You at least only have 7 years.

Suck it up. You may not have the passion for you job, but you know how to do it. Keep current with you job requirements. 7 years is nothing when you consider how long you will be retired, financially independent, and able to do whatever you want to do.

You have a 15 month old child and are looking forward to 2 different deployments. At the end of your 20 years, you will have an 8 year old child. Uprooting an 8 year old will not permanently affect him/her.

You are better off now than we are after 18 years of retirement and are exceptionally happy with the decision to retire a little early since my wife's health has deteriorated in the last 9 years. We had 9 good and happy years of early retirement.

I don't know why you are unhappy with your job, but I handled my displeasure with my job by thinking I was protecting the good people in my city from the bad. You in turn, are protecting me from the bad people on this world.

Thank-you for your service and protection.

Greg

I have a nephew in the armed forces. PM me if you want advice from him on how to survive the politics of military life. I don't have any personal advice about how to do that. He may or may not want to share his thoughts. I will let you know.

G

Bastiat
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by Bastiat » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:31 pm

I'm at 12 years, but I'm still 10.5 from retirement. I hear you.

Have you looked into commissioning programs? I took that route early on and love my job; the lack of freedom and the amount of uncertainty are what make me want to get out.

Once my current obligations are up I've started to look into the FTS route to finish my time: No deployments or PCS moves. That may be worth looking into as well.

Think about the fact that you're still going to have to work for a living if you get out; stick it out for 7 more years and you get your pension AND medical, which is huge.

gator15
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by gator15 » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:45 pm

First, the amount of money you’ve saved to this point is really impressive. Many of the enlisted personnel and officers I’ve met over the years don’t save as aggressively because they believe their pension and their ability to get a govt job after retiring from the military will meet all their needs. Many have taken this approach and it’s worked out for them. I’m not interested in that approach.

While I like my job, I still save aggressively because I like options. I’m not sure I will fully retire from the workforce, but I want the option to retire after the military. Aggressively saving money along with a pension and cheaper health care will give me the option to retire. Though the job can be a grind sometimes, one of my motivations is the light at the end of the tunnel. I know exactly how many years I need to be eligible for a pension and health care benefits. If I grind for a few more years it will allow the possibility of retiring to pursue other interests I have. You have light at the end of the tunnel. Seven years as a senior NCO will be a grind for you. The responsibilities that come with that rank and future promotions will demand a lot from you. If you hang in there for seven more years you can really set yourself up for life. With 13 yrs in you will likely get promoted at least one more time which means a bigger pension. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there.

rothnroll
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by rothnroll » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:03 pm

Great job saving up that much as an enlisted Soldier. I have been in 26.
I am going to do another 4.
I don't look at this career the same way as you.
The only reason why you feel heartache is because you have that 20 year carrot dangling in front of you.
If you were at a normal job, making your current salary, you would indeed have to put up with a lot of crap. Just like the military.
I kept telling myself that once I hit 20 I was out!
The way I was structuring my life was to invest as much as I could. Once my 20 was up, my plan was to continue another career after the military.
But then when it happened, I realized that the job wasn't that bad! I realized that if I stayed a few years, I would never have to work again (no matter what happens with the stock market).
All of my friends that got out before retirement wish they stayed in. Most of their posts on facebook are about the Military.
I look at what we do as noble and worthwhile.
Moving is a pleasure, because I get to meet new people, new bosses, and have new challenges.
This is just a short period in time.
Thanks for your service!

PMM32683
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:33 am

Greg,

Thank you for the personal insight. You're right that I may not be passionate but that I have the requisite skill set to continue. I'm hoping to have another child in the next year or two and agree that neither of them will be permanently affected by having to move at such young ages. The more important aspect to me is that I can focus on spending time on them once I'm retired.

I'm happy to hear that you and your wife were able to spend 9 years great together. It sounds like you made a very wise decision by retiring early and I'm looking forward to joining you in the next several years. Thanks for your service as well and taking the time to respond.

PMM32683
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:34 am

gks wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:20 pm
PMM,

I feel your pain, as I suffered the same thing for the last 10 years of my career. You at least only have 7 years.

Suck it up. You may not have the passion for you job, but you know how to do it. Keep current with you job requirements. 7 years is nothing when you consider how long you will be retired, financially independent, and able to do whatever you want to do.

You have a 15 month old child and are looking forward to 2 different deployments. At the end of your 20 years, you will have an 8 year old child. Uprooting an 8 year old will not permanently affect him/her.

You are better off now than we are after 18 years of retirement and are exceptionally happy with the decision to retire a little early since my wife's health has deteriorated in the last 9 years. We had 9 good and happy years of early retirement.

I don't know why you are unhappy with your job, but I handled my displeasure with my job by thinking I was protecting the good people in my city from the bad. You in turn, are protecting me from the bad people on this world.

Thank-you for your service and protection.

Greg

I have a nephew in the armed forces. PM me if you want advice from him on how to survive the politics of military life. I don't have any personal advice about how to do that. He may or may not want to share his thoughts. I will let you know.

G
Greg,

Thank you for the personal insight. You're right that I may not be passionate but that I have the requisite skill set to continue. I'm hoping to have another child in the next year or two and agree that neither of them will be permanently affected by having to move at such young ages. The more important aspect to me is that I can focus on spending time on them once I'm retired.

