Because the military looks after its own with generous allowances for living, moving, travel, and more, most active personnel can afford to build a healthy retirement fund while they are completing their service.
However, once their military commitment ends and the costs of life start adding up, plenty of post-military veterans are tempted to use those dormant accounts sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, this means too many vets suffer later in life because they depleted their retirement savings too early.
To ensure the safety of your retirement, you should do everything in your power to avoid dipping into your growing accounts. Here are some tips to keep your retirement money locked tight while you find your feet in the civilian world.
The best careers usually require a bit more education than most veterans have. Even though most starting positions ask for little more than a bachelor’s degree, to thrive, most civilian workers often return to school to master or doctorate programs that will provide them with extra knowledge and experience for their chosen workplace.
However, as you probably know, advanced education is incredibly expensive. To avoid skimming from your retirement account, you should be dedicated to finding grants, scholarships, and any other means to fund your degree. You may have to look in unconventional places; for example, many nurses can find scholarships from the hospitals where they work.
Move Back Home
Even though it feels like taking a step back instead of a step forward, living with your parents for a few months will help you get on a sound financial footing. Most parents won’t charge rent — or will charge a dramatically lower amount than you’ll find living on your own. Plus, most parents offer other costly services, like buying food, cleaning, and more. While you are living virtually expense-free, you can continue adding to your retirement fund, look for a job, and amass an emergency savings account to help you with tight times in the future.
Even though your parents will likely welcome you back, the transition will be disruptive for everyone. You should try to avoid sinking back into a teenage-like sulk. Your parents are doing you a favor, and you should be appreciative in any way you can.
Consider a Fulfilling Career
Undoubtedly, the military taught you a number of invaluable skills and characteristics, including attentiveness, positivity, and discipline. You practiced working in a team as well as leading groups of individuals to success and safety. Additionally, you learned a number of particular abilities from your position in the forces which may benefit you in civilian life. More likely than not, the military provided you with all of the tools you’ll need to secure and excel in any career path you choose — you just have to choose it, first.
Ultimately, the only way to safeguard your retirement account until you are old and gray is to work until a true retirement age, but you won’t be able to hold down a job if you don’t absolutely love what you are doing. There are a number of quizzes that will gladly tell you what job is perfect for you, but in reality, only you have the power to understand and decide upon your dream career, and you shouldn’t rush the decision if you have a steady (if meager) paycheck and a comfortable (and free) place to live that will help you get on your feet.
Get a Short-Term Job
While you are reflecting on what career path suits your skills and interests, you certainly need a source of income, even if it isn’t related to your dream occupation. Any part-time or full-time job will work; at this point, all you need is a weekly paycheck to help you cover your trivial expenses. Because this job probably won’t contribute to your imminent career, you shouldn’t be afraid to jump around to find the best position.
It may seem like your health is unrelated to the health of your retirement fund, but in reality, the two are inextricably linked. The longer you can stay in peak condition, the longer you can stave off dipping into your savings to pay for medical expenses. Health care is absurdly expensive, even for veterans. Thus, after your military career ends (and free gym access, with it) you should strive to keep your body, mind, and spirit performing well.