Financial Peace and Civilian Life with Andy Smith


When you leave the military, you lose three things: your sense of purpose, your sense of family, and your source of income. 

It’s easy to feel hopeless unless you have a strategy for adapting to civilian life. 

So what can you do? 

Andy Smith is here to help. After 30 years in the United States Air Force, he escaped debt and built a career as a real estate agent. Now he’s enjoying the twilight years of his career and he wants you to enjoy yours too. 

In this episode, you’ll discover how to attack debt, find your sense of purpose and build a strong bond with your family. 

Listen now! 


Show Highlights Include:

  • How to get rid of debt in 18 months without taking on a side job or asking for a raise ([14:08])
  • The “military tripod” you must rebuild after discharge if you want to thrive in civilian life ([16:31])
  • Where to find a “second family” who builds you back up (even if you feel broken after leaving the military) ([17:28])
  • Create an unbreakable bond with your grandchildren using nothing but a loaf of bread ([18:39])




Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money?

Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? So welcome to the Retire In Texas Podcast, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the state of Texas. And now here’s your host, financial advisor, author, and all around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.


([00:29]): Welcome to the retirement in Texas podcast. My name is darl Lyons, and I’m the co-founder of PAX financial group in San Antonio, Texas PAX financial group is the sponsor of this program. So visit PACS financial group.com. But before I get started, I need to share the legal disclosure. This material contains general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment tax or legal advice. Visit PAX financial group.com for more information, investment advisory services offered through PAX financial group. Hey, so I’m excited about today’s show because I have a long time friend here, Andy, we’ve battled, not battled necessarily, but worked on Dave Ramsey stuff. I, I guess that’s how we first got connected, right?


([01:15]): Yeah. So you set it up for O’ kills to provide that to its members for financial literacy. And then, and I Jeanie and I taught it for nine years there.  Okay. So you wanna introduce yourself? I’m Andy Smith. Currently I’m a, I’m a real estate agent with Calwell banker Dan Harper realtors. But previously I was in the air force for 30 years. This is gonna be cool. I’m looking forward to this and, and a little bit of background. I forgot about that because Oak kills church, the, one of the bigger churches, max Lakatos church. Yep. They had asked me to be on a committee to adopt a financial curriculum for the whole church. And of course they knew I had a bias for Dave Ramsey, but we went ahead and did an evaluation for everyone. And the committee decided that the, the Ramsey FPU was the best for the church. And you were, or on that committee? No. But you were one of the first leaders that was selected or volunteers first.


([02:08]): Yeah, the first class was somebody else, but I came in and you took it over from there. Yeah. From there. And it was like 24 classes in nine years. Oh, under your leadership. I wonder how many people got outta debt Darrell, you know, may not know till the other side, you know, till we get to heaven, but I know of two specific instances where not just the financial piece, but the insurance piece, two ladies lost her husband and they both have come to me and said our lives would not be the same without have taken that class. Yeah. I really want to recognize the, that because you, you were committed to seeing that course through and there’s so many lives again, to your point that were changed under your leadership and guidance, because you had an authentic desire to see transformation occur through that program. And we’re gonna talk about how that impacted you in just a minute, but those that are just tuned in we’re with Andy Smith. And we’re gonna talk about his transition into retirement with air quotes, cuz we’re not retired retirement by definition is Twilight career. Yeah. Twilight career, but let’s dive into this. So where Andy are you originally from?


([03:18]): I’m originally from California. So I’m an early adopter of Californians moving to Texas. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. And so were you raised in California? I brothers and sisters. All of all of my formative years in high school years. I was in in California, both my parents though were from Oklahoma and they met and married a out in California. And so what did your parents do? So my dad, he was in construction. He had a, there was an accident. He fell, broke his back and so he went on to be a teacher, but then also he would buy and resell things at the flea market and towards, you know, it, when he was really successful, he was buying things that had been imported and then he would resell them on the out at the flea market.


