Rich on Money

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Investing with VA Loans – A Complete Guide

This post was originally published on August 8, 2018.  I updated, lengthened, and added a table of contents to it.

Investing in rental property with VA Loan is a tricky subject.  There are many rules that dictate how a VA should be used.  Investing with a VA loan, even in multi-family, is possible.  I will show you how to do it so you can get rental income.

The VA doesn’t say you can use the VA loan for investing, but if you understand the rules, and buy properties as you move from assignment to assignment in the military, it is possible.

You can’t just buy a home and make it a rental property without living in it first.  There is an occupancy rule I’ll be discussing.

You can, however, buy a house at your current assignment using your VA benefit, live in it for a short period of time, turn it into a rental property when you leave, and buy a house at your next assignment with a VA loan repeating the entire process.

Another possibility for investing with a VA loan is buying a 2, 3, or 4-plex using your VA benefit and living in one of the units  for a short period of time.  When you move on to your next assignment, you’ll be able to turn the entire property into an rental property legally.

Let’s start digging into the details!

The first thing we need to understand is the occupancy rule.

Occupancy Rule

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TSP Loan – Should I Get One?

It is possible to get a TSP Loan.

But should you?

  • Couldn’t we use it to buy real estate and make a fortune?
  • Couldn’t we invest in the next hot thing, like an IPO, or bitcoin?
  • What about gold!?!

These are some of the questions we are here to answer today.  I’ve heard people suggest these very things.

I’m going to first explain how the program works, then explore how using it will impact your future retirement income (ouch). 

If you want the BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) and skip the TSP Loan intro, click this section , just tell me if I should get it or not!

THE TSP LOAN PROGRAM

I’ll be abbreviating the TSP loan program here, but here is the source link from tsp.gov.

The TSP Loan program lets you borrow money from your own TSP account while you are either in the armed forces or employed by the federal government. 

HOW IT WORKS

When you borrow the money, it comes out of your actual TSP account.  It can be any amount between $1,000 and $50,000, not to exceed your contributions and earnings from those contributions.  It does not include any agency contributions (blended retirement system or BRS) or earnings from agency contributions. 

As you are repaying this loan, it is repaid with interest through payroll deductions back into your own TSP account.  This means that this large amount of money will not be growing tax advantaged in your TSP account during the time period you have borrowed it.  You lose the opportunity for that growth.  More on this later.

Keep in mind, even though you are paying interest, it’s a low, low rate and you pay it back to yourself, so it’s not really a cost to you.  The interest, however, is not tax-deductible.

LOAN ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible for a TSP loan, the following must apply:

  • Employed by uniformed services or federal government
  • In pay status
  • Only have one outstanding general purpose loan and one outstanding residential loan from any one TSP account at a time
  • Have at least $1,000 in your TSP account not counting agency contributions and earnings
  • Have not repaid a TSP loan of the same type within the past 60 days
  • Not had a taxable distribution of a loan within the past 12 months unless it was the result of your separation from Federal service
  • Not had a court order against your TSP account

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5 Worst Financial Mistakes to Avoid for Military Members

Maybe you’ve made some of these mistakes military members make.

I made a few of these mistakes myself, but I’m still here today doing relatively well.

Let’s see how you measure up.

1. GOING INTO DEBT

I want to use a few other phrases to signify what kind of mistakes get military members or families in trouble.

It’s living large when you haven’t made that money yet.

Spending money you haven’t earned.  Otherwise known as… Keeping up with the Jones’s

The funny thing is, the Jones’s are going into debt to keep up with you too!

Here are some things that will really put you into debt:

Buying or renting much more house than you need

I see it time and time again in the military.  A married couple with one newborn buying a 4000 sq ft property.  Not sure what they will do with 6 bedrooms and 4 baths!

You want to be well off? Get the smallest property that will fit your needs. (Awww, that’s no fun!)

Having a new house custom built…

But it’s so nice to have a big house built to your specifications.  You deserve it!

Big houses need lots of things to fill them up.  They just don’t look right without expensive furniture and nice cars.  They are also expensive to heat and cool.  Good luck!

New or expensive cars…

Whatever you do, don’t buy a new car.  On top of that, don’t ever fall for that crap where you think you are getting some special benefit through military car sales.  You are still overpaying and getting KILLED on depreciation the day you put the first mile on it.

I like buying used cars with one previous owner and low mileage. Ideally, you pay cash for it.

Vacationing while overseas…

You are stationed in Germany, and there are LOTS of 4 days weekends, so you are hitting a different country on each one.  You are in Japan, and it’s the perfect gateway to Southeast Asia.  Everybody will be filling their Facebook and Instagram feeds with travel while stationed overseas. 

Don’t overdo it.  Take advantage of existing geography and vacation in areas around you that you.  Try to drive there instead of flying, and try to Airbnb instead of hotels.

The cardinal sins of debt…

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military millionaire

Seven Steps to Being a Military Millionaire

It is possible to retire a military millionaire?

It is.

I did it before retirement.

No rich parents, no help, wife didn’t work.

Can the average military member go from being in debt to military millionaire?

We all see websites and books from people who were deep in debt and somehow quickly made millions.

Maybe we should read their books or infomercials and try their methods…

A lot of that stuff is shady.

These gurus get rich off people looking for shortcuts.  Most that try the guru route fail miserably.

It often involves going into lots of debt or paying a lot upfront for a product or a course.

military millionaire

It also requires no common sense

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9 Debt Payoff Hacks that Work and 3 that Don’t

 

payoff debt pen

These are 9 debt payoff hacks that actually work.

I did some research before writing this post.  I’m always horrified whenever I realize the amount of advice at the top positions in google search results that is bad.  The subject of paying off debt is no exception to this rule.

