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Fortunately, Carlos Rascon has always been a planner. This trait served him well when he and his family transitioned from the U.S. Marine Corps to the civilian world last year.

Up first: finances

When Rascon joined the Marines in 1992 he was single, but that didn’t stop him from preparing for a future as a family man. Because of his foresight, he was ready for anything when he did get married and start his family. Though he didn’t retire until 2012, he began considering his departure 10 years into his military career. His first step? To get a handle on his finances. He met with a certified financial planner and a budget counselor to map out a strategy.

“It’s easy to get used to that paycheck,” he says of the steady salary he had grown accustomed to in the Marines, “and not understand the bigger picture.”

His careful financial planning over the years afforded him the time he needed to find the right civilian position when he retired in December 2012, rather than having to accept the first job he was offered.

A focus on education

Education has always been a top priority for the Rascon family. Carlos also considered this early in the process, earning his MBA from University of Phoenix in 2004 and a Master of Science in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2008, along with the Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics he earned from University of Arizona in 1992.

His wife Addey earned her degree, as well, to prepare for her career in health education, post-Marines. “It wasn’t just about prepping my career,” explains Rascon. “It was about prepping my wife’s career.”

Rascon also increased his flight hours and continued his military education to ensure he would have the skills necessary—and a variety of career options—when he joined the civilian workforce.

A little help

Rascon tapped into available resources to help him get ready to retire, including the Transition Assistance Program and the Department of Veterans Affairs. He also enrolled at the local university as a non-degree seeking student to take advantage of the campus resources.

Education has always been a top priority for the Rascon family.

Sticking together

A close-knit family, the Rascons discussed their move with their three children—ages 8, 10 and 12—several months in advance. “We talked about where we had been, the pros and cons of those areas and where we wanted to put down some roots and build some social capital,” he says. “The kids were involved the whole way.”

Now the entire family is enjoying getting settled into their new life, including an exciting new civilian position for Rascon and searching for a home near the children’s school in the months ahead. “Until then, I just want to make sure the kids are stable and happy,” he says, satisfied with the way his planning has come together.

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