For Release:

Thursday, October 14, 2010
Nancy Condon (202) 728-8379



FINRA Foundation Military Financial Capability Survey Reveals Military Debt Problem

WASHINGTON — The FINRA Investor Education Foundation today released a survey revealing that debt is a major concern for military families, with almost 82 percent of military servicemembers reporting that they are at least $10,000 in credit card debt, or have an auto or mortgage loan. The Military Survey – one of three linked surveys analyzing the financial capability of American adults – measures, for the first time, the overall financial capabilities of U.S. military personnel. The Military Survey was developed in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.


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, 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.

"The survey results show that, while our men and women in uniform are doing better in some areas than civilians, they are also significantly deeper in debt than the general population. The FINRA Foundation's program for military servicemembers is working every day to help military families tackle their debt problems and take control of their financial future," said FINRA Foundation President John Gannon.


Since 2006, The FINRA Foundation has conducted 101 military financial education forums for servicemembers at 55 locations throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and at sea. The Foundation has also awarded nearly 1,000 fellowships to military spouses to help them become Accredited Financial Counselors®. These FINRA Foundation spouse fellows have logged more than 210,000 hours assisting the military community.


An executive summary of the survey is available on the FINRA Foundation Web site for the military, The Foundation will also make the survey data available to the public and to researchers.


The Military Survey is one of three linked surveys that comprise the National Financial Capability Study. The FINRA Foundation released the National Survey in December 2009 and will release the results of the State-by-State Survey later this fall.


The FINRA Investor Education Foundation is the largest foundation in the United States dedicated to investor education. Its mission is to provide investors with high-quality, easily accessible information and tools to better understand the markets and the basic principles of saving and investing. In 2006, the Foundation launched a multifaceted program to expand the saving and investing knowledge of military servicemembers and their spouses, including a free, unbiased resource, A proud partner in the Department of Defense Financial Readiness Campaign, the Foundation also presents financial education forums at military installations worldwide.