([04:07]): Okay. Yeah. So truly a Businessman. Yeah. Sounds like it. So was there anything that he taught you about money along the way or did you observe things? So Growing up, you know, my mom and dad were divorced when I was young. So we live with my dad for a lot of that time, but we didn’t have a lot, you know, we, we were probably on the lower level of the income levels, but we had love, but you know, I think the biggest thing that, you know, he taught me was faith and, and love. Okay. So good. And so then obviously coming full circle to financial peace university, I can see that expressed. Yeah. But there was never a time and I don’t let me put words in your mouth, but was there ever a time that he sat down and said, okay, here’s a product that I’m gonna sell at the flea market. I’m gonna buy it for $10. I’m gonna sell it for $15. Did he ever explain that to you? You, did you ever observe that?


([04:57]): I mean, I think we figured it out as we went along. Yeah. But not only him, my mom had businesses, my grandparents all had businesses. So that really in the end, that kind of helped me as I transitioned from the air force. And I just knew I wanted to do something where I was in control. I was in charge. I’m wondering if that happens a lot where, you know, when you’re growing up and you see your parents take the risk of not having that stable check and you eventually, it never, it kind of never leaves you that that’s something you wanna do. So Yeah. I that’d be a very interesting study. I, I have no idea what would come out of that. Yeah. But you went in to the professional career, I’m, I’m assuming after high school, did you go active duty right then? Or so it was, I don’t know. It was kind of a weird situation where I was out in California and working for my stepdad who owned a carpet company. And we were installing carpet. I was making $10 an hour, 1981, $10 an hour was just off the charts. Right. Yeah. That’s good money. But you know, I was a lot smarter back then and knew a lot more than my mom and we really didn’t get along. Yeah. So I moved back to Oklahoma with my grandparents and I was traded that $10 an hour job for a $5 an hour job in Oklahoma helping set up mobile homes. Okay. My grandfather’s company,


([06:18]): Did he sell mobile homes? Is that what he did? He did. And then he had somebody that would take him out and deliver ’em. I would go with him and we’d be out there in the middle of the summer heat, throwing blocks and strap him. Do you remember how to strap him down? Yeah. Cause I strap, I strap mobile homes. Actually you drill a anchor down into the ground and then you strap him on crank it. Hey, I’ve done that too. Yeah. I know exactly what that is. And did you put the skirting on, you know, that’s all part of it, right? So yeah. It’s I get whole thing. So you, you know, the eighties actually was a good time for the mobile home business. In fact Clayton homes was acquired, I guess. I don’t know if it was fully acquired by Warren buffet. So that was a business he was interested in and a lot of zeros, not only with financing, but with insurance in the eighties, but you decided not to climb your way up the mobile home ladders speak.


([07:09]): I, you know, there was just, I was restless. I didn’t really didn’t know what I wanted to do. And so there was a recruiter and little town in MacAllister Oklahoma and my, I drive by it every time my mom and granny still live there, you know? So I drive by where it was and I’m like, oh yeah. So I, I just, one day I decided to go over there and figured there was more out there somewhere. And so what branch air force I did air. Yeah. I signed up to be I went in open admin, which that is a term that could get you any job. Okay. But they tested me in basic and, and I turned out, went into the Intel profession, you know, a lot of people think about air force and pilot. What about being a pilot? Was that interview. I flew a desk, but yeah. You know?


([07:49]): Yeah. Where were you stationed at most of your time? Most of the time I was here in San Antonio, about 14 of the 30 years. Oh, okay. In this, but I was in 10 different countries. Either visiting or stationed there throughout the time period. What were some of the, the areas or the bases that you enjoyed the most? So Southern Italy was fantastic. What base is that? It’s closed now. I thought it was, yeah. Yeah. So it was San Vito air station. Okay. When did they close that? San back in the nineties. Okay. Yeah. Early nineties. Yeah. And so you were stationed there for how long? I was only there for, I guess 18 months we went on a three year assignment, but they closed it right when we were there. So yeah. What was the mission there? Primarily intel. Okay.


