The financial benefits of joining the military are second to none. Veterans receive fantastic opportunities to improve their lives after military service, which can aid them in their quest for financial independence.
Financial Benefits of Joining the Military
Military service offers numerous benefits, from career development to physical fitness; community to discipline.
However, most people join for the financial benefits.
The military offers impressive bounties to convince people to join. The most significant benefits include:
- Paying for College
- VA Loan
Of course, service members also receive compensation for their work, skills training, enlistment bonuses, retention bonuses, and housing allowances, all of which help secure their financial future.
But the big three will catapult you to the front of the race to financial freedom.
Paying for College
The military paid for my college education. I went the ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) route, so the military paid for my tuition.
Unfortunately, I still had to take out student loans for housing, but I graduated with only 20K in student loan debt, while most of my peers had over 40K.
The year I graduated, they changed the rules so that the ROTC scholarship could cover either housing or tuition, so if you can find a grant to cover tuition, you can get most of your college education for free.
The military also offers even more educational opportunities for those choosing to enlist.
The GI Bill is one of the country’s most comprehensive college education benefits. Service members can use it for a wide range of schooling options, and it often provides a stipend to pay for living costs while enrolled. It can even be passed down to children, securing generational wealth for future generations.
Check out the GI Bill for more information.
The second substantial helping hand military service offers is the VA loan.
The Veterans Administration makes homeownership accessible to service members by backing home loans, meaning they’re on the hook to pay the mortgage company if the homeowner can’t.
Financial backing from the VA means mortgage lenders feel more comfortable issuing the loans, as they don’t have to worry about losing money during foreclosure.
Veterans can still face foreclosure if they don’t pay. The VA loan doesn’t work like a cosigner; it simply makes the loan less risky for lenders.
Veterans Can Buy a Home Without a Down Payment
Federal backing means Veterans can buy a home without a down payment.
There is no way I could have afforded a down payment on a home in Southern California, even at the bottom of the market. Condos and townhomes were selling for above 200K, so I’d have to come up with 40 thousand dollars to afford a traditional loan – a massive challenge for a twenty-something-year-old from a lower-middle-class family.
The 2.5-5% down payment for an FHA loan is more achievable, but five to ten thousand dollars is still a lot of money. Closing costs and the other hidden costs of buying a home push FHA loans out of reach for millions of Americans.
No PMI on VA Loans
Borrowers opting for an FHA loan have to pay primary mortgage insurance (PMI) to protect the lender’s interest, costing them thousands of extra dollars over the life of the loan. That extra payment often makes the mortgage unaffordable, locking potential home buyers out of the market.
Veterans don’t have to pay PMI, even if they opt for a no-down payment loan. Instead, they have to pay a VA funding fee, but that cost can be rolled into the mortgage payment, reducing the up-front costs of buying a home.
These two financial benefits alone make military service worthwhile, as homeownership remains a top way to build wealth in the US.
Military service also offers an extra bonus that may help you gain financial freedom: healthcare.
The VA doesn’t have the best healthcare. The Department is notoriously overstaffed, and Veterans often have outrageous wait times to fix problems developed due to their service.
However, it’s better than nothing, especially for routine care. Although I don’t currently use the VA for healthcare and don’t plan to use it anytime soon, it’s nice to know I have that option to fall back on.
More Benefits to Military Service
These three programs offer people who’ve served a leg up to the middle class and beyond. Education, housing, and healthcare are three of the most significant financial burdens facing US citizens, and military service makes them obtainable.
However, the military offers additional benefits, like housing allowance, retention bonuses, priority placement for federal jobs, access to the Federal Thrift Savings Plan for retirement savings, a pension, and more.
Reaching Financial Independence with the Military’s Help
Although I didn’t realize it then, joining the military was a massive step towards financial independence. There is no way I would be in the economic situation that I’m in if not for the benefits I received from joining the military.
The best thing about this is that almost anyone can join and gain these benefits.
The military is a great equalizer. It treats everyone equally regardless of where they came from, how smart they are, or how much money their parents have.
Many people feel like they will never be able to achieve financial independence because they don’t have a STEM degree, aren’t good at math, or can’t afford college. They come from poverty and lack the generational wealth needed for a head start in life.
The military offers a path to financial security for thousands of people without other options.
I Hated the Military
I’m not an army recruiter. I hated being in the military. It was fun during ROTC, but I realized it wasn’t for me once I graduated and joined the National Guard.
The military has far too many rules for my free-spirited self. It also engages in many questionable acts overseas, which I’ve realized more and more the older I get.
Even though I didn’t enjoy my time in the military and disagree with how it’s used, I still think it’s an excellent path toward financial freedom for those lacking traditional options.
Can You Get Rich By Joining the Military?
One financial benefit lacking in the military is high salaries. You won’t get rich by joining the army and saving 5% of your income.
However, if you stay in for life and save the 5% each month, you can build a nest egg that, combined with your pension, will ensure a secure retirement. The military also takes care of lower-ranking (and low-paid) personnel by offering on-base food and housing, so your basic needs will always be covered despite the low salary.
But you aren’t joining the military for the salary. You are joining the military for financial independence. And it’s the benefits that are going to help you get there.
Is Joining the Military For Financial Independence Right For You?
Military service isn’t for everyone. Although it offers stellar benefits, it’s also hard work requiring physical health and commitment to deploy when needed. There’s also the ethics question of whether you’re willing to join an organization engaging in activities you disagree with.
Although I hated my time in the military, I’m glad I served. The organization lifted me out of the lower middle class and set me toward financial independence. It instilled strong leadership skills and boosted my confidence, making me the well-rounded leader I am today.
I understand that the military isn’t for everyone. It is a lifestyle adjustment, especially on active duty and deployment.
There are many physical, emotional, and political implications to consider before joining. But it’s an excellent option for people without any other options and a great path from poverty to financial freedom.