This is the personal story of how I just refinanced my primary home into a 30-year, 2.25% interest rate on a $420K home in January 2021. It’s also the story of taking an unconventional route to achieve your financial goals. Getting an interest rate in the 2–3% range is pretty good, especially if you can lock the rate in for an extended period like 30-years. What’s even better is if you can get a low rate and be an average person, like me. I’m just a regular guy who works a job, enjoys hanging out with friends, and certainly doesn’t have an 850 credit score. So, how did I do it?
I was fortunate to be eligible for a loan program that I didn’t even know existed just four years ago. I guess I can say I got lucky because the program I used is one of the nation’s best home loan programs and comes along with incredible rates and benefits.
How It Started 🏁
Back in 2013, I decided to do what a lot of people never even think to do. I went into the military, specifically the US Marine Corps. I had just finished high school that May and fell on my face as an adult upon graduating. I worked at a car dealership as a sales rep for about two weeks before being fired and failed an entire course load at the local community college. One day, I had enough. I had to do something to change things and my life circumstances. And so I did. Right around the beginning of July, I ended up going to see a Marine recruiter. I wanted to leave right away, but I didn’t. But around 10 months later, in April of 2014, I left.
Fast forward 4.5 years later, to the beginning of 2018, I was getting ready to finish my time in the Marines. My job was working in finance, and I got to travel the world. In just 2.5 years, I went to 13 countries across Europe, Africa, and Asia. I met many great people and met some folks I’d wish I would never meet again. There were a lot of times of enjoyment and a lot of times I don’t miss. All of which I am fortunate to have experienced. But, one thing I never thought would happen is that my little 4-year time in the military would lead to a lifetime of benefits and tools in which I could use to build a life after the military.
How It Happened 👣
I recently used the Veteran Affairs (VA) sponsored home loan program to refinance my mortgage down to a 2.25% interest rate. The VA Home Loan program is an excellent home loan-guarantee program that allows eligible US service members to purchase a home for themselves. It’s been around for quite a long time. It was created after Congress passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act in 1944 following World War II and has had several enhancements since. To be eligible, service members must have 90 days of continuous service. Reserve members who serve on a part-time basis are eligible after 6 years. Once someone earns eligibility, they have it for life. Not many employee benefits carry with you throughout your lifetime.
Above are some interest rates I pulled together to help compare the VA loan to other mortgage programs. As you can see, VA interest rates are pretty competitive, only second to rates under the Fair Housing Administration (FHA) program. However, the benefits aren’t just in the rates. VA loans also don’t require a down payment, no private mortgage insurance (PMI), flexible credit requirements, and the ability to limit closing costs. These added benefits make the VA home loan program a super attractive lending program and provide incredible homeownership access. As homeownership costs continue to rise in the future, being eligible for a program like the VA home loan will provide a mechanism that can be used to build a life for yourself. The VA loan program can also be used more than once. I have personally used it twice already, plan to use it more in the future.
Final Thoughts 💭
Many people dismiss the military as a career option, and many folks aren’t aware of the many benefits that go along with serving. The military offers many great career paths for folks who want to do things like practice law, medicine, finance, or technology. And not only do Veterans get access to home loan benefits, but they also get access to education, life insurance, burial, and more. For example, one of the most significant benefits of all is the Post-9/11 GI Bill program that provides 36 months of nearly free schooling. In fact, I’m working on my third master’s degree now at George Washington University, studying artificial intelligence, business analytics, and cloud computing. This education program alone opens so many doors that may have otherwise been closed. Using it pulls a chance at higher education closer. If it wasn’t for a decision that I made 7+ years ago now, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish nearly as much. And for that, I am forever grateful.
I strongly encourage anyone to give the military a serious thought when starting their adult lives. You may find a career path you genuinely enjoy doing, and you’ll earn valuable lifelong benefits. I think the military is an underrated way to get ahead in life. With just a few years of ups and downs, your sacrifices can lead to having the life you want to live. The military gave me a sense of purpose, discipline, and a chance to meet great people. It has also allowed me to achieve my financial goals. It can do the same for you too.
Thanks for Reading!
This story was written by Garrett Ramela about his experience using the VA home loan program to refinance his home and get a competitive interest rate. If you’d like to chat more with Garrett about real estate, the military, or anything else here is his LinkedIn! Also, if you enjoyed reading this article and want to check out more similar content. Head over to Millennial Investments and check out the links below to learn more wealth building tips and tricks! We have a great newsletter that makes it easy to learn as you earn. Happy reading, and thanks for supporting the work we do! 🙏😇