Savings, Strategy and Safety

“Young officers are getting paid the most money they have ever seen in their life, access to unlimited overtime, and stupid decisions are made without the proper financial training.” 


Financial Wellness as a Police Officer 

Nick Daughtery realized that financial health is an officer safety issue.

He is a retired Sergeant from the Grand Prairie Police Department and now owns and works for Financial Cop, the largest wellness training group in the country, as well as one of the largest law enforcement-owned and operated fiduciary-only financial planning firms.  He teaches all over the country to help officers have financial health and wealth, 2500 first responders from over 3000 agencies nationwide and currently has 136 classes booked in 17 states just this year alone.

The Motivation

In the first year of Nick’s career as an officer, he accumulated a debt load of over $80,000 in consumer debt.

“If I didn’t work 20 hours of overtime every pay period or every week, I couldn’t pay my bills.” 

At the time, he became engaged and had to tell his wife-to-be that he was $80,000 in debt while she was debt free.  After working almost a thousand hours of overtime, he was married debt free on March 3rd, 2007. He became the “money nerd” at his department and was eventually asked, by his chief, to develop a curriculum for the academy class and teach financial wellness. As he taught and impacted more officers, Nick, his class, and now his company, Financial Cop, teach throughout the country.   Ultimately, the reason he gave up his Sergeant stripes was that he knew he was supposed to be teaching officers how to gain financial health and wellness.

FTO starter pack 

A big fat truck.

A lift kit.

A tattoo.

A rifle.

Then you date a nurse, a teacher, or a dispatcher.

Then you go broke.

That is what happens after an officer is done with field training.

“Young officers are getting paid the most money they have ever seen in their life, access to unlimited overtime, and stupid decisions are made without the proper financial training.” 

First responders’ brains are trained to get hits like that of oxytocin or cortisol and when you buy fancy new objects, those hits occur. It’s exciting to buy things and people get addicted to it. Kevin Gilmartin talks about the hypervigilant state where officers go through these peaks of adrenaline and then take these dumps down in depression. When they get off work, they are stuck in a depressed mode and what should they do to get out of that depressed mode? Work out, hang out with family, get hobbies, those kinds of things, but instead, they turn to addiction and zone out. Retail therapy comes in because what’s a better feeling than buying a $70,000 truck? Psychologically, this purchase boosts an officer’s adrenaline, but there isn’t a thought about what happens when the payments start kicking in. There isn’t a financial perspective when trying to get out of a depressed state. This leads to the overtime trap (see podcast #50 for more details!)

Traps and Pitfalls of finances in Law Enforcement

The biggest trap is failing to plan. Everything officers do in their lives is a plan. They plan their calls out with what-if scenarios. So much time is spent planning at work that when first responders get home, they zone out and fail a plan for their personal life.

“If you aren’t spending as much time planning a budget as you are lunch, then you are failing.” 

There needs to be a better habit of planning your future, looking at goals, and communicating with your spouse about money.

The number one skill in wealth building and the one thing that needs to be addressed to master becoming wealthy in retirement is budgeting. That dreaded B word. Everything revolves around it and people think a budget constricts, but it really doesn’t.

“A well-written budget actually opens the door to spending more without guilt.” 

Pitfall #1: Failing to plan

Many couples fail to plan and see the benefit and power of combining their income by having separate accounts. Having one account gives and maintains transparency. It shows a combined income. Not “I make 60,000 and my spouse makes 40,000” It should be “WE make 100,000.” The number one characteristic of millionaire couples is they earn together. They spend it together, they plan it together, and everything is done together. They constantly talk about money. There is no yours and mine. It ours.

Pitfall #2: Not COMMUNICATING about finances in your relationship

Make it a priority to have a monthly budget meeting. Whatever that looks like for your family and whatever works. Have agreed upon roles for your joint account. Communicate about who is spending what. Ask each other for permission if you go over a set dollar amount on a purchase or maybe set an allowance for each person to spend with no questions asked. Communication is critical when it comes to financial wellness in a relationship.

Overtime and part-time jobs 

Overtime is a love-hate relationship. It’s a hate relationship because so many first responders get into a trap where they rely on overtime, but the beauty about financial wellness is they have something that the civilian population doesn’t. Overtime. It’s about transitioning overtime from a position where you’re using it to elevate your standard of living to a position where you’re using it to build your financial strengths. You should not rely on overtime to pay for your monthly expenses. It should be used for “extras.” The beauty of a first responder’s job is that they can work overtime for the extras but do it in a manner that allows them to honor the number one priority in their lives, which is family. Use overtime to accelerate finances, use it to do things for your family, but most importantly make sure you are present for your family.

