The share of millennials thinking about financial goals decreased from 52% in 2015 to 37% in 2017, according to a survey released Monday by Navy Federal Credit Union, which serves all Department of Defense and Coast Guard active duty, veterans, civilian and contractor personnel and their families.

The report highlighted similar financial habits among the general population of millennials and their military counterparts.

Only 18% of general population millennials surveyed had a household budget they reviewed annually, 36% had checked their credit score within the last year and 26% felt they knew enough about managing their finances to meet their goals.

The percentages of military millennials reviewing their budgets and credit scores came in just a single point higher.

Forrester Consulting conducted an online survey in February and March of some 1,600 military, non-military and veteran millennials.

Navy Federal said in a statement that the study pointed to an opportunity for millennials — in both the general population and the military — to partner with financial institutions for help meeting their goals.

The report identified a divide in how millennials perceive their financial situations and the reality of the funds in their accounts.

Fifty-six percent of general population and 84% of military millennial respondents purported to be prepared to handle a financial emergency, and 64% of the former and 78% of the latter felt they were on track to meet their five-year retirement savings goal.

The reality said otherwise. Eighty-three percent of all millennials and 73% of military ones said they did not have an emergency fund, while 72% of the general population and 65% of the military said they were not saving for retirement.

However, the survey found that even though only 37% of general population and 33% of military millennials were currently thinking about their financial goals, savings was still a top priority for nine out of 10 respondents.

Moreover, they were optimistic that they would be able to reach this goal.

Fifty-eight percent of all millennials and 82% of their military counterparts said they were hopeful about the economy, and similar percentages said they planned to save more this year.

“Our survey shows millennials know saving is important, they just need the tools and guidance to reach their financial aspirations,” Marcia Sanford, vice president of member research, intelligence and development at Navy Federal, said in the statement.

“That’s where we come in. Financial institutions can and should do more to close the gap between what millennials think they’re prepared to handle, and the reality of their financial situation.”

Financial Institutions’ Opportunity

According to the Navy Federal report, millennials rely heavily on their own research or personal contacts for financial advice.

Indeed, few millennials rely on financial providers for the following:

  • Savings advice: millennials, 17%; military millennials, 26%
  • Retirement planning: millennials, 15%; military millennials, 24%
  • Debt consolidation: millennials, 14%; military millennials, 22%
  • Credit management: millennials, 15%; military millennials, 24%

The survey showed that an opportunity existed to engage millennials with savings tools. Healthy majorities of both general population and military millennials said they were satisfied with their savings tools and apps’ ease of use, ability to facilitate savings and having features they cared about.

— Check out Financial Anxiety Is The New Diet Anxiety on ThinkAdvisor.