First Command News & Media

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — August 27, 2014

Sequestration And Economic Worries Prod Servicemembers To Rein In Summer Vacations, First Command Reports

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals top money-saving plans of men and women in uniform

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Anxiety over the economy and sequestration is prodding active-duty families to scale back their summer vacation plans.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 59 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 applying one or more money-saving tactics to their summer getaway plans due to economic or sequestration concerns.

Popular cost-cutting approaches related to economic worries include:

  • Driving rather than flying (35 percent).
  • Cooking while on vacation rather than eating out (27 percent).
  • Staying closer to home (25 percent).
  • Tie: Taking shorter vacations / Visiting family members (23 percent).
  • Tie: Taking “staycations” / Staying with friends (22 percent).

Similar strategies were reported by respondents who are cutting back due to sequestration concerns. Their No. 1 cost-cutting approach is taking a shorter vacation (27 percent).

Many of these cost cutting measures are not new to military households, which have been responding to economic concerns by cutting back on vacation spending for several years. The Index reveals that among military families who have changed their plans for economic reasons, 33 percent have been “visiting family” and 28 percent have been “driving rather than flying” for more than three years.

These types of long-term frugal behaviors are helping servicemembers feel more optimistic about their long-term financial prospects. The July survey reveals that 52 percent of respondents reported feeling extremely or very confident that their financial situation will improve in the next year, up from a year-to-date low of 45 percent in January. And 46 percent said they feel extremely or very confident in their ability to retire comfortably, up 10 points from a year-to-date low of 36 percent in March.

But while long-term optimism is on the rise, persistent worries over defense downsizing and budget cuts are causing military families to grow increasingly concerned about their near-term household finances. The ranks of July survey respondents who said they did not feel financially stretched month to month totaled 40 percent, down from 55 percent in January.

“Our men and women in uniform are beginning to feel how sequestration and military budget cuts may impact their lives,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Roughly seven out of ten military respondents say they feel anxious about sequestration and expect to be financially affected by anticipated cuts to defense spending. These families have made spending less and saving more a permanent part of their financial behaviors. Cutting back on vacation spending is a reasonable and frugal response to an uncertain financial future.”

About 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. Financial Behaviors Index

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.

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