As a young military veteran, you’ve already dedicated a major part of your life to serving your country. Now that you’re transitioning into civilian life, you’re probably starting to think about your financial future and how to move forward successfully. This next stage can be challenging, but the good news is that there are resources vets can draw from that will help along the way.
Finding a Job
Having a steady source of income is the number one way to get on the right track. However, many young vets struggle to transfer their military experience into skills that civilian employers are looking for. For some vets, going back to school is the answer, and you may be eligible for benefits through the GI Bill that will make your education more affordable.
For example, you may need to obtain a license or certification for certain types of jobs>, such as flying a plane or working with machinery. Make sure you take advantage of all available resources, too, including veterans’ job search tools available through the U.S. Department of Labor.
Focus on Spending
The smartest way to stay on top of your finances is to be conscientious about your spending. Instead of trying to set a traditional budget, Money Under 30 recommends finding a system that tracks your spending automatically, such as using a single debit card. This way, you can see exactly where your money goes – and where you could be saving.
Thankfully, veterans can save money at lots of places by getting discounts. You may have to do some digging, but with so many companies offering service member and veteran discounts, there are plenty of options out there. Besides one-time discounts on shopping, some of the best discounts to take advantage of are for ongoing expenses. For example, cell phone providers like Verizon offer veteran discounts on various plans as well as cell phone accessories. You can also find discounts for entertainment like Disneyland and restaurants like IHOP. Another way to find discounts is to do a quick web search before making a purchase.
Financial Goals Within Reach
Using these strategies for keeping your finances in order, you’ll be in a good position to start meeting bigger financial goals. Unfortunately, debt is a common problem among service members and vets. If you do have debt, making a plan to lower it should be your first priority. Any veteran who has debt should check out common myths and facts, which can help you move forward. For example, many people think they have to pay a financial advisor to get help with debt, but military members are eligible for free financial help. Some may even be eligible for no-interest loans through military relief societies.
Look Into Insurance
After you leave the service, you’ll more than likely need to look into different types of insurance for you and your family. And while people tend to focus on health and life insurance, one form that could need a little extra attention is your auto insurance. This is because the amount of coverage you’ll need will vary by state, so it’s important to learn about the minimum types — in addition to any rules and regulations in your state — before you purchase a policy. For example, it’s important to know if you live in a no-fault state, which means that your insurance will cover you regardless of who is at fault in the event of an accident.
Saving for the Future
You may just be thinking about the next step for your immediate future, but don’t forget about long-term goals like retirement. If you have the Thrift Savings Plan, you have a few different options for what to do with that savings. You can leave it where it is, roll it over into an IRA, or roll it into a plan offered by your employer if that’s available to you. The best option for you depends in large part on what your employer offers, along with your current and future financial goals. The most important thing is to research and explore your options. If you aren’t sure what those are, the VA Office of Finance can help give you some direction.
Connecting with the VA online and at your local office is a good way to access all kinds of resources. You have certainly earned the right to access these resources that are there to help. Whichever direction your future takes you, it’s worth the time and effort to get your finances on the right track before taking the next steps.
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