Issue 44: Weekly Training Tips Newsletter

Weekly Training Tips Newsletter from

Issue 44: June 28, 2012

Inside this Issue:

  • Introduction
  • Six Things to do with Your Drill Pay
  • Quote of the Week
  • Tip of the Week
  • Leader of the Week
  • Book of the Week
  • Final Thoughts


I’m proud to announce issue # 44 of my Weekly Training Tips Newsletter.  It’s hard to believe another week has come and gone.  July is almost here.  The kids are out of school for the summer.  For many of you, Annual Training is just around the corner.  I hope it’s a crazy, fun and fulfilling summer for you.

My heart goes out to the citizens of Colorado who are battling these awful forest fires.  These fires are destroying homes, killing wildlife, and ruining people’s lives.  I hope that mother nature will provide some much needed rain and I hope the firefighters will continue battling the blaze.  I’m not the religious type myself, but I’d still ask if you could say a prayer for these folks.  They need all the help they can get.

Six Things To Do With Your Drill Pay

We all know the economy is in shambles.  Many people are out of work, inflation is high, and it’s getting harder and harder to survive financially.  In this post, I’d like to share a few tips about what you can do with your “part-time” military pay check to improve your finances, have more fun, and increase your standard of living.

Depending upon your rank and time in service, most part-time soldiers earn $150 to $1,000 per drill weekend in take home pay.  If you’re like most soldiers, you probably count on your part-time check from the Guard or Reserves to help pay the bills.  If so, that’s fine.  But, I also know that you can use your “part-time” income to really get ahead financially.  I want to share six simple things you can do with your drill pay that will help you have a better standard of living.

1.  Invest in the Thrift Savings Plan: As a part-time Soldier, you are eligible to invest in the Thrift Savings Plan.  This is the military’s version of a 401K Retirement Program.  I know many of you who are reading this already do this, but I also know that some of you don’t.  Let’s face it; we all want to retire one day.  And we will all get old one day.  For most of us, a part-time military pension and social security won’t be enough to live comfortably. So, if you aren’t already investing in the TSP, or another retirement account, make it a goal this week to open an account, or at least learn more about it.  And if you have Soldiers working for you, make sure you educate them about the importance of saving/planning for retirement.  Make it a point to contribute a set amount or set percentage of income into your TSP each month.  Even if you start small, you can save a lot of money during the course of your lifetime.

2. Pay off Debt: We are a debt ridden society.  Most families are drowning in debt.  When you count the mortgage, car payments, college loans and credit cards,  and consumer loans, most people spend 50-60% of their income each month just to pay off debt.  Worst of all, many people keep going deeper in debt.  I highly encourage you to watch your spending and use your part-time military pay to reduce your debt each month.  Create a game plan using the debt snowball (Google it).  Use your drill pay (or a portion of it) to reduce your debt each month

3. Save Money to Buy a House: Owning a home is the American Dream.  Or, it’s at least part of the American Dream.  If you are disciplined, you can use your pay from drill weekend to save for the down payment on a home.  If you really want a new home, make it a goal to save 50-100% of your drill pay each month and put it in a “home fund.”  If you are disciplined, you could probably save for the down payment of a new home within 2-5 years (depending upon where you live).

4. Save for your Kid’s College Fund: You could open up a College Savings Plan for your kids and invest $50 to $500 per month with your drill pay.  If you did this consistently for the next 5-15 years, you could build up a large nest egg for your kids’ college fund.

5. Save for a Vacation: You could save $100 or $150 each month from your drill pay into a vacation fund.  At the end of the year, you would have enough money to go on a nice vacation.  And if you are able to save a bit more, you could take a really nice family vacation.

6. Invest in Retirement or Investment Accounts: In addition to your TSP, or as an alternative, there are other retirement accounts too.  You could start a Roth or Traditional IRA, a SEP IRA, and other accounts.  I highly recommend you sit down with a Certified Financial Planner and develop a financial game-plan.

Please keep in mind, I am not an accountant or financial planner.  I am just sharing my advice based off my personal experience.  And I wish I would have had one of my leaders sit me down when I was a young soldier and explain these important concepts to me.  My primary goal is to get you to THINK about your finances and create a game-plan to use your “drill pay” to help improve your finances.  Whether you do one step, or all six steps, it will help you out.

Quote of the Week

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ~ General Dwight D. Eisenhower

My Take: We all know things never go as planned in the Army.  But the act of developing a plan, thinking about possible outcomes and identifying contingencies helps us be better prepared when the plan changes.

Tip of the Week

My idea for the week this week is to get in shape!  When you are in shape you feel better about yourself, you have more energy, and you can do a better job with your work.  Working out 4-5 times a week (or more) is a good idea.  I think it helps to create a routine where you can work out at the same time each day.  This could be before or after work, or even during lunch.  It also helps if you can find a “workout buddy” so you can have someone to chat with and someone to hold you accountable.

