First Command News & Media


Retirement Worries Growing In Military Families, First Command Reports

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Servicemembers are increasingly concerned about retirement prospects for today’s active-duty military families, according to the latest survey results from the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.

The Index reveals that 68 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) agree that today's military families will not be able to retire as comfortably as prior generations — up 11 points from a year ago.

Roughly two thirds of survey respondents agree that military families are concerned about the increased possibility of involuntary separation and they worry that changes to military retirement benefits will encourage fewer years of service.

“Our men and women in uniform are understandably worried about how defense downsizing and sequestration may affect the unique lifetime retirement benefits that have become an important and valuable consideration for those who choose a military career,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Almost nine out of 10 survey respondents say they expect to retire after 20 years of military service, so a potential reduction in the value of the traditional retirement benefit is a significant issue for our career servicemembers.”

During the past six months, military families have grown more likely to expect sequestration will mean reduced retirement benefits (36 percent in May, up from 28 percent in November). And they are taking actions to prepare for their own retirements.

The Index reveals that 92 percent of middle-class military households have retirement savings in addition to their military pension and Social Security. And those who expect to reach full retirement status say that 43 percent of their post-retirement income will come from non-military sources. They expect to one day draw retirementincome from a variety of financial vehicles, including:

  • 401(k) accounts (73 percent)
  • IRAs (62 percent)
  • Profit-sharing accounts (19 percent)
  • Non-military pension funds (19 percent)

“The uncertainty surrounding sequestration and military retirement benefits is fueling concerns in many military families,” Spiker said. “Half of families report feeling anxious about sequestration. The good news is that these families are taking positive actions to protect their fiscal health, including cutting back on everyday spending and amassing assets for their retirement years. They are preparing for an uncertain financial future by getting their family finances squared away now.”

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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