First Command News & Events

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - November 7, 2013

Military Families Planning for Leaner Thanksgiving, First Command Reports

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

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Motivated by growing economic concerns, the majority of middle-class military families are planning to scale back their Thanksgiving celebrations again this holiday season.

The latest survey findings from the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveal that 62 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 up nine points from last year.

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

  • Reducing travel (29 percent)
  • Sticking to a set budget (23 percent)
  • Spending less on food (22 percent)
  • Dining with immediate family members only (21 percent)
  • Spending less on decorations (16 percent)

This Thanksgiving’s increased focus on frugal living comes at a time when many servicemembers and their families are feeling stress related to the nation’s budget turmoil, including the uncertainties related to the recent government shutdown, the debt ceiling, sequestration and defense downsizing.

“Military families are putting their Thanksgiving celebrations on a diet again this year, continuing a frugal trend that started with the recession and is continuing with the nation’s current budget stress,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services. “Our latest Index survey indicates active-duty households are growing less optimistic about their own financial futures. We have seen a drop in feelings of financial security month to month and a drop in confidence in the ability to retire comfortably. The good news is that many military families are responding with the same positive financial behaviors that have served them well during the economic downturn, including cutting back on household spending.”

Middle-class families in the general population also expect to cut back for Thanksgiving, and they’ll be depending on the same cost-cutting behaviors targeted by military households. The Index reveals that 51 percent of general population families say their Thanksgiving plans will change as a result of the current economic situation, up eight points from last year.

“Middle-class Americans are changing the way they celebrate Thanksgiving,” Spiker said. “Affected by the economic issues of the past several years, they are making frugal spending a year-around habit. Notably, these changes are turning Thanksgiving into a more intimate holiday. Four out of ten Americans who plan to dine only with immediate family members have done so for at least three years. Our nation’s new Thanksgiving tradition is a family-oriented, closer-to-home celebration.”

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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