When you work out, have a game-plan.  Anyone can go to the gym for 60-minutes and do a few exercises.  But a disciplined person with a game-plan can go to the gym 30-minutes a day and accomplish five times what someone without a game-plan does.  Personally, I like to plan my routine for the week every Sunday night.  I identify which muscle groups and what exercises I will do each time I work out.  When I get to the gym, all I have to do is follow my list.  Following this strategy works great for me, and I’m sure it would work well for you too. 

Right now, I’m doing the “Insanity Program.”  Today is day 16 of the 60 day workout for me.  The program is challenging, tough, and fun.  I’m excited to see the results I will achieve by Day 60.  This is currently the # 1 selling fitness program on Amazon.  If you’re looking to change up your exercise routine a bit, or just improve your health, I encourage you to order this course.  I’m glad that I did.

Featured Leader of the Week

My featured leader of the week this week is Command Sergeant Major Basil Plumley often referred to as “Old Iron Jaw.”  If you’ve watched “We Were Soldiers” with Mel Gibson, I’m sure you remember CSM Plumley (played by Sam Elliott).  This guy was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge three times.  He was also a fearless leader who served in WW2, the Korean War, and Vietnam.  He had FIVE combat jumps.  He served in the Army 32 years.  Soldiers like CSM Plumley make me extremely proud to be a former soldier myself.  You can read his bio here at

Book of the Week

This week, I would like to recommend We Were Soldiers Once and Young by LTG (retired) Hal Moore.  My Professor of Military Science had me read this book during my senior year of R.O.T.C in the spring of 2000.  At the time, I wasn’t a big fan of reading, but I did as I was told.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  From the time I picked it up and started reading it, the book was hard to put down.  LTG Moore recalled his experiences as the Battalion Commander in the Ia Drang Valley with his his battalion, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment.  His battalion of 450 men were dropped in the Ia Drang Valley of Vietnam.  Within minutes, they were surrounded by more than 2,000 Vietnamese soldiers. The book tells his heart wrenching tale of what the men sacrificed that day.  If you’ve watched the movie or read the book, you understand what I’m talking about.

This book is a realistic and straight forward description of war.  I recommend it to any military leader interested in learning new leadership skills or studying military history.  I give it a 9 of 10 and consider it a must read.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed the newsletter this week.  I would love to hear your input about the format and layout of our new website.  What do you like?  Dislike?  What could I do to make it better?  It would also be nice to find out what you would like me to write about in future newsletters and on my website.  You can leave a comment to this post or submit a message through my contact form.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Thanks for your service!  Have a great week.

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Thanks for Your Service,

Chuck Holmes

SKYPE: mrchuckholmes
(352) 503-4816 home office

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7 thoughts on “Issue 44: Weekly Training Tips Newsletter

  1. Faye

    There is some very good advice about how to spend drill money in this newsletter. It is so tempting to consider this “extra” money, and therefore slip into the “easy come, easy go” mentality. (Though I’m not sure how “easy” drill pay is to earn.) Self-discipline is difficult, but if you can just set aside a little bit of the money and do something useful with it: save in some way, the long term benefits will be so much more than that frivolous purchase you may have made.

  2. Greg Boudonck

    This was some great advice on what to do with drill pay. I know that I for one can sometimes feel like just spending when I get extra money, and a month down the road, I kick myself for not doing something different with it. You offered some great ideas that can help a lot. I would also like to suggest one other:

    I discovered that a person usually cannot go wrong with precious metals. I often kick myself, because as an avid coin collector, and “wheeler-dealer,” I would go to coin auctions quite often. Back in approximately 2005, I was buying many coins and I had the opportunity to purchase 1 ounce gold coins for $400. I neglected, even though I had the extra cash. Now I say, if only??? Gold is running at around $1300 an ounce. Hmmmm???? I missed.

    Investing in gold, silver, platinum and others can be wise.

  3. Katelyn Hensel

    Good choice of six things. It’s always a good idea to invest in a 401k kind of savings account. I’ve been saving on my own since I was 22 and I still feel like I’m never going to save up enough money for retirement. I will be this old lady hobbling around after the younger generations and trying to keep up on technology. On the other hand, I have managed to get out of debt from my student loans within a year and haven’t gone back since.

    Gah…the tip of the week though…that’s going to be hard for me to manage. I’ve attempted Insanity a few times before and almost made it though each time. I haven’t been able to recently because of how tiny my apartment is, but I feel like if I truly gave it my all, I would just pass out and die.

    1. Charles Holmes Post author

      Good for you for saving for your retirement and paying off your college loans. Getting ahead financially is about having a game plan and then taking baby steps.


  4. Sophia

    It’s so easy to think of weekend drill money as “fun money.” I appreciate that you talk about the more responsible ways of using this bonus money, from paying off debts or helping fund retirement through an IRA. Just putting aside a little each month can result in big dividends at the end. Once again, great information in your weekly newsletter.

    1. Charles Holmes Post author

      Thanks, Sophia.

      Most Soldiers use their “drill pay” to help pay bills. I met a few people who used it as fun money and others who use their whole paycheck for retirement savings.

      At the end of the day we have to be smart with our money. While it might be okay to use some of your drill pay for fun money, it would make much more sense to use most of it to pay bills, reduce debt and save for the future.

      Thanks for the comment.


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