Regardless of whether you are active duty or a veteran, a career in the military requires many individuals and their families to make sacrifices for their country. Thankfully, financial stability does not have to be one of them.
There are many resources for members of the military and their families to remain financially secure, as well as practical advice to manage their finances without additional stress.
Personal situations may be different for active duty, deployed and retired service members. But all can benefit from having a comprehensive financial plan in place and working with a qualified financial advisor.
Military OneSource offers financial counseling to the military community through the U.S. Defense Department, but you can also find a local CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional to provide you with competent, ethical and holistic financial planning advice. Some CFP® professionals even specialize in working with military and government clients.
U.S. Navy veteran Mark Wernig, CFP® offers four examples of how military members and their families can benefit from developing a financial plan:
1. Create a budget. Keep track of your income and spending. For deployed service members, this may also involve determining who and which funds will pay the bills. Special pay or entitlements may boost your spending or savings.
2. Invest in savings plans. A CFP® professional can help you make sense of the different savings options, including the Thrift Savings Plan and TSP Savings Deposit Program, and low-cost investment opportunities available to service members. They will also make sure you’ve established a sufficient emergency fund.
3. Manage your debt. A financial plan includes the amount of debt you owe, the interest rate on each debt and your monthly payment amounts. It also lays out which debts you will pay first, or put the most money toward. “In addition to mapping out this information, a CFP® professional can help you determine if military-focused financial programs, including the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, can help reduce your debt,” adds Wernig.
4. Maximize benefits programs. People who have served in the military have access to special financial benefits. This can include healthcare services, mortgages with no or low down payment, GI Bill educational benefits and special legal protections, among others. A CFP® professional can help you determine and take advantage of the varied benefits to which you are entitled.
Focusing on financial preparedness and sustaining healthy financial habits will help you and your family navigate the challenges of military life.
You can use the “Find a CFP® Professional” search tool on LetsMakeaPlan.org to locate CFP® professionals who focus on clients in the military. You can also connect with local veteran- and military-based community organizations for more information on the special programs and benefits available to you and your family.
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