First Command News & Events


Financial Literacy Boosts Confidence in Military Families, First Command Reports

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that servicemembers with high levels of financial knowledge are more confident than others in dealing with money matters

Print-friendly PDF

FORT WORTH, Texas — A high level of financial knowledge is associated with feelings of emotional well-being in middle-class military families, reinforcing the value of financial education in the armed forces.

Results of a financial literacy test and survey jointly commissioned by First Command Financial Services, Inc., and First Command Educational Foundation reveal that military test takers who earna perfect score are more likely than those with low scores to report feeling:

  • Financially secure month to month (62 percent versus 29 percent of lower scorers)
  • Not being financially stretched month to month (64 percent versus 33 percent)
  • Confidence in their ability to retire comfortably (41 percent versus 31 percent)

“We see in these survey results that financial knowledge is an effective way to battle the fiscal stress that is affecting so many of our men and women in uniform and their families,“ said Vice Admiral (Ret.) Jody Breckenridge (USCG) of the First Command Military Advisory Board. “Effective financial literacy programs can serve to boost feelings of financial confidence and security, paving the way for servicemembers to more effectively focus on their mission in this period of continuing economic uncertainty.”

The annual test reveals that financial literacy and confidence is fading among servicemembers. The average middle-class military family (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) correctly answered 6.57 out of nine questions. Test takers from non-military families scored somewhat higher, correctly answering 6.84 questions. Last year both groups tied by correctly answering 6.93 questions.

“While both groups have experienced a drop in financial literacy, we are particularly concerned for military families,” said Scott Spiker, First Command CEO. “Military households appear less knowledgeable than the general population when answering questions about credit history, finance charges, life insurance and access to loan payment history. This lag in financial knowledge comes at a time when many servicemembers are worried about how cuts in federal defense spending may impact their pay, benefits and careers. It’s never been more important for these families to have a strong foundation of financial knowledge so they may proactively prepare for a life of financial security.”

Notably, military test takers are almost twice as likely as those in the general population to say they have completed a financial literacy program(38 percent versus 19 percent). But the benefits are not fully reflected in military test scores.

The Index reveals that 19 percent of military test takers who completed a financial literacy program earned a perfect score — the same percentage as those who did not complete such a program. In contrast, 26 percent of those in the general population who participated in a financial literacy program achieved a perfect score versus 14 percent of those who did not participate in a program.

First Command supports financial literacy and education through an ongoing, 30-year partnership with First Command Educational Foundation. As part of its new Squared Away™ initiative, First Command has made a $400,000 donation for 2013 to help fund inpersonand online financial literacy tools for servicemembers across the globe as well as increased scholarship opportunities for servicemembers and their families.

“We are committed to meeting the growing need for financial literacy education in the military services,” said Vickie Mauldin, chief executive officer of First Command Educational Foundation. “These test scores and survey findings reveal that military families need and deserve the highest quality of coursework and instruction so they can become one of the nation’s most financially literate populations and more effectively pursue lives of financial security.”

Servicemembers and their spouses are also interested in improving the financial literacy of their children. Military families overwhelmingly believe in the importance of teaching financial information at home (85 percent). However, a third says their children would only be able to answer two or fewer of the financial literacy questions correctly.

“Military parents are committed to helping their children understand the importance of money and grow into financially responsible adults,” said Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (Ret.) Carlton Kent, who serves with Breckenridge and other retired senior flag officers and NCOs on the Military Advisory Board. “A great way to start is by discussing your own experiencesin managing money. Sharing real-life experiences is an ideal way for parents to pass along their financial values and underscore important spending and saving goals for the family.”

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

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.

First Command Financial Services, Inc., is the parent of First Command Financial Planning, Inc. (Member SIPC, FINRA), First Command Insurance Services, Inc. and First Command Bank. Financial planning services and investment products, including securities, are offered by First Command Financial Planning, Inc. Insurance products and services are offered by First Command Insurance Services, Inc. in all states except Montana, where as required by law, insurance products and services are offered by First Command Financial Services, Inc. (a separate Montana domestic corporation). Banking products and services are offered by First Command Bank. In certain states, as required by law, First Command Insurance Services, Inc. does business as a separate domestic corporation. Securities products are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee and may lose value. A financial plan, by itself, cannot assure that retirement or other financial goals will be met.


Hiring Our Heroes Project Sanctuary First Command Educational Foundation Army FPA Alliance