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Financial Tips for a Smoother Transition

You’ve spent months readying yourself for the next step in your career: the transition from military service to the civilian workforce. You’ve made checklists for just about everything imaginable – from updating your resume to revamping your wardrobe, talking with your family, friends, and colleagues, researching your next place to live and maybe even taking a few classes here and there. But have you tended to your finances? With unemployment rates persistently crummy (technical term), it would be wise to take a few steps to protect your pocketbook while you are making The Big Change.

Here are a few things to think about to help you make the most of the military benefits you’ve earned and protect your financial health as you migrate to civilian-land.

Military Transition Financial Checklist

1. Medical and Dental Insurance: Get a copy of your TRICARE benefit summary and keep it in a safe place so you can compare your new employers’ coverage.

2. Disability Insurance: If your new employer does not offer disability coverage, you may wish to research additional alternatives to supplement TRICARE if necessary.

3. Life Insurance: Determine whether you want to convert from SGLI to VGLI or switch to a commercial life insurance plan.

4. Retirement Plan: Have a copy of your Thrift Savings Plan benefit summary so you can evaluate your new plan against it. You may want to consider:

  • Rolling your TSP into your new employer's retirement plan.
  • Rolling your TSP into a separate IRA.
  • Rolling any tax-free combat pay into a Roth IRA.

5. Review your budget and, if needed:

  • Create a “civilian” budget, including buying or renting a home if you have been in base housing
  • Start funds to bridge any gaps that might happen during your job hunt
  • Adjust emergency fund savings
  • Adjust or create a new retirement plan
  • Find a certified financial planner to help with your retirement planning
  • Update your estate planning documentation, especially if you’ve moved or are moving to a different state

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