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Need financial advice for retirement? These military-focused books can kick start your retirement planning

We’ve all heard of “What Color is Your Parachute?” and “Who Moved My Cheese?” Both are tried and true guides to starting a new career path, embarking on a new life journey, or just gaining perspective on change in general.

But there’s a whole stack of other great books out there for those who are facing a major transition, some even specifically geared toward military retirees or those leaving the military for other reasons. From finances to benefits to job searches to becoming an entrepreneur, chances are there’s a book that covers it.

Whether you are a week or a decade away from life after the military, here’s 10 good reads to help you plan for - and feel inspired about - the next step: 

  • “Mission Transition: Managing Your Career and Retirement,” by Janet Farley. Published in 2017. Amazon rating: 4 stars.

This book, just published in October, gives the low-down on the new blended retirement system and how it affects current and future service members. It also looks at ways to improve and understand your finances, take responsibility for your own retirement planning, and tips for surviving life in the civilian world.

Farley is the author of several other helpful books including the “Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide” and the “Military Spouse’s Employment Guide.” She is also the spouse of a military retiree.

  • “The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement,” by Doug Nordman. Amazon rating: 4.5 stars. Published in 2011.

Nordman is a Navy retiree who shares his strategies for becoming financially independent by your early 40s or so. In other words, this is a guide to how not to HAVE to work after the military.

He focuses on how to build a solid financial portofolio with military benefits, savings, frugal living and investing (including investing in yourself). Nordman also talks about balancing family and your desired lifestyle with those goals, and includes helpful checklists and other resources. 

  • “Soldier of Finance,” by Jeff Rose. Amazon rating: 4.5 stars. Published in 2013.

Army veteran Rose, now a Certified Professional Planner, models his book on the Soldier’s Handbook issued to new Army recruits. But his information is intended for anyone looking to change their financial habits and build long-term wealth.

Rose takes a strategic, battle-like approach to financial planning. The book includes 14 “modules” that discuss topics like “tactical budgets” and how to “target and methodically eliminate debt.” It also includes quizzes and other tools to help you focus on planning for future financial success.

  • “Well and Faithfully Discharged: Financial TTP for Military Retirement” by Curt Sheldon. Amazon rating: Five stars. Published in 2017.

Another one new to the market, Sheldon’s book branches out from financial planning to look at a number of topics unfamiliar to service members, such as civilian job benefits, insurance, social security and estate planning.

“TTP,” an acronym for tactics, techniques and procedures, is a nod to Sheldon’s  27-year Air Force career.

  • “Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work,” by Liz Wiseman. Amazon ranking: 4.5 stars. Published in 2014.

A Wall Street Journal best seller, Wiseman’s book is a study in leadership, taking on new challenges, and staying “fresh” in an ever-evolving job market and economy. She uses the term “perpetual rookies” to show that constant learning is the key.

In other words, fresh eyes and “rookie smarts” might be one of your most valuable assets in post-military life.

- “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business” by Charles Duhigg. Amazon rating: 4.5 stars. Published in 2014.

Science can explain even the most mundane things in life, like our daily habits. Pulitzer Prize-winning business reporter Duhigg delves into those theories to explain why we have habits, how we can change them, and why they are so important to success.

In a narrative style that topped nearly every best-seller list, Duhigg explores boardrooms, professional sports and political movements to uncover the motivations and potential for success in anyone.

  • “Mission Entreprenuer: Applying Lessons from Military Life to Create Success in Business Startups” By Jen Griswold. Amazon rating: Published in

Griswold’s work is geared toward military spouses and female veterans like herself. She served on active duty in the Air Force, and later in the Reserves while also being a military spouse forced to start her career over again and again in a new location.

Her book focuses on leveraging your military skills – or any skills you already have – to start your own business.

  • “Designing Your Life: How to build a well-lived, joyful life,” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Amazon rating: 4.5 stars. Published in 2016.

This one is another New York Times bestseller that looks at transition and building your life from an unconventional viewpoint.

The authors are both design professors at Stanford University – the kind of career that usually focuses on designing new products. Instead, they’ve brought the theory of design thinking, which really focuses on problem solving, into everyday life. Their book is geared toward all ages and career levels, and teaches the lesson that no one should settle for an unhappy, poorly “designed” life.

  • “Complete Guide to Money” and “The Total Money Makeover,” both by Dave Ramsey. Published in 2015 and 2015, respectively. Amazon rank: 4.5 - 5 stars.

The financial planning guru who has made millions off telling how other people to get their own financial house in order continues to be a solid choice for many planning for retirement.  If online forums and Facebook posts are any indication, lots of military folks follow Ramsey’s methodical approach to paying down debt and building wealth.

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