This week my husband Mark and I were supposed to attend his first retirement briefings, a weeklong series of classes to prepare you for the future. The classes cover things like VA benefits, life insurance, healthcare, financial planning and job interview skills.

Due to a minor emergency, he can’t go so we have to reschedule. Which means we have to wait a little while to find the answers to some of our most pressing questions. Actually, in our case, I’m not even sure the experts at these briefings will have the answers. I’ve already posed questions to some of them and they are stumped.

Besides the unknowns and worries we have about our planned trip around the country – and all the questions I’ve already posted about that – there are many other logistics of military retirement in general that we need to work out.

The list of questions continues to grow:

  • Where will we store our car for a year, and how much (if any) of those storage costs will the military pay?
  • Where will we have our household goods shipped? Because we live overseas, we have to “declare” a home in the U.S. for the military to use for paperwork purposes. That place is where our household goods will be sent to storage. The military will pay for storage for a year, however if we have our stuff shipped somewhere else after that we could have to pay the transportation costs. So, for example, if we send our worldly possessions to Florida but then decide to settle down in Utah, we might have to pay out of pocket expenses to have everything moved there.
  • The same rule applies to healthcare and dental insurance. We have to state where we will be living, and that is the region in which our healthcare premiums will be calculated, and where we must pick a primary care provider. Problem is, we won’t be living anywhere for a year or so.
  • Can we have our unaccompanied baggage shipped to a different location? Unaccompanied baggage, or UAB, is a smaller shipment that the military sends separately to your next duty station. It generally goes by air and gets there quicker. The idea is to send the essentials in that shipment. We’d like to send everything we’ll need for the trailer in our UAB and receive it at the location where we plan to start our trip. No idea if that’s possible.
  • How much money will we actually have each month? We have a ballpark figure, but don’t know exactly how much health and life insurance will cost. It will also likely be months before we have any answer on VA benefits for disability.
  • Speaking of insurance, do we go with what the military offers, seek out private insurance, or do a combination?
  • Should we have a retirement ceremony?
  • How can we start looking for jobs when we don’t even know where we want to live?

23 thoughts on “The list just keeps getting longer …

    1. She offered, but then she might drive it – ha! Just kidding … I think … We are just hoping to find a good solution that does not involve anyone else having to deal with it. It is definitely an option, though, if it comes down to it.

  1. I’ve heard many people talk about the supplemental insurance via MOAA, but we haven’t explored it enough. That’s on my list of financial stuff to figure out soon.

  2. Just thought of another beyond the MOAA. If you declare outside of FL, then you’ll pay state taxes on his retirement, which I’m sure you already thought of. That said, there are a handful of states which aren’t tax-free BUT that don’t tax federal retirements. Alabama is one, but I’ve heard there are others. I’d go on probability: if you think you’d retire in FL, then go with it for storage and taxes. If you think you’d rather be out west for good skiing and winters, then pick a tax-free state to declare for storage, etc, then the moving costs associated wouldn’t be as high due to less distance. Ah, the list: https://www.veteransunited.com/life/military-retirement-income-tax/

    Is there a state you’re considering on the list? Hope so!

    1. Anne, thanks for the tips on homeschooling and taxes! On schooling, one thing we want to do is have or kids do as many of the same classes as possible, despite being two years apart. We will also probably have our older one be in charge of helping the younger one with math! As for taxes, I have looked at that list and also factored in cost of living and wages vs. the tax free retirement pay. It’s kind of a toss up in some cases. For now we will remain Florida residents because we have no way to claim residency in another state (nor do we want to at this point). We own a house there, have our driver’s licenses there, registered to vote in FLA, our car will be registered there and (ack!) our kid will get his learner’s permit from there in the fall. I will cry many tears if in fact I eventually give up my Florida residency – never been a resident of any other state! (P.S. My husband figured out who your husband was by your email when I showed him. He, too, had good things to say!)

      1. I’m a little jealous of your residency status. I didn’t give it as much thought when we married, and it’s been a hot mess ever since.

        I think having the kids work on the same material will be one of the keys to success, especially if you embark on reading many of the same things. Most of our hs age friends finish their work in 3-4 hrs daily. We finish ours in 2 if we push (3 lately with wintertime blues) and that includes piano. I guess I’m not counting German language practice because my 7 yo and 3 yo play with apps together for that as fun, not school. When we first started, V wondered how it was possible to finish what was required for 1st grade in 45 min. We went well beyond that, but still, 45 min. Tried to explain what herding cats was like and my classroom time, but even there, my real instructional time was meant to be 10-15 min in a 55 min class, X 6. My point is this: even if their courses don’t overlap as much as you’d like, you can fit in a little more that will, to involve the whole family Because they will have MUCH more free time than they’ve been accustomed to in regular school. (Ski, skI, ski!)

