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The Surprising Way I Got Over My Fear of Investing for Retirement

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This post is sponsored by TSP Investing. All opinions are my own.

Salt on pizza is delicious. “One more episode” of West Wing means “let’s watch until we fall asleep.” There’s no such thing as eating “too many brownies.” And saving for retirement is imperative.

I consider myself lucky. John and I agree on nearly everything important, whether it’s the right way to eat pizza or our inability to stop watching President Bartlett tear it up in the Oval Office (we’re only on Season 2! No spoilers!) or…

…money.

Saving for retirement can be confusing and frustrating... and paralyzing. Here's what this #milspouse did to get over her fear.

 

Finances are one of the most divisive topics for people in relationships. In fact, there are studies that even show that arguments about money are a top, major predictor for divorce.

Finances are so very important for military families as we often find our financial situations changing, with different kinds of strains than other families might have to deal with. The costs of setting up a home every few years (or heck, the incidental costs that come with picking up and moving) and the strain that spouse un- or under-employment alone can be tough to absorb, especially as a brand-new couple starting life together.

So, John and I see eye-to-eye on the importance of saving– not just for our savings, but for our retirement too. And this is where we differ. You see, I’m not a huge risk-taker. I mean, come on, it took us 9 years of knowing each other before we got married. I turned down two dates over 6 years before we actually became a thing.

I don’t take risks. At least, I don’t take calculated risks.

And when it comes to saving for retirement, I want to make sure our money is safe. I am terrified of putting away money in mutual funds or stocks only to see the market tank and for us to lose everything we’ve worked so hard for. I don’t want to be destitute in our 60’s. I don’t want to be ruined when the stock market crashes or because we made bad investments that we thought were good.

If you’re hearing a lot of fear, that’s because there is a lot of fear (at least on my end) when it  comes to saving for retirement.

I realized, too, that most of my fear comes from the unknown.

I decided to overcome that fear and to really learn about investing, retirement, and options that are available to us. The first thing to figure out was the TSP– Thrift Savings Plan. If you’re not familiar with this product, the TSP is a savings program for federal employees (including those in the military) designed to give them the same kind of benefits that people in the “civilian” world receive with 401(k) plans. John set his up long before we were married and has paycheck deductions that go straight to his TSP, so I wasn’t very aware of the program.

And that’s where TSP Investing comes in. If you’re interested in knowing pretty much everything about Thrift Savings Plans and TSP allocation, you’ll want to check this service out.

There are two parts to TSP Investing: a paid newsletter service and free, educational resources for military and government families. Both sections of financial resources are excellent and cover all kinds of information related to TSPs including scams to watch out for and the different kinds of TSP funds that are available. (I didn’t even know there were different kinds!)

I found their newsletters to be particularly helpful as I figured out the “lay of the land” when it comes to investing. I could go back and read through back issues of the newsletter to start getting my “sea legs.” They show the results of real-life investment from month to month. current market issues, and other information that is pertinent to the month. There are tons of charts and graphs (which are really helpful when trying to figure out concepts that felt like a foreign language at first).  The folks behind the newsletter also take time to answer questions from readers both in the comments and as focus stories to explain wider topics and ideas.

Often financial advice and services can feel a little murky, confusing, or downright deceitful, so I also really like that TSP Investing has been featured on reputable websites like FedSmith and Mint.com.

While I can’t say that I’m a risk-taker now, especially when it comes to our  finances, I do feel more comfortable to have discussions with John about our savings strategies. I also feel more open to talk about possibilities that might be a little more aggressive than I would have previously been comfortable with. That’s a huge win for me.


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