When you’re in the military, every part of your life is rigidly structured. You don’t have much time to think about long-term investments or planning for your future when you’re on active duty. When you get back to civilian life, it’s time to start getting savvy about your finances. Here are a few ways that you can start saving on the big and little things.
Start A Savings Plan Right Away
Set up one of the retirement plans suggested by the VA. If you are still an active service member, you should set up a Thrift Savings Plan which you can keep after you leave the military. If you have left the military without doing this, an Individual Savings Account will be a good choice.
Find Out What Benefits Are Available To You As A Veteran
Check if your status as a veteran entitles you to benefits before you commit to any large expense. From healthcare, a loan application, or support with a graduate degree, the VA has a range of different support options.
For example, say you need to refinance your home loan to pay for a large emergency expense. VA refinancing can help you borrow up to 100% of the value of your home. If you want to get better interest rates on your loan, the VA Streamline Refinance (or IRRRL) will help you.
Create A Detailed Daily Budget
Keep a log of every expense using a family budget estimator that you incur from day to day. Once you know what your monthly outgoings look like, you can start saving to create a cushion for those unexpected expenses. Paying your bills on time will help with your credit score should you need to apply for a loan.
Look For The Little Ways To Save
Remember that the structure and discipline that you have learned in the military will help you create and stick to good habits. Take lunch and coffee with you to work instead of buying your food out will save you a surprising amount every month.
Save money on your meals by cooking at home where you can. Buying generic brands and making sure that you use leftovers will cut down on costs. Use public transport to save on gas money and keep your car in a good condition to avoid service costs. Insulate your home properly and save on energy bills by turning off anything that you’re not using. If you do find yourself in need of a job, the Veteran and Military Transition Center is a great place to start.
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