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Men and women who leave the military to work in the civilian world often have many desirable skills and traits that employers seek. Leadership, discipline, self-sufficiency, integrity, good communication skills, and the ability to perform well under pressure are just some of the traits that members of all branches of the military consistently have. Specialties such as computers and communication technologies, logistics and transportation, and electronics are usually in high demand for many civilian jobs. Unfortunately, the job market can be tough, and it may take some time for military veterans to find a job that suits them. If you’re a veteran who can’t find a job, you may as well save some money in the meantime.
Get Unemployment Benefits
With most jobs, if you quit, you’re disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. However, this isn’t the case for service members. If you left your branch of the military with an honorable discharge, you may be able to receive Unemployment Compensation for Ex-service members (UCX) while you’re looking for employment. The compensation is paid for by the military but based on your state’s unemployment rates. You can apply for these benefits by contacting your state’s department of labor.
Create a Budget
Nobody likes to live on a strict budget, but tough times call for tough measures. Make a list of every bill, subscription, and music/video streaming service, along with how much you spend on groceries, clothing, and anything else that you typically buy during the month. Look at the list and consider each item carefully. If you need to keep to a strict budget, you’ll likely have to make some cuts, at least until you’re working again. Now, look at your income, your unemployment benefits, and anything you have coming in for funds. If it’s less than what you have for expenses, you’ll have to make more cuts. Use your income (take-home) to determine your budget and to determine how much you have to work with each month. Sticking to a budget takes discipline, but that’s something that veterans usually have in spades. Be sure to leave a little room for entertainment because it’ll make it easier to stick with your budget for the long term.
Always Ask for a Discount
Many businesses are happy to offer discounts to our men and women who are currently serving or have served in the past. Some places only do this on Veteran’s Day, but many restaurants, hotels, stores, salons, and other businesses offer them year-round. Imagine getting 10-15% off everything you buy! A comprehensive list can be found here, but if you don’t see a business listed, it never hurts to ask. Whether you’re a veteran who can’t find a job or not, some municipalities even offer discounts on property taxes for veterans.
Take full advantage of any discounts offered. VA home loans allow you to get a mortgage for $0 down and no PMI. Insurance companies such as USAA offer discounted insurance for veterans. Programs are out there, and they can save you a lot of money.
If you rent, talk with your landlord and see if you can negotiate a reduced rent while you’re looking for a job.
Set Up an Emergency Fund
If you’re able to swing it while you’re unemployed, set aside money each week in a separate account for emergencies. It may only be a few dollars, but having an emergency fund will make it easier to avoid putting necessities such as food on credit. If you have a tax refund or any type of monetary “windfall” coming to you, put it in your emergency fund. Once you’re working again, continue contributing to your emergency fund by having a specific amount automatically transferred into it until you’ve saved up at least 6 months’ worth of expenses.
Take Advantage of Available Resources
Many resources are available to veterans to help with housing, food, bills, and other necessities. Places such as the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Operation First Response, the Coalition to Salute American Heroes, and USA Cares are just a few of the organizations that offer help to veterans in their time of need. Besides financial assistance, many also offer housing assistance and mental health services.
The good news is that most companies appreciate the skills that can be brought to the table by military veterans. Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and General Electric are just a few businesses that offer good-paying jobs to veterans who’ve served and protected our country.
If you’re a veteran who can’t find a job, hang in there and save what you can while you’re waiting to find that great job.