The Investor Protection Trust, along with several partners, is distributing a guide so financial planners can help military families run a smooth financial ship, whether during active duty or more placid times.

The guide highlights highly advantageous saving and investment programs available exclusively to military personnel, and at any rank. For instance, the U.S. Government Thrift Savings Plan operates on a simple, low-cost model. It charges just $0.25 cents a year for every $1,000 invested, and offers just five funds.

If a household maintains $100,000 in the plan, for instance, the plan will charge only just $25 in investment management fees a year, making it one of the lowest cost investment plans around, said Don Blandin, president and CEO of the Investor Protection Trust, a nonprofit group devoted to investor education.

About 810,000 copies of The “Financial Field Manual: The Personal Finance Guide for Military Families,” are being sent to military bases around the world and state securities regulators who sponsor investor education community programs, Blandin said.

Financial planners can encourage a military client to save for retirement by recommending that he or she contribute to an IRA or to the thrift savings plan. The available retirement saving contribution credit can reduce the client’s tax bill if he or she participates as an investor in an IRA, Blandin said.

“We want to get people to understand the process of investing, so that they can have better relationships with their financial planners,” Blandin said.

Financial planners should not let the low program costs dissuade them from discussing the saving and investment options with clients. Instead of charging on assets under management, they can bill fees as they would for any other type of fiduciary work not charged on AUM.

“I hope everyone, including those starting out, can get some investor education to be able to manage their money properly,” Blandin said. “My guess is as these military families will be like the rest of us in the need of a planner’s assistance.” 

Benefits also extend to life insurance. The Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program, for instance, charges just 6 cents per $1,000 on a life insurance policy. So a soldier, sailor or other personnel might be able to buy a $400,000 policy for just $312 a year, Blandin said. 

“A lot of military members do not understand that,” he said.

Donna Mitchell writes for Financial Planning.