Q: I’m 25 and have served in the military for seven years. I’m not sure I like what I’m doing as much as I did a few years ago, plus I’ve had some pretty exciting opportunities come my way in another field. Do you think it would be worth it to stay in for another 13 years just to get full retirement benefits?
A: It’s really simple: If you love it, stay. If you don’t love it, get out. Serving in the armed forces is voluntary in this country. In a sense, that makes it a lot like other jobs. Thirteen years is a long time to hold your nose and walk through a briar patch. If you’re not excited anymore by what you’re doing, then it’s time to find another line of work.
There are people who absolutely love the military. It makes a great career for some folks, and I think that’s awesome. God bless them for serving their country that way. But whether you’re in the military or a civilian, I think you should do what you love. If you were just a few months away from retirement, I might tell you to ride this thing out. But hanging around for years in a job you don’t like just to collect benefits is not a good plan.
Q: I like your idea of having an emergency fund. Currently, I have $17,000 in General Mills stock. Can I use this as my emergency fund?
A:No, no, no! Stocks are long-term investments. The one and only purpose of an emergency fund is to have cash on hand in the event of an emergency. It is not an investment and it’s not designed to replace income. An emergency fund is there to cover unexpected expenses that result from life’s unexpected events. Wow, just think if you had used General Motors stock as your emergency fund – our entire life would be one big emergency right now.
I don’t have a problem with General Mills, but if you want to call it an emergency fund, you need to cash out your $17,000 and park it in a good, easily accessible money market account with check-writing privileges. It’s absolutely essential that you keep your emergency fund liquid and easy to reach. You wouldn’t keep your umbrella locked in a safe in the trunk of your car, so why create a situation where it’s a pain to access the money in your emergency fund?
For more financial help, visit daveramsey.com.