Report finds Military families have less assets and more debt than civilians

Photo by Cpl. Thomas Bricker

A new survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) shows that members of the U.S. armed forces often carry higher credit card debt and own fewer assets than civilians.

The survey pointed to frequent relocation and deployment, as some of things that put a significant strain on the finances of military families.

Employees with the nonprofit Consumer Credit Counseling Service say families with only one spouse in the military, often have to live on a single income, since frequent relocations make it difficult for the other spouse to find a good-paying job.

Another problem, according to the NFCC, is when someone joins the military at an early age, they may not have the financial skills to manage their money properly, or even know how to make a budget.

The average military member who contacts a credit counselor has about $10,000 in debt. In many cases, they are required to seek help in order to maintain their security clearance, according to NBC.

The survey found that when compared to all participants in the program, the average military family had:  7 percent higher debt balances, 16 percent fewer tangible assets and 15 percent higher monthly debt-related expenses.

“This is a serious problem,” said Susan Keating, NFCC president and CEO. “The issue of financial stability for those who serve our country is a real concern.”

Keating tells NBC news, that military families can often get help for free. “Programs like Hands on Banking (a joint program of the NFCC and Wells Fargo), for example, offer education and assistance for active duty service members and veterans,” she said.

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