How to Stretch Your Retirement Dollars

And more tips to help financial security after retirement

I sip from the glass of water in front of me, uncomfortable as the only person at the table without a coffee and donut. But prices are up again. I hear the light-hearted retelling of deployment stories and bragging about grandkids.

I don’t feel light-hearted.

I barely notice when everyone except Chris is gone. “What’s up?” he asks, moving to the chair across from me. I hesitate, but he says, “Maybe I can help.” I stare at the tabletop, take a deep breath and say, “I think I retired too soon. Social Security doesn’t pay nearly as much as my job did.” I gesture around the table, though the other chairs are empty now, and say “You all seem to have money. I know Bill has a part-time job, but he says it’s for fun. If I return to work, it won’t be for fun.” I sound resentful now. Retirement wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Financial and retirement planning is not just for the young. Continuing to plan up to and beyond retirement helps avoid unpleasant financial surprises.

The Retirement Financial Planning Checklist from Aging in Place suggests reviewing income sources, taxation, and expenses to assess financial readiness for retirement.

Review Income sources

Retirement income sources are not the same for everyone.  But income from Social Security is available to most retirees. The Social Security Administration (SSA) says veterans “can get both Military Retirement and Social Security Benefits.” Click here to learn how military benefits interact with Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Pensions, disability compensation, and certain other benefits are sources of income for veterans. Money Crashers explains military retirement pay and pension benefits here. provides information here, including contact details for help with questions.

Savings programs like 401(k), IRA, and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), provide retirement income for participants.  These programs offer choices of how to handle the funds once you retire. They also have rules about withdrawing money and how taxation affects the withdrawals. For details see:

You might have other income sources like rental properties, part-time work, or investments.  Be sure to include them in your review.

Review Taxation

Misunderstanding how taxes apply to retirement income can sabotage financial planning. Income in retirement is not all tax free and your tax rate might not be lower than before retirement. Read these myth-busting articles for insight:

For information about taxable and non-taxable retirement income refer to resources like these:

Some organizations offer tax help to veterans at no cost. Click here to see a list compiled by Know A Vet.

Review Expenses

In retirement some expenses go down. Some go up. Benefits help reduce expenses. Are you eligible for additional benefits as a military retiree? Click here to see a list compiled by of potential benefits. Click here for the VA’s list of benefits for elderly veterans.

Discounts on goods and services also help reduce expenses. Click here to see the Best Discounts for Veterans in 2021 compiled by VA Claims Insider.

It’s also helpful to know what isn’t covered by benefits. Click here for information from Deploy Care on what the VA covers for senior veterans and what it doesn’t. 

Some people think they are too old to begin financial and retirement planning. Read these articles for reasons they might be wrong:

Click here for more information from Know A Vet about financial and retirement planning.

Visit Know A Vet? for a list of resources for a wide range of issues and resources by zip code. Your local VSO can help connect you to other veteran or civilian organizations. To find your local VSO visit Know A Vet? and put your zip code in the box toward the top of the home page for your local Federal, State, and County resources.  

Watch for future articles from Know A Vet? that will discuss VA benefits for Veterans and their families. 

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