Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie
Fewer than 20 percent of all people who serve in the military actually retire from the military (War On The Rocks, 3/2/2015). That means the clear majority of those who serve in the military need to have a well prepared and well-planned action list to make the most of their military experience when they depart the service.
Follow these tips if you leave the military prior to retirement.
You Don’t Completely Need to Leave. Look at service in the Reserves, National Guard, or doing a service transfer to a Military Occupational Specialty that needs more people than it has. This is a way to use your active duty military experience as a big boost to your monthly income with additional opportunity for retirement pay.
Savings Is Your Biggest Benefit. One of the greatest challenges in transition is running out of money. Saving 6 to 8 months of living expenses is great. That is hard to do, so leaving the military with as much leave as you can helps ensure you still get paid for a few months. Savings go further when you massively reduce your actual living expenses so what you have goes further.
Change Your Spending Pattern 3 Months Before You Leave. When I was on active duty, I loved shopping for skiing equipment, high speed boots, and backpacks. When I left active duty, I did the same pattern, went to the store, walked out with a new pair of boots, and went home to my wife. Thirty minutes later, I was back with my dog, my receipt, the great pair of boots, and a new understanding that I needed to change my spending habits. Boots returned, and dog walked, I got the lesson and reduced my spending.
Think of Insurance – Life, Medical, & Rental. The military provides a great deal of insurance that is in the “background” of daily considerations in military life. In the military, great healthcare and life insurance are available easily and with very little expense compared to similar private (non-military) programs. Before you leave the military, have a plan to evaluate and start your health, rental, and life insurance prior to your military coverage ending.
Don’t Re-Learn Lessons from Leaving the Military. There are resources on LinkedIn, Hiring Our Heroes, USAA, and the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) that detail best practices in interviewing, networking, job applications, moving, and resume creation. There are a lot of great resources and advice available, but you must find, learn, and follow the advice.
Leaving the military before retirement has been done successfully by millions of former servicemembers. Create a plan, save, get your insurance needs covered, and take (and act!) on the lessons and advice from those that went before you.