I'm happy to hear that you and your wife were able to spend 9 years great together. It sounds like you made a very wise decision by retiring early and I'm looking forward to joining you in the next several years. Thanks for your service as well and taking the time to respond.

PMM32683
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Location: Fort Hood, TX

Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:39 am

Bastiat wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:31 pm
I'm at 12 years, but I'm still 10.5 from retirement. I hear you.

Have you looked into commissioning programs? I took that route early on and love my job; the lack of freedom and the amount of uncertainty are what make me want to get out.

Once my current obligations are up I've started to look into the FTS route to finish my time: No deployments or PCS moves. That may be worth looking into as well.

Think about the fact that you're still going to have to work for a living if you get out; stick it out for 7 more years and you get your pension AND medical, which is huge.
I have looked into commissioning programs but am not eligible due to TIG/TIS or lack of bachelor's for the OCS route. What is FTS? No deployments or PCS moves sound great, but almost like the golden unicorn that does not exist on active duty. Sounds very tempting though and could make the next 7 years much more palatable.

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whodidntante
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by whodidntante » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:48 am

The pension and medical is a big deal towards enabling early retirement.

What does life outside the Army look like? It might sound better because you are tired of Army life, but is it really better? I would think that would involves some big sacrifices towards your retirement plans, and possibly even your disposable income. Maybe if you compare it to realistic alternatives, seven years in the Army is not so bad.

WanderingDoc
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by WanderingDoc » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:50 am

PMM32683 wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:42 pm
Bogleheads,

I am currently an E-7 in the Army with about 13 years of service and trying to hold on until the 20 year mark where I will be eligible for a government pension and very low cost health care for the remainder of my life. My wife (an Army civilian employee) and I have been talking about becoming Financially Independent and Retired Early (FIRE) over the past year and are drawn to the idea of both retiring on our own terms in 7 years. The end of the road seems rosy enough according to my calculations:

Total of about 900k stock market investments currently
48k annual contribution rate for the next 7 years
Should total an after-inflation nest egg of approximately $1.7M in 2025 (6% real return on 80/20 allocation)
SWR @ 3.5% = 60k annually
My pension = 30k annually
Total passive income = 90k

The problem is that I've recently been struggling with the lifestyle that being in the military entails. We are about to PCS to my sixth duty station with a 15 month old and will likely have to uproot our lives at least twice more before my retirement. Does anyone else on the path, or who has already completed the journey, have any tips on navigating the waters for several years and what has motivated them to press onward? The thought of getting out of the Army is growing each and every day because it's not what I'm really passionate about, but doing that at this point seems like a fairly drastic move and perhaps not the wisest in the grand scheme of things. Thanks in advance!
If I learned one thing working in medicine, its this: if you aren't waking up in the morning doing EXACTLY what you in your heart and mind want to be doing, quit doing what you are doing NOW. Go out and do the things you want to be doing. Money isn't everything. Neither is a pension. The most vibrant, healthy, mobile years of your life is passing you by.

If your spouse tries to talk you out of it, maybe they don't really care what will truly make you happy or about your passions. When you are older, do you want to look back and tell yourself "I went for it" "I lived on my terms" "I pursued my passions" etc. or that you went the 'safe' route? (by the way nothing is really safe or guaranteed).

I know a lot of folks will tell you to gut it out, but I am not one of those people. $30K per year is really nothing. Not worth throwing time away or postponing your dreams for.
I'm not looking to get rich quick (stocks), I'm not looking to get rich slow (indexing), I'm looking to get rich, for sure (real estate) | Don't wait to buy real estate. Buy real estate.. and wait.

PMM32683
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:56 am

gator15 wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:45 pm
First, the amount of money you’ve saved to this point is really impressive. Many of the enlisted personnel and officers I’ve met over the years don’t save as aggressively because they believe their pension and their ability to get a govt job after retiring from the military will meet all their needs. Many have taken this approach and it’s worked out for them. I’m not interested in that approach.

While I like my job, I still save aggressively because I like options. I’m not sure I will fully retire from the workforce, but I want the option to retire after the military. Aggressively saving money along with a pension and cheaper health care will give me the option to retire. Though the job can be a grind sometimes, one of my motivations is the light at the end of the tunnel. I know exactly how many years I need to be eligible for a pension and health care benefits. If I grind for a few more years it will allow the possibility of retiring to pursue other interests I have. You have light at the end of the tunnel. Seven years as a senior NCO will be a grind for you. The responsibilities that come with that rank and future promotions will demand a lot from you. If you hang in there for seven more years you can really set yourself up for life. With 13 yrs in you will likely get promoted at least one more time which means a bigger pension. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there.
I couldn't agree with you more: I'm saving as much as the wife can tolerate in order to generate options. I think by and large the many military people that do bank on getting a pension followed by a government civilian job can make it happen, but there are probably fewer USG civilian job vacancies than military retirees searching for jobs. And that may be something that interests me after taking a year or two off if I get really bored. But I don't want to HAVE to do that.

