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.

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