First Command Reports: Military Families Spending More on Back-to-School Shopping

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals top cost-savings

FORT WORTH, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Many career military families plan to bump up their back-to-school
spending this 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 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 on spending more than they did last year on school clothes
and supplies. That’s up from 36 percent in 2014 and 15 percent in 2013.
Roughly four out of five families are in the market for school clothes
and supplies.

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
10 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 34 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 for less expensive supplies (69 percent)
  • Shopping at discount stores (57 percent)
  • Using supplies from past years (51 percent)
  • Spending less on back-to-school clothes (49 percent)
  • Not buying new electronics (49 percent)
  • Buying items in bulk (40 percent)
  • Using hand-me-down clothes (26 percent)
  • Buying fewer school supplies (20 percent)
  • Fewer items for dorm rooms (20 percent)
  • Sharing supplies with other people (14 percent)
  • College children living at home (9 percent)

These cost-saving measures help illustrate the financial strain
experienced by military families, where feelings of financial security
have been eroding in recent years. The Index reveals that the percentage
of military families who report feeling extremely or very financially
secure month to month has hovered at an average of only 40 percent over
the last 12 months.

“The majority of America’s career military families are not new to
implementing cost-cutting measures on purchasing back-to-school
supplies,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services,
Inc. “These measures are typical of the way servicemembers and their
families are reacting to sequestration and Department of Defense budget
cuts. Half of these families are increasing the amount they save every
month in preparation for cuts. They are ready to send their children
back to school with needed supplies, but are taking steps to save money
along the way.”

About the 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.

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

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.

First Command Financial Services, Inc., is the parent of First
Command Financial Planning, Inc. (Member
First Command Insurance Services, Inc. and First Command Bank. Financial
planning services and investment products, including securities, are
offered by First Command Financial Planning, Inc.
Insurance products
and services are offered by First Command Insurance Services, Inc., in
all states except Montana, where as required by law, insurance products
and services are offered by First Command Financial Services, Inc. (a
separate Montana domestic corporation). Banking products and services
are offered by First Command Bank. In certain states, as required by
law, First Command Insurance Services, Inc. does business as a separate
domestic corporation. Securities products are not FDIC insured, have no
bank guarantee and may lose value. A financial plan, by itself, cannot
assure that retirement or other financial goals will be met. First
Command Educational Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. It is not
affiliated with First Command Financial Services, Inc., or any of its
affiliated entities.


First Command Financial Services, Inc.
Mark Leach, 817-569-2419