I haven’t met anyone yet who disagrees that serving as a member of the U.S. armed forces requires big-time sacrifice, both for the servicemember and his or her family. Our armed forces inherently face challenges that many others don’t. That’s why I encourage all my clients who serve to make sound financial planning a high priority – so that finances don’t become a stressor amidst their many other responsibilities.
Below are some specific tips I’ve been sharing with my servicemember clients that will help ensure you’re on the right track financially.
Know Your Perks. You always know where the free coffee is, don’t you? Those in the armed forces have access to financial products and vehicles that civilians may not be able to take advantage of. Be sure you know what you’re eligible for so that you can reap the benefits. A few examples:
- The Roth TSP has been available to servicemembers for about a year, and I still meet many people who didn’t know it was an option for them.
- Most if not all life insurance companies will insure those in active duty service. Make sure you have the insurance you need to account for the needs of your loved ones.
- Additionally, spouses of those in the armed forces are eligible to save for retirement through their own personal IRA.
Your Fund Belongs to You – Own It! When I first meet many of my clients, they often have their retirement assets allocated in a particular fund without knowing that they have other options. Because each fund allocates assets according to a varying level of risk tolerance, it’s important to make sure you have the right one for your needs and goals.
Consider Taking Advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Remember that the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides the potential opportunity for financial assistance with education and housing. In some cases, servicemembers can transfer the benefits to their dependents, which can be useful for education planning. You can learn more about the bill here.
Think Bigger Than Military Retirement. In general, “retirement” from the armed forces after 20 years of service is not enough to sustain a true lifelong retirement from work. For those who have served the full span, think beyond the initial safety net of military retirement and consider what other long-term savings may be needed to sustain your lifestyle in your later years.
By keeping these tips in mind and with some careful planning, you’ll be well on your way to a worry-free financial life – so you can focus on what’s most important to you!
Thank you, as always, for your service.
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