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13 March 2024 | Comment | Article by Alena Zavarin

Financial awareness for successful transition from service to civilian life

Female Veterans Alliance

Our military partner, Female Veterans Alliance, has released a report, Female Veterans: The forgotten and invisible servicewomen of our Armed Forces, containing commentary and recommendations from a female veteran’s workshop held last year.

The report offers valuable insight into the multifaceted challenges faced by female veterans.

We’ve identified key concerns voiced by the female veteran community and are publishing a series of blogs to provide advice and guidance.

The workshop was sponsored by Hugh James, as is the report.


In light of the recent findings from the Female Veteran Alliance report, it has become evident that female veterans encounter a multitude of financial challenges upon concluding their military service. From navigating complex pension structures to grappling with tax intricacies and the overarching management of finances, the landscape is rife with obstacles.

Our independent financial advice team recognises the gravity of these issues and the profound impact they have on the lives of women who have served their countries. Therefore, we’re committed to shedding light on these concerns and offering guidance to empower female veterans in navigating their financial futures with confidence and clarity. Join us as we delve into the nuances of financial awareness and explore strategies to address the unique financial struggles faced by our female veterans.

Lack of financial experience

In the military, many aspects of daily life are provided for: housing, meals, and healthcare. As many serving personnel enter armed forces at a very young age, they often go from parents’ home straight to the service, where everything is a given. This means minimal financial responsibilities and no need to learn good financial habits. In fact, many veterans describe a “millionaire for the weekend” mentality, where pay checks were blown quickly and easily with no thought of what might come next.

Absence of financial awareness can lead to very real, unpleasant, and even life-changing consequences. Having no savings to cover an emergency is more common than you think – almost half of UK adults have no savings they could use in time of crises. If there are no savings, one would need to rely on debt, that often comes with eyewatering interest. Credit cards and loans can snowball out of control if left unchecked.

If you’d like further, bespoke financial advice, please get in touch with our Independent Financial Adviser team.

Adopting healthy financial habits

Luckily, new financial habits are easy to adopt and they don’t come with a price. As a civilian, you’ll need to manage your finances independently. This is where budgeting becomes essential. Create a realistic budget that covers essentials like rent, groceries, utilities, and transportation. Allocate funds for savings and leisure activities. Remember, a well-planned budget provides financial stability and peace of mind.

Regardless of whether you have already transitioned or only thinking of it, build an Emergency Fund. This easily accessible cash pot should be equivalent to at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses. It acts as a safety net during unexpected situations and stops you from reaching for a credit card when things get rocky.

Get familiar with taxes

This one might not be a favourite, but it is nonetheless important. As a civilian, you need to have a good understanding of taxes. How they work, why and when, what’s taxable and what’s not. Interest on savings account is taxable in excess of Personal Savings Allowance (£1k in a tax year for a basic rate tax payer, £500 for a higher, and 0 for an additional), and it is up to you to declare it. Suddenly, things like ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) that allow UK residents to save £20k in a tax year without having to worry about tax on that capital) become very important! It is also quite likely that you will need to submit a tax return, so find out key dates and deadlines to be on the front foot.

Another important one to consider is Capital Gains Tax.  If you were renting out your main residence whilst living in Service accommodation, you had the benefit of the JRA (Job Related Accommodation) exemption. This means that your home would not be considered rented out for Capital Gains Tax purposes, and there would be not tax to pay on sale. If, however, you continue to rent it out after you leave service, you lose the relief, and any gains on the house will be partially taxable.

Not all debt is bad

Debt is generally considered to be strictly negative. However, some debt is good, and in fact necessary – all things in moderation! You need to evidence that you are a responsible borrower, and you can only do so through taking on small debts and paying them off on time. Think about things like 0% purchase agreements, and phone and broadband contracts – not micro loans. They help you build up your credit score. A good credit score opens doors to better financial opportunities. Pay bills on time, keep credit card balances low, and avoid excessive debt. Monitor your credit report regularly.


Female veterans deserve financial stability and empowerment. By understanding these financial principles, you’ll navigate the transition successfully. Seek professional advice from companies experienced in assisting ex-service personnel—they’ll guide you toward financial independence and security.

If you’d like further, bespoke financial advice, please get in touch with our Independent Financial Adviser team.


Alena Zavarin

Independent Financial Planner

Alena Zavarin is a Chartered Financial Planner who joined Hugh James in May 2023. Alena is experienced in all major areas of personal finance, including investments, pensions, estate planning, and protection strategies. Her proficiency extends to working with vulnerable clients and those in long-term care settings.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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