First Command Reports: Frugal Military Families Ready to Spend Big on Halloween

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals middle-class
military families expect to spend more than their civilian counterparts

FORT WORTH, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–America’s normally frugal career military families are not spooked about
spending this Halloween season, according to the First Command Financial
Behaviors Index®.

Survey results from late September reveal that 50 percent of
middle-class military families (commissioned officers and senior NCOs in
pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) who
plan to celebrate Halloween will spend at least $100 and 35 percent will
spend more than $200. Almost one in five say they will spend more than
last year.

Meanwhile, a much less spirited Halloween spending picture has emerged
for the broader middle class. Seventeen percent of Halloween consumers
in the general population will spend at least $100 and 5 percent will
spend more than $200. Just 3 percent say they will spend more than last
year. According to the National
Retail Federation’s Halloween Consumer Spending Survey
, the average
person celebrating this holiday will spend $74.34, down from $77.52 last
year. Total spending on Halloween is expected to reach $6.9 billion,
making it one of the nation’s biggest consumer holidays.

“This relative Halloween spending splurge stands in contrast to the
larger spending trend in military families, where the focus remains on
frugal living,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial
Services, Inc. “Concerns over sequestration and defense downsizing have
been prompting military families to cut back on everyday spending at a
rate that outpaces their civilian counterparts. We see that same trend
reflected in our Thanksgiving survey results, which indicate that four
out of five families are planning a frugal holiday celebration.”

The portion of military families who are cutting back on everyday
spending hit 42 percent in September, up from a year-to-date low of 34
percent in June. In contrast, just 24 percent of general population
families say they are cutting back, down from 30 percent in June.

Even at Halloween, belt-tightening behaviors are still alive and well in
a large subset of military households. One in three families say they
will reduce Halloween spending this year. Their top cost-saving methods
are:

  • Purchasing less expensive candy (45 percent)
  • Spending less on decorations (43 percent)
  • Giving out less candy to each child (34 percent)
  • Reusing costumes from a previous year (33 percent)
  • Sticking to a set budget (33 percent)
  • Making costumes rather than buying them (27 percent)
  • Canceling their Halloween party (15 percent)

“Frugality is helping military families chase away the lingering ghosts
of the economic downturn and feel more positive about the future,”
Spiker said. “Military families are more likely than general population
families to report feeling more confident that their financial situation
will improve next year and in their ability to retire comfortably. Their
willingness to open their wallets for Halloween while remaining frugal
in their daily spending represents a sustainable approach to the pursuit
long-term financial security.”

About the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®

Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial
Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s
financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey
of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household
incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin
of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. www.firstcommand.com/research

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.

Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile
the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and
consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise
within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced
research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal
data.

About First Command

First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First
Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American
families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their
lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the
first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable
advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success,
First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting
relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.

First Command Financial Services, Inc., is the parent of First
Command Financial Planning, Inc. (Member
SIPC,
FINRA),
First Command Advisory Services, Inc., First Command Insurance Services,
Inc. and First Command Bank. Financial planning services and investment
products, including securities, are offered by First Command Financial
Planning, Inc., a broker-dealer. Financial planning and investment
advisory services are offered by First Command Advisory Services, Inc.,
an investment adviser.
Insurance products and services are offered
by First Command Insurance Services, Inc., in all states except Montana,
where as required by law, insurance products and services are offered by
First Command Financial Services, Inc. (a separate Montana domestic
corporation). Banking products and services are offered by First Command
Bank. In certain states, as required by law, First Command Insurance
Services, Inc. does business as a separate domestic corporation.
Securities products are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee and may
lose value. A financial plan, by itself, cannot assure that retirement
or other financial goals will be met. First Command Educational
Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. It is not affiliated with
First Command Financial Services, Inc., or any of its affiliated
entities.

Contacts

First Command Financial Services, Inc.
Mark Leach, 817-569-2419
Media
Relations
msleach@firstcommand.com
www.firstcommand.com