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Financial Literacy Boosts Confidence in Military Families, First Command Reports

FORT WORTH, Texas – At a time when many servicemembers are worried about cuts in federal defense spending and a proposed overhaul of the military retirement system, financial confidence is strongest among the most financially knowledgeable members of the armed forces.

Results of a financial literacy test and survey jointly commissioned by First Command Financial Services, Inc., and First Command Educational Foundation reveal that a high level of financial knowledge is associated with feelings of emotional well-being among middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000).

Test takers who earned a perfect score on the literacy quiz were more than twice as likely to report feeling financially secure compared to those with lower scores (63 percent versus 28 percent). Test takers with perfect scores were also more likely to report feelings of:

  • Not being financially stretched (70 percent versus 47 percent)
  • Financial confidence (63 percent versus 41 percent)
  • Confidence in their ability to retire comfortably (55 percent versus 28 percent)
  • Comfort with debt (43 percent versus 20 percent)

Notably, military families who have completed a financial literacy program are more likely to feel extremely or very financially confident when it comes to dealing with financial matters than those who never completed a financial literacy program (51 percent versus 43 percent). Roughly one-third of military families report having completed a financial literacy program.

“These findings underscore the importance of delivering meaningful financial education to our men and women in uniform,” said Army Gen. (Ret.) Dan K. McNeill of the First Command Military Advisory Board. “Financial literacy programs do far more than impart knowledge. They serve to boost feelings of financial confidence and security, helping servicemembers take control of their family finances so they can more effectively focus on their military mission.”

Servicemembers and their spouses are also interested in improving the financial literacy of their children. Survey respondents overwhelming believe in the importance of teaching financial information at school as well as in the home (91 percent and 97 percent, respectively).

“Military families clearly recognize the importance of preparing their children to become financially responsible adults,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (Ret.) Joe R. Campa, who serves with McNeill and other retired senior flag officers and NCOs on the Military Advisory Board. “Many parents are educating their children by sharing their own experiences in managing money. Roughly two out of five survey respondents say they use their own personal financial mistakes most or all of the time. This is a great way for parents to talk about their own financial values and how they shape

the long-term spending and saving strategies of the entire family.”

Meanwhile, classroom instruction is being supported by First Command Educational Foundation, which is pursuing a national expansion of its popular financial literacy program for high school students. Called Money Matters Online, the new resource is an online version of the Foundation's financial literacy curriculum approved by the Texas State Board of Education. The program is funded primarily through a $250,000 gift from First Command Financial Services, Inc.

To learn more about fostering financial literacy in your children, check out First Command’s Teaching Our Children About Money.

About the First Command Military Advisory Board

The First Command Military Advisory Board is a select group of senior leaders from the nation’s military services. Consisting of retired senior flag officers and NCOs, the board is committed to providing independent perspective and advice on important issues affecting the financial readiness of military families. The current slate of members includes Gen. (Ret.) Dan K. McNeill (USA); Sgt. Maj. of the Army (Ret.) Jack L. Tilley (USA); Lt. Gen. (Ret.) John F. Sattler (USMC); Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps (Ret.) Carlton W. Kent (USMC); Vice Adm. (Ret.) Barry M. Costello (USN); Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (Ret.) Joe R. Campa (USN); Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Glen W. “Wally” Moorhead III (USAF); Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Kenneth J. McQuiston (USAF); Vice Adm.(Ret.) Jody A. Breckenridge (USCG); and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (Ret.) Charles “Skip” W. Bowen III (USCG). For more information, visit http://www.firstcommand.com/military-advisory-board.

About First Command Educational Foundation

First Command Educational Foundation (FCEF) has been proudly supporting scholars and their families since 1983. FCEF is a 501(c)(3) public charity, and has worked tirelessly to promote their mission to educate those who serve. To that end, FCEF has awarded almost $4 million in scholarship grants to help offset the costs of higher education, and has educated over 60 thousand individuals on numerous financial literacy topics. www.fcef.com

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. www.firstcommand.com/research

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.

First Command Financial Services, Inc., is the parent of First Command Financial Planning, Inc. (Member SIPC, FINRA), First Command Insurance Services, Inc. and First Command Bank. Financial planning services and investment products, including securities, are offered by First Command Financial Planning, Inc. Insurance products and services are offered by First Command Insurance Services, Inc., in all states except Montana, where as required by law, insurance products and services are offered by First Command Financial Services, Inc. (a separate Montana domestic corporation). Banking products and services are offered by First Command Bank. In certain states, as required by law, First Command Insurance Services, Inc. does business as a separate domestic corporation. Securities products are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee and may lose value. A financial plan, by itself, cannot assure that retirement or other financial goals will be met. First Command Educational Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. It is not affiliated with First Command Financial Services, Inc., or any of its affiliated entities.

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