First Command News & Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — December 19, 2014

First Command Offers Five Holiday Budgeting Tips For Military Families

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FORT WORTH, Texas — America’s career military families are celebrating their frugal spending ways again this holiday shopping season.

One third of middle-class military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) expect to spend less on gifts this year, making it their No. 1 cost-cutting strategy for the holidays, according to the latest survey results of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.

First Command Financial Services, Inc. recommends creating a workable budget—and sticking to it—as an ideal way for servicemembers and their families to keep their spending under control. The company’s five budgeting tips for a successful, debt‐free holiday are:

  1. Take a look at last year’s holiday expenses. Determine how much you spent on gifts, party supplies, clothing, decorations, travel costs and any other holiday‐related bills. Were you comfortable with that level of spending? If you found yourself scraping by in January to cover your holiday costs, make a plan to reduce holiday spending this year.
  2. Set out a dollar amount for each holiday spending category. Using last year’s figures, you can create reasonable spending guides for each category. If you can do without a new outfit for the office Christmas party, you may be able to spend more on gifts or put the money in savings. If your holiday party is known as the best in the neighborhood, consider a larger decoration and food budget, but plan for less gift‐giving money.
  3. Let your family know the budget. Budgets are excellent tools for keeping your spending in line, but without the help of your family, sticking to one can be tough. If your kids are expecting to give gifts to a half‐dozen friends, let them know a manageable budget for each gift. If your family is planning a holiday vacation, provide a realistic picture of where and how you can travel.
  4. Make a list of gift recipients, and check it at least twice. Because gift‐giving is different for everyone, there is no rule for adding or removing recipients from your list. If you’re uncomfortable taking anyone off your gift list, consider lower‐cost items. A handmade gift can have more meaning than a piece of jewelry or an electronic gadget. Another saving option is a gift drawing for less immediate family, friends and coworkers. Also, personalized cards are an excellent way to send holiday greetings to your far‐flung friends and family — and much cheaper to mail than bulky gift boxes.
  5. Avoid holiday impulse purchases. During the holiday season, it is easy to get swept up in the many sales and events that encourage you to buy, buy, buy. But think about whether you will appreciate those purchases after the holidays are over. Determining which items will and won’t have an impact on your year‐round happiness can help steer you away from overspending on impulse buys.

“This holiday season marks a time of growing concern for our men and women in uniform as they strive to deal with the financial uncertainties of sequestration and defense budget cuts,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Four out of five career military families are anxious about cuts to defense spending and more than half are concerned about their near-term job security. By keeping a tight rein on holiday spending, they are getting their family finances squared away for an uncertain new year.”

About First Command Financial Behaviors Index®

Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. Financial Behaviors Index

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.

Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.

About First Command Educational Foundation

First Command Educational Foundation (FCEF) has been proudly supporting scholars and their families since 1983. FCEF is a 501(c)(3) public charity, and has worked tirelessly to promote their mission to educate those who serve. To that end, FCEF has awarded over $4 million in scholarship grants to help offset the costs of higher education, and has educated over 60 thousand individuals on numerous financial literacy topics. www.fcef.com

About First Command

First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success, First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.

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