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First Command Reports: Military families keep Halloween spending in check

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals majority of middle-class military families expect to spend the same or less than last year

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FORT WORTH, Texas – The spirit of frugality is alive and well in America’s career military households this Halloween, according to the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.

First Command’s annual Halloween spending survey reveals that 74 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) who plan to celebrate Halloween will spend the same as or less than last year.

The Index reveals that the majority of military families (54 percent) expect to spend less than $100 on Halloween, statistically unchanged from last year. Their top cost-saving methods for 2016 are:

  • Purchasing less expensive candy (55 percent)
  • Spending less on decorations (54 percent)
  • Sticking to a set budget (43 percent)
  • Giving out less candy to each child (35 percent)
  • Reusing costumes from a previous year (34 percent)
  • Making costumes rather than buying them (25 percent)
  • Canceling their Halloween party (10 percent)

The Halloween spending trend is similar in the general population. Among middle-class civilian families with household incomes of at least $50,000, 64 percent are planning to spend the same as or less than in 2015. Seventy nine percent expect to spend less than $100. That’s about the same spending level as last year.

Halloween frugality in military families comes at a time of continuing fears over how defense spending cuts will impact their household finances. The Index reveals that concerns over sequestration prompted 42 percent of military families to cut back on everyday spending in September. In contrast, just 35 percent of general population families say they are cutting back.

“Concerns over sequestration and defense downsizing have been prompting military families to cut back on everyday spending at a rate that outpaces their civilian counterparts,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “We see that same trend reflected in our Thanksgiving survey results, which indicate that three out of four families are planning a frugal holiday celebration. Frugality in both holiday and everyday spending represent a justifiable approach to the ongoing financial uncertainties facing career service members and their families.”

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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