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It occurred to me earlier today that my husband retires from the U.S. Army in 2 years and 15 days.  Gulp.

We have just made two MAJOR life changes–I quit my job and I’m starting a PhD program in August.  I think I’m officially going to pee my pants in fright.

I had…at one time…had a really solid game plan.  Heck, I even had a game plan 8 months ago.  Of course, I was happy where I was working and I thought I’d be there for at least 3-5 years and I wasn’t even tracking on going back to school other than “Oh, that’d be nice someday.”

On the plus side, we’ve figured out how to make things happen pretty well on one income.  He’ll get retirement and some disability pay.  He’s planning on getting a part-time job next Spring so that he can turn it into a full time job when he’s on Terminal Leave (the following Winter)…but just knowing that our health insurance will have some adjustment, knowing that he’ll be hourly (probably) rather than salaried, knowing that even though he doesn’t make what he ought to (LOL) we do still get a housing allowance…GULP.

I have some part-time income.  Very part-time.  I may get one Financial Counseling assignment per month.  I’m trying to build my own Financial Coaching business…but balancing an actual job with a PhD program, two children, a dog, and all the other mom/wife responsibilities isn’t something I’m comfortable doing.  I don’t want to, nor do I plan to, live on student loans. 

Reality is sometimes a “Gibbs slap” up the back of the head, right!?

Fortunately, I have a little wiggle room.  Reality hit me a few years ago (the initial plan of attack) and now she’s back packing a harder punch.  I have approximately 12-18 months to generate additional funds for savings, paying off the car, finding us a new place to live, and continuing to help my children grow and develop according to their needs.  Our healthcare, though it will now (to my understanding) require the annual premium in full once per year, should still remain extremely affordable.  School expenses for the whole family, growing children (clothing and food), sports (one per child per year), graduation (his with his MBA in just under 2 years)…HOOAH…we’re moving forward, but the planning, the thinking “that far ahead”…that’s where we tend to get tripped up.

No one I know can predict the future.  There is ALWAYS uncertainty.  There are always unexpected expenses.  However, even in the most uncertain times, we can think forward, anticipate what we DO know is coming, and at least put a game plan together–any flexibility we can have in our financial lives loosens up the purse strings for when something major happens.  Any time we can rely on cash instead of credit, working together instead of dividing and conquering (which though faster rarely makes the team stronger), and we look forward to the future as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement we can say that we have taken large steps forward–financially and as a family unit.

It’s a continual process, this birth and death of a career.  With our situation comes (re)birth of a (new) career and the opportunity to grow as a couple, grow as a family, and work together to make some large and small; unimportant and important; fun and not-so-fun financial decisions.

As we get ready to retire from the Army we’ll be ready to “soldier on” and GROW into our new lives–both emotionally and financially.