Planning Your Civilian Retirement

Unless you finish up your 20 years in the Reserves or National Guard, chances are transitioning JMOs won’t be receiving a full military retirement or continuing the Thrift Savings Plan.  I’m not.  And while I’ve been putting a little bit away for my retirement since I was a teenager, I’m not yet savvy on what retirement plans entail in the civilian world… so with a little help from a finance guru friend and internet research, I’ve got the 411 on IRAs and 401(k)s for those of us who don’t yet know the lingo.


  • free retirement account/long-term savings plan only available through an employer (replaced pensions in many cases)
  • money comes out of your paycheck (sometimes “matched” by employer!), with certain limits to contributions
  • traditionally, taxes are paid when you take the money out, not put money in
  • money is invested in money market funds, growth funds, etc. to increase over time
  • not protected by Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (which pays out those with failed pension plans)


  • can be Traditional or Roth
  • Traditional IRA contributions are tax-deductible (under certain income limits), with no taxes on growth, though you do pay taxes when you withdraw it at age 70 1/2
  • Roth IRA contributions are not tax-deductible, with no taxes on growth, and have fewer withdrawal restrictions and requirements or taxes due when you withdraw at age 59 1/2
  • Anyone can open a Traditional IRA, but not everyone qualifies to open a Roth IRA; contributions are also limited

These retirement accounts are a great way to invest and plan your future.  It’s important to diversify your investments (don’t put all your eggs in one basket!) but these accounts are a great start for when you transition to a civilian career.

Thanks to LearnVest who wrote this great article that moved me to start finding out more.


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