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Military Families Holding The Line On Back-To-School Spending, First Command Reports

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals top cost-cutting strategies

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Military families are carrying the frugal spending behaviors they developed during the economic downturn into this year’s back-to-school shopping season, with the majority preparing to roll out a variety of cost-cutting strategies.

The latest findings of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveal that roughly three out of five middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) are in the market for school clothes and supplies. And 85 percent of them say they plan to spend the same or less this year on back-to- school shopping, reflecting a commitment to frugality that emerged during the economic downturn and continues into an uncertain future of sequestration and defense downsizing.

In recent years military shoppers have committed to cutting back on school spending through a number of different strategies. The top methods reported by this year’s survey respondents include:

  • Using supplies from past years (55 percent).
  • Spending less on back-to-school clothes (57 percent).
  • Shopping for less expensive supplies (52 percent).
  • Shopping at discount stores (50 percent).
  • Not buying new electronics (48 percent).
  • Buying fewer school supplies (34 percent).
  • Dressing children in hand-me-down clothing (27 percent).
  • Buying items in bulk (23 percent).
  • Sharing supplies with other people (9 percent).
  • Buying fewer items for dorm rooms (9 percent).
  • Having college children live at home (5 percent).

Notably, financial worries are clearly evident among servicemembers and their families. In June, just 36 percent reported feeling extremely or very financially secure month to month, down from a year-to-date high of 44 percent in March.

For many active-duty families these cost-cutting behaviors have become a back-to-school tradition. Among those who plan to shop at discount stores, 48 percent say they have been employing this strategy for more than three years. A long-term commitment to frugality is also obvious among military families who plan to use hand-me-down clothes (31 percent say they have been using this strategy for more than three years).

“Active-duty families continue to respond to financial concerns related to the economy and sequestration cutswith a commitment to frugal living,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “They are pursuing their long-term financial security through the money-saving behaviors they refined during the economic downturn. Back-to-school shopping is yet another occasion for military families to spend less, save more and reduce debt.”

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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