You're right that there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel, and perhaps the issue is that I'm focused too much on the end game and not on the daily steps right in front of me. Recently I've just been thinking about the long term horizon and it makes every day drag so much slower. I am being considered for another promotion right now and the results will be out in a few weeks, so hopefully I'll make the next grade at some point for the High-3 calculations (I did not opt for the BRS). We are going to Ft Hood, TX in a couple months and everyone I have talked to says it's an awful installation, which just exacerbates the situation. However, many have come before me and survived so I know that hanging on for dear life is possible. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

rj49
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by rj49 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:10 am

One thing you can do to assume you'll both be at E-9 by retirement age, and then calculate the amount of pension you'd accrue for the rest of a normal lifetime. You can look up how much a healthcare plan equal to Tricare on the healthcare.gov site and project that out for a lifetime as well. Then project how much you'd have saved in the TSP and other investments as you accrue more longevity pay bonuses and promotions. Compared to 7 years of work, you'll probably find it's well worth it, even though you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel now. It would also be a lifetime pension and health plan that most civilians would envy and an amount of possible savings that few could also equal, especially with increasing housing costs, which is usually covered by the military with housing or an allowance.

Another way to view frequent deployments is that most civilians retire in their 60s having never seen much of the world, other than on quick vacations, whereas you will have seen places and have had adventures and exposures to different cultures that most won't have. Despite the hardships for a child, it can also be a valuable experience for a child growing up to live overseas.

As you advance in rank, you also might have increasing pull over where you could be deployed or stationed, especially with a child and a dual-military couple, so it wouldn't hurt to network and see if anyone has connections with those who make military assignments for your career fields--I escaped some awful assignments by simply having senior NCOs getting in touch with contacts and helping me out.

I also lucked out by taking a year away from the Air Force at my 11-year mark to finish my BA degree, living like a student (complete with rebel beard), and getting paid to go to school full-time--you might check to see if the Army has something similar, or if there is some sort of re-training you might do simply to change things up.

Financially, it would help to avoid increasing your standard of living too much as you earn more money before retirement, especially since these will be your maximum earning years and if you plan to FIRE permanently, the more you save now, the more you will have later on, especially with a growing child and maybe more. At the same time, despite your current problems and eagerness to FIRE, it's quite possible that after a certain number of years in early retirement you'll miss the positive things you got from work--comraderie, focus on a mission, being a leader, having fun, going for drinks with colleagues, being respected and feeling important. I retired at 43 with no need to work again, but still miss many of the good times and good people, and after 12 years of complete retirement, have tried to find work qualities and challenges through volunteering and rideshare driving. But with so many public and private pensions in crisis, and most others heavily dependent on market returns, I've never regretted sticking through the final years to 20, despite some unpleasantness and unhappiness, because now it's completely worth it. I'm sure you future self would tell you the same, to stick it out.

Slacker
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by Slacker » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:16 am

PMM32683 wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:42 pm
The thought of getting out of the Army is growing each and every day because it's not what I'm really passionate about, but doing that at this point seems like a fairly drastic move and perhaps not the wisest in the grand scheme of things. Thanks in advance!
Reminds me of a recent Mark Cuban (billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Shark Tank co-host) interview I read. He talked about doing what you are good at and what you've put the most time and effort in and not chasing after your passions. He used hyperbolic examples of him wanting to be a MLB pitcher or play on an NBA team. Instead of worrying about being "passionate" he suggested concentrating on the accolades you receive from being really good at what you do.

ThatGuy
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by ThatGuy » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:02 am

I don't know the specifics, but a coworker's spouse transferred from the Army into a full-time National Guard position at the same rank. They've not had to PCS since then. Along the same lines, what if you transferred to a the active component of a reserve unit? They still need people there all week to keep everything running for when the reservists come in. Would that protect you from a PCS, or at least reduce the frequency?
Work is the curse of the drinking class - Oscar Wilde

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SpecialK22
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by SpecialK22 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:21 am

Wow, you're doing very well and would definitely be set to FIRE in seven years. I did active duty Air Force and then went Air Guard, and I personally love the Guard side of the house. I'm a traditional Guardsman, but there is a program called Active Guard Reserve (AGR) which is essentially being active duty in a Guard or Reserve unit. I haven't done it myself but I know several people who came from active duty into those positions. It offers more stability in that you are assigned to that unit and never have to move. The downside is they usually aren't easy positions to get as they are rare, but the people in them seem to like it.

I don't think you are alone in feeling burned out. I come on active duty orders frequently and many fellow SNCOs (E7-E9) on the active duty side are burned out and just counting down until retirement. The Air Force is even offering some low six-figure bonuses to some of them to stay in more than 20. Considering the career fields, it wouldn't be hard for them to arrange being sent to a combat zone to get it tax free. The majority still say they would rather retire. Conversely, on the civilian side there is burnout or just lack of motivation as well, but early retirement on the civilian side means 50s whereas military means late 30s to 40s.

Hard for me not to say gut it out because the combination of an inflation adjusted pension, inexpensive healthcare, and your projected net worth will have you set for life. Unless you absolutely hate it I think it would be hard for you to duplicate on the civilian side. As an E7 your net pay is actually quite good. In lower cost areas of the country you would need a salary towards the higher end of five-figures to match it. In higher cost of living areas with high income taxation, low six-figures.

mxs
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by mxs » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:39 am

There are two full time military jobs in the Reserves/National Guard that could fit your desires.

1. AGR - Active Guard Reservist, basically Title 10 or Title 32 active duty at a Guard/Reserve base with very similar pay/retirement as regular active duty, but at a Guard/Reserve base and less likely to TDY, or at least go TDY for shorter durations. More likely to no longer PCS. Relatively hard to find and get, as this is a highly sought after position. You would have to 7 years in this position to complete your retirement.

