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Retirement savings and confidence strong in military families

November 22, 2019

FORT WORTH, Texas – Career military families are out-saving other Americans and growing increasingly confident in their preparations for retirement, according to the latest findings of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.

Second quarter results reveal that middle-class military families (commissioned officers and NCOs in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) who contribute to retirement and long-term savings accounts reported an average monthly savings of $1,229. That’s significantly more than the monthly average of $828 reported by the general population.

Military families are also outpacing their civilian counterparts in feelings of financial confidence. Sixty-nine percent of military respondents report feeling extremely or very confident in their ability to retire comfortably. In contrast, retirement confidence in the general population is 41 percent.

 Service members and their families are also saving more than the general population for short-term goals ($501 per month versus $358). And they are feeling more confident in their near-term finances. Seventy-five percent of service member families say they feel extremely or very confident their financial situation will improve in the next year. That compares to just 44 percent of the general population.

 “The act of saving helps people feel more financially confident,” said Scott Spiker, chairman and chief executive officer of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “We see that positive connection between savings and attitudes reflected in military families. They are saving and investing more than their civilian counterparts – and those behaviors align with feeling more confident in their current finances and retirement preparations.”

 Financial confidence levels are particularly high among military families who work with a financial coach. The Index reveals that families with a financial advisor are more likely than do-it-yourselfers to feel extremely or very confident that their financial situation will improve in the next year (79 percent versus 53 percent) and in their ability to retire comfortably (74 percent versus 34 percent).

 Notably, military families with a financial advisor are more likely to have long-term and retirement savings and contribute more each month than those without financial advisors. They report average savings and retirement holdings of $231,000, or about $116,000 more than those without an advisor.

 “Financial advisors are committed to coaching families to build their net worth so they can feel more financially confident and secure,” said Mark Steffe, president of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “They help families assess their unique situations and build comprehensive financial plans that reflect their military pay and benefits. They serve as knowledgeable partners who help families set goals that line up with their hopes and dreams and effectively pursue financial security.”

Look for military families to boost their finances in the months ahead. They are more likely than their civilian counterparts to say they intend to increase their monthly contributions to savings and investments. These results helped drive the second quarter Financial Behaviors Index score to 161 for military families versus 117 for the general population.

 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.

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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