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I'm so freaking confused about what I should be doing!

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    "Littletoobig"... you are in a good place now as far as earnings are concerned. You and your dh are also standing at the very beginning of a long road that will take you places you can't imagine now. I know. I am the spouse of a military officer. We started out in the DC area, too. We felt rich. I was determined to work, no-matter where we were stationed.

    But you never know what opportunities will come your way, and they don't all involve employment or big paychecks. My advice would be to set yourself up with some flexibility and financial stability so you can take advantage of the sort of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that pop-up in the military lifestyle. Save now, both for retirement as well as a general fund that could be used as a downpayment for a house or to pay off a big chunk of the SLs. Get to your new duty station and give yourself plenty of time to get to know the area, including schools, neighborhoods, commutes, etc. before you even consider buying a house. Don't rely on realtors. Some may try to help you, but most don't really know what military life is like.

    We started out feeling rich and then got sent someplace where I couldn't get any job at all, much less one in my field. We lived overseas and I took the opportunity to teach English and immerse myself and my child in the local culture, building friendships that are still strong 14 years later. We've bought/sold 2 houses, but only after we'd had enough time/experience in the military to know what would work for us. I currently homeschool my kids simply to allow us the freedom to hop on a Space A flight and travel when we want. Flexibility. Put $ into stability and flexibility. And allow yourselves the chance to really live in the new places you'll be sent.



      Your advice is invaluable to me. It is always so helpful to hear from those who have 'been there, done that'. It sounds like we have a lot in common with respect to our outlook and approach to the military lifestyle. I started this journey knowing that nothing, including my income, would be permanant. As they say, "Home is where the Air Force sends you". I want to be prepared for any eventuallity, which is why I came searching for advice. We have the next six months to prepare for a dramatic change, so I want to plan as best I can for that.

      As I'm sure you'll understand, over the course of even just the past couple of days since I started this thread, things have already changed. Our scenarios now involve a 3/5 chance of a European short tour (three years) a 1/5 chance of moving to another high COL area (where I've already searched jobs in my field and feel confident that I could find something close to what I'm doing now) and a 1/5 chance of moving to the same middle COL area that I mentioned before (where I've searched for jobs already and have not found much in my field - would most likely find something, but I would anticipate a 30-50% decrease in pay). Staying in this area is no longer an option.

      So, with that said, I think my plan for the first half of this year is going to involve stopping the retirement contributions altogether (sorry Jim cutting the college savings back to $50/month, reducing as many living expenses as possible and banking as much cash as possible. When we get where we're going, we will have to re-assess everything. At least this lifestyle keeps things interesting! Thanks again everyone for your help!


        Keep paying on the SL debt, put the rest somewhere secure, but accessible in a 6 month timeframe. Check for CDs at the credit union. Navy Federal has recently had some really good rates on 6-month CDs. Even if you're AF, you can join Navy Federal. By setting any savings aside w/ a 6-month timeframe, you get a decent, secure rate of return now, but have the flexibility to make appropriate choices w/ your $ after the move this summer. If you decide not to buy a house, then the $ can go towards knocking out the SLs or be put towards retirement accts. One caveat: if you stop DHs TSP contribution, your taxes will increase and he may not be able to easily go back and put that $ in later on during the year. Also, we have always tried to make our housing choices based on DH's BAH. I've never liked the idea of the roof over our heads depending on both of us working... too risky in any economy for my comfort.

        Enjoy your move! Just don't trust the movers! Make sure you have homeowners/renter's insurance and have friends come help supervise the movers. We've had stuff stolen/broken during every move and the govt has never paid. Thank goodness for USAA. We're never nasty w/ the movers, that isn't helpful, but we make sure they know we are aware of what's going on w/ our household goods.