Servicemembers outpacing civilians in adoption of online money tools and apps

| April 7, 2014

Middle-class military families are a technologically engaged lot, outpacing their civilian counterparts in the adoption and use of online tools and smart phone apps for managing household finances and preparing tax returns.

The latest results of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveal that 56 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) are using online financial tools. That compares to just 44 percent of the general population.

Among those who use online financial tools, about 90 percent of both military and general population households pay their bills online. But servicemembers outperform civilians in the use of other popular online tools, including those for:

  • Automatic funds transfer (84 percent of military respondents versus 65 percent of the general population)
  • Tax preparation (67 percent versus 50 percent)
  • Investments / stock trading (63 percent versus 46 percent)
  • Retirement planning (50 percent versus 32 percent)
  • Managing loans and minimizing interest expense (44 percent versus 25 percent)
  • Household budgeting (40 percent versus 22 percent)

Online tools for household budgeting are particularly popular among military families who work with a financial advisor. These tools are used by 47 percent of military families with financial advisors compared to 35 percent of their do-it-yourself colleagues. Notably, the Index shows no difference in usage among those in the general population.

By no means are middle-class consumers adopting the latest online tools in all categories. They have yet to embrace the growing trend of mobile apps for filing taxes.

Among those with a smart phone, just 2 percent of military respondents and 1 percent of civilians say they currently use a phone app to file their taxes. And the vast majority of both groups say they are unlikely to use them in the future. The top reason for not wanting to file taxes on a smart phone?  They want a larger screen.

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