Hey everyone! In honor of Veteran's day tomorrow, I thought it would be awesome to have a military blogger on the site! This segment of personal finance writing is growing really quickly, and it's a great trend. Today I have Nolan from BudgetChaos.com, and he's sharing his steps of “The Financial Targeting Process” for military members that want to get ahead financially.
To all of the veterans out there – thank you so much for your service. Enjoy! ~M$M
All I could see through my night-vision optics were distinct blinking lights and weapon lasers. I knew as I stood approximately 100 meters away from our target building that these lights marked the leaders in my platoon.
My first squad leader was setting up our outer position, he was focused on making sure none of the “enemy” would interrupt our raid. I listened on the radio as my leaders let me know that they reached their final positions. I received the last confirmation that all of my teams were in place.
“Roger, GO!” I called over the radio to my lead element.
“Moving!” I heard in response.
Immediately, I watched as my men crept to the front of the building and placed an explosive device on the door. At this point, no one had made a sound and all you could hear was the gusts of wind over the tall grass. They moved back into position and I heard them countdown on the radio.
“Going Explosive – 3, 2, 1 – BOOM!”
The first four guys entered the building and I could hear the sounds of their rifles and automatic machine guns. At this point, there was no longer an element of surprise. The leader yelled back to his remaining guys for them to move inside the building and clear the next room.
As my lead element continued to clear the building, they would call over the radio with the percentage of the building they had cleared. Once the building was cleared and I received the final report, the observer/controllers ended the exercise. Although we missed a few of the small things, the overall training mission was very successful.
The purpose of this story is to address the fundamentals to why we were successful. We didn’t just come together on the night of this training exercise and jump straight into it. Before we could progress to a training exercise of this magnitude, we started four months beforehand discussing a deliberate training plan to get to this point.
The platoon had many new leaders and although they had completed similar training like this in the past, it was the first time they did it in their new positions.
Once we determined the path we wanted to take, we had to remain focused on every single training event to be successful. We had to focus on the FUNDAMENTALS. If we ignored the fundamentals, a difficult mission like the one we conducted that night would have been nearly impossible, or at the very least, incredibly sloppy and that is not how we conducted business.
These same principles apply to the fundamentals of personal finance and why I developed the Financial Targeting Process. The Financial Targeting Process adopted its methodology from the U.S. Special Operations community’s process of removing enemies from the battlefield. The process is known as F3EA, or Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, and Analyze.
Here are the 5 steps of the Financial Targeting Process:
Step 1: Find
It is critical to understand what point you are starting from. If you don’t know where you are starting from, then you can’t properly set financial goals or determine the path you need to take to get there. Vital to this step is determining your monthly household income and listing all of your debts and investments.
For the first 30 days, you are going to figure out what you are spending your money on. You are also going to complete the other steps to a financial plan that are often ignored, like getting term life insurance (if needed), and creating your will.
Step 2: Fix
This is about setting tangible goals for how you are going to allocate your monthly spending by creating a budget. Your first mission is going to be to set $1,000 in a savings account that will be only used for emergencies.
Once you have your budget in place and you have determined the path you need to take to get to your financial plan, you have to capture/kill the enemy debt.
Step 3: Finish
In this step, you are going to mass all of your hard work and money in destroying one of your loans. You will pay minimum payments on all your other debts while you focus on one at a time. Whether you want to take out the lowest debt or the one with the highest loan interest rate, it is completely up to you. Just give it everything you have.
Step 4: Exploit
Now that you are in step 4, you can finally catch your breath. You have destroyed all of your debt and are now in a position to start setting a foundation to make sure you NEVER have to go through this again. Here, you finish building an emergency savings account of 3 to 6 months of expenses. If you are trying to purchase a home, you can plan and save for your down payment.
With every paycheck, you are going to allocate 15% of your household income to retirement. If you have children, you are going to set up a college savings account and you are going to start putting money away for major purchases. Although the enemy is gone, you still have to develop and implement a plan for the long term.
Step 5: Analyze
Now you are going to enjoy all of the hard work that you put in. Your goals are to finish paying off the mortgage early and start planning for your retirement. You are going to change the future for your family and help others in need.
But, most importantly, you are going to find some young man or woman and teach him or her these steps. You are going to be a mentor to them and show them the path to become financially independent.
The steps to the Financial Targeting Process are only the fundamentals of personal finance. If you want to reach your goals, then you have to master the fundamentals. It doesn’t matter if you are conducting a training night live-fire exercise or trying to live a life without debt, stress, or worries. Good luck on your journey and I’ll be here if you need any help.
Are you in the military and want more information to help you with your upcoming retirement selection? My free eBook, Military Retirement Dilemma, will give you the information you need to make an informed retirement decision. Click on the image below to learn more.
Nolan Martin is a military officer and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. He is currently completing his Master’s Degree in Financial Planning and pursuing his Certified Financial Planner designation.
His experience in the military allows him to share incredible lessons he learned and apply them to the fundamentals of personal finance. His blog, BudgetChaos.com, was recently created on October 1, 2017. You can find his free eBooks, Military Retirement Dilemma and Making Sense of Retirement Investing, and more at www.BudgetChaos.com. Feel free to connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.