2. Federal Technician - Federal Government job during the week, possibly doing exactly what you do in the military, but paid hourly not militarily daily. Could be dual status with military performing military duty on weekends or as needed for military functions. Somewhat easier to get, but still not easy. Pay coming in as a new person may not be at the equivalent pay you are receiving, depends on the position and pay grade/pay scale. You would likely have to work until age 57 for a full retirement, and would collect a military and civilian retirement.

A third new type is Title 5, which is completely civilian. I would suggest against this because you won't get credit for your military time, likely, and would lose the possibility of that pension.

jlcnuke
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by jlcnuke » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:46 am

The access to retiree benefits alone is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (if you FIRE and get a medical insurance plan for you and your wife you'd likely be spending 5-figures on premiums alone every year). Combine that with the pension income and other retiree benefits and sticking around another 7 years is equivalent to generating over a million dollars in savings over those 7 years. Think of each year as earning your salary plus another ~$140k/year towards your financial independence.

I wish I could have stayed until 20, but a medical discharge got me out at 12 years. Thankfully I do get some compensation from the VA, but it's nothing like a full, real retirement I would have had if I could have stayed in. Speaking of the VA, while you're in make sure to document every medical condition. If you get rated by the VA at 50% or higher (sleep apnea that requires a CPAP machine is 50% alone FYI), then you can get your full retirement check AND tax free VA disability compensation on top of that... as long as you make it to a normal retirement. A 50% disability with just you and your spouse is over $11k in tax free compensation each year.

Yiewsley
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by Yiewsley » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:53 am

I was an Air Force brat and an Air Force spouse (2x). The benefits to hanging in there are huge. Not having to worry about healthcare is wonderful.

I survived going to 12 different schools before I graduated; that was tough for me because I'm an introvert, but I do have great memories of living in all the places we did.

What about becoming a recruiter?

jlcnuke
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by jlcnuke » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:54 am

Yiewsley wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:53 am
I was an Air Force brat and an Air Force spouse (2x). The benefits to hanging in there are huge. Not having to worry about healthcare is wonderful.

I survived going to 12 different schools before I graduated; that was tough for me because I'm an introvert, but I do have great memories of living in all the places we did.

What about becoming a recruiter?
I've known 0 people who enjoyed recruiting duty. Most put up with it just so they could be near their hometown, but every person I know felt it was a very bad job to have.

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SpecialK22
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by SpecialK22 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:28 am

mxs wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:39 am
There are two full time military jobs in the Reserves/National Guard that could fit your desires.

1. AGR - Active Guard Reservist, basically Title 10 or Title 32 active duty at a Guard/Reserve base with very similar pay/retirement as regular active duty, but at a Guard/Reserve base and less likely to TDY, or at least go TDY for shorter durations. More likely to no longer PCS. Relatively hard to find and get, as this is a highly sought after position. You would have to 7 years in this position to complete your retirement.

2. Federal Technician - Federal Government job during the week, possibly doing exactly what you do in the military, but paid hourly not militarily daily. Could be dual status with military performing military duty on weekends or as needed for military functions. Somewhat easier to get, but still not easy. Pay coming in as a new person may not be at the equivalent pay you are receiving, depends on the position and pay grade/pay scale. You would likely have to work until age 57 for a full retirement, and would collect a military and civilian retirement.

A third new type is Title 5, which is completely civilian. I would suggest against this because you won't get credit for your military time, likely, and would lose the possibility of that pension.
Good breakdown of full time positions. Simply put, technicians are civilians that are also required to fill a traditional slot in the unit and wear a uniform to work daily. Title 5 aren't required to do either. You can buy back military time in either status just like any federal employee. Unless the Title 5 position specifically forbids membership in the reserve component, you can also be a member of the reserve component. As far as net pay, AGR is typically better at the higher ranks (SNCOs, CWOs, commissioned officers) and technician/Title 5 at the lower ranks.

The big downside of going into a civilian job is that the OP would be pushing back retirement--if retirement is defined as being eligible for a pension and healthcare--a couple of decades. However, the OP would have substantial pension income and assets in late 50s/early 60s. AGR would allow the OP to retire at the same time as if staying on active duty.

Another riskier option is "guard-bumming." Basically, going on active orders when and where you can get them. At least on the Air Guard side it is usually in a TDY status so you can make very good money off of per diem and other benefits in addition to regular pay. It really depends on the career field as far as how good of an option this is. For mine, it is very easy to go on active duty orders from between 60-179 days at a time at one location before moving to the next or going back to my day-to-day job. It's almost certainly not what you are looking for as a someone with a young family, but it's a pretty cool option for someone else who might be reading this. Because of how everything interacts together (pay, benefits, and pensions), being a federal civilian employee and going on orders frequently can be very lucrative.

One last thing, and a possible downside to the AGR program, is that E8 and E9 are controlled grades. This results in many AGRs effectively being capped at E7, at least on the Air Guard side. It's not unheard of though for an AGR to be promoted to E8, but it is pretty rare to see an AGR E9. Again, Air Guard side not sure how the Army Guard runs.

chevca
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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by chevca » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:49 am

What's your MOS and what would that qualify/transfer to in the civilian world? What would you do if you got out?

