Marines and investinig Investing

3 Solid Ways For Marine Corps Officers To Invest…

It is not an easy task managing money. After all, the education system in many ways neglects to teach children early on how to be smart with money. Unless you graduated college with a business, economics, or accounting degree, money may still be something you are uncertain about. My goal is to provide some quick options for you to consider. Investing is the greatest tool at your disposal that can help build wealth and financial stability. Responsible money management early on in life will carry forward for years to come. I believe every Marine Officer must be competent when it comes to finances. Not simply because it will benefit themselves, but more so the Marines under their guidance.

Stocks

Owning a share of stock represents a proportional share of ownership in a company. The price of a stock changes depending on the value of the company. Companies with huge growth potential are more likely to have an increase in stock price. Other companies with less growth potential will pay out a dividend. In those cases, you will receive a portion of the companies earnings based on how much stock you own. Historically, stocks have had the most upside compared to other investments. I personally favor stock investments over mutual funds, bonds, CDs, etc. However, it is important to weigh in your ability to manage stocks. For instance, if you aren’t going to be able to watch the market for weeks at a time then stocks may not be the best option. It doesn’t take a huge amount of time to manage stocks, but at least a few hours a week is going to be necessary.

Mutual Funds

Buying into a mutual fund is similar to owning stocks. The main difference is the fund manager will be choosing what stocks to buy and sell. Essentially, you are throwing your money into a pool that the managers can use to invest. If the mutual fund does well you will be rewarded, if not you are out of luck. I’m not a huge fan of mutual funds because there are many managers that underperform the market indexes. If the fund doesn’t do well the money you invested is lost, but the money managers are still profiting off of the commissions you pay them. If this is the vehicle you choose to put your money in, I suggest doing research just as would do for stocks. Make sure the fund handling your money is reliable and has a proven track record of making investors money.

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

An ETF is a fund that trades similarly to stocks. These vehicles for investing may contains hundreds, or even thousands of companies, commodities, or bonds that are unified by a specific theme. For instance, one may choose to buy in ETF that tracks companies in the solar energy industry, or perhaps 3D printing companies. There is an ETF for just about anything (bonds, countries, market sectors, etc.). There are definitely various pros and cons to investing an ETFs. If you are interested I would suggest learning all you can and researching extensively.

I truly believe that it is critical for Marine Officers to teach financial responsibility to their Marines. There are dozens of ways to invest money. The important things to remember is to always do plenty of research beforehand. It was not easy earning the money you have saved up so don’t give it up too hastily.

Tricare Logo red Marine Officer

Health Care for Marines in the Individual Ready Reserve

One of the first things you should be concerned with upon commissioning is understanding the benefits that you will receive while waiting for The Basic School. There are definitely a few small details that I was not aware of prior to commissioning that I would like to share. If you have questions about these types of things make sure you make an inquiry with the staff at your unit and get answers.

Medical Coverage

Yes, while in the Individual Ready Reserve Marines will receive full medical coverage while waiting for The Basic School. Be mindful that it can take a matter of weeks and possibly months to get your name through the system after commissioning. I believe the general time frame is a few weeks, but some problems after I commissioned held myself and many other Marine up for over a month. Once you are in the system you may enroll with Tricare and choose a Primary Care Manager (PCM).

Dental Coverage

It came as an unfortunate surprise to me when I found out that I would not be getting dental insurance while in the Individual Ready Reserve. I was insured through my university prior to commissioning and neglected to get some dental work taken care of because I didn’t want to pay the deductible. This turned out to be a sad mistake. Don’t be uninformed like I was and ask questions about anything you do not understand.

Vision Coverage

Similar to dental, there are no vision benefits while in the Individual Ready Reserve. If you have glasses, or use contacts, make sure you get any necessary prescriptions filled while you have coverage through your university/parents.

Are you married? Are you planning to get married? Kids?

While in the Individual Ready Reserve your dependents will NOT receive any health care benefits. This is incredibly important for you to understand if you are married and have children. As soon as you report to The Basic School and become Active your dependents will be able to get their IDs and signup for coverage.

Please note that the Marine Corps is constantly changing policy to better accommodate Marines and their families. The information given is a reflection of what I understand to be the policy of the Marine Corps at the time this was written.

Marine Enjoying Life Marine Officer

What It Means To Be A Marine In The…

If you are reading this ahead of your commissioning, I would first like to congratulate you on your accomplishments. It is not an easy endeavor making it through all of the hurdles that precede becoming a Marine Corps Officer. If you are not yet at that point, the information I am going to give will still be helpful in helping you prepare for the many week, or possibly months, of IRR time to come.

Official Definition

“The Marine Corps IRR is a segment of the Marine Corps Ready Reserve, which includes Selective Marine Corps Reserve (SMC) unit, Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA), Active Reserve (AR), and Inactive Duty for Training (IDT) Marines.”

What does this mean for you?

If you are not going directly to The Basic School after commissioning then you are going into the Marine IRR. Marines who commission from the NROTC program are most likely to be put in the IRR. Officer Candidate Course graduates generally go straight to The Basic School and don’t have to worry about this phase. I am not to sure about Naval Academy Graduates (please comment if you know). Prior enlisted Marines are given the highest priority for The Basic School because they remain on Active Duty after commissioning.

How long will I be twiddling my thumbs?

Honestly, it may be weeks, months, or over a year before you get out of IRR status. I commissioned in June of 2013 and am not scheduled to check-in to The Basic School until July of 2014. The Marine Corps will better balance itself over time and the wait will be reduced in the coming years. The Marine Corps is constantly changing and you can never be sure what is going to come.

Individual Ready Reserve vs. Active Reserve

There are quite a few differences between the IRR and AR. For one, you can expect a nice paycheck of $0 every two weeks while in the IRR. Secondly, while in the Individual Ready Reserve you will not have to report for any type of duty to include: physical training, academic training, etc. There is a chance that you could be called for an Administrative Muster, but I don’t expect you will ever see this.

Understand Your Health Care Benefits

I will not go into this too much, since I have written another post about this here. To summarize, you will get full medical coverage, but don’t expect to get your eyes checked or wisdom teeth pulled while in the IRR. There is no dental or vision coverage for IRR Marines.

Becoming an IRR Marine after commissioning is not the most exciting position to be in. The important thing to remember is that you are a Marine Corps Officer and the time will come for you to lead Marines. Stay confident and don’t be discouraged.

For more details regarding the Individual Ready Reserve see the Marine Corps Website