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Savings Rates Strongest in Military Families with a Financial Coach

January 25, 2021

FORT WORTH, Texas – Amid continuing economic concerns over COVID-19, career military families who work with a financial coach are out-saving their do-it-yourself colleagues and feeling more confident in the future.

 The latest quarterly results of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveal that middle-class military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) who receive financial coaching from a professional advisor are contributing more to retirement and long-term savings accounts than their do-it-yourself counterparts – $1,563 per month versus $883. They are also putting more dollars into short-term savings – $572 per month versus $305.

 These monthly savings behaviors are reflected in household net worth. Military families who work with a financial advisor report average savings and retirement holdings of $219,350. That’s about $81,000 more than those without an advisor.

 Financial confidence is also stronger in career military families who work with a financial coach. The Index reveals that 78 percent of these families feel extremely or very confident that their financial situation will improve in the next year. That compares to just 38 percent of families without an advisor. And 77 percent of families with a financial coach report feeling extremely or very confident in their ability to retire comfortably, compared to only 42 percent of military families without an advisor.

 “These high levels of confidence are particularly noteworthy in light of continuing concerns about the financial impact of COVID-19,” said Mark Steffe, president/CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Almost half of career military families say they expect to be extremely or very financially affected by the virus. But military families who work with a financial coach are feeling more insulated from the impact of the pandemic. They report higher contributions and accumulated balances in long-term savings and retirement accounts than their do-it-yourself colleagues. By coaching their clients to build strong money behaviors, financial advisors are helping these families strengthen their current finances during this challenging period.”

 Military families remain vigilant in the face of the pandemic. One out of four military families say they are increasing their emergency savings as a result of the pandemic. Fifty-eight percent of respondents say they expect to tap into these emergency funds to cover household expenses in the next 12 months. Out of that group, 57 percent say they have three months or more of savings to fall back on.

Pandemic-related challenges facing military families include the precarious nature of military spouse employment. Thirty percent of spouses said they have lost employment or income because of COVID-19. Another factor driving elevated levels of financial concern among military families is delays in permanent change of station (PCS) moves. Respondents who report that they are experiencing a delayed move express various concerns, including:

    • Increased housing costs due to paying for their new as well as current residence (54 percent).
    • Financial uncertainty (52 percent).
    • Inability to find or start new employment for the military spouse (44 percent).

“Military families are facing notable uncertainties during COVID-19, but those who are working with a financial advisor are in a better position to weather the impact,” 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.”

  Look for the savings trend to continue in the months 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 quarterly Financial Behaviors Index score to 173 for those with an advisor versus 123 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, First Command Advisory 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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