Financial advice for members of the military can be critical. The government offers a range of specific benefits, from home loans to education, available to people who serve in the armed forces. An active duty soldier’s financial needs are very different from a civilian’s. Here’s what you need to know. A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your needs and goals.
Why Look for a Financial Advisor?
Members of the military live a different financial life from civilians. A good advisor can help you manage your money and avoid pitfalls while also taking advantage of the many programs that the government offers. Here are some areas where financial advisors could benefit military members and veterans:
- Taxes. Active duty servicemen and women pay taxes very differently than civilians, and those who are on deployment in a high-risk or active combat region pay different taxes still. Members of the military frequently move among several states and cities, can have several housing situations in a single year and may receive allowances or cost of living stipends, to name just a few of the complicated tax issues that arise from service.
- Housing. Depending on their post, members of the military may live on base or in private housing nearby. Additionally, both active duty military and veterans can access home loans that no civilians qualify for. The government offers subsidized mortgages that offer better interest rates, closing cost assistance and zero-down payment loans.
- Education. The G.I. Bill, which has been updated to the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, covers tuition, housing and some school fees and costs for veterans. It applies broadly, and can apply to bachelor’s degrees, some master’s programs, all state schools and some private education. For most veterans, this program will cover the full tuition for a four-year degree at any state school or up to $26,381.37 per year at a private or foreign school. It also has tuition and stipend benefits for vocational programs, flight training, correspondence schools and additional educational options.
These are just three common areas where financial advisors could help active military members and veterans. Though you may need additional help with specific retirement plans and pensions, life insurance plans, health insurance benefits and specialized high-interest savings accounts, among other financial benefits.
What to Look for in a Financial Advisor
More than anything else, look for someone who has worked with veterans and members of the military before. A financial advisor should help you achieve three main things:
- Understand the full range of your potential benefits both in and out of service;
- Navigate the specific financial challenges that come from serving in the military;
- Help you avoid scams and predatory behavior.
Beyond understanding your specific benefits, you should also make sure that your advisor specializes in the services that you need. These could include:
- Retirement planning
- Debt consolidation
- Investment planning
- Education planning
If you are looking for more information about military benefits, the Department of Defense offers resources for both active duty personnel and veterans and Military OneSource is also a great place to start. For example, Military OneSource offers free financial advising in person, as well as over the phone and with video conferencing. The number of sessions is unlimited for qualifying personnel and topics covered include money mangement, debt reduction and funding education.
And military-oriented financial institutions like USAA and the Navy Federal Credit Union can help connect you with financial advisors.
Whether you’re in active duty or a veteran, it’s a very good idea to speak with a financial advisor. They can help you navigate the complicated financial world of serving in uniform and make sure you don’t miss any of the benefits you’re entitled to.
Financial Planning Tips
- A financial advisor can guide you through major financial decisions, like determining your investing strategy. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- If you’re looking for an additional stream of income to supplement your retirement, here are five ways to get guaranteed income.
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