Financial Literacy Tools for Service Members

By Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, AFC®, boneill@njaes.rutgers.edu

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Personal Financial Managers (PFMs) do a great job helping service members and their families improve their financial literacy. However, there is always something new for clients to know.

Sometimes, the biggest challenge to finding personal finance information is knowing where to look. Below is a list of useful websites from government and university sources:

  • Find Out Your Financial Well-Being- This website from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) contains ten questions to enable users to assess their current financial well-being and compare it to other U.S. adults. After answering the 10 questions, users see their score and the U.S. average score and are provided a list of online and local resources. The 10 questions also make a good starting point for client discussions.
  • Investing for Your Future– This Cooperative Extension website, developed by financial educators at land-grant universities nationwide, contains an 11-module basic investing home study course. Module topics include Finding Money to Invest, Ownership Investments, Fixed-Income Investing, Mutual Fund Investing, Investing With Small Dollar Amounts, Selecting Financial Professionals, and Investment Fraud.
  • Investment Risk Tolerance Assessment– This online tool from the University of Missouri has been used in empirical research about investment risk tolerance for almost three decades. Users complete a series of questions about hypothetical risk-taking situations and their current asset allocation and receive a risk tolerance score and an interpretation (low, below-average, average/moderate, above-average, and high tolerance for risk).
  • Investor.gov- This website from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) contains investing quizzes, financial calculators, and information about selecting investment professionals, investment fees, digital assets, investment scams, investment risks, and various types of investment products.
  • Money Smart for Adults– This website from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) contains 14 modules on personal finance topics including Money Values and Influences, Your Income and Expenses, Your Savings, Credit Reports and Scores, Borrowing Basics, Building Your Financial Future, Making Housing Decisions, and Buying a Home. The materials can be used by PFMs or as a self-study for service members.
  • My Money Five– Part of the MyMoney.gov website from the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC), this website contains action steps, tips, and resources organized around five financial wellness themes: Earn, Save and Invest, Protect, Spend, and Borrow. It contains materials from the FLEC, which is comprised of 20 federal government agencies that are involved with the delivery of personal finance information.
  • Personal Finance Resources– This Rutgers Cooperative Extension website features video clips about saving money, 24 financial education lesson plans, Microsoft Excel templates for asset allocation, net worth, and budgeting, a downloadable personal finance book, over a dozen downloadable worksheets, and templates for seven different savings challenges.
  • TSP Calculators– This website from the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) contains eight calculators where users can make calculations such as estimating how much they should save and how much their TSP savings will grow, determining how much they can contribute, and comparing the tax treatment of a before-tax dollar traditional TSP account versus an after-tax dollar Roth TSP. 
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