5 Money Transition Tips from a Marine Turned Financial CEO

From combat to CEO, how Brandon Burton built his financial services company (photo by Brandon Burton).

When Brandon Burton left the Marine Corps in 2006, bootstrapping his own consumer financial company was not part of his long-term plans.

Still, that's exactly what he did in 2013 to start his business Securing Life Today, a consumer financial services company that serves consumers and businesses.

"I've always wanted to do something that helped people, and I'm a self-starter and like working for myself, so it made sense to start my own company," Burton said.

With a bachelor's degree in business earned during his enlistment and experience working for as a financial adviser immediately after his discharge, he put up $30,000 and founded his company, which competes with other budgeting and financial services firms such as LearnVest and Mint.com to help consumers stay on top of their accounts between visits with their financial advisers. He has since grown his company to include major brand partners such as Discover Bank, TD Ameritrade, Credit Karma, Quicken Loans and Zillow.

"I'm helping people learn finances in a new and improved way that teaches the person how do it for themselves using technology," Burton said. "Our technology provides people with the cheat codes to financial success."

Burton said his experiences as a Marine helped sharpen his discipline, likening a battle plan to sound financial planning.

"The skills I learned in the military helped me with discipline in my business. I'm more focused than I could have ever been, because of the military," he said. "It taught me routine and to analyze and assess things in a strategic manner. It taught me how to create a plan and how to most efficiently accomplish that plan."

But starting his company was not without its challenges, and Burton learned more than a few good tips for service members transitioning out of the military and into civilian life.

Brandon Burton's 5 Top Financial Transition Tips:

1. Consider rolling over your credit card debt. If you have credit card debt and good or decent credit, and you want to pay off your debt faster, consider rolling over your credit card debt to a new card that will provide a 0 percent interest rate (usually for 12 months). You'll be able to pay off the principal much faster.

2. Set up an automated budget. It's much easier when you have technology doing the work than to have to seek out the information. Consider a financial dashboard such as Securing Life Today.

3. Keep a VA loan eligibility certificate on hand. If you are looking to purchase a house, make sure to get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE), which lets lenders know you are eligible for a VA-backed loan. You can also re-qualify for a VA loan more than once if you paid back the first loan in full and in good standing.

4. Have good document habits. Create an updated will, make sure your beneficiaries are updated and all your insurance documents are organized and in order. Tools such as Securing Life Today's money tool have a secure place to store important documents for simplicity and ease.

5. Make sure you are adequately covered with life insurance. Sometimes it's hard for military members and veterans to get additional life insurance, but there are many companies that work with the veteran community. Tools like those in Burton's Securing Life Today let you quote and apply to veteran-friendly insurance companies online.

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-- Sean Mclain Brown can be reached at sean.brown@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmclainbrown

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