Picture of multiple pairs of legs running through tires laid flat on the ground.

Basic Training Tips to Help Service Members Invest Wisely

By Lori Schock, Director of the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy

You train every day to serve our country, and you owe it to yourself to train for your financial future.  That’s why the SEC is providing you with some basic training tips on how to invest wisely. 

You wouldn’t head off on a mission without a plan, right?  Well, the same is true for investing. Start right now and set goals for yourself and your family and then make a plan to achieve those goals.  You can use the SEC’s Savings Goal Calculator to see how much you need to save each month to meet your goals.

A fast and easy way to save is by setting up automatic contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan from your paycheck.  Get on MyPay to sign up for TSP or to increase your saving percentage.  This can help your money grow over time and can be an important part of your retirement plan.  And if you’re opting into the Blended Retirement System in 2018, you can get free money through employer match contributions.  Who doesn’t want free money? Learn more at the Department of Defense’s BRS page and MilitaryOneSource or talk to your unit’s financial specialist.

But if you have high interest debt – like credit card bills – consider paying those off first.  The interest rate on credit cards is often far higher than what you can expect from the returns on your investments.   

You protect us day in and day out from threats. When investing, you need to keep your eye out for a different kind of threat. Be aware that there are fraud scams that target service members and their families. Be wary of investments that sound too good to be true like claims that an investment “can’t miss” or offers “guaranteed” returns.  Take your time and don’t rush into any investment decision.

Always check out financial professionals before investing.  It’s easy to do a background check, just go to the SEC’s Investor.gov website. 

And, ask about fees associated with investing.  These costs can have a significant impact on earnings over time.

Remember, all investments involve some degree of risk.  By picking a mix of investments, you may be able to limit your losses and reduce the ups and downs of your returns without sacrificing much in potential gains.

Start training today to be a wise investor.  Your best defense is self-defense—through education, research and common sense.  Learn more at Saving and Investing:  A Roadmap to Your Financial Security Through Saving and Investing and take advantage of all of the free investor education tools and resources at Investor.gov, including our military page.

Thank you for your service.

The Securities and Exchange Commission disclaims responsibility for any private publication or statement of any SEC employee or Commissioner.  This article expresses the author’s views and does not necessarily reflect those of the Commission, the Commissioners, or other members of the staff.


Are you trying to save money? Let Military Saves help you reach your savings and debt reduction goals. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. We'll keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your savings goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.

TAKE THE PLEDGE


@SEC_Investor_Ed has basic training tips for SMs and their families on investing. Check 'em out here >> http://bit.ly/2FoneN7 @MilitarySaves

Tweet this now

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Guest Blogger | March 7, 2014

    Make sure your financial advisor’s title is accredited, and that the he/she is qualified through a training program that holds its members to strict ethical standards.

Saver Stories View all »

Building Wealth by Setting Goals

Written by Super User | April 24, 2013

My name is Allison Mecadon and I’m a Youth Coordinator with the Virginia National Guard Youth Program. My husband, Tom, is an M-Day Army National Guard Member (an M-Day member is one who performs weekend drill, but is not on full-time duty).

Read more...

One That Almost Got Away

Written by Super User | November 26, 2010

Brody Lockwood - Like a typical fledgling, I started down the track of financial indebtedness. Nineteen years old and nothing to lose. Credit - who need it? Savings - that was for older people with responsibility. Debt - my parents were in debt ergo it must be OK. When I was eligible for reenlistment, I reenlisted for a multiple of 3 worth $15K. I was happy to pay off my debt, but would I be able to stay out of debt?

Read more...

A Plan for Success

Written by Super User | April 26, 2012

I’m Staff Sergeant Robert Zuniga and I have been an active duty Air Force medic for eight years. I plan on staying in long enough so that I can retire at 20 years. I have always been interested in personal finance and would like to share how it IS possible for me and my stay-at-home wife and two kids to not only save and invest a ton of money but also have a lot of responsible fun as well on 'low' enlisted pay. You CAN do it too!

First off, we write down our goals and separate wants from needs.

Read more...