Despite ongoing worries over military budget cuts and an uncertain economy, many members of America’s career military feel their personal financial situation has improved over the past year – and they plan to move boldly ahead with a continuing focus on frugal living in 2014, according to a new survey.
The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 40 percent middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) feel they are better off than they were a year ago. Another 36 percent say their personal financial situation is about the same. Just one in five (21 percent) say they are worse off.
When military families were asked about their financial aspirations for 2014, 86 percent identified at least one positive strategy or activity they expect to pursue. The top New Year’s resolutions from military families are:
- Cut back on excessive spending (42 percent)
- Get out of debt (38 percent)
- Start saving money for retirement or put more money into retirement savings (36 percent)
- Keep track of financial activities (26 percent)
- Tie: Learn not to live beyond your means and improve credit score (25 percent each)
- Use cash or debit more often instead of credit cards (22 percent)
- Tie: Learn to budget responsibly and be financially independent (20 percent each)
- Make sound investments in the stock market (18 percent)
- Tie: Shop more at discount stores or for discount brands and buy a house (16 percent each)
- Increase charitable giving (14 percent)
These resolutions come at a time of notable optimism about the future. The Index reveals that 85 percent of military families are confident that their financial situation will improve in the new year. Many survey respondents also indicate that they feel confident in their ability to retire comfortably (81 percent).