Saturday, August 20, 2005

Financial Planning

Our society does an appalling job of preparing people to be financially independent. Most high school and even college graduates that I know are almost completely illiterate when it comes to finances. It is not surprising then, that the military is even worse off. There are several contributing factors:
1. Your typical Joe is between the age of 17 and 21. This is the first steady paycheck coming in and his life (and financial future) stretch out before him. There is no sense of urgency or need for planning.
2. Make the military a career and you get a paycheck for life! This is true, just ask my old Sergeant Major who drives a big-rig.
3. Schools may teach you math and how to balance a check, but there is little formal training on investment, so all young people suffer. Writing a simple budget is a rarity in the lower enlisted.
4. Frankly, there is always war and rumors of war. “Live for today” is the motto of the young soldier.
5. The only two alternative savings pushed in the military are the Thrift Savings Plan and automatic purchase of EE U.S. Savings Bonds.

While I am no expert, I have learned some hard lessons and am enjoying delayed success. Therefore, I will periodically be posting my thoughts on a variety of financial topics that are geared toward the beginner investor. I will be looking at it from the view of the new recruit to the grizzled, graybeard veteran (in his thirties, lol). I will appreciate any views, corrections, or comments that would better help convey some basic financial truths. Man, I’d better get squared away! Have a great weekend.