By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJune 7, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 7, 2012) -- Most people look forward to retirement, but for many, figuring out how to get there is the hardest part of the journey.
Army Community Service offers Your Retirement Flightplan, a free seminar to help educate people on not only how to set up their retirement plan, but what they should know before they start investing in their future, according to Mike Kozlowski, personal financial readiness specialist for ACS.
"Before you put your money into anything, you've got to understand what that thing is," he said, adding that the reason for the seminar is because there is a lot of interest among people in regards to investing, but most people don't know how to go about doing it.
The seminar will be June 12 from 6-8 p.m. at the Munson Heights Neighborhood Center, and will focus on educating people on the basics of investing so that people know what they are putting their money into, said the financial specialist.
The flightplan seminar will cover investing techniques; strategies and investment vehicles, such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds; as well as educate about the Army's own Thrift Savings Plan.
The TSP is a government form of a 401k plan that is available to military and civilian personnel, said Kozlowski. The plan offers various investment choices and vehicles in an effort to help people grow their money, he added.
"The TSP is a retirement tool," he said. "You put money into the TSP with the purpose of withdrawing [your money] one day down the road."
It's up to the individual as to where he or she wants the money put into the TSP to be invested. A person has the choice to invest into five basic mutual funds or invest in the lifecycle fund, which is a super fund that encompasses all five funds, according to Kozlowski.
"Some of the funds invest money into stocks and others into bonds, which are income driven," he said, adding that the TSP has been touted as one of the best retirement plans ever created.
The seminar will go into details about the TSP and how it can benefit those that wish to invest into it, as well as helping people map out and maintain their retirement flightplan, said Kozlowski.
Just as a pilot has to balance out his or her flight plan when piloting an aircraft, people need to balance out their financial flightplan when investing their money, he said.
"One way to plan it out is to understand how your money can grow the best over time; taking into consideration the risk or volatility," said Kozlowski, comparing the balance being measured to that of an air speed indicator on an aircraft.
"You need to stay balanced," he said. "You don't want to get too aggressive or too conservative when it comes to investing -- you want to stay kind of in the middle."
Kozlowski also pointed out that the determining factor on how aggressive or conservative to invest is age, and said that the older a person gets, the less aggressive their investment strategy should be.
Another representation in the flightplan is the glide-slope indicator, which represents staying on track, according to the financial specialist.
"Every pilot knows that when they're flying a precision approach that they're going to make it to the runway if they stay on course or on glide slope," he said. "You can't see the future, so you have to pay attention to some basic principles [that we'll teach], stay on course and not spend money that is used for investing on something else."
These are just a few of the principles that will be discussed during the seminar, and Kozlowski said that he wants people to be able to walk away from the seminar with knowledge of how plan out their own financial future.
"We can help [plan out people's future] here at ACS," he said, "but I want to do more than just do it for them -- I want to teach people what they own. That is why the seminar is there; to educate them."