Survey reveals the financial struggle of military families

May is Military Appreciation Month. In recognition of that fact, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recently commissioned a survey of military personnel, focused on financial trends and concerns. The survey revealed some troubling financial behaviors among servicemembers.

  • Seventy-seven percent of servicemembers have financial worries, and more than half (57 percent) say they are very worried about the potential loss of income and job security resulting from defense cuts and downsizing.
  • Twenty-eight percent are now more worried than they were 12 months ago about how their financial situation will affect their future in the military.
  • A majority (55 percent) believe they are ill-prepared, financially speaking, for an emergency.
  • Three out of five servicemembers who have taken a loan in the past 12 months say limited lending options required them to look for alternative, non-traditional lenders to meet their financial needs.
  • Nearly half of servicemembers (49 percent) have taken out a loan in the past 12 months, which included sources such as a credit card (18 percent), friends and family (13 percent), or cash advance or payday lender (6 percent).

“Men and women in uniform face many challenges and daily sacrifices while serving our country. Financial concerns shouldn’t be one of them. The NFCC is committed to ensuring that members of the military, veterans and their families have access to the financial tools and information they need to live a financially stable life,” said Susan C. Keating, NFCC President and CEO. “NFCC member agencies are proud to assist military personnel through the Sharpen Your Financial Focus program which includes a dedicated military-specific component.”

When comparing the military population’s financial behaviors against the general U.S. adult population, a number of concerning differences were noted:

  • Servicemembers are twice as likely to have applied for a new credit card in the last 12 months.
  • Approximately 58 percent of servicemembers carry some credit card debt from month to month, while only 34 percent of the general population carries debt in this manner.
  • Servicemembers were more than twice as likely to obtain a cash advance from a credit card in the last 12 months.

“Unfortunately, the survey findings indicate on-going financial concerns for many military families,” said Joe Freeman, the CEO of Pioneer Services, which sponsored the survey. “We’ve worked with servicemembers for more than 25 years, so we know they are responsible borrowers who deserve financial options. It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that military families have access to the same credit options many civilians take for granted, and to financial education resources that help empower them to make the right decisions.”

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.