I see the 'Night Stalkers' patch there. Have you thought about Warrant Officer training and becoming a pilot?

I did active time and then went Reserves for a while. I got to the 10 year mark and couldn't take it anymore, so I got out when that contract was up. I looked at the 10 year mark as the crap or get off the pot time limit. With your 7 years left, I'd have to say, stick it out. The medical alone would almost make it worth it. That was part of my choice also, but I would have retired a Reservist and wouldn't get that benefit until age 60. You will get it immediately being active... that's a pretty good benie.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:40 pm

rj49 wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:10 am
One thing you can do to assume you'll both be at E-9 by retirement age, and then calculate the amount of pension you'd accrue for the rest of a normal lifetime. You can look up how much a healthcare plan equal to Tricare on the healthcare.gov site and project that out for a lifetime as well. Then project how much you'd have saved in the TSP and other investments as you accrue more longevity pay bonuses and promotions. Compared to 7 years of work, you'll probably find it's well worth it, even though you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel now. It would also be a lifetime pension and health plan that most civilians would envy and an amount of possible savings that few could also equal, especially with increasing housing costs, which is usually covered by the military with housing or an allowance.

Another way to view frequent deployments is that most civilians retire in their 60s having never seen much of the world, other than on quick vacations, whereas you will have seen places and have had adventures and exposures to different cultures that most won't have. Despite the hardships for a child, it can also be a valuable experience for a child growing up to live overseas.

As you advance in rank, you also might have increasing pull over where you could be deployed or stationed, especially with a child and a dual-military couple, so it wouldn't hurt to network and see if anyone has connections with those who make military assignments for your career fields--I escaped some awful assignments by simply having senior NCOs getting in touch with contacts and helping me out.

I also lucked out by taking a year away from the Air Force at my 11-year mark to finish my BA degree, living like a student (complete with rebel beard), and getting paid to go to school full-time--you might check to see if the Army has something similar, or if there is some sort of re-training you might do simply to change things up.

Financially, it would help to avoid increasing your standard of living too much as you earn more money before retirement, especially since these will be your maximum earning years and if you plan to FIRE permanently, the more you save now, the more you will have later on, especially with a growing child and maybe more. At the same time, despite your current problems and eagerness to FIRE, it's quite possible that after a certain number of years in early retirement you'll miss the positive things you got from work--comraderie, focus on a mission, being a leader, having fun, going for drinks with colleagues, being respected and feeling important. I retired at 43 with no need to work again, but still miss many of the good times and good people, and after 12 years of complete retirement, have tried to find work qualities and challenges through volunteering and rideshare driving. But with so many public and private pensions in crisis, and most others heavily dependent on market returns, I've never regretted sticking through the final years to 20, despite some unpleasantness and unhappiness, because now it's completely worth it. I'm sure you future self would tell you the same, to stick it out.
Thanks for the detailed reply. While my wife is a US Army Civilian employee, she does not qualify for any military pension. She can get her own USG pension if she wants to ride the rollercoaster until 57 or so, but she'd have to put in another 25 years of work for that. As far as growing senior in rank and being able to avoid assignments, I'm not sure I'll be so lucky. I've had a couple senior people try to have my next assignment changed already for other pre-screened high visibly jobs and they have been shot down. As far as increase spending with pay hikes, we are cognizant of the pitfalls of "lifestyle creep" and will actively avoid such behavior.

It's great to hear that you navigated a similar path and are happy to have stuck it out in the long run. I know it's the smart, long-term solution to an otherwise temporary problem set. Even just hearing a few people reiterate the benefits of sticking around for another 7 years is encouraging enough for me to start pulling my head out of the clouds.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:46 pm

ThatGuy wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:02 am
I don't know the specifics, but a coworker's spouse transferred from the Army into a full-time National Guard position at the same rank. They've not had to PCS since then. Along the same lines, what if you transferred to a the active component of a reserve unit? They still need people there all week to keep everything running for when the reservists come in. Would that protect you from a PCS, or at least reduce the frequency?
I actually submitted an Active Guard Reserve application about a month ago. The hiring process is very lengthy, if there is even a position available for which you qualify, and then I have to negotiate being released from active duty to be eligible. While it seems like a long shot of coming to fruition, I'm going to try to get it in the next 12 months or so to alleviate unnecessary family life disruptions until retirement eligibility rolls around. Thanks for the suggestion.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:58 pm

SpecialK22 wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:21 am
Wow, you're doing very well and would definitely be set to FIRE in seven years. I did active duty Air Force and then went Air Guard, and I personally love the Guard side of the house. I'm a traditional Guardsman, but there is a program called Active Guard Reserve (AGR) which is essentially being active duty in a Guard or Reserve unit. I haven't done it myself but I know several people who came from active duty into those positions. It offers more stability in that you are assigned to that unit and never have to move. The downside is they usually aren't easy positions to get as they are rare, but the people in them seem to like it.

I don't think you are alone in feeling burned out. I come on active duty orders frequently and many fellow SNCOs (E7-E9) on the active duty side are burned out and just counting down until retirement. The Air Force is even offering some low six-figure bonuses to some of them to stay in more than 20. Considering the career fields, it wouldn't be hard for them to arrange being sent to a combat zone to get it tax free. The majority still say they would rather retire. Conversely, on the civilian side there is burnout or just lack of motivation as well, but early retirement on the civilian side means 50s whereas military means late 30s to 40s.

