If you have been following my blog this year or my social media, you probably know that we are a military family. Kyle has been serving in the air force since 2008, that is going on TEN YEARS! Now, I have only been a military spouse for a little over 6 years (enough, let me tell you!) and like any military family, we have had shortcomings, sacrifices and a lot of time apart. In fact, the whole first year of our marriage was apart, he was in an island in the pacific that was isolated and military-only, so even if I wanted to, I couldn't just "go see him". All in all, I know there are worse jobs out there and altogether, I think between temporary duty, deployments and training, we spent between 1 and 2 years apart. We took any and every opportunity we could to avoid deployments and we did pretty well at that.
Last time his enlistment was up, it just snuck up on us and we were not prepared for anything other than reenlisting. We made a deal, (and if you're reading this, know someone in the military and they still don't have their bachelor's degree, GET IT, NO EXCUSES, it's free education, and no, you don't have to use you GI bill) he had to get a degree in his 4-year reenlistment so that next time around we could leave and be better setup for post-military life.
Well, that was four years ago, and here we are, leaving the military. It's really scary and it's really exciting!
We are currently 3 months out and we still don't know where we will be moving to. We are hoping to relocate to the Baltimore area, where we have friends and would be more accessible for my family to come see us, plus we'll be near NYC. If you're interested in following me in the crazy next few months stay tuned and follow me on Instagram and Facebook.
So how do you get started?
1- PLANNING YOUR EDUCATION
I am a planner, I like to have everything on paper, neatly organized and accessible, so I can find things when I need them. Your planning can start as EARLY as as soon as you enlist, or reenlist.
For Active Duty - Our plan started in 2014, Kyle started taking classes to complete his CCAF (associate's degree within your military career field), there are aptitude tests and funds available for you to catch up on your classes, and that is NOT money out of your GI Bill, it's just tuition assistance.
For Military Spouses - I have been able to use Mycaa for me (up to $4000 to use for military spouses) it won't let you use it for a bachelor's or master's degree, but you can use it for anything else, as long as the school is approved to receive their funds. I attended NYIP photography school and marketing school through them without spending a penny.
2- DO THE MATH
Being in the military has put lots of strain on us, not only personally, but financially as well. We have always been extremely good at managing money, and sure there are benefits, but being totally honest, we have always compromised on renting the places we really want, buying the cars we really want among other things, so the military by no means afforded us any luxury, but civilian life is expensive!
Pay off debt if you can (start early and make a payment plan so you can have the least amount of debt once you leave the military).
Budget for healthcare expenses, anywhere you go, whether it comes out of your paycheck or you pay it separately, there will be costs.
Allocate retirement funds, check what you can do to your thrift savings plan, or start thinking about contributing to your own IRA account, also look for jobs with great benefits, like a 401k plan.
Research the cost of living of your destination, I believe that on average, civilian life costs 30% more than military life, but especially larger cities will have much higher cost of living and may not have the highest salaries, so make sure to know how much you need to make to maintain or surpass your current living status.
3- GET INFORMED
If you're active duty, there are certain steps you need to take to get the ball rolling on your separation, if you're a military spouse, get informed! An excellent places to start is Military One Source; it will give your resources for benefits, timelines, moving and requirements.
Know your benefits, know your duties, know your deadlines. These things will vary depending on your specific situation, so what's true for me, could not be for you.
Are you leaving the military? Why are you leaving? Leave a comment below!