As we celebrate Veterans Day, a recent study shows that our future veterans — active duty military members and their spouses — are struggling financially.
According to the survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Wells Fargo, nearly 9 in 10 active service members — and 84% of their spouses or partners — worry about their own personal finances.
The survey found that more are worried about having enough money to cover basic household needs and make debt payments than five years ago, when the same survey was last conducted. And nearly 30% are more concerned about their finances and how it might affect their future in the military than they were 12 months ago.
“Men and women in uniform face many challenges and daily sacrifices while serving our country. Financial concerns shouldn’t be one of them,” said Rebecca Steele, NFCC President and CEO, in a press release about the study.
Active duty military members can eventually earn six figures, but it takes years of hard work to climb the ranks to get there. Entry level Army privates make much less — just over $20,000 a year, according to Business Insider.
What’s more, for their spouses and partners, finding and maintaining a job as deployments take families across the country and around the world can be almost impossible. In another study by Blue Star Families, 56% of employed military spouses said they were underemployed and 30% reported being unemployed and looking for work. The survey reported that 52% of respondents said that their spouse’s unemployment or underemployment was a “top financial obstacle.”
The gig economy is helping many military families shore up their personal finances. Nearly half of active service members and their spouses are earning money through independent or temporary contracts, according to the credit counseling foundation survey.
But, beyond taking on a second job, there’s no quick fix to the financial concerns facing the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country daily. Boosting pay and financial resources for service members will take action at the highest levels of government. Ensuring their partners have opportunities to find well-paying jobs will require partnerships with businesses and major corporations.
But the credit counseling foundation survey did reveal two areas where service members and their partners could do better. Here’s how.
According to the survey, about half of service members and their spouses or partners don’t keep a budget, even though it can help to ensure that they’re not overspending. With it, you can track your earnings and expenses and help you stick to your financial goals and plans. Our personal finance plan has more information about how to build a budget.
The survey also revealed that service members are less likely to see the benefit of seeking professional financial advice than they were in 2014. But, when you’re struggling to pay bills and resolve other money issues, financial counselors can be a lifeline. They can quickly determine your financial situation, identify ways to deal with debt and provide some peace of mind about what can be a stressful situation. Our counselors are always ready to help.
And while the credit counseling foundation survey paints a dire picture for service members and their families, it’s not all bad news. According to the report, active service members and their partners are doing well when it comes to putting money away for their retirement. About 90% of active military are saving for their golden years, compared to 65% of the general population.
If you or someone you love are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. empowers people to overcome their financial challenges and lead financially-healthy lives.
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