([08:32]): Yeah. Intelligence. Yeah. Good. Thank you. So then you come back and you were stationed was, were you stationed Lackland? I was, yeah. Multiple time at Lackland. I had, yeah. So I think three different times I was stationed at Lackland and or Kelly back when Kelly was still around. Sure. Our unit was assigned to Kelly. Okay. A couple of, so the first few times and predominantly in Intel, right? Yes. What roles within Intel did you play? So I was a Morse code operator to, to begin with, and then I became an Intel analyst and so we had analyzed the data and can’t go much beyond that. But it, it really, my last 15 years, I really wasn’t hands on. I was more a, a supervisor, a motivator a coach. I could see that. Yeah. Yeah. So you have a choice at year 20 to go ahead and exit, but you decided to continue another 10 years in serving. When was that? When was your 20 year? When was that?


([09:29]): That’ve been 2000 and 12 or 2000, excuse me, 2002. Would’ve been 20 years. Okay. And I just decided, man, I was having fun. I, I still, I love what I did. Yeah. There was a lot of activity. I was trying to recall what the department of defense was like during that time, the environment was still, I think that’s when they started some of the base realignments and closures the brat. It seems like about that time, but you were still enjoying what you were doing exactly in Lackland and the people and, and being overseas, you know, even as late as 2005, I PCs back to Korea. I had another assignment in Korea, so went back there and, and I was really enjoying, just helping people maximize their talents. Well, thank you for your service. You’re welcome. And if anyone’s ever watched the movie midway they’ll know how important Intel is. Yeah. And so when did you meet your beautiful bride?


([10:27]): 2009, three years before I retired. And just, I gotta get this in too, you know, at 30 years that’s the max, you can really go. Right. And at that point point, the air force then tells you, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. Right. So that’s, I had a definitive timeline of when I was gonna retire. So that’s good. Thanks for sharing that. And what did Jeanie think about you were transitioning out and is she nervous for you excited? I mean, obviously you get retire pay, so you’ve got some base buffer. Yeah. Right. There is a buffer and she wasn’t, it wasn’t nervous. It was a matter of fact because it was going to happen. And we had planned for it. As soon as when we got married in 2009, we had $38,000 in, in consumer loans, credit cards, cars. And we were teaching financial peace university. Then what,


([11:17]): Tell me why you had, what were you buying? Was there something that you were, so we had two cars that were newer. Okay. And that was most of it, right? Yeah. And then we had, we were just living on more than we made, you know? And that’s, unfortunately, that’s the pattern in today’s America. So how does that, you know, those that are active duty or maybe even listening in their kids are active duty. How challenging is it to get to the point where you want more than you can make? You know, because there’s no, you know, right. You can’t make much more, you, you know, kind of the time horizon and to get a, an income increase, but you want stuff now. So does that happen a lot?


([11:54]): Yeah. More than I, I would E even know, I guess, I mean, we had young people get a bonus as a reenlistment bonus and they’d go out and buy a $25,000 car instead of putting that into an investment for their future. Or, and, and I did all those things too, you know, I’m not throwing stones at them. Yeah. Because I grew up that way and I just didn’t have the understanding that I have today. Let me go back to what you just said, and, and we can tease this out some more, but you said that you grew up this way. Did you find your parents over exceeding themselves? No, my dad never did. Okay. But maybe coming out of near poverty or ha end of mouth, whatever you want to talk about it, you know, and, and you just kind of feel like, well, I think maybe I want more, you know, or


([12:40]): I deserve it. I made it, I’ve been working hard. I see other people around me doing that, you know? So peer pressure is huge in this, in this arena. It’s even subconscious. I mean, we see on television and our peers, you know, even my wife, she’s like, she asked me sometimes she goes, how come? So, and so has this, this stuff, the cars and everything. And we don’t, I’m like, sweetie, I know everyone’s income either. They inherited it. Yeah. Or they’re in debt. So, you know, I kind of, I have that insight, but what I think’s interesting is those that are active duty. I kind of see a real challenge is you can get impatient. Like, man, I still have five more years and I want that car. Right. Yeah. Certainly. And it’s for a period of time, they banned the higher ups and in the air force, they Bann financial peace university, which is Dave Ramsey’s program. Yeah. And feeling like that the on base service provider could help those people through their problems. But you know, really what they’re talking about is transferring a credit card balance to a zero, you know, and that’s not really, that’s putting solve on a wound, you know, it’s


