Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Thursday, October 14, 2010

FINRA Releases Survey of Military Families' Finances

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation released a survey that measures the overall financial capabilities of U.S. military personnel.  The Military Survey – one of three linked surveys analyzing the financial capability of American adults – was developed in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.  Some of the findings are predictable; others more surprising.  Thus, unfortunately, the  study reveals that men and women in uniform face considerable obstacles in maintaining their financial readiness:

  • Military families are heavily in debt to credit card issuers, with over one in four respondents reporting more than $10,000 in credit card debt.
  • One in four servicemembers with checking accounts reported overdrawing their accounts, which typically incurs significant fees.
  • More than one in five (21 percent) servicemembers used high-cost, non-bank borrowing such as payday or auto title loans in the last five years.
  • Over half of enlisted personnel and junior non-commissioned officers reported that in some months, they made only the minimum payment on their credit cards.
  • Only 50 percent of military respondents have a "rainy day" fund for unanticipated financial emergencies.

However, more surprising perhaps, military families are outpacing their civilian counterparts in:

  • keeping up with monthly expenses;
  • calculating how much they need to save for retirement;
  • shopping around to compare financial products;
  • checking their credit score and credit report; and
  • demonstrating higher levels of financial literacy.

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