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Veterans Better Off Financially but Struggle With Debt: FINRA

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While veterans are faring slightly better financially than civilians, they still struggle with credit card debt and are 40% more likely to be underwater on their home and 28% more likely to have made a late mortgage payment in the past year, according to a new study by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Foundation.

The study, the nation’s first comprehensive comparative analysis of the financial health of American veterans relative to non-veterans, was authored by William Skimmyhorn, Ph.D., Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army and a professor in the Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis, Department of Social Sciences, at West Point.

His analysis is based on data from the FINRA Foundation’s 2015 National Financial Capability Study (NFCS), which includes data on more than 3,000 veterans and 23,000 non-veterans.

Researchers supported by the FINRA Foundation found that veterans are 22% less likely to be unemployed than civilians and slightly (2%) more likely to be covered by health insurance.

That said, besides underwater mortgages, veterans are 9% more likely to carry a balance and to be charged a late payment fee on their credit cards.

“These findings provide an in-depth look at the primary areas where veterans appear to be faring better and worse than civilians,” said Gerri Walsh, president of the FINRA Foundation and FINRA’s Senior Vice President of Investor Education, in a statement. “We believe this research will help inform the development of policies aimed at addressing these differences and advance our nation’s understanding of financial capability in America.”

The research also found that, relative to non-veterans, veterans are:

  • 5% more likely to be satisfied with their financial condition;
  • 4% more likely to have an emergency savings fund; and
  • 4% less likely to have difficulty covering their monthly expenses.

In addition, within the veteran population, there are critical differences in financial attitudes and behaviors.

  • Air Force veterans are 19% less likely to report having difficulty covering their expenses than Army veterans;
  • Veterans who left the military 10 or more years ago are 43% less likely to report an unexpected drop in income than those who left the military in the last year; and
  • Veterans who retired from the military are 14% less likely to report difficulty covering their expenses than those who did not retire from the military.

There are approximately 22 million military U.S. veterans in America, representing more than 8% of the U.S. population.

More information about the study is available at The Financial Welfare of Veteran Households.

— Check out Honoring Advisors Who Serve(d): Fourth of July, 2017 on ThinkAdvisor.


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