First Command News & Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — December 19, 2014

Military Families Cutting Back on Holiday Gift Spending, First Command Reports

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals one third of servicemembers plan to spend less on gifts

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FORT WORTH, Texas — America’s career military families are planning to sharply rein in their gift buying impulses this holiday season, continuing an ongoing trend toward more frugal celebrations.

First Command's annual holiday spending survey reveals that 33 percent of middle-class military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) expect to spend less on gifts this year, making it their No. 1 cost-cutting strategy for the holidays. These frugal shoppers plan on average expenditures of $907, down from the $957 they estimate having spent last year on holiday gifts. Two out of five families (41 percent) say they expect to spend less than $500.

Military families also anticipate reducing their gift giving expenses by:

  • Giving gifts to fewer people (28 percent)
  • Buying gifts at discount stores (27 percent)
  • Giving fewer gifts per person (25 percent)
  • Setting a maximum amount for gifts (24 percent)
  • Making gifts (20 percent)

Black Friday was expected to play a key role in the frugal spending strategies of military families. The Index reveals that 41 percent of survey respondents planned to do most or all of their holiday shopping on Black Friday, up from 13 percent last year.

Other ways military families are cutting back for the holidays include spending less on travel (30 percent), decorations (30 percent) and food (17 percent). The Index reveals that 92 percent of servicemember families plan to cut back this year, statistically unchanged from the past two years.

The 2014 holiday shopping season marks the seventh consecutive year that the Index has pointed to leaner spending in military families, reflecting a larger trend toward frugal living as a response to growing financial and career insecurity related to defense budget cuts.

“This holiday season marks a time of growing concern for our men and women in uniform as they strive to deal with the financial uncertainties of sequestration and defense budget cuts,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Four out of five career military families are anxious about cuts to defense spending and more than half are concerned about their near-term job security. By keeping a tight rein on holiday spending, they are getting their family finances squared away for an uncertain new year.”

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 Educational Foundation

First Command Educational Foundation (FCEF) has been proudly supporting scholars and their families since 1983. FCEF is a 501(c)(3) public charity, and has worked tirelessly to promote their mission to educate those who serve. To that end, FCEF has awarded over $4 million in scholarship grants to help offset the costs of higher education, and has educated over 60 thousand individuals on numerous financial literacy topics.

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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