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No matter how much you’re looking forward to it, adjusting to life outside the military can be tough. One of the more challenging issues for many young vets is handling their finances. Here’s how to ensure you get on track with your money and stay there.
Dig Around for Discounts
As a military veteran, you’ll find that many businesses want to honor your service with special discounts. Those discounts are a chance for you to stretch your dollars, as well as an opportunity for businesses to say “thank you” for your service.
For instance, Task and Purpose explains that several restaurant chains provide discounts to veterans, like Lone Star Steakhouse and Schlotzsky’s. When you need building supplies, appliances, or other home-related items, check into Lowe’s military discount program, which provides you with 10 percent off eligible purchases. Similarly, Verizon offers a discount to veterans and active military members — including 15 percent off many plans and 25 percent off select accessories — so you can save on your cell phone service. The more of these little discounts you snag, the further your dollars will go every month.
Protect Your Wheels for Less
Shopping around for sales and low-pricing is always a smart decision, and you’ll find sometimes there are opportunities to save beyond discounts. Insuring your vehicle is one of those expenses where a little digging can help you save a lot of money.
Investopedia explains there are several ways to save on auto insurance, like taking a defensive driving course or having multiple drivers or vehicles on your policy. It can also help to shop around. Rates change routinely, and sometimes checking in with other providers can make a big difference. On top of that, insurers will consider different factors like your credit score, driving record, and zip code, so it often pays to do some looking.
The Daily Grind
Working in the civilian world is a lot different from working in the military, and it can help to become more familiar with the hiring process. You’ll want to build a resume and cover letter that highlight your experience and qualifications in a manner civilian employers will understand. It’ll also help to brush up on common interview questions. By getting familiar with the kinds of things employers ask, you’ll be prepared when the time comes. Finding a great place to work can also be a puzzle, but there are employers who give preference to military veterans. You can apply directly with employers or check into job fairs near you.
Establish a Framework
As a recently discharged veteran, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your household is to set up some spending guidelines. A budget provides a roadmap for where your money goes, and it helps ensure that you have enough funds for your future financial goals, as well as your current expenses. Think about what you want down the road, such as upgrading your vehicle or saving toward a new house.
Begin by adding up your monthly income, note your current savings, then make a list of your expenses. Total your expenses, then deduct that from your income. Your result should be zero. If you have money left over, you can pay down debt, put it toward savings, or pad another expense category. If you end up with a negative number, you need to cut an expense.
Roof Over Your Head
Fresh from service, one financial goal many veterans identify is investing in a new home. Thanks to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans can get special loans to purchase their homes, and it can save you a bundle. As Zillow explains, VA loans are mortgage loans available to military personnel, veterans, and military families. Lenders will still examine your credit score and income level, but interest rates are competitive, and there is no down payment required.
When it comes to managing your money, there are strategies that can set you up for success. Participate in the programs available to you, and map out where your money goes. You have a lot of adjusting to do, but with your finances in line, you’ll be good to go!