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First Command Reports: Career Military Families Sticking With Frugal Ways For Thanksgiving

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals top cost‐cutting techniques of men and women in uniform

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Again this year, financial uncertainty and concern is prompting middle-class military families to kick off the holiday spending season with a leaner Thanksgiving celebration.

The annual Thanksgiving spending survey through the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 82 percent of middle‐class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E–6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) say their Thanksgiving plans will change as a result of the current economic situation. That's unchanged from last year. In contrast just 44 percent of civilian families say their plans will change. That's also unchanged from last year.

"Our Thanksgiving survey results reveal that the frugal spending behaviors that began several years ago with the economic downturn have eased for the general population, but remain in place for America's career military families," said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. "Four years ago, similar percentages of military and civilian families indicated that the economy was impacting their Thanksgiving plans. As the economy improved, Thanksgiving frugality dropped in the general population. But concerns over sequestration and defense downsizing have been prompting military families to continue to pursue leaner Thanksgiving celebrations. Also, military families are cutting back on everyday spending at a rate that outpaces their civilian counterparts."

The portion of military families who are cutting back on everyday spending hit 42 percent in September, up from a year‐to‐date low of 34 percent in June. In contrast, just 24 percent of general population families say they are cutting back, down from 30 percent in June.

Active‐duty families will be cutting back on Thanksgiving in a variety of ways, including:

  • Reducing travel (28 percent)
  • Sticking to a set budget (28 percent)
  • Dining with immediate family members only (22 percent)
  • Spending less on decorations (22 percent)
  • Have a "pot luck" dinner (20 percent)
  • Spending less on food (18 percent)
  • Go to someone else's house for dinner (16 percent)
  • Go out to a restaurant for dinner (11 percent)

"By tightening their belts a bit at Thanksgiving, military families are making it easier on themselves to remain frugal in their daily spending habits so they can more effectively pursue long‐term financial security during this uncertain time," Spiker said.

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 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.


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