A recent comment got me thinking about those duty stations where it seems like you are just stuck and biding your time until you can move and get on with your real life. If you’ve been in the military long enough, you’ve probably had one of those tours: jobs weren’t available, or you couldn’t find a job in your field, or there was no educational program that met your current needs, or whatever.
There is always something that you can do to get value out of those years, even if it might not look like the kind of value you’d prefer. Obviously, not all these suggestions will work for everyone, but see if the list inspires you to look at life a little differently.
Military bases and civilian communities always need volunteers, for everything from leading Sunday School classes to coaching volleyball to working in the hospital. Volunteering will help you develop new skills, make contacts, and help the community at the same time.
Fixate on Your Finances
Taking some serious time to review your financial situation, and plan for the future, can pay long-term dividends. Whether it is cancelling that inappropriate life insurance plan, or refinancing your house, or finding better paying certificate of deposits, time spent can equal money saved or earned.
On the smaller level, extra time can give you the opportunity to meal plan, comparison shop, clip coupons and do some modest stock-piling. You can iron shirts instead of sending them out. Clothing can be mended. Thrift stores can be scoured for the items you need.
Working through a temporary employment agency has some interesting advantages. Not only can you refuse any job that doesn’t fit in your schedule, but you get to try a wide variety of different things. The whole reason I got into financial education was because of temping: a temp job at a mortgage company turned into a permanent job, during which I spent a LOT of time reviewing the underwriting on mortgage loans. Once I saw the wide array of different ways that people handled their finances, I became interested in different ways of looking at money. After reading everything that I could find, and applying it to my own life, I started helping others. And here I am!
There is always some way to pursue additional education. You might take classes towards a desired degree, or learn new non-collegiate skills using the internet. Who doesn’t find their life better when they’re good at things they do? It doesn’t matter if it is cooking, fencing, or using Evernote; just take the time to keep learning.
Decluttering your life can make a huge difference in your future, financially and otherwise. Many people find that when they clear out the stuff, they find that their life improves across the board. Along the way, you can make some money by selling your excess things via yard sales, Craigslist, and eBay.
They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and I’d say that is very true of seemingly less-than-desirable duty stations or life situation. Find a way to make the best of it, and you’ll benefit in the future.