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Financial confidence gap opens in military families

March 7, 2019

FORT WORTH, Texas – A financial confidence gap has opened in career military families, with the military spouses who typically manage household finances feeling considerably less assured about their fiscal futures than service members.

Recent survey results from the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveal that career military spouses (those married to commissioned officers and NCOs in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) are significantly less likely than service members to feel confident in their:

  •  Near-term finances. Fifty-seven percent of spouses report feeling extremely or very confident that their financial situation will improve in the next year. That compares to 79 percent of service members, or a 22-point gap.
  • Retirement readiness. Forty-one percent of spouses report feeling extremely or very confident in their ability to retire comfortably. That compares to 73 percent of service members, or a 32-point gap.

“These findings are particularly noteworthy in light of the key role that many spouses play in managing their family finances,” said Scott Spiker, chairman/CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Their unique experience is often one of shouldering the primary responsibility for family budgeting, savings and retirement planning. This has become particularly true during the extensive deployment schedules endured by the service members in the past 15 years of overseas conflicts. Our Nation’s military wives and husbands bear a heavy fiscal load, and it’s understandable if that weight sometimes challenges feelings of financial confidence and security.” 

Notably, military spouses do report significant areas of optimism. Seventy-eight percent say their families are prepared financially for an eventual transition to civilian life. Three out of four say their families are prepared financially in the event of a combat-related death or disability.

“Financial coaching can play a key role in closing the financial confidence gap between service members and spouses,” Spiker said. “Our research and experience consistently reveals that career military families who work with a financial advisor feel more financially confident than their do-it-yourself colleagues. Working with a financial coach can help them successfully navigate retirement decisions and other financial issues and support their pursuit of financial security.”

About the 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.

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

First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Financial Planning and First Command Bank, coach our Nation’s military families in their pursuit of financial security. Since 1958, First Command Financial Advisors have been shaping positive financial behaviors through face-to-face coaching with hundreds of thousands of client families.

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