Marching into Trouble

Military families are serving their country but not their finances

This time last year, Consolidated Credit reported some depressing news: More than half of career military families couldn’t pass a basic test about their financial needs…

For the first time since testing was launched in 2012, the average test score fell to a failing grade. Middle-class military families only scored a grade of 69, on average.

The 2016 version of the First Command Financial Literacy Test is no less depressing. In fact, the score is exactly the same, stuck at 69.

That’s a high “D” grade. Even worse, the “civilian population” scores a 74, which is a solid “C” – and three points higher than last year.

Questions covered the basics of credit and debt, interest rates and savings programs – topics which are covered in financial education classes that the military offers for free. Concludes First Command…

Military respondents are significantly more likely than their general population peers to say they completed a financial education program (39 percent versus 21 percent), but the benefits of those programs are not reflected in test scores.

So what’s the answer? Apparently, more classes.

“The results of our annual financial readiness quiz underscore the importance of federal efforts to strengthen the financial knowledge of our men and women in uniform,” says Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services. “This year the Department of Defense will be developing new financial education instruction and training programs to help service members make decisions related to the new military retirement system.”

If you don’t want to wait for the Defense Department, Consolidated Credit offers free financial education online. Military families who are struggling can explore options for military debt consolidation or simply call 1-888-294-3130 to speak with a certified credit counselor for a comprehensive and personalized debt analysis. Both the call and the analysis are free

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