More on that later.

Every blogger writes an obligatory post on how they cut corners to payoff debt.  This is my attempt at that.  This is an updated post.  Originally, this was my third blog post.  It’s now reformatted.

Another thing about this research I did.  The stuff that tends to hold a lot of the top positions is easy Band-Aid solutions to paying off debt that doesn’t involve actually solving your problem.

It’s usually a matter of taking out a new loan or opening up a new credit card to transfer debt from one location to another.  You might save money on interest, but you aren’t fixing your problem.

These are ways to payoff debt without earning any money.  All your doing is replacing old debt with new.

The debt is still there!

The debt payoff hacks I talk about actually work.  They involve lifestyle changes and changes in thinking that enable you to payoff the debt you owe.

Nothing else will work.

It’s just clickbait.

Any success I’ve had with paying off debt is 99% attributable to my wife. She is Chinese and grew up in Taiwan. She has no formal training in investments or finance. She has never read a personal finance book in her life. But she came from a family and, to a certain extent, a society that frowns on debt.

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Debt Pitfalls for Military Members

The military has some unique debt traps that are easy to fall into.

Buying New Cars

One is this whole military car sales thing.

“Let me go talk to my manager!”

You’ve seen them lurking around the BX preying on new enlistees just getting started out in life.

They try to sell you a new car when you are overseas.  They’ll tell you it’s an amazing deal because you are in the military.  They sometimes try to sell it as a military benefit.

It is simply not true. A military benefit is when the US government subsidizes the cost.

Here are examples of actual military benefits:

  • Commissary
  • BX
  • Medical and dental care
  • Space-A Travel
  • Tax-free housing
  • Montgomery GI bill

Here’s an example of what is not a military benefit:

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3 Steps to Retire Early on a Military Salary

This week I did a guest post on one of the most popular military financial independence websites.  This website was started by Doug Nordman.  He retired from the Navy in 2002 and hasn’t worked since.  He currently lives in Hawaii and surfs often when he’s not traveling the world.

Not a bad life.

What he did is what I’m writing about.  Working 20 years (or less), and then retiring, never needing to work again!

Here we go…

BLUF: In college I paid off $32k in student loans in a year. On a military salary I paid off a $280k mortgage in seven years. I’ve bought several rental properties with cash. I did this through paying off debt, having a high savings rate, and investing well.

My name is Rich. I’m an Air Force Lt Col of 16 years. I’m married with 2 young kids.

 

Here is my message:

Don’t work until you’re 65. Not even 55. You can save enough money to retire in 20 years or less. I mean after 20 years of work, NEVER WORK AGAIN (unless you want to). This method doesn’t depend on a military retirement, that’s just a bonus!

I currently make enough money from my investments to live on. I could quit working today, but I’m less than four years from a generous military retirement.

Continue reading…

What should I teach my kids about money?

I love all things money.  My kids often see me reading finance books and browsing real estate blogs.  They hear me talking about money with my wife.  They watch us negotiate deals to buy houses with cash, and they overhear our discussions on retiring early.

I explain what I’m doing with money in simple terms to my kids, but I can’t be sure it’s sinking in.  They are 10 and 6.  It is my job to prepare them to navigate money and life.  I wonder how I’m doing.

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How I Achieved a PERFECT Credit Score!

How does one get a perfect credit score?  I’m in the military. People around the office ask me for for financial advice. They know I’m a “money guy” and word gets around that I like talking investing and real estate.

I warn people they won’t like my advice. They usually don’t.

This guy didn’t.

Recently a co-worker told me he’s got $20,000 burning a hole in his pocket, and what I think about investing in the British Pound. With the Brexit, it seems like a sure thing!

I told him this kind of speculation in currency isn’t for everyone. Even those who devote their lives to studying this are wrong more often then right. I warned him this would be a fun way to lose money quickly on something he doesn’t understand. It seemed like he took that to heart.

Guy: “Ok, I got a better idea! What about gold!?!?!?”

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The Best Damn Finance Book I’ve Ever Read

First, a little about me and my website:

  • I paid off $32,000 in student loans in a year.
  • Paid off our $280k mortgage in 6 years.
  • Flipped several houses in Washington D.C. to help me build income for real estate investing.
  • Purchased twenty rental properties with cash.

My website is all about helping others to get out of debt and create passive income from real estate.

But you can not mess with real estate until your finances are straight.  You gotta go get Jim’s book! (or at least read his website)

cover graphic

“Spend less than you earn–invest the surplus–avoid debt”

The central theme of Jim’s website and book.

It’s hard to believe the Path to Wealth can be this simple.

But in his book, you’ll see it is.

I got to admit. I love this book! My review is going to sound a little over the top, but it’s a damn good book!

I’ve been big into finance and real estate books my whole life. I’ve read them all.

stack of books

Ok, way more than this!

About a year ago, I stumbled across financial independence and early retirement websites and it opened up an entire new world to me!

I began seeking out all the top blogs in this field, and one that kept coming up was jlcollins.com.

To put it bluntly, his Stock Series was the most comprehensive explanation of investments I have ever read. There is so much noise and confusion out there in the finance world, and he slices right through it and tells you what’s really important.

He makes it easy to understand the complex world of money. His approach to investment is so simple, it’s alarming!

I followed his blog closely and eagerly awaited new posts.

When he sent out an email explaining he was writing a book and soliciting help from his readers for proofreading, I jumped at the chance!!

The only reason I volunteered was because I wanted to read the book ASAP!!!

As luck would have it, I was selected to be a proofreader, and had the opportunity to read the book before publication. (Actually, I’ve read it about 20 times. Occupational hazard!)

The book is exactly what I was hoping it would be.

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