Governmental bodies and nonprofits of all sorts have a variety of services designed to aid older veterans in the US. Private companies also provide special products, services, or rates to veterans out of respect. All of these benefits and discounts are helpful, but veterans’ needs often are different than the needs of non-veteran citizens.
As an example, if a senior veteran does not live near a VA facility to receive the help they need, they could end up paying out of pocket for healthcare if they don’t have any other coverage. Keeping track of what is and isn’t covered gets tricky, so it’s important that senior veterans maintain and improve their financial health.
Mortgages for America recognizes and supports veterans as the heroes they are. With that in mind, here are a few tips for senior veterans to help them develop a practical financial plan, ensuring any surprise costs can be handled as they arise.
Aim for Something
The first step for any financial plan development is to come up with a goal for your plan. You’re at point A right now. What is point B? Do you want to travel across the US and keep a home near your family? Or maybe you want to save as much money as possible for future generations. Whatever your goal is, you have to come up with a destination before you can map out your way there.
Remember, your financial plan doesn’t necessarily focus on one goal, so don’t get hung up on choosing one above any others. Paving the path to a healthy financial future takes time, and it isn’t always easy. According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, numbers from 2018 show that over 85 percent of military and veteran families endure some kind of financial hardship. You’ve already taken the first step and recognized what your financial goals are, so now’s the time to dig into the numbers to make it happen.
Crunch the Numbers
Now you need to see what you have and where your money is going. Understanding your cash flow has a lot to do with your budget, but it goes beyond that as well. You need a clear picture of your current financial situation that you can use yourself or provide an advisor to work with.
Find all the current balances of any savings and retirement accounts you have, and make a list of all your assets and their value. Then, compile a list of all your debts. These will be used to find your net worth and establish a beginning.
With all the numbers laid out in front of you, it’ll be easier to see where you can cut back and save more money to pay off high-interest debts, increase your 401(k) contributions, or invest. Before you move on, make sure you’re taking advantage of all eligible benefits; for instance, you can get free tax preparation at a military base, and if you’re house hunting, a VA foreclosure can stretch your funds. You can even use a VA loan to purchase a manufactured home, which is a cost-effecting way into a new property.
Another option worth considering is refinancing your existing mortgage. There are many reasons to refinance; it’s a great way to lower your mortgage payment, it frees up cash flow, and can improve your credit score. It can also help if you’re trying to consolidate debts.
Understand Your Limits and Extend Your Reach
While you continue paying off debt and saving for your future, senior veterans should revisit their coverage in healthcare and life insurance so that family members are provided for as well, when the time comes. Thankfully, there are long-term care benefits for veterans and their spouses that help with the cost of in-home care or nursing homes. ElderLawAnsers points out aid and attendance is an “underused” benefit available to veterans who bring in too much income to qualify for VA pensions. Find out if you’re eligible for these benefits by contacting a VA office near you.
If you’re a senior vet whose finances are strained, take heart. There are several things you can do to get things under control. Determine your direction, develop a practical budget, take advantage of your benefits, and make some plans for your later years. And remember, Mortgages for America is here for you. Get in touch for more information on how we can help with your financial concerns.