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.


@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 Tammy G. Bruzon | February 3, 2018

    Getting a large check from the IRS? You could win BIG for saving just $50 of your #taxrefund with @SaveYourRefund. Learn more: http://bit.ly/2jGAHW9 #MSW18

Saver Stories View all »

Regular Savings is the Key to Success

Written by Super User | November 26, 2010

My name is Chris Strong. I joined the Air Force on 25 March, 1985. On that day, my financial life changed forever. I was introduced to saving bonds in Basic Training. Savings bonds were the big thing back then just like the Thrift Savings Plan is today. A Colonel gave us a briefing. I cannot remember his name but I can remember the 100 savings bonds he had posted to a piece of card board. He gave us a speech on the importance of saving money and how it can change your life. He inspired me to save.


Money on the Side

Written by Super User | November 26, 2010

Camp Arifjan, Kuwait -- A colonel in the 1st Theater Sustainment Command has money on his mind.

Army Col. George Fields, the Chief of Intelligence, or G2, has been teaching a free "Managing Your Money" class here in his spare time. More than 400 students have attended his six week-long class to learn more about increasing their own finances.

"All I did was sit down and listen to a guy one day who showed me what he was doing" said the colonel as he explained how he became interested in what he calls, "becoming financially free."


On the Right Track to Build Wealth

Written by Super User | April 16, 2013

My name is Robina Wahl, and I am a military wife and a veteran. Although I am fairly new to the Military Saves Campaign, the message to “Build Wealth, Not Debt” reassured me that my husband and I were on the right track and doing the right things.

I have always been pretty responsible when it comes to saving and living within my means, but I was not prepared for the unpredictable employment lifestyle of being a Reservist and military spouse.