Hard for me not to say gut it out because the combination of an inflation adjusted pension, inexpensive healthcare, and your projected net worth will have you set for life. Unless you absolutely hate it I think it would be hard for you to duplicate on the civilian side. As an E7 your net pay is actually quite good. In lower cost areas of the country you would need a salary towards the higher end of five-figures to match it. In higher cost of living areas with high income taxation, low six-figures.
Thanks for the encouragement. I've actually already submitted an AGR application in the past few weeks to get a change of pace, and it will likely take a very long time for a job offer to come through (if at all). Unfortunately, no six figure bonuses for my job now or ever! I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that I will need to just tuck my chin and charge ahead for the next 7 years. I'm by Seattle and my housing costs are about $800 less than my housing allowance every month because we live in a modest home. Where we are going next, Killeen, TX, is a LCOL area and will be more challenging to sustain our savings rate.

I'm also trying to help justify sticking it out for 7 years by evenly adding 1/7th of the lump-sum value of the projected pension to my current annual salary. 30k annual pension is equivalent to $750k lump sum, divided by 7 years is an additional $107k worth of annual "compensation" until retirement. Sometimes hard to let just the numbers rule the decision making, but if you add $107k to my annual salary on paper I wouldn't have a chance in hell of matching that in the civilian sector.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:01 pm

mxs wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:39 am
There are two full time military jobs in the Reserves/National Guard that could fit your desires.

1. AGR - Active Guard Reservist, basically Title 10 or Title 32 active duty at a Guard/Reserve base with very similar pay/retirement as regular active duty, but at a Guard/Reserve base and less likely to TDY, or at least go TDY for shorter durations. More likely to no longer PCS. Relatively hard to find and get, as this is a highly sought after position. You would have to 7 years in this position to complete your retirement.

2. Federal Technician - Federal Government job during the week, possibly doing exactly what you do in the military, but paid hourly not militarily daily. Could be dual status with military performing military duty on weekends or as needed for military functions. Somewhat easier to get, but still not easy. Pay coming in as a new person may not be at the equivalent pay you are receiving, depends on the position and pay grade/pay scale. You would likely have to work until age 57 for a full retirement, and would collect a military and civilian retirement.

A third new type is Title 5, which is completely civilian. I would suggest against this because you won't get credit for your military time, likely, and would lose the possibility of that pension.
Federal Tech and Title 5 would definitely just mean I would kick the retirement can down the road by an extra decade, which is not very appealing. If I'm offered an AGR job tomorrow, which I've applied for about a month ago, I'd jump on it in a heartbeat. Heck, if I could land that job I might even stay in past 20 if my quality of life increases as much as it would seem to with added stability and predictability.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:07 pm

jlcnuke wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:46 am
The access to retiree benefits alone is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (if you FIRE and get a medical insurance plan for you and your wife you'd likely be spending 5-figures on premiums alone every year). Combine that with the pension income and other retiree benefits and sticking around another 7 years is equivalent to generating over a million dollars in savings over those 7 years. Think of each year as earning your salary plus another ~$140k/year towards your financial independence.
I've just begun thinking about my upcoming annual salary in the manner which you describe and it's makes me think twice about bailing, because I would never be able to compete with that salary in the civilian sector! Actually, if I was a career counselor I would be using that math to convince people to stay in the Army because it raises your compensation on paper exponentially.
jlcnuke wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:46 am
I wish I could have stayed until 20, but a medical discharge got me out at 12 years. Thankfully I do get some compensation from the VA, but it's nothing like a full, real retirement I would have had if I could have stayed in. Speaking of the VA, while you're in make sure to document every medical condition. If you get rated by the VA at 50% or higher (sleep apnea that requires a CPAP machine is 50% alone FYI), then you can get your full retirement check AND tax free VA disability compensation on top of that... as long as you make it to a normal retirement. A 50% disability with just you and your spouse is over $11k in tax free compensation each year.
I haven't had many injuries over the course of my career--yet--but will definitely document everything that comes up. I know that trying to claim a service connected disability after retirement is nearly impossible and your best chances of getting appropriate compensation is during your separation physicals. Thanks for the reminder!

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:07 pm

jlcnuke wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:54 am
Yiewsley wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:53 am
I was an Air Force brat and an Air Force spouse (2x). The benefits to hanging in there are huge. Not having to worry about healthcare is wonderful.

I survived going to 12 different schools before I graduated; that was tough for me because I'm an introvert, but I do have great memories of living in all the places we did.

