News: Service members save, invest
Story by Spc. Alicia Clark
JOINT BASE LEWIS / MCCHORD, Wash. – Service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., received financial training during a financial forum held by the Financial Readiness Center at the Carey Theater for Military Saves week Feb. 24.
Guest speakers, John Gannon and Gerri Walsh from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority gave soldiers and airmen pointers about reducing debt, saving, investing and planning for retirement.
“We don’t, as a culture, talk about money,” said Walsh, vice president and deputy director of investor education with FINRA. “Talking about it can make a huge difference in how you handle it.”
Gannon, senior vice president for investor education at FINRA, spoke about managing debt and the importance of having a good credit score.
“One of the most important things you can do to manage debt is to save,” Gannon said. “Just having a couple hundred bucks saved can make the difference in getting deeply into debt and managing it.”
Properly managing money is an important step toward financial independence and the people at the Financial Readiness Center can help, said Curtis Littlegreen, program manager, FRC, Army Community Service.
“We see so many people who haven’t planned for the future,” said Littlegreen. “Getting on the path to financial independence can add points onto your credit score.”
Attendees were given advice and tools to better manage income including options for investing and planning for retirement.
“Soldiers need to know that there is an expiration date for their military service, and they need to start planning for that day,” said Army Staff Sgt. Apostolos Gregorious, mobile gun system platoon sergeant, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment.
Walsh explained the different types of investment options, such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds that consumers have as well as options available through the military, i.e. the Thrift Savings Plan.
“Investing is a way of preserving your assets,” Walsh said. “There are no black and white rules for investing.”
Gannon and Walsh also discussed the risk factors that accompany each option. They explained which investment options have the greatest rate of return, but which also involve the greatest risk.
“Time doesn’t reduce risk, but it does smooth over volatility,” Gannon said.
Both speakers emphasized the importance of diversifying your investments to protect your money because of the market’s unpredictability.
“Spread your money over many different types of investments,” Gannon said.
Each type of investment involves risk and Gannon recommended creating an investment plan that considers your risk tolerance and goals.
“I’ve learned quite a few things as far as simple and complex investments,” Gregorious said. “I’m definitely going to do more in-depth research and make more informed decisions as far as finances are concerned.”
Gannon pointed out that it is important to set goals and understand your options where money is concerned.
“People interested in financial readiness can call for an appointment at the Financial Readiness Center located at Waller Hall, (253) 967-7166,” Littlegreen said.
For more information about saving, investing and planning for retirement, service members are encouraged to visit www.saveandinvest.org.