([13:46]): Not, so you’re actually teaching the financial piece university and still trying to resolve your own debt. I love that because that’s just a Testament of faith, but then you transition out, out of active duty into the civilian world. What was that like? Did you know exactly what you’re gonna do for a career? So in 20 we retired in 2012, February of 2012 and in 2011, well, let’s go, go back to when Jeanie and I got married, we had all this debt. So we just started attacking the debt and in a year and a half by saying no to the things we should have been saying no to, we paid off all our debt. That’s cool. And we sold some stuff and we, you know, so, but by the time, you know, 2011 rolls around, we’ve got a little bit of an emergency fund. And I said, okay, I’m going into real estate. And she said, yeah, you’re gonna do great. And sometimes your spouse is, is your biggest advocate, right. Your biggest cheerleader.


([14:39]): So let’s go through that time horizon again. So 2009 got married. And right after that, you looked at each other and said, this debt thing’s not gonna work is that I was already teaching financial piece before you got married. And she had already been through it. And I had already been through it. Okay. At grace point different classes, but we didn’t even know each well. We had known each other, we weren’t dating or anything. So we went to different times of, of the financial piece. And in the end I started teaching before we even got engaged, you know, and it was a pretty quick one. We had known each other for a few years and we just decided, you know, this is we’ve had enough. You were just fed up. Yeah. And so then you went on this gazelle type mentality for two and a half, three years. Was that right?


([15:24]): Yes. I mean a year and a half to pay off the debt and then a year, year and a half to build up an emergency fund because you go into real estate. Yeah. You may not have a contract or sell a home for, you know, they say six months to two years is when you’ll make it. Yeah. You needed that runway. Oh yeah. So did you ever get impatient in those year, two and a half years where you were grinding down debt and building up your emergency fund, did y’all have a, like mind add you that, Hey, we’re gonna, this is gonna be a long term commitment. I mean, two years. And we’re gonna, I mean, I don’t know if it was beans and rice, but we’re gonna hunker down. Were you okay with that? Or did you get antsy on the way we, we


([16:03]): Were likeminded and going forward to get rid of that debt? That helps because it really, if we didn’t have the emergency fund, the stress in real estate can be overwhelming. Even though I had some retirement, you know, there were still bills out there. So this is fascinating. We really touched on the financial side, but being 30 years active duty, the civilian world speaks a different vocabulary. Can you give advice to those that are considering making the transition from active duty in all branches into the civilian world? What would you advise them? So I coach this a lot with people cuz a lot of my clients are military and you know, what I tell ’em is when you leave the military and you will leave the military, it can be on your own accord or it can be directed or whatever, but you’re gonna lose three things or you could lose three things. First is a sense of purpose. And second is a, a sense of family because the brothers and sisters in the military, it’s a tight knit group. And then the third one is potentially a source of income that tripod you’ve gotta replace. You’ve got to figure it out.


([17:14]): So tell me how you resolved the purpose part. So for me, my purpose is bigger than my vocation. Okay. Yeah. And where did that come from? Like where did the desire for purpose? Did it come right away or did you, So when I came back from Korea back in 2006 I pretty newly divorced and came back and I went to Oak Hill’s church and there was a group there and it was called momentum and it was an adult singles group over 40. And that’s not where I met Jeanie because she was not old enough to be in that class. Well noted. Well done. So anyways, I was broken, you know, I was broken as a human being, but they saw through any facade I may have put up and they loved me like Jesus would, you know, just yeah. And that friends to this day and I actually one member in that class, she introduced me to Jeanie. So that’s wow. Yeah. And so your purpose comes from your faith. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s obviously important to both of us, which we know and very important is those people transit out of a career where they may or may not have realized that they put their entire identity in their vocation. And so kind of hunkering down and thinking through that is important. And then what about family? How did you, how’d you replace the comradery that only exists in the military? So


([18:45]): Couple different angles here. Right? So that group of people, they were also my family and we had the camaraderie. We would, you know, I mean it just, it was really really a tight knit group. So that was there got married before I retired. So that helped. And then the year that I retired, we had our first grand baby. So I mean, now we have three from one year to nine years old and they bring us a lot of joy and our kids are live in this area too. So that’s great. We, we love to do family dinner and I, and if I could encourage anybody with family, that’s close. Just one, you know, even if it’s everyone’s at home or you’re in the same city, get together once a week and, and break the that’s great. So you are listening to retire in Texas. We’re turning the corner here and have so many more things to chat with Andy about, but you’re listening to Andy Smith. And for those that are familiar with PAC’s financial group, visit our website or not familiar for that matter. There’s a retire in Texas ebook on there. So grab that when you can, Hey, as we kind of close this out, Andy, a couple other things I wanna chat about, first of all, what are your plans going forward now? You’ve got a lot of life left, lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm. What are you gonna be doing professionally? And what’s important to you.


