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Military families maintaining financial confidence in face of COVID-19

March 3, 2021

FORT WORTH, Texas – Despite ongoing concerns about the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, career military families are continuing to save for and feel confident in their financial futures.

The latest results from the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveal that nine out of 10 survey respondents are concerned about the pandemic and roughly half are worried about the financial impact. Many of these families

are responding to their COVID-19 concerns by maintaining monthly contributions to savings and retirement accounts, and those positive behaviors are contributing to strong levels of financial confidence.

January 2021 survey results reveal that 52 percent of career military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) feel extremely or very financially secure month to month. That’s up slightly from 46 percent in January 2020. Seventy-three percent of military families feel extremely or very confident in their ability to retire comfortably. That compares to 63 percent the previous year.

“One year into the pandemic military families are maintaining their hope and optimism by continuing to invest for the long term,” said First Command President/CEO Mark Steffe. “These positive behaviors are helping them weather the uncertainty of today and feel greater confidence in their financial futures.”

The trend is particularly notable among those who partner with a financial coach. During the fourth quarter of 2020, military families with a financial advisor contributed more to retirement and long-term savings accounts than their do-it-yourself counterparts – $1,714 per month versus $906. They also put more dollars into short-term savings – $667 per month versus $483. Military families who work with a financial advisor ended the year with average savings and retirement holdings of $191,158. That’s about $84,000 more than those without an advisor.

 These higher savings amounts align with greater levels of financial confidence. The January 2021 survey reveals that 79 percent of military families with an advisor feel extremely or very confident that their financial situation will improve in the next year. That compares to just 40 percent of families without an advisor. And 78 percent of families with a financial coach report feeling extremely or very confident in their ability to retire comfortably, compared to only 41 percent of military families without an advisor.

Notably, military families who work with a financial advisor are more prepared for emergency expenses related to the virus. The Index reveals that 62 percent report having three months or more of savings to fall back on to cover monthly household expenses. That compares to 54 percent of military families without an advisor.

“Military families who partner with a financial coach are better prepared for the pandemic and feeling more confident in their financial future than their do-it-yourself colleagues,” Steffe said. “Working with a financial advisor can help reinforce the value of saving for today and increase feelings of security and confidence for tomorrow.”

Looking ahead, military families who work with an advisor are more likely than their DIY counterparts to say they intend to increase their monthly contributions to savings and investments. These positive savings intentions helped drive the latest quarterly Index score to 179 for those with an advisor versus 117 for those without an advisor.

The Index is set to a benchmark of 100, which was assigned when the Index was launched in 2008.

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. For more details on our research, please email

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 Brokerage Services 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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