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First Command Reports: Military families resolve to cut debt and spending in 2017

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals top 10 financial resolutions for new year

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FORT WORTH, Texas –Members of America’s career military are looking forward to improving their family finances in 2017 through a set of money–themed New Year’s resolutions.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 89 percent of middle–class military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E–5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) are confident that their household finances will improve in the new year. That confidence is accompanied by a variety of positive financial aspirations for 2017, especially cutting back on household spending and reducing consumer debt. Most survey respondents identify at least one positive strategy or frugal activity they will pursue this year.

The top 10 New Year’s resolutions from military families for 2017 are:

  • Cut back on excessive spending
  • Get out of debt
  • Improve credit score
  • Keep track of financial activities
  • Learn to budget responsibly
  • Use cash or debit more often instead of credit cards
  • Start saving money for retirement or put more money into retirement savings
  • Have adequate health insurance
  • Learn not to live beyond your means
  • Make sound investments in the stock market
  • 36 percent
  • 33 percent
  • 29 percent
  • 28 percent
  • 27 percent
  • 26 percent
  • 25 percent
  • 25 percent
  • 24 percent
  • 22 percent

Notably, several of these New Year’s resolutions reflect significant financial issues being experienced by some career military families. The November survey reveals that respondents say they are experiencing problems with credit card debt (31 percent), overall debt levels (28 percent), inadequate savings (28 percent) and spending without a budget (27 percent).

Family financial concerns are being influenced in part by continuing uncertainty related to sequestration and defense downsizing. The Index reveals that 74 percent of military families are anxious about cuts to defense spending, reflecting a long–term trend. When November survey respondents were asked to identify ways that sequestration impacts their family, their No. 1 pick was increased responsibility for healthcare costs (31 percent). That concern is mirrored in the top 10 New Year’s resolution related to health insurance, which was selected by 25 percent.

Financial advisors are helping many families counteract feelings of uncertainty about the future. The Index reveals that 67 percent of active–duty families who have a financial advisor feel confident their financial situation will improve in the next year. That compares to just 43 percent who do not have a financial planner.

“Families who work with a financial coach are more likely to enact frugal strategies in their pursuit of financial security,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “We look for a growing number of military families to put their trust in knowledgeable financial professionals as they look for new ways to grow their household finances in 2017.”

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.


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