([20:03]): So professionally I’m gonna continue to do real estate as long as my mind is good, but we want to travel some more. Okay. You know, we’ve been to Alaska or three times and paid cash for all of those trips very cool. And it’s just a, it’s a great place to be in the summertime when it’s 95 here and it’s 70 degrees in Alaska. So we like doing that. Our parents are, our moms are getting a little bit older. I lost my dad last year and Jeanie lost her dad a few years ago. So we want to time with them. And actually this Wednesday, we had to Florida to spend some time with Jeanie’s mom and, and her family there. So, but spending time with family is important and helping with the grand babies. Yeah. That’s I mean, if one of ’em sick invariably I’ll get a call or Jeanie will get a call to go pick ’em up because you know, mom’s still gotta work. She’s the nurse. So she’s gotta go. And and do her time in the nursing profession.


([20:58]): So you picked San Antonio to be a realtor. You could have picked a lot of places, but you chose San Antonio. What was it about San Antonio? So having spent 14 years here, I felt like it was my home. Yeah. And the kids were all here, my influence and my reach into the military from a real estate standpoint. And those people are really the ones that I love to help, you know, 85% or so of my business comes from military. I did know that it’s good to know. Yeah, because really real quick story. So a guy from that I know from Alaska, he sent me somebody, and then that guy sent me four people that I helped by a home. And then yesterday or day before yesterday, I got a call from, from another one from one of that third generations. So now it’s going on four generations of leads, but here’s the thing. If you help people and you do a good job, they’re gonna tell four people. Right. If you don’t do a good job, they’re gonna tell 40, unless they’re on social media and they’re gonna tell 400.


([21:59]): That’s true. Now, what do you find? And I, again, I probably have too many questions here, but just, I have two more questions. Okay. That’s okay. One, what do you find in the real estate business that is important to distinguish for those who are coming out of active duty? Is there any specific things that they need to be considering in terms of the loan markets or, you know, what might be different? You’re talking if they’re getting ready to retire? Well, let’s just say they’re just gonna buy their house and they just finish 20 years and they’ve got their retire pay, but there anything else they need to consider is that would be helpful. You know, I would really, certainly I coach them to manage your debt because if you do the wrong, if you put the wrong foot in front of the other, you’re gonna have problems. And I think that doing things in the right order makes a lot of sense and getting out of debt for me personally, it really gave me a smooth landing from the air force. Yeah.


([22:52]): That’s good. Last thing I want to ask you the most important question. What’s your favorite salsa? Well, you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about that and I like the sweet and spicy kind of thing. So maybe a peach habanero. You like the peach, you like the chunks of peach in it. Yeah, yeah, Yeah. It’s almost like a meal. You can, I know. Yeah. You could put it on ice cream too. No, certainly you can Vanilla. I never have, but you oh, okay. You try first. I’m sure. It’s great. Put on a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’ll be awesome, man. I bet they do that on the south side. All right. Hey, this has been great. You’ve been with in Texas and we’ve had Andy Smith. Thank you again, Andy. This has been great. You’re very happy to be here. Yeah. You’re listening to retiring Texas. Grab our ebook. It’s retiring Texas PACS financial group. Just go to PACS, financial group.com and grab the ebook. Also, I wanna kind of be politely aggressive and, and nudge you into joining our community. There’s a 15 minute consult that you can click on to chat with a financial advisor for 15 minutes. That you’re just gonna find out if it’s good match, but just kind of wanna nudge you that way. So hopefully we can help you and guide you as you retire in Texas. And remember you think different when you think long term,


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