Military families spending more on back-to-school shopping

| August 6, 2014

Military families plan to devote more dollars to back-to-school shopping than they did last year, even as widespread concerns about sequestration and defense downsizing continue to prompt many of them to curb everyday spending, according to the latest findings of the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®.


First Command’s annual back-to-school shopping survey reveals that roughly four out of five 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 in the market for school clothes and supplies. Of these families, 37 percent plan on spending more than last year. That’s roughly double the 15 percent who expected to spend more in 2013. Just 6 percent expected to do so in 2012.


This surge in consumerism is in marked contrast to the back-to-school spending plans of the broader middle class. The Index reveals that just 12 percent of civilian families expect to spend more than last year.


Back-to-school military shoppers are opening up their wallets at a time when many servicemembers and their families are responding to defense downsizing and sequestration worries through a larger commitment to frugal living. The Index reveals that 42 percent are countering their sequestration concerns by cutting back on everyday spending.


The frugal lifestyle followed by many military families shows through in how they expect to spend money on back-to-school shopping. The top cost-saving methods reported by this year’s survey respondents are: 

  • Shopping at discount stores (58 percent)
  • Shopping for less expensive supplies (55 percent)
  • Using supplies from past years (47 percent)
  • Spending less on back-to-school clothes (47 percent)
  • Not buying new electronics (47 percent)
  • Buying items in bulk (34 percent)
  • Buying fewer school supplies (29 percent)
  • Using hand-me-down clothes (26 percent)
  • Sharing supplies with other people (11 percent)
  • Fewer items for dorm rooms (8 percent)

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