National Foundation for Credit Counseling® Survey Reveals Financial Weaknesses Among Military Servicemembers

Striking Differences Between Military Population and General Population Noted

In recognition of Military Appreciation Month, a new financial survey of military personnel was released today.  Commissioned by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC®) and sponsored by Pioneer Services, a division of MidCountry Bank, the survey revealed some troubling financial behaviors among servicemembers. The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll for the NFCC in April 2014 among 267 active, enlisted servicemembers in the U.S. military. 

Mini-InfographicConsider the following survey results: 

  • Seventy-seven percent of servicemembers have financial worries, and more than half (57%) say they are very worried about the potential loss of income and job security resulting from defense cuts and downsizing;
  • Twenty-eight percent are now more worried than they were 12 months ago about how their financial situation will affect their future in the military;
  • A majority (55%) believe they are ill-prepared, financially speaking, for an emergency;
  • Three out of five servicemembers who have taken a loan in the past 12 months say limited lending options required them to look for alternative, non-traditional lenders to meet their financial needs; and
  • Nearly half of servicemembers (49%) have taken out a loan in the past 12 months, which included sources such as a credit card (18%), friends and family (13%), or cash advance or payday lender (6%).  

“Men and women in uniform face many challenges and daily sacrifices while serving our country.  Financial concerns shouldn’t be one of them. The NFCC is committed to ensuring that members of the military, veterans and their families have access to the financial tools and information they need to live a financially stable life,” said Susan C. Keating, NFCC President and CEO.  “NFCC member agencies are proud to assist military personnel through the Sharpen Your Financial Focus program which includes a dedicated military-specific component.” 

When looking at the military population’s financial activities against the general U.S. adult population as revealed in the NFCC’s Financial Literacy Survey among the general population, also conducted online by Harris Poll in 2014, the following were among the differences noted: 

  • Twice as many (28% servicemembers vs.14% general population) have applied for a new credit card in the last 12 months;
  • Almost 6 in 10 (58%) carry some credit card debt from month to month vs. the general population where only about 1 in 3 (34%) carry over credit card debt every month;
  • Twice as many have paid less than the minimum required payment in the last 12 months (6% vs. 3%); and,
  • Servicemembers were more than twice as likely to obtain a cash advance from a credit card in the last 12 months (5% vs. 2%). 

“Unfortunately, the survey findings indicate on-going financial concerns for many military families,” said Joe Freeman, the CEO of Pioneer Services. “We’ve worked with servicemembers for more than 25 years, so we know they are responsible borrowers who deserve financial options. It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that military families have access to the same credit options many civilians take for granted, and to financial education resources that help empower them to make the right decisions.” 

The full survey, as well as an at-a-glance snapshot of key survey data in the form of an infographic, is available in the Newsroom under Surveys on the NFCC website,

Members of the media interested in obtaining interviews should contact the following: 

NFCC Media Contact
Gail Cunningham
(940) 500-4100 (direct)
(240) 672-2700 (cell)

Pioneer Services Media Contact
Scott Cahill
(816) 756-2020 

About the 2014 Military Finance Survey

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of NFCC and Pioneer Services from April 7-15, 2014 among 267 adults ages 18 and older who are currently active, enlisted members of the U.S. military, excluding reserve members and those in the National Guard (i.e., “servicemembers”). This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey method, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Gail Cunningham or Scott Cahill. 

About the “General Population” NFCC Financial Literacy Survey (FLS)

The 2014 Financial Literacy Survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of NFCC from March 4-6, 2014 among 2,016 adults ages 18+. This year’s survey was sponsored by Experian Consumer Services (ECS). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Prior to 2013, this survey was conducted by telephone. 

About the NFCC

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest serving national nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services. NFCC members annually help millions of consumers through more than 600 community-based offices nationwide. For free and affordable confidential advice through a reputable NFCC Member, call (800) 388-2227, (en Español (800) 682-9832) or visit  Visit us on Facebook:, on Twitter:, on YouTube: and our blog: