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2 Sep, 2017

First Command survey: Financial concerns prompting U.S. military families to rein in vacations

FORT WORTH, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–August 30, 2017 – Anxiety over the future of defense spending and the economy are prompting many of America’s career military families to rein in their summer vacation plans.

First Command’s annual survey on summer vacation spending reveals that 84 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) say they are cutting back on spending as a result of the across-the-board cuts to defense and other federal spending called sequestration. This compares to just 46 percent of general population families, whose members are less likely to feel personally affected by military spending cuts.

Lingering concerns over the economy are also having a significant impact on summer vacation plans. The survey reveals that more than half (54 percent) of military families say they are tightening their spending plans. In contrast, just 26 percent of their civilian counterparts say they are cutting back due to economic concerns.

“Our men and women in uniform are planning to dial back their summer vacation plans at a rate almost twice that of the general population,” said Scott Spiker, chairman/CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Much of the difference is reflected in continuing concerns over defense spending. Sixty one percent of military families say they are feeling extremely or very anxious about military budget cuts. That’s about the same level of concern as a year ago. In comparison, less than half of their civilian counterparts feel this same level of worry. Frugal spending strategies represent a practical response to an uncertain financial future.”

Service member households have identified a variety of techniques for spending less this year on summer vacations, and they are more likely to say they will pursue these techniques than their civilian counterparts. The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that popular cost-cutting approaches related to sequester cuts include:

  • Taking shorter vacations (28 percent of military families versus 14 percent of civilian families)
  • Cooking rather than eating out (24 percent versus 10 percent)
  • Visiting family (24 percent versus 12 percent)
  • Travel with friends to save money (21 percent versus 8 percent)
  • Driving rather than flying (19 percent versus 8 percent)
  • Taking “staycations” (18 percent versus 9 percent)
  • Staying with friends (16 percent versus 7 percent)
  • Staying closer to home (15 percent versus 10 percent)
  • Renting a house or condo rather than a hotel (14 percent versus 6 percent)
  • Not taking a vacation (5 percent versus 7 percent)

Similar savings strategies were reported by military and civilian respondents who are cutting back due to economic concerns. As with sequestration, military households are more likely to respond to economic worries by implementing cost-cutting measures than their general population counterparts.

About the 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. http://www.firstcommand.com/fbi/

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 Financial Planning and First Command Bank, coach our Nation’s military families in their pursuit of financial security. Since 1958, First Command Financial Advisors have been shaping positive financial behaviors through face-to-face coaching with hundreds of thousands of client families.