First Command News & Media


First Command Reports: Military families prepare for frugal Thanksgiving

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

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FORT WORTH, Texas – America’s career military families are continuing their everyday frugality into this year’s holiday spending season with plans for a cost-conscious Thanksgiving celebration.

The annual Thanksgiving spending survey through the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 76 percent of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-5 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 about the same as the past two years. In contrast, just 45 percent of civilian families say their plans will change. That’s also unchanged from the past two years.

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

  • Reducing travel (30 percent)
  • Dining with immediate family members only (30 percent)
  • Sticking to a set budget (29 percent)
  • Spending less on decorations (27 percent)
  • Spending less on food (16 percent)
  • Going to someone else’s house for dinner (14 percent)
  • Having a “pot luck” dinner (13 percent)
  • Going out to a restaurant for dinner (11 percent)

“Again this year, we see that financial uncertainty and concern is prompting middle-class military families to plan on maintaining their everyday frugality during the holiday season,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Their strategies for a lean Thanksgiving celebration come at a time of continuing fears over how defense spending cuts will impact their household finances. Concerns over sequestration have prompted two out of five military families to cut back on everyday spending. By continuing to tighten their belts during the holidays, military families are making it easier on themselves to effectively pursue long-term financial security during this uncertain time.”

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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