Financial Readiness and its Value to Veterans, Transitioning Servicemembers and Their Families
by Dr. Mike Haynie, Executive Director, Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF); Vice Chancellor, Military and Veteran Affairs, Syracuse University
Douglas McCormick’s Family Inc. is, at its core, a user guide for family financial management. It is written for any American looking for sophisticated financial advice, but many of his key themes are uniquely relevant for veterans, regardless of age, education or experience. Through stories of his own journey from active duty Army officer to professional investor, McCormick empowers readers to become their family’s ‘CFO’ and apply time-tested business principles and tools to plan for their family’s financial future.
The Family Inc. financial plan builds from a fundamental premise that your family is a business with two primary assets: labor and financial capital. Your labor is your participation in the workforce, and your earnings from that labor should be managed and invested to grow your family’s wealth over your lifetime, and to support your spending needs today and well after retirement. This framework and its tools are particularly valuable for both active service members and veterans in the following ways:
- Investing Strategically in Education: Veterans acquire great practical leadership and management skills while in the service; leveraging these skills through further education can be an extremely effective way to increase their labor value in the civilian market. Family, Inc. outlines the labor benefits of education, but also cautions against education for education’s sake – this sage advice will help veterans make smart education choices unique to their situation.
- Making the Most of Career Transition: Family Inc. offers practical strategies to make career choices that maximize your lifetime earnings by picking the best job, company and industry. Many veterans will navigate a career transition from service to the private sector with unique skills and experiences, and Family Inc. offers advice that can help capitalize on this experience.
- Betting On Yourself Through Entrepreneurship: Given their strong work ethic, discipline, management and leadership skills, many veterans start their own businesses after separating from the service. Family Inc. has advice on the many financial benefits of entrepreneurship, including the potential for higher compensation, longer working life and significant appreciation on your initial investment.
- Achieving Financial Security through Planning and Investing: Family Inc. offers a mix of investment theory and practical, “how to” budgeting and investment advice that will empower the reader to develop a budget and investment plan, manage the family assets and liabilities, and effectively manage advisors with confidence.
- Sleep Well In Retirement: Currently, most veterans separate from service at a relatively young age with little to no retirement benefit. However, the anticipated changes to the Department of Defense retirement program will provide more opportunity for veterans to participate in these retirement programs. Family Inc. offers valuable retirement planning advice to help veterans with this new opportunity and responsibility.
- Family Teaching and Succession Planning: Family Inc. emphasizes that one of the most important jobs of the Family CFO is ensuring all family members are financially literate and prepared to assume these responsibilities should a succession plan be required. Life is uncertain, and regardless of your military status, preparation for this uncertainty is critical.
McCormick’s strategies for financial security aren’t about saving tricks and stock picks – they’re about making a lifetime of better decisions about the major factors that impact our financial lives: education, career, spending, investing, insurance and retirement. Rather than serve as a “how to” user guide, Family Inc. offers a “how to think” guide based on tools borrowed from the business world. Regardless of your family’s financial expertise or goals, Family Inc. is a valuable resource.
The Institute for Veterans and Military Families is working with Douglas McCormick to share the Family Inc. content with its Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) program participants to empower our nation’s veterans with the necessary skills required for financial success.