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Financial Literacy: What Are You Passing Along?


Financial Literacy:  What Are You Passing Along?

by Captain Bob Houle, USCG (retired)

April is tax month.  It’s also the month that most people abandon their well intentioned New Year’s resolution to lose weight.  Regular readers of this column know that April is Financial Literacy Month.  Imagine, a whole month devoted to getting smarter about our finances!  From a military perspective, think of it as “rebluing month.”  Just as it does with worn firearms, the rebluing process returns us to the highest quality and accuracy in our planning for our future financial security and independence.

This June marks the start of our MOAA chapter’s 5th year promoting financial literacy for our members and the active duty community we serve.  Our chapter rightly takes pride in our efforts to help our active duty, separated and retired members and their families cope with the stresses caused by financial problems. 

The need for financial literacy continues.  We know that service members face a host of pressures beyond the normal day-to-day issues of the average civilian consumer.   When our chapter’s program started, the situation facing service members was dire and getting worse.  The year before, in 2016,  Congress passed a law mandating formal financial literacy training.   Since then, DOD’s formal programs have had an impact on improving (but not curing, yet) the plight of our service members.  In December 2020, DOD published their latest annual report on financial literacy and preparedness of members of the Armed Forces (see the 31 page report on our website here). 

Improving, yes.  But we cannot let our guard down; we must continue to provide our members with information and resources in all areas of financial literacy so that they are able to not just cope with but thrive in the new, post COVID economy we face.  Investing for the future is a major component of every family’s preparedness planning.  With over 80% of Americans presently caught up in the chains of debt it may seem hopeless to be talking about investing for the future.

Investing starts with believing that a portion of all we make is ours to keep.  We pay ourselves first. Research on savings indicates that a relatively small percentage of Americans follow this "pay yourself first" adage.  Savings is the foundation for successful investing.  With COVID it has become painfully apparent that many of our fellow citizens do not have enough savings to cover even six months' worth of expenses.  Over a quarter have no savings at all. 

Once we make the decision to pay ourselves first, what do we do next?  How can we be successful investors?  Is financial independence really within our reach?  Do we even have the time, talent, and temperament to be successful investors?  Do we understand the time-proven techniques to apply to our investing program? Do we have the knowledge to use the tools and training properly, to achieve our goals at an acceptable level of risk?  These are all key questions we should all be asking.  And providing our insights on these matters to our children and grandchildren.  Remember, we lead by example.  What are you passing along to others?

So how do we learn these things?  How do we share this knowledge and experience with our family and friends?   We start by getting informed on the overall situation we are facing and reviewing the time tested, universal success rules all investors use.

To do this, our chapter has partnered with the local chapter of BetterInvestingTM to present our MOAA membership with a special overview program on “Financial Literacy.”   It is a presentation you won't want to miss and you will want your children (and grandchildren) to sit in on too.

During the first week in April our MOAA chapter members are invited to attend a live, online presentation on “Financial Literacy” that recaps the financial journey stages and provides realistic tips on things to do and perils we need to avoid.  The major thrust of the presentation will be on investing with the focus on why we need to save, get control over debt, how to invest and provide an overview of the investing options available to us and the traps and misperceptions  we need to avoid. 

This educational opportunity should be shared with all our friends and families.  Please share it with them.

This webinar, produced for us by the North Florida Chapter of  BetterInvesting,  is free but you do need to register to get the login credentials.  This program forms an excellent foundation for our MOAA active duty and retired membership to reblue their financial literacy knowledge.   It is open to all MOAA members, including our family members, friends and co-workers so feel free to share this program information and registration link with them:

Financial Literacy
Tuesday, 6 April 2021
Free Program
7:30 - 8:45 pm ET
Click to Register
or type into your browser:

After registering you will be sent your personal access code.  Please share this program information with your friends and neighbors and fellow schoolmates too … remember, friends won’t let friends retire broke, we help them become better investors.

Thank you again for your service to our country and to our fellow members and their families.  It is time for all of us to act and help others become financially secure and independent.  Never Stop Serving!

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