In this special edition, we wanted to give a very special thank you to all of our currently enlisted armed forces personnel and veterans. You brave men and women take the ultimate risk and lay your lives on the line so that we are able to enjoy the freedoms that we love back at home. I personally have several friends who have joined various branches of the military (although the United States Marine Corps. seemed to be branch of choice amongst my friends), most of which joined at a very young age. It is all too often that we hear stories about veterans returning from war and finding themselves in financial difficulty. We wanted to take this week to write about what military families, and any family for that matter, can do to make sure that their finances are safe and secure.
Educate yourself: Investing for your retirement is not easy nor should it be taken lightly. The money that we invest today will be what we live off of later in life. With that being said, we encourage investors to educate themselves a little bit. There are online courses, continuing education classes, seminars, and other events that can be utilized to help educate you on investing and finance. Many men and women join the military at such a young age that they have had little time or desire to learn about basic investing fundamentals, and these classes can be a big help.
Don’t empty the piggy bank: Every single one of us knows somebody that knows somebody that has lost their life savings due to mismanagement, a failed startup business, or just flat out blown it on toys. Retirement money should be for just that; retirement. There is nothing wrong with having a slush fund for a new set of golf clubs or that new boat you’ve been eying, but only after allocating the proper amount of money to your retirement fund. Remember the old saying, “Savings today is deferred gratification.”
Be diligent: It is far too easy to open up a retirement account and never make a subsequent deposit. Getting in a routine or on a schedule is a great way to make sure that you continue contributing towards your financial success. Ask your broker or advisor about Automatic Investment Plans, or AIPs. AIPs are a notation on your account that will allow your investment company to withdraw funds from your checking or savings account as often as you desire and will deposit those funds directly into your retirement account. You can do them for as little or as much as you like and can cancel or suspend them at any time.
Find someone you can trust: For every story that we have heard about someone emptying their life savings, we have heard the story about “the investment that could have been;” stock tips and real estate deals from brothers-in-law and aunts and uncles. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to find someone that you truly trust with your money. This can be quite difficult; we encourage everyone to shop around for a broker or advisor that you feel comfortable with. Ask questions and never forget that this is your money, not theirs. Treat a first meeting as an interview, and you are the one doing the hiring.
Investing is not all big returns no risk; there certainly will be bumps in the road. Hopefully, these tips will help you to navigate the path to the successful financial future that you deserve. To our veterans: Thank you for your service and God bless you.