5 Ways to Maximize Military Benefits and Save Money


(Information Courtesy of USAA)

Between basic training, PCSing and deployment, joining the military presents some unique financial challenges in the first few years of service. But there are also great benefits.

“There are a range of products and services that can really be used as you move through your military career,” says JJ Montanaro, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at USAA and veteran of the Army and Army Reserves.

Montanaro’s son recently joined the military.

“He’s just launching his career,” Montanaro says. “As he moves along, I’ll have recommendations for him based on my experience, but not everyone has that, so it’s important to do your research.”

First, review the range of financial and legal protections offered through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, including:

  • Auto lease termination (180 day orders).
  • Residential lease termination (90 day orders).
  • Protection from foreclosure, evictions, repossession and legal proceedings.
  • Reduced interest rates on existing credit card, auto loan, mortgage or other debt incurred prior to active service.

Banking. During a PCS or deployment, USAA waives fees on credit card balance transfers and convenience checks. Plus, it offers a special low APR on new and existing transactions for one year.2 “That’s money in your pocket,” Montanaro says. “Take advantage of the situation and try to pay down existing debt.”

Personal Property. Renters insurance, as well as Valuable Personal Property insurance, can help you protect your belongings — particularly uniforms — on base and abroad. Both provide coverage worldwide, including in war zones, and while living in military barracks or in ROTC or academy dorms. Get a 20 percent discount on renters while living on base.

Tax Advice. Get help with your taxes, using Free TurboTax Deluxe Online Federal for active duty and reservists.

Travel. USAA offers member discounts on car rentals, cruises, resorts and hotels. What’s more, travel insurance can provide some peace of mind if you have to cancel a trip because of a deployment or unexpected leave revocation.

What To Do Now

  • Research the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
  • Store your vehicle on base for discounts on auto insurance
  • Protect your property at home or abroad
  • Get free tax help

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