Navy Federal Credit Union
Navy Federal Credit Union

Transitioning to Civilian Life

You've lived the military life. Now it's time to transition back to civilian life. There are many adjustments to consider, but one of your top priorities will probably be getting your finances in order.

The Transition Budget

Simple planning will go a long way in making your financial transition smoother. A transition budget is a great way to prepare yourself for what's to come. Here are some expenses to consider:

Moving Expenses

Depending on where you are moving and the type of discharge you receive, your moving expenses may be covered by the military. If this is the case, consider moving to a temporary residence, then allowing the military to subsidize your move to a permanent residence. Visit the relocation office on your installation for more information.

Housing Expenses

If you plan on buying a home, you might run into additional fees on top of the closing costs, like Homeowners Association fees. If you plan on renting, make sure to set aside funds for things like deposits, pet fees, and unforeseen expenses. Contact a Real Estate agent.

Medical Expenses

Find out if you are eligible for continued military health benefits. If not, be aware that civilian employers may offer medical insurance that requires you to pay part of the premium. Visit the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) website for more information.

Professional Life


If you plan on going back to school, consider the GI Bill. The Montgomery GI Bill is open to Active/Former Active Duty, Reserve, or National Guard veterans. If you have earned certifications or licenses through the military, check to see whether they are transferable to the civilian world. Get a copy of your verification of military experience and training. Check out for a full list of VA-approved programs.

Resume and Networking

Two other factors that will give you an advantage—but are easy to overlook in the job hunt—are a well-thought-out, polished resume and practicing for interviews. They can go a long way in making you a more appealing candidate. When it comes time to look for a job, good networking is a huge plus, too. Consider tapping into organizations like the Military Officers Association, Retired Enlisted Association, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Marine for Life, Army Career and Alumni Program, and GIjobs is full of helpful tips and information on jobs.


Thrift Savings Plan

If you have a Thrift Savings Plan, here are a few things you can do with it once you leave the military:

  • Leave your money in. It will continue to accrue interest. You cannot make additional contributions, but you can make interfund transfers.
  • Receive a single payment. All or a portion of the account can be transferred to an IRA or employer plan.
  • Request a series of monthly payments based on dollar amount or life expectancy. All or a portion of the account can be transferred to an IRA or employer plan.
  • Request a TSP annuity. You must have at least $3,500 in your account in order to purchase an annuity.

Personal Matters

Before you transition to civilian life, be sure to make time to tend to the following personal matters:

  • Schedule final physicals and dental appointments for you and your family.
  • Take advantage of the legal resources on your installation to do things like updating your Will.
  • Review and correct military records (they can provide access to certain benefits).
  • Put your Active Duty Discharge form in a safe place. It's your ticket to all Department of Veterans Affairs programs.

A good resource to help you manage your personal information and benefits is eBenefits. Navy Federal also offers resources to help with your transition, including financial seminars with a focus on transitioning to civilian life. To find out about this and other transition assistance resources, give us a call at 1-888-842-6328.

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