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News Release
FINRA Foundation
George Smaragdis (202) 728-8988
Nancy Condon (202) 728-8379

FINRA Foundation Releases Military Financial Capability Survey

WASHINGTON — The FINRA Investor Education Foundation (FINRA Foundation) today released the results of the National Financial Capability Study's Military Survey at an event featuring Holly Petraeus, Assistant Director for the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Melissa Koide, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consumer Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury; Commander Peter Hoegel, Jr., Deputy Director of the Department of Defense Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth; and FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh. The survey findings – available at – reveal a military population that, in the aggregate, is relatively strong with respect to financial capability compared with national norms. Within the military sample, financial capability was lowest among the entry-level enlisted personnel (E1-E4) surveyed.

The Military Survey is one of two linked surveys that constitute the 2012 National Financial Capability Study. The FINRA Foundation released the results of the State-by-State Survey earlier this year. The 2012 Study was developed in consultation with the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and other federal agencies.

"Our survey reveals that most servicemembers are taking control of their finances. Three quarters have a retirement account, nearly 80 percent are living within their means, and many have participated in financial education offered by the military," said FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh.

The Military Survey provides insightful information on how military families manage their financial resources and make financial decisions. Results include:

  1. Making Ends Meet. A majority of military respondents (57 percent) report no difficulty in covering their monthly expenses and bills.
  2. Planning Ahead. Over half of respondents (54 percent) have "rainy day" funds set aside for unanticipated financial emergencies.
  3. Managing Financial Products. Nearly half of credit card holders (49 percent) engage in costly behaviors such as paying the minimum, paying late fees, paying over-the-limit fees or using cash advances from their credit cards.
  4. Financial Knowledge: On a test of five basic financial literacy questions, military respondents answered on average 3.0 financial literacy questions correctly.

The Military Survey report includes a wealth of data revealing how servicemembers make ends meet, plan ahead and manage financial products, as well as a comparison of the military findings with national figures from the FINRA Foundation's 2012 State-by-State Survey.

The 2012 Military Survey was administered to 1,000 respondents in August and September 2012, and supplemented by 301 servicemembers from the 2012 State-by-State Survey fielded between July and October 2012, for a total sample size of 1,301. Military findings are weighted to approximate the population of military servicemembers by gender, pay grade and active vs. reserve component, based on the Department of Defense's 2010 Demographics Report. However, breakdowns of sub-populations may not necessarily be representative.

More information about the National Financial Capability Study, including detailed methodology documents, can be found at The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life. For details about grant programs and other FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit