Midday Fix: Financial tips for veterans

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Steven Esposito
Morgan Stanley
www.MorganStanley.com

Steven's Tips:

Create a budget.
If you have a budget, have you been sticking to it? Do you need to edit it to fit your upcoming spending needs? If you don’t have one, create one by taking note of your monthly expenses and keeping a log of your spending.

Request a free credit report.
Do a year check on your credit history. Check all reports for errors or any new issues that you see. It is better to put a stop to a small issue now, before it becomes a large-scale problem later.

Evaluate your Insurance.
Evaluate your insurance policies to make sure you have the appropriate amount of coverage. Be sure your home or renters, auto and life insurance are all current. Read the fine print of your policy. If you are unsure what is covered, call your insurance agent to confirm and strengthen your coverage if needed.

Create an emergency fund.
By building an emergency fund, you create safety net that can be used to meet your most essential needs instead of relying on high-interest credit cards or loans when an unexpected expense arises. Make sure you have at least three to six months' worth of living expenses for non-discretionary expenses in case your income ceases or declines.

Consolidate retirement assets.
As you move from job to job throughout your career, financial accounts will multiply. Unless there are huge benefits to keeping retirement money floating in the account of a previous employer, pull all savings into one retirement account. This makes it easier to see what is and what is not viable as retirement approaches.

Avoid predatory loans.
Veterans face so many challenges when transitioning back to civilian life. The high cost of living, lack of employment, and medical needs can lead to a real financial crisis. We know of too many situations where service members took out payday loans with an extremely high interest rate just to cover the costs of their basic needs. These types of loans don't solve a military family's situation, they just make it worse.