Your concerns as a veteran are different from a civilian. While money matters may be on your mind, handling the pressures of serving our country are likely taking up most of your mental space, and it makes absolute sense as to why. However, as deployment brings about a high level of uncertainty, you can ease your concerns about life after service, especially when it comes to your military finances.
It is essential to consider your military finances before, during, and after serving our country. The key is to avoid financial pitfalls you may face as a military member and veteran.
Below are some military finance mistakes and tips on how you can avoid them.
Forgetting to Handle Money Matters and Bills Before You Leave
It is easy to forget about setting up logistics regarding paying for monthly expenses. However, you want to ensure your military finances are taken care of even when you deploy. Before you leave, set up autopay for your bills. Also, designate someone you trust to alert you of any issues while you are away. The last thing you want is to default on a student loan or credit card payment.
Failing to Build an Emergency Fund
When it comes to receiving money from the government, everything doesn’t always move as smoothly or quickly as you’d expect. While you are waiting for payments, you want to make sure you and your family are set financially. To prevent falling behind on your bills, be sure to build an emergency fund. Before you deploy, set aside funds for you as well as your family to use if you face an unexpected expense.
Not Picking the Right Investment Mix for Your TSP Account
Many military members open a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) to prepare for retirement and improve their military finances. If you are regularly contributing to this, great! However, you still may not be receiving the most money for your contributions. The TSP comes with six different investment options, and each one has a unique mix of risk and return. Take time to research each investment option to see the one which will allow you to best improve your military finances.
Purchasing a Home on an Assignment
It is normal to want to have a permanent place to call home. Unfortunately, buying a house may not be the best idea when you are not sure where you will be in the future. When you are assigned to another location and want to sell your home, you may run into issues getting what you paid for it (depending on the property values at the time), and may not be able to find a renter. Instead of buying a home, think about renting and saving up for a down payment once you are no longer on active duty.
Failing to Take Advantage of VA Benefits
There are many discounts and benefits available for veterans. For example, not only can you receive credits toward college, but you can also attain $2,000 toward certification or licensing tests. You are also eligible to receive free tax preparation help, special mortgage repayment plans, a savings deposit account where you can earn 10 percent interest when in a combat zone, and additional non-government discounts.
You Can Avoid Military Finance Mistakes
You don’t have to be a victim of military finance mistakes. There is a way to come out of your deployment with stable finances. However, it all starts with strategic planning. Don’t wait until you return home to plan. Use the tips above to create a strategy today.
If one of the mistakes you need to overcome is rising debt, I have an excellent resource for you. Check out my book, Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom. It can give you the tools you need to reduce your debt and thrive financially.