Military families face an enormous number of challenges when it comes to their finances. And, few decisions will be as important as whether they opt for a new retirement plan that is equal parts pension and matching contributions or stick with the old-fashioned pension arrangement. The option is offered to those who joined the military from 2006 to late 2017. My guest Kim Lankford isn't just a columnist for Kiplinger, she's also a military spouse who has first-hand experience as dealing with military financial issues.

Here are the takeaways:

1.)    If you are a member of this special group who joined the military from 2006 to late 2017, Kim says the best way to decide which option to pick is to consider how long you plan to stay in the military. If you are staying less than 20 years, you'd be well served to opt for the blended plan. Otherwise, you may find yourself walking away from service with no retirement benefits.

2.)    Don't miss out on the freebies. Take advantage of the Thrift Savings Plan, a low-cost retirement savings option that is similar to a 401(k). Low-cost life insurance is also available for military members. Kim says her family plans to take advantage of a program that allows the transfer GI Bill benefits to a family member, a spouse or a child.

3.)    Avoid the scams! Watch out for people who prey on our military because of they have a regular income and few contacts in local communities. Kim suggests checking lists of problem companies at base offices to make sure you don't do business with an organization that has a record of troubles with our military men and women.

Take a listen to the podcast and for more information, check out Kim's new publication, Kiplinger's Financial Field Manual: A Personal Finance Guide for Miltary Families. The guide is chockablock full of relevant and detailed information and FREE! Yes, I said, free! Here's the link.

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