America’s career military families are preparing for a dramatic redirection of their shopping strategies this holiday season, with Black Friday emerging as the new centerpiece of an ongoing commitment to frugal living.
First Command’s annual holiday spending survey reveals that 41 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) plan to do most or all of their holiday shopping on Black Friday. This represents a significant change from recent years, when less than one in five families said they planned to make Black Friday the foundation of their spending plans. Last year just 13 percent of survey respondents said they planned to do most or all of their holiday shopping on the day after Thanksgiving.
This servicemember shift to Black Friday stands in sharp contrast to the plans of the rest of America’s Middle Class. Just 9 percent of general population respondents plan to do most or all of their holiday shopping on Black Friday, statistically unchanged from the past four years.
These new Black Friday spending plans underscore the continuing commitment of career military families to frugal holiday celebrations. The Index reveals that 92 percent plan to cut back this year, statistically unchanged from the past two years. The frugal holiday spirit is also alive (albeit less pronounced) in the general population, where 78 percent of consumers plan to cut back this year. That’s about the same as last year and down slightly from the 2010-2012 period. The 2014 holiday shopping season marks the seventh consecutive year that the Index has pointed to leaner spending in military families, reflecting a larger trend toward frugal living as a response to growing financial uncertainty related to defense budget cuts.
The Pentagon once again has plans to submit a budget proposal to Congress that does not take into account the sequester-induced automatic budget cuts. While Department of Defense leaders and members of Congress continue to spar over what can, or cannot, be removed from the DoD budget, the members of our armed forces and their families continue to wait to see how their careers and benefits may be affected.
With the mid-term elections over and the big wins by Republicans in Congress, it will be very interesting to see what takes shape – whether defense hawks or tea partiers looking to continue deficit reduction will win out when it comes to sequester relief.
Credit problems are on the rise in America’s military families, where concerns over sequestration and defense downsizing are bringing new stresses to bear on household finances.
The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 39 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) experienced credit difficulties during the third quarter.
Other than some pundits and politicians discussing whether the outcomes of the mid-term elections would result in any changes to sequestration, there was not much specific news on the topic this week.
For federal employees, Open Season is the time to choose Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB), Federal Employees Dental/Vision Program (FEDVIP) insurance coverage, and whether to contribute to a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).
Financial uncertainty and concern is prompting a record number of middle-class military families to kick off this year’s holiday spending season with a leaner Thanksgiving celebration.
First Command’s annual Thanksgiving spending survey reveals that 82 percent of middle-class military families say their Thanksgiving plans will change as a result of the current economic situation.
Last week, 50 airmen who had been told after the June Enlisted Retention Board that they must separate by January 31 got a reprieve. Due to a coding error, they now have the option to stay on active duty.
Members of America’s career military are increasingly responding to defense budget cuts by intensifying their frugal financial habits, with almost half now focused on saving more and spending less.
Sequestration concerns are an important election issue for middle-class military families. The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 77 percent of middle-class military families say that changes to the DoD budget – specifically those that could potentially impact their military benefits, compensation and career – are extremely or very important in choosing who to vote for in the midterm elections.