5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition

You probably heard "readiness" thousands of times in your military training; being prepared to spring into action when it's no longer a drill is crucial to your safety. When you're ready to leave the military, readiness may be the key to a successful transition and your financial security.

USAA offers military transition assistance, including a Separation Assessment Tool and Separation Checklist, to help you make the transition to civilian life. But these five tips can help you get started.
1. Start saving early.

Our online assessment tool can help you determine how your life will be impacted if you decide to separate.

Darren Briggs, a security officer with USAA who recently retired from the Air Force after 24 years, points to one thing that helped his separation go smoothly: savings.

"You've got to have some money set aside in advance," Briggs says. "The stress of all the new expenses can eat you up if you're not prepared for it."

JJ Montanaro, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM with USAA, suggests a savings account to cover six to nine months of living expenses. The transition fund can help pay for immediate moving expenses, as well as ongoing costs like rent and groceries.

"Putting that much money away might take years," Montanaro says. "So start saving now even if separation isn't in your near-term plans."
2. Move with purpose.

The decision of where to live is filled with financial implications, including cost of living, housing conditions and the job market.

After wrapping up his service in Salt Lake City, Briggs headed to San Antonio, because of its affordability and abundance of military-friendly employers.

If you're thinking about where to land, take a look at the USAA Real Estate Rewards Network can also help members find a real estate agent and make important decisions related to selling or buying a home. Be sure to look into a VA home loan, which could help you buy a house without a large down payment.
3. Kick-start your career.

    USAA provides a wide range of products and services to make your transition from the military a financial success.
    General financial advice and comprehensive financial planning
    Banking solutions to help you save and manage money
    USAA Home Circle: Help with finding, financing, and insuring a home
    Life insurance designed to continue after military
    Rollover and Roth IRAs

The military's Transition GPS program can help you translate your military experience into a rewarding civilian career. But finding a great job right after separation still might be difficult. Start your research as soon as you think you'll be leaving.

Briggs advises not putting your life on hold if your dream job search is taking longer than expected. He suggests "trying to find something that pays," even if it's part time or temporary. He supported his family working as a truck driver and security supervisor before coming to USAA.
4. Keep retirement on track.

Don't let your transition derail your retirement savings. "Whatever you do, find a way to keep building on the money you've saved," Montanaro says. "It might be tempting to use it as 'transition money,' but cashing out now could cost you a 10% penalty and dash your long-term dreams for retirement."
5. Stay protected.

Two of the most valuable benefits you have in the military — Servicemembers Group Life Insurance and Tricare health insurance — go away when you leave the service. So it's essential that you plan ahead to replace them.

After separation, the standard $400,000 SGLI policy can be converted to a term policy with Veterans Group Life Insurance, a valuable choice to veterans with health issues, Montanaro says. Those in good health may find a more competitive commercial policy. USAA Military Protection Plus Life insurance policyholders can replace their SGLI coverage without an additional medical exam.1,2 Increases in coverage more than two times the base policy face amount up to the current maximum Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance SGLI amount depends on your health and is subject to underwriting approval.

As for health insurance, military retirees remain eligible to use TRICARE. But if you're separating before your 20 years is up, you may be able to continue major medical coverage temporarily through the Transitional Assistance Management Program or Continued Health Care Benefit Program. Ideally, Montanaro says, you'll be able to move to an affordable plan with a new employer or a spouse's job.


5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition — Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA — http://bit.ly/2rI3qKT