What about becoming a recruiter?
I've known 0 people who enjoyed recruiting duty. Most put up with it just so they could be near their hometown, but every person I know felt it was a very bad job to have.
+1

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by PMM32683 » Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:17 pm

SpecialK22 wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:28 am
The big downside of going into a civilian job is that the OP would be pushing back retirement--if retirement is defined as being eligible for a pension and healthcare--a couple of decades. However, the OP would have substantial pension income and assets in late 50s/early 60s. AGR would allow the OP to retire at the same time as if staying on active duty.
I do desire a sustainable passive income stream and a hedge against rising health care costs for my family and I--especially since my child and potential children would have health care needs for the majority of time I'm retired if I get out in 7 years. AGR is particularly appealing because I can continue to accrue active federal service time which counts towards an immediate pension and course of action #1 in the near future if it's a possibility.
SpecialK22 wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:28 am
One last thing, and a possible downside to the AGR program, is that E8 and E9 are controlled grades. This results in many AGRs effectively being capped at E7, at least on the Air Guard side. It's not unheard of though for an AGR to be promoted to E8, but it is pretty rare to see an AGR E9. Again, Air Guard side not sure how the Army Guard runs.
Interestingly enough I spoke to an AGR technician at Human Resources Command yesterday, and they do not accept E8 or E9 transfers into the AGR program from active duty. However, if an E7 comes out on the selection list for E8 and has not yet been promoted to E8, they keep their promotable status and can be moved into the AGR program in an E7 position and then once they get promoted to E8 will be moved into an E8 slot. This all actually applies to my situation as I am currently being considered for E8 and the results will be out in several weeks. If I'm able to pull that off I'd feel like I was robbing a candy store.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by jlcnuke » Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:20 pm

PMM32683 wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:07 pm
jlcnuke wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:46 am
The access to retiree benefits alone is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (if you FIRE and get a medical insurance plan for you and your wife you'd likely be spending 5-figures on premiums alone every year). Combine that with the pension income and other retiree benefits and sticking around another 7 years is equivalent to generating over a million dollars in savings over those 7 years. Think of each year as earning your salary plus another ~$140k/year towards your financial independence.
I've just begun thinking about my upcoming annual salary in the manner which you describe and it's makes me think twice about bailing, because I would never be able to compete with that salary in the civilian sector! Actually, if I was a career counselor I would be using that math to convince people to stay in the Army because it raises your compensation on paper exponentially.
jlcnuke wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:46 am
I wish I could have stayed until 20, but a medical discharge got me out at 12 years. Thankfully I do get some compensation from the VA, but it's nothing like a full, real retirement I would have had if I could have stayed in. Speaking of the VA, while you're in make sure to document every medical condition. If you get rated by the VA at 50% or higher (sleep apnea that requires a CPAP machine is 50% alone FYI), then you can get your full retirement check AND tax free VA disability compensation on top of that... as long as you make it to a normal retirement. A 50% disability with just you and your spouse is over $11k in tax free compensation each year.
I haven't had many injuries over the course of my career--yet--but will definitely document everything that comes up. I know that trying to claim a service connected disability after retirement is nearly impossible and your best chances of getting appropriate compensation is during your separation physicals. Thanks for the reminder!
Keep in mind you aren't just looking for injuries. High blood pressure can cause problems later, chronic rashes (including things that seem as minor as athletes foot) can be rateable and can get worse and be worth up to a 60% rating, snoring problems could be sleep apnea (worth getting checked for your health in addition to the rating possibilities) and many other things. Heck, even chronic need for a no-shave chit due to medical conditions (I forget the exact term but pseudo something or other barb-something-something) can get a rating...

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by meebers » Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:57 pm

Hang in there no matter what, you will continue to appreciate it afterwards. I retired in 1979, not one accompanied tour. 1st one was to Tripoli Libia for 18 months. Only thing after a shift was the club or movie theater, went every night even thought they changed pictures every 3 days. Remember this was back when there were no emails, cell phones nor landlines. Round trip on letters were about 30 days. Wife and I hung in there during this time, it was hard. Tours to Vietnam and then Thailand were "only" 1 year. She dealt with 3 kids while I was on tour. There are so many other service people that I talk to that always say "I should have stayed" Good luck and of course, Thanks for your Service.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by sergeant » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:47 pm

I got back to California from Killeen a few hours ago. I visited my son who just returned from a deployment to Korea. It had been 15 years since my last "visit" to Killeen. It will never be great but has improved.

The base seems to be trying hard to make it a better place with more activities and a new medical facility. The city and housing has improved with better roads and restaurants.

Thank you for your service.
Lincoln 3 EOW!

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by Nords » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:22 am

PMM32683 wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:42 pm
The problem is that I've recently been struggling with the lifestyle that being in the military entails. We are about to PCS to my sixth duty station with a 15 month old and will likely have to uproot our lives at least twice more before my retirement. Does anyone else on the path, or who has already completed the journey, have any tips on navigating the waters for several years and what has motivated them to press onward? The thought of getting out of the Army is growing each and every day because it's not what I'm really passionate about, but doing that at this point seems like a fairly drastic move and perhaps not the wisest in the grand scheme of things. Thanks in advance!
Hey, PMM, don't gut it out to 20.

https://the-military-guide.com/dont-gut-20-leave-active-duty-reserves-national-guard/
* | * | Please see my profile. I don't read every post, so please PM or e-mail me to get my attention.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by bayview » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:20 am

Yiewsley wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:53 am
I was an Air Force brat and an Air Force spouse (2x). The benefits to hanging in there are huge. Not having to worry about healthcare is wonderful.

I survived going to 12 different schools before I graduated; that was tough for me because I'm an introvert, but I do have great memories of living in all the places we did.

What about becoming a recruiter?
I was about to post as an Army brat, but your 12 schools in 12 years beat me. :D

I actually enjoyed all the moves (I'm sure my mother didn't love the actual moving experiences as much, although she loved living in new places.) I didn't mind starting new friendships every 2-3 years. Fortunately, although my father was transferred after my junior year in high school, my uncle (also an Army physician) had been transferred to the same post where we were living, and I lived with aunt/ uncle/ cousins for my senior year.

