Blue Star Families Survey Shows Financial Issues Still Stress Servicemembers

May 28, 2013
by Lila Quintiliani, AFC®
Military Saves Assistant Coordinator
Communication & Outreach

The nonprofit Blue Star Families recently released the 2013 Military Families Lifestyle Survey.  The results show that personal finance concerns remain hot button issues.  Pay, benefits, changes to retirement, and spouse employment are key concerns that continue to cause tension for servicemembers and their families.

Obstacles to Financial Security

Sixty five percent of respondents said they experienced financial stress related to their families’ current financial condition and 27% said they experience a great deal of stress.  While this is down slightly from last year’s 68%, it is still significant, especially considering military workplaces already have considerably heightened stress levels, and this can affect productivity and quality of life.

The top three obstacles to financial security as reported in the survey are:

·    Spouse employment (49%)
·    Uncertainty in military life (45%)
·    Frequent moves (40%)

Retirement Savings – Spouses Lag Behind

While an impressive 87% of those surveyed are putting money into some sort of retirement savings vehicle, only 7% of spouses have saved through a 401k and only 5% of spouses have saved through a defined benefit plan or pension. 

Financial Education Lacking

Although there are a variety of financial education opportunities for military families available on installations (Family Readiness Centers and financial institutions) and online (Military OneSource, FINRA, Military Saves), only 12% of respondents reported getting financial education through servicemember training.  Ninety percent of those surveyed said there should be a greater focus on preventative financial education.

Overall Financially Healthy

While military families face many unique challenges, they do exhibit some great financial behaviors, especially when compared to the general population: 87% of respondents said they had a household budget and 70% said they had checked their credit reports or scores during the past year.  However, less than half have sufficient emergency funds set aside to cover expenses for three months. 

Need help saving for an emergency fund?  Want to save more for retirement?  Take the Military Saves Pledge and then visit for information and inspiration.


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