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Veterans Beat Civilians in Some Key Financial Habits

By Alex Padalka September 19, 2017

Financial advisors with clients who are American military veterans may want to note their specific needs. Vets appear to be faring marginally better financially than civilians but their financial security is far from certain, according to a recent report by Finra.

Veterans, who make up more than 8% of the U.S. population, are far better off when it comes to employment, according to an analysis of data collected by Finra Investor Education Foundation on 3,000 veterans and 23,000 civilians. Civilians are 22% more likely to be unemployed than military vets, according to the report.

But other aspects of financial well-being aren’t that much better for veterans: they’re only 2% more likely to be covered by health insurance than civilians, 5% more likely to be satisfied with their financial condition, 4% less likely to struggle covering monthly expenses, 6% more likely to have a household budget and 4% more likely to have a three-month emergency fund, the study found.

What’s more, veterans seem to have trouble managing their spending despite their relatively better preparedness and discipline handling bills and financial emergencies.

Veterans are 12% more likely than civilians to report spending more than they earn, 40% more likely than civilians to be underwater on their home mortgage, 28% more likely to have paid late on their home in the past year and 9% more likely to have problematic credit card habits like carrying balances or paying late fees, according to the report.

Staying in the military until retirement seems to be good for financial health, meanwhile. Those who are military retirees are 18% more likely to be satisfied with their financial situation than veterans who aren’t military retirees. And vets who retired from the military are also 14% less likely to report difficulties paying bills than those who leave the military before retirement, the study found.