Heroes Finance 101 : Introduction
Written by Robert Patrick Lewis on 10/02/2017
What do you know about money, finance, investing and retirement savings? If you’re like the vast majority of Americans, probably not much. Do your eyes gloss over when the news starts talking about the economy or someone at your work begins talking about retirement plans?
Join the club.
I was in your boat not that long ago. My family left me some money when my grandparents passed away, and even though I had a trust-appointed financial advisor, I had no clue what he was talking about. He’d recommend stocks and I pretty much just followed him blindly. And then the internet bubble burst in 2000 and “blue chip” stocks that made up much of my portfolio became worthless overnight.
When I was in the Army I signed up for the various savings programs while I was deployed, dedicated a part of each paycheck to savings bonds and even started an IRA, but still didn’t know too much about where I was putting my money. I pretty much just listened to friends talk about what they had and followed them about as blindly as I had followed my advisor previously (who was no longer in the picture).
A few years after leaving mother Army, I took a contracting gig with a large defense firm. I clearly remember sitting down with the HR people putting my pay package together and they asked which retirement saving options I wanted to take advantage of. I looked at the long list of various options and asked them what I should do. There were Roth options, traditional options, 401(k), 457, IRAs and a whole host of other number & letter combinations that I had never heard of and, of course, they weren’t allowed to offer me any advice.
It dawned on me that if I were a college graduate with a business degree and a bit of financial experience who had no clue about what most of these things meant or how they worked, that a large part of the population didn’t have any idea either.
After the contracting gig ended I began working for a large global financial services firm, studying for and accruing financial knowledge and certifications to satisfy my craving for financial literacy. I worked as an Investment Advisor Representative for a few years, but left for another opportunity and began putting that knowledge to work for myself, my family and a few friends exclusively. My MBA studies have given me a much more intricate understanding of exactly how finance and investments work on both the micro (dollars and cents) and macro (how global events & politics affect the financial world) levels.
After speaking with Heroes Media Group CEO Adam Bird, it dawned on us that I may be able to put some of that knowledge to use, and that’s what we’re doing here…passing that same knowledge along to you, our Heroes community, in a much easier to digest (and less money & time consuming) format.
I should start off by saying we’re not asking you for money, nor are we asking you to invest in anything we do. Being a veteran from a family of veterans and having a large set of Brothers who are veterans and heroes of different walks, I know we tend to get a little anxious when people begin pitching us with sales talks or trying to sell something.
Of that same respect, I need to add that none of this should be construed as individual investment advice. Everyone’s portfolio is different based on the money they have to put towards retirement, investing and savings, their risk tolerance, time until the money is needed, and a whole host of other suitability questions. This is merely meant to be a solid base of financial education to help point you in the right direction to save for your own future or dig deeper into something that interests you.
What we’d like to offer you here is what we call Heroes Finance 101. This will be a free chance for those of us who have served our country and community to get a little bit of free information on exactly what all the options I listed above (and many others) really mean, in easy-to-read language, to give you the tools to enable yourself to make sure that after you’ve served your time you can retire comfortably and not have to worry about money now that you don’t have to worry about surviving the job anymore!
We’ll be putting out segments on the HMG website to help you understand the different options available, what they mean, what they do, how to use them, research the best ones for you and help cut through the cloudy mist that most finance people intentionally put up to make sure they’re always the smartest people in the room.
Some of the things we’ll discuss are rather complex, but as long as you understand the basics you can know if it’s something you’d like to look into a little more. Our mission here is to take these complex concepts and distill them down to be as easy to read and understand as humanly possible, so that you will no longer be in the dark and to give you the opportunity to have a much better idea of your financial and investment options.
At the very least, after reading all of these, you’ll have the knowledge to understand what’s available and the power to choose what’s best for you and your family.
Here’s an example of some of the topics we’ll cover:
- The difference between Roth and Traditional investment plans
- Retirement plans 401(k), 403(b), 457, Keogh, SEP, Simple, and rollover IRAs)
- Stocks, mutual funds and ETFs
- Life Insurance (investing vs insuring)
- Bonds (savings, corporate and government)
- The difference in a savings account, money market account and checking account
- Options trading
- Bitcoin and FOREX
- Macro events (what’s going on in the economy) and how investments normally react to them
- How to make money when the market is going sideways (or even down)
I tend to nerd-out about anything money or finance related but I promise to keep these segments as easy to understand as humanly possible.
The mission of Heroes Media Group is to be the voice for all Community Heroes by bridging the gap between hero, citizen and the communities they protect, educate, and empower. I feel that knowing about your personal finances is one of the greatest tools of empowerment that a person can have today, and hopefully we can add another tool to your toolbox to help you accomplish your missions in life.
Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact“ and “Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for A Green Beret In Post-9/11 War.” He is an MBA candidate (Southern Methodist University – Class of 2018) and licensed Financial Advisor. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.