Small steps to becoming more financially healthy- the 8 phases of financial training

Phase 1

Phase one of the training is your budget. Nothing happens in a financial plan without a budget. A budget is doing an ops plan before the month begins. It’s debriefing throughout the month and it’s doing an after-action plan at the end of every month. That’s as simple of a budget as it gets.

Phase 2

Phase two of training is your initial baby emergency fund. Save $2,000 as fast as you can so that you can use it if there’s a flat tire on your car instead of going and using credit cards. This can be a luxury for law enforcement, as you can go work overtime in a month and make $2,000 sometimes.

Phase 3

Phase three is the most difficult. It’s the debt snowball. This is listing your debts from smallest to largest and paying your debt off. It’s really hard to become debt free if you can’t stop using your credit cards. You have to get rid of them. If you have cards in the future, that is fine. As long as you are responsible for them. The beauty of the debt snowball is psychologically, if you pay that smallest debt off first, you’ve just had a victory. With every debt you pay off, you become that much more financially stable because you’ve eliminated that payment. If you’re in the middle of your debt snowball phase and the water heater goes out, that’s called remedial training. You take care of the water heater and then you go right back into phase four.

Phase 4

Phase four is to fully fund the emergency fund. Save three to six months’ worth of living expenses. This way if you have a financial emergency, you technically don’t have emergencies. They become speed bumps and inconveniences.

The first four phases of training are intense. You have to sacrifice. Once you get done and you’re fully funded with an emergency fund and you’re consumer debt free, it’s time to have some fun.

Phase 5

Phase five is to retire like nobody else. Put 15 to 20% of your gross income into a retirement account. Subtract your pension out, and whatever you have leftover needs to go into some kind of retirement account. Whether it’s your city deferred comp account, 401ks, Roth IRAs, etc. There are all kinds of mediums out there.

Phase 6

Phase six is to save and invest for big purchases. If you have kids, start saving for college. If you want to buy a Corvette, how are you going to save for that Corvette to make sure it doesn’t cause a bump back down in our phases?

Phase 7

Phase seven is to pay off the house. Throw every extra dollar you can at paying off the house!

Phase 8

Phase eight is being released from training. You’ve made it. Have the fun that you deserve to have because you can become wealthy now but do so in a manner that you don’t lose your humility.

Once you get through phase 3, it gets a little easier, but it’s getting through that debt snowball and having that tenacity to buckle down and to do that. A crazy thought is that first responders take several training classes revolving around discipline. Discipline at the range, discipline with use of force, everything is discipline, but when it comes to money there seems to be no discipline.

Make sure you know the purpose of being financially healthy so resentment towards budgeting doesn’t start to bubble to the surface. A budget is not about telling you, you can’t spend money. It’s about telling you where you are spending your money and giving you choices. Here is a good example. Let’s say that you budget $600 for restaurants for this month and it’s a week away from the end of the month and you’ve only spent $400. You have a choice. You can take that $200 and use it somewhere else or you can take that $200 and go spend a hundred dollars on a steak and lobster dinner. There’s no guilt now because you budgeted $600.

Ultimately, if you follow those eight phases the right way, you’re going to look up one day and go, when is enough, enough? Use that question to become more charitable. Start to help our brothers and sisters out.  If you can start to build wealth, imagine the legacy you can leave, whether it’s publicly or anonymously. Pour back into the community in a different way!

Financial health and wellness are about budgeting, sitting down to figure out what’s important to get over that debt snowball, and then going forward to figure out the life you want to live and the legacy you want to leave behind.

As a special gift to you, Nick is offering access to the Financial Cop Academy. Just scan the QR code for FREE access for one year to the virtual program!

For more information on Nick or Financial Cop go to: or contact Nick at [email protected]

Required Disclaimer: The views expressed in this class are for informational purposes and in no event should be construed as an offered to buy or sell securities. Additionally, this class is not designed to advise you on how to handle anything specific to your finances, nor will listening to my advice guarantee your financial success. The opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and don’t take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs. Neither IFP Advisors, LLC or IFP Securities doing businesses, independent financial partners nor their affiliates or offer tax or legal advice. Interested parties are strongly encouraged to seek advice from a qualified tax and or legal expert regarding the best options for your particular circumstances. Investment advice offered through IFP advisors doing businesses, independent financial partners, a registered investment advisor IFP is not affiliated with serve and protect Financial Texas and or Financial Cop.


Savings, Strategy and Safety

“Young officers are getting paid the most money they have ever seen in their life, access to unlimited overtime, and stupid decisions are made without the proper financial training.”