I will say that, to this day, the sight of an Allied Van Lines truck makes me feel a bit ill. :shock:

As for the how to keep motivated question, I hung in there in my own federal career until almost my planned retirement date. Silly things like thermometer graphs showing progress toward goal in such things as TSP, taxable savings, and mortgage payoff helped. It was very useful seeing them creep upward (mostly), and also to see how close to each goal we were.

PS - If you're tired of military political BS, it will be just as bad, if not worse, in a post-military civilian medical job. I work in the VA, which is heavily staffed by retirees and other veterans. Many of them comment on how frustrated they are by the contrast in the work ethics of former service-members vs civilians (don't wish to say how much that is perception vs. reality.) You will also find your new job treated as a political whipping boy in the media, so there's that, and the endless funding crises. I stay there (for the remainder of this year, anyway) because of the benefits, and because I believe in what I do.
The continuous execution of a sound strategy gives you the benefit of the strategy. That's what it's all about. --Rick Ferri

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by gamboolman » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:30 pm

PMM,

Thank you for your service. :beer

I would advise you to hang tuff. That 20 year pension and benefits is a huge goal and worthy of you hanging in to get it - IMHO.

Ms. gamboolgal and I are 40 years in the oilfield and we moved house 14 times the 1st 20 years. You go to the job. We have been permanent resident basis international since 2003. So have not moved our home in Texas but we've been in Africa since 2003 in two different countries.

I'm looking to retire at end of 2019 but I remember when I had 7 years to go. We had just transferred to another country (present location) and all the fun of international moves from another international location. These are all 3rd world non vacation spots.
We are now less than 2 years to go. I will tell you it has not been easy but for us the end is worthwhile. :moneybag

Suggest you do your job that you obviously know how to do and focus on the goal. I have probably made hundreds of spreadsheets and run Firecalc hundreds of times.....

All the best sir.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by Bastiat » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:21 pm

PMM32683 wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:39 am
Bastiat wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:31 pm
I'm at 12 years, but I'm still 10.5 from retirement. I hear you.

Have you looked into commissioning programs? I took that route early on and love my job; the lack of freedom and the amount of uncertainty are what make me want to get out.

Once my current obligations are up I've started to look into the FTS route to finish my time: No deployments or PCS moves. That may be worth looking into as well.

Think about the fact that you're still going to have to work for a living if you get out; stick it out for 7 more years and you get your pension AND medical, which is huge.
I have looked into commissioning programs but am not eligible due to TIG/TIS or lack of bachelor's for the OCS route. What is FTS? No deployments or PCS moves sound great, but almost like the golden unicorn that does not exist on active duty. Sounds very tempting though and could make the next 7 years much more palatable.
There's not even a warrant/ldo position available to you? Are you sure?

FTS is Full Time Support. Essentially you enter the reserves and are a full time reservist (The Army may call it something different). FTS time counts the same as active duty, but you can generally stay in one place and deploy only if you want to.

You could also look into switching to another branch and going the officer route or explore other options.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by hale2 » Sun Feb 25, 2018 5:17 pm

Nords wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:22 am
PMM32683 wrote:
Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:42 pm
The problem is that I've recently been struggling with the lifestyle that being in the military entails. We are about to PCS to my sixth duty station with a 15 month old and will likely have to uproot our lives at least twice more before my retirement. Does anyone else on the path, or who has already completed the journey, have any tips on navigating the waters for several years and what has motivated them to press onward? The thought of getting out of the Army is growing each and every day because it's not what I'm really passionate about, but doing that at this point seems like a fairly drastic move and perhaps not the wisest in the grand scheme of things. Thanks in advance!
Hey, PMM, don't gut it out to 20.

https://the-military-guide.com/dont-gut ... nal-guard/
So glad to see someone disagree with forcing through to 20 if it's not what you really want. I enjoyed my 8 years of active duty but the expected assignments for the remaining 12 years were very unappealing. I was lucky in that I found something that I really wanted to do at that point, so leaving the Navy wasn't a big issue for me. And while my new job still had long hours and travel, I wasn't away for 6 month deployments. I stayed in the reserves for another 12 and got to have some of the fun I did while on active duty. Financially, things worked out too (actually much better than if I had stayed for 20). And I only know a few people who fully retired when they retired from the military. Pretty much everyone had to get a civilian job for at least a few years, so they were also working in their 40s.

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Re: Military FIRE; 7 years to go & losing motivation--HELP!

Post by Yiewsley » Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:52 pm

PMM32683 wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 3:07 pm
jlcnuke wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:54 am
Yiewsley wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:53 am
I was an Air Force brat and an Air Force spouse (2x). The benefits to hanging in there are huge. Not having to worry about healthcare is wonderful.

I survived going to 12 different schools before I graduated; that was tough for me because I'm an introvert, but I do have great memories of living in all the places we did.

What about becoming a recruiter?
I've known 0 people who enjoyed recruiting duty. Most put up with it just so they could be near their hometown, but every person I know felt it was a very bad job to have.
+1
I know. I just figured it was an option if you are looking for alternatives to what you are doing and would allow you to stay in one place. AGR can be iffy if there are budget cuts and slots go away. Plus you have to do weekend drills in addition to your regular work.

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