Treading through unknown territory is a part of our job. But an uncharted path that a lot of us find challenging is the transition back to civilian life. This major event might come anytime, as one approaches retirement, or as a sudden occurrence brought about by unfortunate injury.
Fortunately, there are ways to face this transition more smoothly, especially when it comes to handling our finances. And that’s what we’re going to share with you below.
Budgeting Tips for Veterans
Get a transition fund ready
It’s never too early to prepare a transition fund. This is a savings account that you build in order to keep you and your family financially stable during the first few months that you might find yourself “in-between jobs.”
At the very least, it must be enough to sustain your lifestyle for three months and allow you extra funds for job hunting. Should you find yourself facing this transition unexpectedly and without this savings account to tap into, there are also personal loans for veterans, offered by various financial institutions, that you can explore.
Review your taxes
Keep in mind that a civilian’s payroll is subject to taxes, so your net pay will not be the same as the amount quoted to you during your contract signing. The same applies if you plan to start a new business.
Hence, it’s best to review your taxes and how they can impact your expenses. Make sure to remember the Internal Revenue Service’s deadline, April 15, for filing your taxes. You can seek the help of a CPA or financial expert if needed.
Explore health coverage options
Your military health coverage will end the moment you exit the military. Fortunately, there are various options to get coverage including the benefits provided by the Continued Health Care Benefit Program and others covered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Establish an emergency fund
An emergency fund is similar to your transition fund, in that it can serve as a safety net for you and your family’s finances during a time of need. The major difference, however, is the intention. An emergency fund is a financial safety net that you should build in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as sudden loss of income, medical emergencies, vehicular problems, or even a death in the family, that can throw your budget off.
While military jobs are relatively anchored depending on your performance in service, the same stability does not apply to civilian employment. You can be laid off at any time, especially in the turbulent state of our economy. Hence, it id best to have an emergency fund that can help float you through should anything happen.
It is recommended to have at least six months’ worth of salary in your emergency fund, but the bigger it is, the better you’ll be.
Consider seeking further education
There are various programs that can help veterans continue their education post-service. Acquiring the skills and know-how that a degree can provide will prove useful in living in the civilian world.
Consider utilizing your current skills
You might also want to consider how you can utilize your existing skills instead. After all, it is a shame to put your thousands of hours of training to waste. You might not easily realize it, but there is a demand for our expertise.
For instance, you can start a self-defense training program for people of all ages. You can also serve as a consultant for a security firm or even start your own off-road and extreme sports travel agency.
Much like your health coverage options, there are also various life insurance policies and related benefits that were specifically designed for veterans. We recommend looking into the Veteran’s Group Life Insurance (or VGLI). It is slightly more expensive than a regular policy, but it can provide better coverage for those with service-related medical conditions and injuries that can significantly drive up the fees of a regular policy.
Start preparing for your retirement
There will eventually come a time when you will feel the need to retire. Therefore, it is best to start preparing for your retirement as early as possible. Look into both employer-sponsored and self-employed retirement plans and know your available options.
Do not neglect to consider the potential medical bills you will encounter as you age. You can always extend your retirement savings by living a healthy lifestyle, but it is recommended to prepare and account for one’s health nevertheless.
Learn personal financial management
It is always a good idea to invest in knowledge and new skills. This includes learning how to budget your money wisely. It should also include learning about the different methods to repay and manage debt and the different financial products being offered by your chosen bank to help diversify your investments. Good luck!
This article was written by Lidia Staron, a financial adviser and a member of the Content and Marketing team at OpenLoans.com. She contributes articles about the role of finance in the strategic-planning process.