        1. Anne, once again thanks for the great comments and advice! Yes, we are hoping to do about three hours of school a day. We do also plan to all read the same books and have a sort of family “book club” meeting once a week. While all the free time will be great, honestly I am also a worried about boredom setting in. I have told the kids they will have lots of chores to do – I envision the trailer and truck being washed at least once a week just for entertainment! I am also trying to figure out some educational ways for them to document this year for themselves, either through blogging, journaling, videos, photography, etc.

          1. It always amuses me to see friends ready to strangle their kids after a snowstorm because the boredom has set in–I can’t identify with it because my kids don’t ever say it. If I leave the kids to a “downtime” day, they can keep creatively occupied at 7 and 3–books, crafts, etc. I have to keep the oldest stocked in paper, blank books, and tape. Everything with tape! Lots of building sets, blocks, etc. I’m trying to figure out with older kids what to stock beyond books that’s portable. Any interest in needlecraft, knitting, or sewing? Or building small, whittling, etc? It’s more challenging because of the journey aspect, but I’ll keep thinking.

            Have the kids responsible for the sight-seeing stops. If it’s a boring ride/leg, it’s not your fault! Geocaching/hiking?

            If photography, you can get neat-o little 4×6 books made now on Snapfish, and you could do it monthly. It’s nice to see a small, finished product. I’m trying to do it for trips since I never do anything with photos beyond family blogspot for grandparents.

            Will think re keeping them occupied. Books are always our catch-all.

            On a totally random note: you need an InstantPot. I started thinking of what I would do in a tiny RV kitchen. It’s my dinner miracle. It’s a small, electric pressure cooker. But you could whip up meals on the fly in very little space. (ie I can make beef stew from tough cuts of meat plus a bone thrown in for broth in 35 min, then 10 more for veg, and it’s tender.) Also works as a great rice cooker, steamer, slow-cooker, hard boiled eggs in a flash, etc. Oh! Make the kids cook! ; ) Two birds with one stone.

          2. Anne – You are a treasure trove of great ideas! The monthly photo books are a fantastic idea! I also just told Mark today that we should get into geocaching during this trip. I think the kids would love it. We are definitely going to let them plan/navigate parts of the trip, and also get them involved in the budgeting aspect. If there’s room we are going to bring my daughter’s sewing machine along as I am sure there will be a need for curtains, throw pillows, etc. I am also going to assign them to cook some of the meals. We used to have each of them cook one night a week, but lately life has gotten too hectic (or I am not organized enough in terms of grocery shopping) to make that happen. And speaking of cooking … I have been looking at crockpots, pressure cookers, thermal cookers and other easy ways to cook in small spaces. There are lots of great ideas online. I actually just started a Pinterest account (against every fiber in my body!) to keep track of stuff like that!

    2. Oh, also, you asked if there is a state we are considering on the list. We are looking at a wide range of places with different veteran’s benefits, but mostly Florida, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and possibly New Hampshire and Vermont. There are others we want to visit but these are the ones we’ve narrowed down so far. I will write a blog about this soon. We are all over the place!

      1. A wide range, indeed! We’ve spent most of our time at Carson, and I love it out west. But when we drove from DC to Seattle last year, I fell in love with Montana and Idaho. Colorado but greener, and less population dense. Alas, my husband prefers the opposite.

        1. That’s funny because my husband and I are the opposite. I would love to live in a big city (we lived in the middle of Seoul, 20 million people!). Mark, however, would be perfectly in the middle of nowhere, without a neighbor in sight!

  3. You should definitely have a retirement ceremony! But it doesn’t have to be overseas. You can host your own simple ceremony with family and friends wherever (and whenever) you want! I did mine at my hometown War Memorial. My husband (still active duty) officiated. I got a sample program from the retirement services office on post and adapted the ceremony to fit my needs. There are some fun ideas online too. One Airforce band guy retired and included in his ceremony a performance of his favorite musical selections, thanking people/mentors in between and with the music. 🙂

    1. Elizabeth – Sounds like you had a great ceremony. I am all in favor of one, my husband however is not. I think it would be a great memory for the kids. I really like the idea of something small. My husband absolutely does not like to be the center of attention, even on his birthday or Father’s Day. Maybe I should have a spouse ceremony – gather all my girlfriends from around the world, rent a beach house and serve copious amounts of adult beverages – ha!

        1. I was tempted to say “Yay!” But then I realized that a.) you posted anonymously and b.) I have no idea what you are “in” for!

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